28 December 2008
Liverpool ended the match with four center backs on the pitch, with Skrtel making a return from injury and Carragher and Agger filling in right and left and Hyypia rounding out the party.
We're hitting the road today to drive to New Orleans; posts may be infrequent for the next few days.
27 December 2008
Judging by his actions and the company that he keeps, Saltsman is exactly the kind of cynical partisan political operative that I despise. Quote below from a CNN article.
Saltsman, a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, was a top advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.
26 December 2008
24 December 2008
22 December 2008
21 December 2008
20 December 2008
19 December 2008
I have thousands of photographs on it, and this is very cool; it's like carrying your photo albums around in your pocket. Unfortunately, iTunes only allows you to sync a list of folders. If you've got a couple of dozen snaps of the kids, this is not a problem. But when you get into thousands of images, you need better organizing functionality. Apparently, there are better options if you're using a Mac and I'm not ruling that out. The only Mac we have at the moment is so old that it's not viable to act as our image repository. I'm using Google's Picasa to organize the pictures on the PC, and like a lot of Google software it is pretty impressive, especially at the price.
To manage a non-trivial number of images you need keywords, albums, and hierarchical organization. Come on Apple, I expect better of you.
18 December 2008
An article at the Freakonomics blog talked about a GMAT question, and how it is possible to deduce the correct answer without even reading the question. See how you do.
Which of the following is the correct answer?
a) 4π sq. inches
b) 8π sq. inches
c) 16 sq. inches
d) 16π sq. inches
e) 32π sq. inchesFor the answer (and the logic they used) go here. For what it's worth, I got it right (though using much more superficial logic than they did).
For extra credit, deduce the question.
17 December 2008
The first was a Winter Sidecar (made with Winter Pimm's, which I have personally imported into the US). I thought it was too bitter, and the lemon overwhelmed the drink. Not bad, but I think it needs a lot of work.
The second was a Corpse Reviver No. 2, which is a pre-prohibition drink intended as a hangover remedy (I did not employ it in this capacity). It calls for equal measures of Gin, Cointreau (I substituted Grand Marnier), lemon juice, and Lillet Blanc (I used Noilly Pratt dry). It is a remarkably smooth and balanced drink; quite elegant really. Recommended.
16 December 2008
This article is what The Economist thought in 1930 of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act (before it had wreaked its sadly predictable devastation).
My daily commute is short (about five miles), and uses only two roads with appreciable traffic. Scooters are an obvious safety concern, but the route I take would make it about as safe as you are likely to find in a major American city. I don't spend very much on gasoline (compared to most). Not counting driving to lunch, I burn about a gallon of gas every two days. While gas prices are absurdly low at the moment ($1.50/gallon; 25p/l at today's exchange rate), I expect that before long they will rise to about $3/gallon. The cheapest scooter is around two grand, and the cheapest practical Vespa is about twice that. At $3/gallon, commuting to work in the Solara costs about $1.50 per day in gas. A scooter would cost about $.50 in gas. With savings of $1.00/day, it would take sixteen years to cost-justify the Vespa. I could pay off the 50cc Vespa in about twelve years; one of the Asian-built scooters in about eight. And this assumes no incremental cost to having the scooter. I'd retain the Toyota, which means I'd keep all of the overhead costs (insurance, repairs) of the car, and have overhead costs of the scooter added (reducing the savings rate).
The bottom line is that I can't possibly cost-justify buying a scooter. Still, they are cute.
15 December 2008
The thought occurred to me that the world might be a better place if these mouth-breathers had been involuntarily sterilized. See? I do know what irony means.
I wonder for whom they voted in November.
Ferguson's response was utterly predictable.
13 December 2008
12 December 2008
I have said that the News is an hour long, irrespective of whether anything important happened. Friends have corrected me: the News is on around the clock. They're going to report with exactly the same amount of coverage every day. That makes it more difficult for the public to differentiate between O. J. Simpson and Robert Mugabe. I'd bet that the overwhelming majority of Americans only know one of those. Americans are predisposed to be more interested in the death of a single Florida girl than an African child every fifteen seconds. That is a cultural sickness that I have no hope will be cured.
11 December 2008
Lions at Colts: Peyton Manning will step to the line of scrimmage on Sunday, start pointing to coverages and potential blitzers, then suffer an existential crisis. Does it really matter where the safety is lined up if he cannot cover a receiver anyway? Why change the blocking assignments to stop a pass rusher who has no chance of reaching the quarterback? Why call plays at all? He'll spend the second half contemplating the futility of all human endeavors while Jim Sorgi mops up the blowout. Colts.
