31 May 2009

Airplane Entertainment

I watched Frost/Nixon on the flights (I only saw part of it on the outbound flight due to a chatty passenger to my left). I thought it was pretty pedestrian until the fourth interview (and the phone call the night before). Frank Langella was fantastic.

I also watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory (a colleague having suggested that I might like it). I enjoyed the banter (I appreciate the courage to build an episode around references to Schrodinger's cat). Unfortunately, the main storyline was banal. The good bits were very good, but there was a lot of dreck surrounding it.

25 May 2009

Cobbler's Dream

Flying back to Prague this evening. I really get tired of the travel, but then I remember that one day I'll take my last trip to Prague and I'll be sad for that. I still owe pictures from the last trip, but I've switched PCs and haven't moved the photos from the old one (now exiled to the basement).

I won't get a chance to try the Cobbler's Dream until I get back (and I haven't found Punt e Mes yet, so I'd have to substitute). But I'm looking forward to it.

School's out. I've decreed that both boys must draft a list of ten accomplishments for summer.

Yesterday's Liverpool match was not shown here, so no match report. If you had offered me second place (and 86 points and 77 goals scored) at the start of the season, I'd have taken it, but it feels a little disappointing now.

I did watch Aston Villa seal Newcastle's fate (1-0). The season's now over, so nothing but transfers and transfer rumours until August. Except of course for the two big matches this week: Barcelona v. Manchester United in Rome and Everton v. Chelsea at Wembley.

23 May 2009

Dementia

Losing my mind is, far and away, the thing I fear most.

After reading this article, I'm going to have to start taking bridge more seriously.

20 May 2009

Childhood Home


I went to lunch today with a group to celebrate a dear friend's birthday. We're all reaching a certain age, one where we laugh remembering life before remote control TV, before VCRs, cell phones, etc. This afternoon my mother emailed me this picture. This is the house where I lived from infancy until age eight. This photo was taken on New Years Eve 1963, New Orleans blanketed in a rare snow. How rare? The next snow accumulation was nine years later.

I am struck by how small the house was (there were five of us by the time we moved). In later years, we planted a fir tree in the front yard. The roof was damaged a couple of years later when Betsy blew through. My grandfather planted a small vegetable garden in the field behind our back yard. On the left side of the house, there is a single window, that from the second bedroom. My room was behind that one, with a window on the back (east) side of the house. The white station wagon is my mother's Chevy II, and it must be fairly new: while I obviously don't remember, I believe that she has said that our family had only one car when we first moved into this house. The other is a Ford Falcon, a company car that my dad drove on his sales route across southern Louisiana.

I can't be certain, but I think the picture below (from Google Maps Street View) is a more recent image of the same house.


View Larger Map

17 May 2009

Donald Rumsfeld

GQ has a fascinating article about Donald Rumsfeld's role in the Bush administration, especially regarding Iraq and Katrina. Something I find fascinating is how some members of that administration were so certain they were right.

OK, quick quiz. Which of these are true:
- Saddam Hussein and Iraq were involved in the September 11 attacks.
- Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction at the time of the invasion of Iraq.
- The invasion of Iraq enjoyed broad international support.

The answer, of course, is that none of these are true. Well, the third one is certainly untrue. The actual combat forces of the coalition of the willing consisted almost entirely of soldiers from the US and UK (Poland and Denmark were the only two other countries to supply combat troops). There is no evidence to support the first two (and there were enormous efforts expended to find some) and therefore no reason to believe them true. Apparently (and while I have no trouble believing it to be true, I am only aware of it anecdotally) a substantial portion of regular Fox News viewers (substantial as in 80%) believe one or more of those statements. Fox News relies on confirmation bias.

Sadly, there are not enough skeptics. I believe that human culture has advanced beyond most humans' evolved capability. I worry that this won't end well.

Cocktail Catching Up

Last weekend we returned to H&F, where I had a Punch in the Rye, made with pineapple juice (good as a change of pace, but not something I'd have regularly) and a Manhattan (excellent as always).

During the week I tried the Bourbon Renewal, which I very much enjoyed. I'll be having that again (but we're nearly out of bourbon).

I had picked up a bottle of Framboise during the week, and last night I made a Raspberry Rickey. I tasted the Framboise the day I had brought it home and didn't really get the raspberry notes, but the lime and soda in the Rickey brought them out. The recipe has no sugar (well, there's some sugar in the lime) and the liqueur is pretty dry; I might try just a splash of syrup next time.

WBAFC 0-2 LFC

It was a poor match, really. An incredible misplay by Martis gifted the ball to Gerrard who easily beat the keeper. Liverpool had little to play for after Man Utd had pulled level in top flight titles with yesterday's draw against Arsenal. Albion, their backs against the wall, needed a win for any hope of staying up. West Brom were unlucky at times, but left the midfield largely uncontested. Reina had a couple of excellent saves, but otherwise did not have a good match. I think this match likely left everyone unsatisfied - West Brom fans had to know a win was less than likely but will still be disappointed with being relegated, neutral fans will have been subjected to some fairly abject play, and Liverpool fans will take little comfort in a scrappy win against a weak opponent having yesterday lost the prize they most desperately want. That they have all but clinched second place is small consolation.