10 December 2008
Pool Winners: Roma, Panathinaikos, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester Utd., Bayern Munich, Porto, Juventus
Runners up: Chelsea, Inter. Milan, Sporting, Atletico, Villareal, Lyon, Arsenal, Real Madrid
The sixteen remaining teams are drawn from these leagues: England (4), Spain (4), Italy (3), Portugal (2), Germany (1), France (1), Greece.
This reinforces my position that reducing the number of teams from the top leagues will only serve to dilute the competition. Does anybody seriously believe that a fifth English club, say Everton or Aston Villa would have done as poorly as Basel?
Half of the remaining teams have won the tournament, and only Sporting, Villareal and Lyon haven't at least made the finals.
Liverpool can't draw another pool winner, another English club, or the other club from their own pool, which leaves: Inter. Milan, Sporting, Villareal, Lyon, Real Madrid.
So there's a 20% chance of the "Special One" pacing the technical area at Anfield in March. On the other hand, it's even money that one of Arsenal or Chelsea will draw Barcelona.
09 December 2008
Rafa took advantage of the lead to bring on three graduates of the youth squad, two of whom made their senior squad debuts. I'm tempted to be overly encouraged by the showing (especially with the squad missing Reina, Gerrard and Torres), but I don't think PSV (who couldn't afford to just stay back and defend) played particularly well. Still, we won the group (compared to needing to win out just to advance last year).
Trivia (from Wikipedia): As its name [English: Philips Sports Union] indicates, the club started out as a works team for employees of electronics conglomerate Philips on August 31, 1913 to celebrate the centennial defeat of the French in the Napoleonic wars.
08 December 2008
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.
Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
That evening, we dropped T off at his Boy Scout lock-in and had dinner at nearby Sugo. I had the pork Braciole with another (disappointing) Manhattan (on the rocks, even). R had one of the specials Scallops with squash blossoms, and a blood orange Cosmo.
Saturday, B fenced sabre. Or maybe foil. I get them confused. He usually fences épée, but not this time. He came in fourth out of ten, which is pretty good considering it was his first tournament with that blade. He was using borrowed equipment and finished ahead of all of the other fencers inexperienced in that blade, but behind the three who regularly fence with it. I stayed home (with T) and watched Liverpool.
Saturday night we drove in to town (inside the perimiter twice in two days!) to our (apparent) favorite, Holeman and Finch (mentioned last week in the New York Times for having a bar on the cutting edge). We arrived while the SEC championship game was still being contested, so had no trouble getting a table. Over the course of the evening we had: Pork Belly, Radicchio, Crispy Gentleman, Pimento Cheese and Saltines, and Bratwurst. In the way of cocktails, I tried their Blood Be Damned (Tequila, Aperol, sweet Vermouth, and Orange Juice)[light and refreshing] and a drink whose name escapes me that consisted primarily of Rye Whiskey and Amaretto [I don't recommend it - there was far too much Amaretto which made the drink cloyingly sweet] while R had her standard Piedmont Apple (fresh Apple Juice, Pechaud's Bitters, and Sparking Sauvignon Blanc) and also tried a Johnny Ryal (Heering Cherry Liqueur, fresh grapefruit, Angostura bitters + Miller High Life). There was also a dessert, but they haven't updated the menu on their web site, and I don't remember much about it (except that it was gooey and sweet).
Sunday, we watched the Saints beat the Falcons (always a good thing). R made Minestrone for dinner. Yum.
07 December 2008
06 December 2008
Hyypia played specifically because he'd been left off the Champion's League list and is ineligible for the match on Tuesday, but was named man of the match by the announcers (and if the selection was arbitrary, no one had an obviously better match). A couple of Rafa's selections seemed to have an eye on the final group stage match at Eindhoven. Hopefully, the Reds can find a win in Holland while Atletico fails to do the same in Marseille.
For Burress, I'd say a 90 day suspended sentence with a couple of years of probation is about right. He wasn't going to rob anybody; he was guilty of both ignorance and stupidity. But three and a half years?
In the case of Simpson, while I believe he was guilty of the Simpson/Goldman murders, he was acquitted and therefore not guilty in the eyes of the law. For the crimes that he was convicted, fifteen years for a first offense seems absurdly long. He, too, was guilty of stupidity (and claimed ignorance).
Both have demonstrated idiocy. But we don't have enough prisons to incarcerate all of our idiots. They're also both evidently jerks, but again: not enough cells for all of those. Neither one posed any meaningful threat to the general public.
America is clueless about a lot of things and its bankrupt belief that the only way to combat crime is to be "tough on crime" is near the top of the list. We have the highest incarceration rates and one of the highest crime rates. Still, every politician campaigns on being tightening the screws. Why can't we evaluate our policies on a rational basis? When policies don't work, recognize that fact and explore alternatives.
05 December 2008
Here's what's going on in my home town.
The article mentions three old-style cocktails: Aviation (which I've had), Corpse Reviver #2 (which looks interesting), and Last Word (which looks bitter). Of course, no list of classic cocktails should leave off the Sazerac. Other classics (among others): Sidecar, Manhattan, Mint Julep, Champagne Cocktail, Old Fashioned, Ramos Gin Fizz.
Excluded is the Bloody Mary, which I suppose technically is a prohibition recipe, invented in France the week before prohibition was repealed.
Maine ratified it the next day. Slackers.
"Prohibition went into effect on January 16, 1920, and blew up at last on December 5, 1933 -- an elapsed time of twelve years, ten months and nineteen days. It seemed almost a geologic epoch while it was going on, and the human suffering that it entailed must have been a fair match for that of the Black Death or the Thirty Years War." - H.L. Mencken (hat tip: Wall Street Journal)
04 December 2008
03 December 2008
I wonder if college enrollment will plummet. Seriously, who can afford the kind of six-digit tuition, per child, that even modest private universities now charge for a four year degree? I've read that we are at a crest of college-aged Americans. Right now more people are competing for acceptance than ever before, but the demographics suggest that's going to change in the next few years.
02 December 2008
01 December 2008
Liverpool's back four were hardly tested, and Hyypia, slow as ever, might have been Liverpool's best player on the night. Not that anyone seemed to stand out. Dossena looked better than he has, but that's no great consolation. Alonso was able to pass at will in midfield, but West Ham was mostly content to play defensive football.
Most remarkable (in a very unremarkable game) was that the ball hit Ilunga on the arm or hand no fewer than five times.
Chambliss failed to garner the majority of votes in the primary election, so a run-off election will be held tomorrow to determine the winner. Unfortunately, I believe that Chambliss will win comfortably; his opponent Jim Martin won't have Barack Obama's coattails to ride this time. Chambliss has twice run contemptible (i.e., dirty misleading) campaigns, he's everything I hate about politicians.
30 November 2008
It is incomprehensible that this is no isolated incident. Why do these wealthy young men, who can bask in the adoration of loyal fans, feel the need to carry firearms? If that were not perplexing enough, they then find it necessary to discharge them. In public.
What does it profit an athlete from the streets to win a multi-million dollar contract, if he still will end up in an emergency room or jail? Am I complicit by following the sport?
29 November 2008
Last night, we watched The Maltese Falcon. The difference was startling. Working in black and white, with practically no special effects, Huston created a compelling classic. Dialog, pace, and cinematography make up for a distinct lack of car chases.
I made a Pegu Club Cocktail (Gary Regan's recipe). The orange bitters, triple sec, lime, and gin make an interesting melange. R didn't care for it, but I'll certainly give it another try.
27 November 2008
Aurelio picked up a knock so at the break Rafa brought on Dossena (yet to impress) to take his place. Mascherano, usually a steady performer, struggled to keep possession all night. It is somewhat unfair to single out the Argentine, as the whole side looked quite ordinary for the second half. Reina had one awful play, missing the ball after coming off his line, but otherwise may have been Liverpool's best player.
Liverpool are assured a place in the final sixteen. They currently are second in the group on goal differential; they will need an overwhelming win in Eindhoven or some help when Marseille hosts Atletico Madrid in a couple of weeks.
In either case, Liverpool need to be dramatically better to advance in the knockout stage.
25 November 2008
Raising taxes will:
a) fund infrastructure work (e.g., repairing dangerous bridges),
b) internalize the negative externalities of gasoline consumption (e.g., pollution),
c) encourage fuel use reduction (and that's good either because you believe that human behavior is causing global warming or, if you prefer, to reduce our dependency on sometimes hostile foreign interests for fuel supply), and
d) encourage alternate (ideally non-polluting) energy research.
Which of these is a bad idea?
You can't get something for nothing, and you should mistrust anyone who suggest that you can.
24 November 2008
If you refer to "red beans and rice day" in front of a New Orleanian, they will invariably know that you mean Monday. The story is that Monday was wash day and you could start a pot of red beans, spend all day doing the wash (leaving the beans untended on very low heat), and have a delicious and inexpensive dinner at the end of the day. I don't know if it's true, but I do miss the ubiquity of the dish. Nearly every New Orleans restaurant that serves hot lunches and caters to working people offers red beans and rice as a "special" on Monday. Likewise, Friday "specials" are almost always seafood, in a nod to the large Catholic population.
The best red beans I remember was at Emile's, a decrepit lunch spot in the warehouse district. Before my father's business moved to the suburbs in 1984, red beans at Emile's was a Monday ritual. By then, Emile's catered only to a handful of regulars, and the World's Fair was the end of that kind of marginal enterprise. Emile's actually had very little to commend it: I doubt it would pass a health inspection and the staff was surly. But they could make a pot of red beans like nobody's business (with smoked sausage and a long neck bottle of Barq's).
It is creole, not Cajun. Don't get me started.
This is an interesting article, and it offers an awful statistic that I will repeat without verifying: a child dies of diarrhea every fifteen seconds. The next time somebody raises statistically marginal issue like whether we should require seat belts on school buses (annual deaths in the US: 10), or (sorry, Mom) dying from eating expired pancake mix (documented cases: one), think about how many children have died of a preventable disease since you got out of bed this morning. If planeloads of children crashed each day, how would the news react? How would you react?
This isn't cancer, we know how to prevent it.
The male lead is played by French Moroccan Gad Elmaleh, who plays a similar role to the one when we saw him last, in The Valet (La Doublure).
It is a pleasant romantic comedy; we recommend it.
22 November 2008
21 November 2008
20 November 2008
1) Copy this list into your blog, with instructions.
2) Bold all the drinks you’ve imbibed.
3) Cross out any items that you won’t touch
4) Post a comment here and link to your results.
- Manhattan Cocktail
- Kopi Luwak (Weasle Coffee)
- French / Swiss Absinthe
- Gin Martini
- Whole Milk
- Tequila (100% Agave)
- XO Cognac
- Spring Water (directly from the spring)
- Gin & Tonic
- Westvleteren 12 (Yellow Cap) Trappist Ale
- Chateau d’Yquem
- Maraschino Liqueur
- Grand Marnier
- Mai Tai (original)
- Ice Wine (Canadian)
- Red Bull
- Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
- Bubble Tea
- Islay Scotch
- Pusser’s Navy Rum
- Fernet Branca
- Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
- Australian Shiraz
Buckley’s Cough Syrup
- Orange Bitters
- Margarita (classic recipe)
Molasses & Milk
- Chimay Blue
- Wine of Pines (Tepache)
- Green Tea
- Daiginjo Sake
- Chai Tea
- Vodka (chilled, straight)
- Zombie (Beachcomber recipe)
- Barley Wine
- Brewed Choclate (Xocolatl)
- Pisco Sour
- Speyside Single Malt
- Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
- Champagne (Vintage)
- Rosé (French)
White Zinfandel (Blush)
- Coconut Water
- Cafe au Lait
- Ice Tea
- Pedro Ximenez Sherry
- Vintage Port
- Hot Chocolate
- German Riesling
- Pina Colada
- El Dorado 15 Year Rum
- Greek Wine
- Rhum Agricole
- Palm Wine
- Ceylon Tea (High Grown)
- Belgian Lambic
- Mongolian Airag
- Doogh, Lassi or Ayran
- Sugarcane Juice
- Ramos Gin Fizz
- Singapore Sling
- Mint Julep
- Old Fashioned
- Jenever (Holland Gin)
- Chocolate Milkshake
- Traditional Italian Barolo
- Natural Sparkling Water
- Cuban Rum
- Asti Spumante
- Irish Whiskey
- Château Margaux
- Two Buck Chuck
- Rye Whisky
- German Weissbier
- Daiquiri (classic)
3 jobs I have held
Order "picker" at Beacon Supply on South Peters St. ($2.65/hour)
Teaching Assistant, USL (now ULL) ($600/month)
Operations Manager for GO Service Station Supply
3 places I have lived
New Orleans, LA (1962, 1985-86, 1989)
River Ridge, LA (1962-70, 1978-84, 1986-87, 1988-89, 1994-2003)
Metairie, LA (1970-78, 1989-1993)
Lafayette, LA (1984)
Gales Ferry, CT (1987-8)
Roswell, GA (2003-)
3 TV shows
The Daily Show
3 places I have been
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Prague, Czech Republic
3 favorite foods
Red Beans and Rice
Any local cuisine when traveling
3 favorite cocktails
Martini (Up, Gin, Olive)
Gin and Tonic
3 things I am looking forward to
Liverpool's next game
Opening our bottles of Grange
Games (both online and unplugged)
The Book Thief
L. A. Confidential
19 November 2008
My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska’s investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars.If you aren't a little embarrassed for her, I challenge you to read it aloud.
(The quote is swiped from a Dick Cavett editorial that solicited 856 comments before comments were closed).
I wouldn't allow my teenagers to get away with that kind of, well I hesitate to call it a sentence.
18 November 2008
I heard part of Bob Edward's Elvis Costello interview this morning. There was nothing earth shattering (or even interesting unless you're an Elvis fan), but I did learn a couple of things:
- Costello's father was a musician (a bebop trumpeter), who took a job as a dance band singer to feed his family. As a result of the association, Costello was exposed as a child to a wide variety of musical styles.
- Costello said that he started as a songwriter, and that the idea of being a performer came from the record company.
- His first album was recorded before he started the Attractions; My Aim is True was backed by an American band. They played the opening to Welcome to the Working Week; the background vocals would fit right in to a Huey Lewis and the News song. [I learned later from the web the name of the band, Clover. I had known that there was a connection to Huey Lewis; apparently he had been in Clover, but prior to My Aim is True]
- Edwards asked when Costello thought he had found his own "voice", Costello said that it was Watching the Detectives.
- Costello never felt aligned with the punk movement, even though many associated him with it.
The Hammer is a surprisingly amusing movie. Surprising because I only know Adam Carolla from the Man Show, a series built around demonstrating the universal truth that men are pigs. The movie itself follows a fairly predictable arc, but the characters are likable enough and the dialog is at least occasionally clever. It never takes itself too seriously or insults the audience. Tootsie it is not, but neither is it Ishtar. It is certainly worth renting.
There is an article on the Newsweek web site that seriously entertains the question of whether Barack Obama is the antichrist. I refuse to link to it because I don't want to contribute to their site traffic. Cause for despair: there are millions (probably tens of millions) of Americans who would see nothing wrong with it.
17 November 2008
After Saturday's tournament, we met several members of the fencing team (and some parents) at On the Border on Mansell. Early on, we had discussed splitting the tabs across the two tables (there were about 15 kids at one table, and seven parents at the other) but we abandoned this as too complicated. I don't know if the suggestion spooked the servers, but we got the worst service I can recall. I found the food modestly priced and unremarkable; had the service been merely average, I might have been inclined to give the restaurant another chance.
16 November 2008
15 November 2008
His girlfriend was also undefeated in pools. She was the #1 seed and went all the way to the finals, taking the silver medal.
This week a colleague reiterated his conviction that Kuyt just doesn't have the quality, but in the last few games I think he's looked quite good. He's no Ronaldo, but there's only one of him. Kuyt will never surpass Gerrard or Torres as a star on the club, but he plays a role and contributes to the team's success. And unlike Robinho, he never stops running.
14 November 2008
The dilemma is that while the economy won't recover until consumers resume spending, the most productive course for an individual is to batten down the hatches on spending and let everyone else assume the risk and bootstrap the economy.
The $700 Billion dollar bailout won't be nearly enough. Expect the total to reach the trillions.
That kind of scale is hard to comprehend.
- A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.
- At the current minimum wage, it would take 3.8 Billion weeks to earn a trillion dollars.
- A trillion dollars could buy 41 million Priuses.
I do think we should spend to cushion the blow to the economy that will be a result of the collapse of the US automakers. It's very likely that Chrysler won't survive, and I can't imagine GM making it either. That's due in large measure to the UAW. We should not try and help those companies (or unions) survive (I am convinced that they are doomed to certain failure). We should figure out how to ease those hundreds of thousands of workers into a post "big three" world.
There will be plenty of hand wringing; little of it will be associated with rational thinking.
13 November 2008
Here is the thing: I don't understand the impulse behind this legislation. Not only do these bible thumpers not want to have fun, they want to make sure no one else does either. This will have been one of their last acts in power - is that really the best they can do for their legacy? While the economy craters? Politicians are annoying, but the sanctimonious ones are the worst.
12 November 2008
I was so offended by their accusation that I went home last night and had a couple of French 75s, though substituting prosecco and lime for champagne and lemon respectively. I had not sampled this particular drink before (I guess technically, it's a fizz rather than a cocktail); it was quite refreshing. More of a summer drink, I think. I also played some limit hold'em, building five dollars into eleven.
10 November 2008
William Powell: Nick Charles.
Alan Ladd: Ned Beaumont.
Last night I finished The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett. It is with good reason that you've heard of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man but probably haven't heard of this one. It's not a bad book by any means, but its characters, dialog, and wit are not as compelling as their more famous siblings. Allegedly, this was Hammett's favorite. Go figure.
The reviews on Amazon are pretty positive, though, so maybe it's just me.
09 November 2008
After school, we piled in the car and drove to a motel near Evergreen, Alabama (almost exactly midway between Atlanta and New Orleans) to meet our friends S&M. Their eldest son's enlistment in the Marines is nearly finsihed, and on Friday night they took advantage of their last opportunity to attend the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Unfortunately, this meant they arrived around 2AM.
Yesterday, we played a number of games, starting with CA$H'nGUN$. It is nothing if not "Kill Bob", but amusing nonetheless. S didn't play (apparently the first time she played, it was a "Kill S" game). Like any "Kill Bob" game, it is better played if you don't actually care whether you win.
Next was Agricola (with five; T sat this one out). As an aside, we found an amusing review at BoardGameGeek by someone disappointed that the game did not center around a Roman general. None of us had played the game, and it currently occupies the top spot in the BGG ranking. We played the "family" variant, which leaves out the occupation and minor improvement cards (and has a slightly different roster of available actions). It is the type of game where your options and resources are always constrained, which makes difficult the task of determining how well you're doing. As it turns out, I won comfortably, but until late in the game I really believed I was struggling (this, it turned out, was a theme of the weekend). I almost always think highly of games I win, so while I think I liked it, it may just be that I liked winning it.
We played MidEvil (the four guys; the girls chose to read/watch TV), which is not dramatically different from Zombies!!!. Both are amusing, but winning has much more to do with luck than clever play. Also, there is an element of "Kill Bob". B won by stealing the Necronomicon from T and sprinting to the altar. The game has obvious homage elements to Army of Darkness.
There were a couple of games of Magnet. I still haven't figured out the game, but against M it took a decidedly more careful tone. At the end I left my King exposed in a bluff while attacking one of the two remaining pieces of his that could be his King. Unfortunately, I attacked the wrong piece and lost (the board was down to about eight pieces and the game was going to end soon one way or the other).
Having played the reigning top-reviewed game, we turned to the previous top game, Puerto Rico (also played with five, with T taking S's place). I had played once, about four years ago, and M had played; but it was the first time for R, B, and T. Again, I was fortunate to win (though again, until very late in the game I thought I was doing quite poorly).
The last game Saturday was Finstere Flure, which S won. Chaos was rampant; and even the winner lost one person to the monster.
Sunday morning, we played a game of Elfenland, which saw a four-way tie for first at 19, with B & T tied at 16 (it was essentially the first time for both). Early on, in keeping with the pattern, I predicted that my final score would be eleven.
The weekend was great fun, though too short. We returned to "Wing-It", a modest barbecue establishment that we tried last time we were in Evergreen. We avoided the Black Angus "Steakhouse", having learned our lesson. There were a great variety of cocktails sampled, including some featuring the previously coveted St. Germain, generously delivered by M. There was a blind gin tasting, with Miller's a near unanimous choice over Aviation and Boomsma.
I even experimented with a couple of recipes. I substituted Applejack for Rye in a Manhattan; it was very disappointing (I actually poured it out). I also tried a Presbyterian (Rye, Ginger Ale, Soda, and bitters), which I thought was refreshing (I used lightened the recipe by one-half ounce of rye). I again tried substituting Applejack for Rye, and this time it was a success.
As with the other two cases, we enjoyed ourselves immensely - good friends, cocktails, games, and no schedule; what's not to like?
Sports: Liverpool pounded West Brom 3-0 as Keane finally broke his league duck with two excellent goals, and the Saints turned in a poor performance losing to the resurgent Atlanta Falcons.
07 November 2008
The movie itself was OK, but it ran out of gas at the end. Tom Cruise was very funny as a movie mogul. Not bad as a distraction on a long flight, but not worth a drive to a theater.
06 November 2008
On the way back from the Premier Diner (where we had picked up lunch), I took this shot of Queen Street. I observed that there is a room to let upstairs from the diner. The mind reels.
Finally, here is a different view of our office building. It's in an industrial part of town and there's nothing charming about it. But I've never felt unsafe. Hopefully my colleagues will now believe that I am not misrepresenting Walsall's aesthetic appeal.
I knew that the president elect’s law pedigree is impressive: president of Harvard Law Review and lecturer at the University of Chicago on constitutional law. I learned this morning that Obama’s undergraduate degree (from Columbia) is in international relations. I would have liked to have also seen some business background, though given that GWB has an MBA, perhaps I should temper that desire. The current administration’s record on the Constitution and on international relations, ahem, left something to be desired, so this is a welcome change.
On the campaign, McCain expressed disdain if not contempt for economists. I believe that the greatest challenge facing our leadership is the economy. Who was he planning to ask for advice?
Unfortunately, it is not unlikely that debates will descend into partisanship at some point. The parties are all about preserving their own power, even at the cost of effective leadership. My message to the Democratic leadership is this: I am proud to have voted for Barack Obama, but do not confuse that with party affiliation. Obama will be successful only if he leads from the center.
Obama’s choice for Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, allegedly was the model for the character Josh Lyman on the TV show The West Wing.
I commented before the election that this would be a defining moment: America at her best or at her worst. I was cautiously optimistic but not completely confident. The outcome is a great relief to me.
Almost a year ago, I stood at the bar at our hotel in Barcelona waiting to buy Cava when I had a brief and halting conversation with a fellow guest, a Russian. His English was poor (but infinitely better than my Russian), but his message was essentially this: “I don't dislike your country, but I dislike your president.” I believe he spoke for most of the world. McCain collected 56 million votes. Had the rest of the world participated in the election, I doubt he’d have doubled that.
05 November 2008
04 November 2008
Through a series of administrative deductions, Luton Town will have great difficulty in avoiding relegation this year. Their supporters were resolute; my favorite team chant: "Thirty Points, Who gives a fuck, We're Luton Town, And we're staying up".
02 November 2008
01 November 2008
A steady London rain and a slippery pitch made for a match that wasn't particularly attractive. At the end, Liverpool looked tired. Babel came on for Keane, but lacked Keane's quality. With Atletico Madrid at Anfield on Tuesday, there's no rest for the weary. If Torres is fit, it will come as a great relief to Benitez.
Even the decision to invade Iraq is cast in a different light. I still believe that the current administration bungled the finish - they were so focused on quickly defeating the Iraqi army that they failed to plan the aftermath. After reading the book I think that a military confrontation with Saddam Hussein was a lot more inevitable (rather than simply some obsession of Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld).
If you have an interest in American foreign policy, I recommend the book.
After we dropped our eldest progeny at the Country Club of Roswell, we went to a nearby Cuban restaurant, Mojito Cafe. R & T both had Cubanos; I had a chicken fillet. R commented that her sandwich might have been better with more mustard. I had no complaints, but neither is it an ambitious dish. The black beans were delicious, as expected. If you ever patronize a Cuban restaurant with black beans that aren't excellent, you have compelling evidence that you are not, in fact, in a Cuban establishment.
With dinner, I had a poor excuse for a Margarita. Serves me right for ordering a Tequila drink in a Cuban restaurant. R had the eponymous drink. Cruzan sponsored a drink special, and hers was served in an enormous plastic bucket. She made a dent in it (with some help from her husband), but between us we were not half finished. In the past she has been disappointed with Mojitos as often as not, but she liked this one. Even if it was big enough for four.
30 October 2008
It's a good film, and while I believe the filmmakers treated the subjects with reasonable delicacy and respect, I think that the movie is likely to reinforce stereotypes of enthusiasts of fantasy role playing games.
Tonight: The return of 30 Rock. Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, and the whole cast were terrific as usual, but I really think that the stars of the show are the writers. The acting is very good, but the writing is superb.
Sadly, at least for dollar bulls, it is not that the dollar is newly back to being the de facto world currency, the position it held for most of the last sixty years. Matter of fact, the U.S. dollar's so-called reserve status is more endangered than ever. The U.S. is still spending more than it brings in every year; it borrows money abroad to finance an unsustainable trade deficit; and it has lost its way with respect to building an economy around selling things for more than they cost. You know, the capitalism thing, as opposed to the financial engineering thing.The article explains why he believes this is a temporary situation. Unfortunately, I think Dr. Kedrosky has this pegged, dead to rights. Not bad for a Canadian.
29 October 2008
Last night - Opened the last bottle (of six) of Wolf Blass Grey Label. It was consistent with the others: not bad, but not as good as I had hoped. I seem to remember I paid around $25.
Today - Filled the tank of my car; the total was $35. The price was 2.29 or about 38p/l at current exchange rates; the previous tank was at 3.49, and the one before that was 3.99. I believe that the price of fuel is overrated in its impact to the economy. However, since the price is prominently displayed, making it the retail commodity with the best-known pricing, I believe it contributes significantly to consumer confidence. Which is in the crapper lately.
The NY Times has an article indicating that credit card issuers will be reducing credit. Last week we got a letter from American Express informing us that they had raised our credit limit to an absurdly high number: about what I paid for my car.
The Economist has released its annual graph showing the ratio of tax to GDP for several larger economies. Many Americans believe they pay too much in taxes. In fact, we don't pay enough for our expenditures. Because we run a deficit every year, we're really just deferring taxes to our children. This election can't possibly be over soon enough.
Speaking of the election being over, the trading at Intrade suggests that maybe it is. Obama is trading at about 86 while McCain is trading at about 16. 538 is even more lopsided.
LFC 1-0 PFC. A penalty kick from captain Stephen Gerrard was all Liverpool could net against a tenacious Pompey defense. Just as in the earlier match against Stoke City, Liverpool looked dramatically better than the visitors and dominated possession but was unable to score against the deep defense. Liverpool will have to figure out how Chelsea and Manchester United have broken down those defenses over the last couple of years if they really hope to be title contenders.
My wife has just told me that she's seen (for the fourth time) the clip of early voters taken while I was in line (screen shot). I'm a celebrity! OK, given that I'm near the edge of the frame, and only shown for about 3/4 of a second, maybe not.
Diego Maradona has been named the coach of the Argentine national team. I cannot imagine that this will turn out well. Argentina is loaded with talent, and Maradona was a brilliant player; one of the best ever to lace up boots. But he's not been known for the kind of self-discipline I'd expect to see in a coach.
28 October 2008
I will be traveling next week, and therefore unable to cast my ballot on the designated election day. Absentee ballots are possible, but you must apply well in advance of the election. The only remaining alternative available to me in Georgia is early voting. I left the office early (about 3:30) yesterday to vote; hoping that I could be finished in time to return to work.
The first indication of trouble was the presence of cars parked on both sides of the road far from the Northeast/Spruill Oaks Library. A couple who were leaving after having voted wished me good luck and warned that the wait would be three hours. As it turns out, their estimate was low. The weather was reasonably pleasant: sunny, if cool and breezy. The people waiting were all in good spirits. A television news crew came out and caught me listening to Elvis Costello (Imperial Bedroom) on my iPod (screenshot above).
Fortunately, the last couple of hours on queue were indoors, and the library had positioned chairs to accommodate the voters. Finally, four hours after I arrived, I was able to vote in my eighth presidential election.
27 October 2008
About ninety minutes later, the New Orleans Saints defeated the San Diego Chargers 37-32 at Wembley Stadium. Asking two football teams to fly 4000+ miles and adjust to a time zone 5-8 hours offset from their normal to play a league game is a bizarre annual ritual of the NFL. The game was sold out as soon as tickets became available, but there appeared to be many empty seats. The crowd was vocal and enthusiastic. When the cameras focused on the crowd, a wide variety of NFL team supporters appeared to be represented. Unfortunately, the game wasn't a particularly good one. Unlike the earlier match, this one featured poor defense. The game was marred by penalties, replays, poor kicking, and three replay challenges. It was not the beautiful game. As they say, a win is a win (and all tautologies are tautologies).
26 October 2008
Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp has resigned as manager at Portsmouth to take the same job at Spurs. Will Redknapp succeed where Jol and Ramos didn't? Tottenham is not likely to play in either the Championship or Europe next year.
25 October 2008
I've seen a lot of spy parodies: Top Secret!, Spy Hard, Undercover Brother, What's Up, Tiger Lilly?, Austin Powers, and Casino Royale. This movie is at the top of that list. There are chickens, but no egg salad recipes.
Just as the Casino Royale parody was based on Ian Fleming's book, so is this based on a series of serious spy novels originated by Jean Bruce. Casino Royale was broad and sometimes bizarre; OSS 117 is tidy and true to its roots. The Austin Powers movies wink at the audience "aren't we clever?"; this movie keeps a straight face throughout.
OSS 117 reminds me a little of the early Pink Panther movies, with an often clueless hero who is in spite of himself endearing and in the end, effective. The chicken fight scene alone is worth watching the movie.
Before the movie, I made myself a Sazerac. It is a superb cocktail. That it was invented in New Orleans only makes me like it more. The drink was originally made with Cognac; the American Civil War and the Phylloxera plague meant that Cognac was unavailable so the recipe was changed to Rye Whiskey. Next, the 1915 ban in the United States of Absinthe meant the use of substitutes; though that ban has been recently lifted. Yea!