It is somewhat incredible that Liverpool's ambition was derailed by a loss to a club in dire danger of relegation and draws at home to promoted Hull and home and away to promoted Stoke. Three points out of twelve; in their corresponding matches, Manchester United took all twelve. Instead of four back with one to play, Liverpol would be five up.

Next week's match will likely see Hyypia given an emotional farewell by Anfield, and Robbie Keane is likely to receive a warm reception in his first trip to Anfield since returning to Spurs. Spurs will have a chance to qualify for the Europa league should they win next week and Fulham beat Everton. Then there's the FA Cup final, the Champions League final, and two months with nothing to watch from the treadmill but Rugby.

14 May 2009

Bourbon Renewal

I don't usually post drink recipes before I've tried them, but the Bourbon Renewal sure looks promising. I ran across it at SLOSHED! The recipe was invented by Jeffrey Morgenthaler whose Mojito recipe, discovered by chance on a web search, started my journey into cocktails. I, if not my liver, are indebted to him. I kid. The photo at right is linked to Mr. Morgenthaler's site, and doesn't it just look good? Marleigh says Playboy selected it as drink of the month, for whatever that's worth.

The recipe (and many others) can be found in the Drink Recipes link at the bottom of the left hand side.

Bourbon Renewal
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz creme de cassis
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
Mix ingredients and pour over cracked ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge, or, if in season, fresh currants.

13 May 2009

Comparing to the Great Depression.

Economic historian Price Fishback has written as series of three articles for the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times. The articles are very well written, and explain in a few minutes what's going on. Highly recommended.

Parts: One, Two, Three.

Social Security

There will be wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth, wailing, and beating of breasts from the right as the consequences of this economic meltdown wreak havoc. Never mind that they were running things when everything turned south. Anyway, we've got some serious economic problems, and sadly, the meltdown are probably not the worst of them. We have pretty good health care, but spend dramatically more than other countries. We pay some of the lowest taxes of the developed economies, but there's broad support for the idea that our taxes are too high (and unfair).

Anyway, this is a good article on Social Security.

Sarah Palin + Ted Nugent

The Onion has some suggestions for the Republicans.

12 May 2009

Jasmine

I had been meaning to try this recipe and finally got around to it last night. We still have no Cointreau, so I substituted Grand Marnier. Sour and a little bitter, it's not for everyone, but it was not at all unpleasant. Easily my favorite cocktail featuring Campari. I might even try another one tonight.

09 May 2009

Centennial 0-1 Collins Hill

The class AAAAA Georgia High School Soccer (sic) Championship was held at Centennial's stadium tonight. Centennial's attack was led by seniors Junior Sandoval and Amin El-Shami, while Collins Hill's defense was anchored by seniors keeper Andrew Wallingford and center back Nicky Mackain. Centennial's approach was to send hopeful long balls forward and let the quality of their forwards create opportunities, while Collins Hill took a more disciplined approach.

Collins Hill scored on a breakaway ball, and then adopted a more conservative game. While Centennials two forwards are very good, and Sandoval looked to be the best player on the pitch, Collins Hill was the better team, and deserved their win and the state championship.

Congratulations to both teams!

WHUFC 0-3 LFC

Another comfortable win.

Embarrassing defending by West Ham left Gerrard facing an empty net in the second minute. Zola's team was missing a number of players due to injury. Noble was heroic for the Hammers, but could not stop the onslaught. Wiley missed a foul, and Boa Morte's overwrought sense of injustice was later rewarded by a yellow card and a penalty. Green blocked Gerrard's shot, but was helpless to stop the rebound. Boa Morte was dangerously near a second yellow repeatedly, and eventually Zola substituted him. In the waning minutes, Green again blocked a shot only to concede a goal on the rebound, this time to Babel.

Manchester United need only seven points from four matches, and that is near certain. The Red Devils will play three times before Liverpool play again, the title race could well be decided even before the first kick at The Hawthorns next weekend. Still, for a few hours in May, Liverpool stand at the top of the table.

08 May 2009

100 Blogs

I haven't vetted this list at all (well, I scanned it to find a familiar name), so don't consider this a ringing endorsement. Free Exchange's Link Exchange posted the link, and sometimes I include links here that I intend to come back to later (this way, I don't have to remember where I originally found the link).

06 May 2009

Cinco de Mayo Poker

Had too many Margueritas and made a couple of loose calls that only worked out when I hit a three outer and a four outer on the river. It felt like I was playing very poorly, but I won more than my share of big pots. Finished up $164, even after bleeding away about $60 late in the night. Felt crapulous this morning between the tequila and the inadequate sleep.

04 May 2009

Giggs Player of the Year

I've already stated my admiration for Ryan Giggs. His being named PFA Player of the Year is clearly not for this year, in which he had started twelve league matches (eleven of his teammates started more ) and scored one league goal (the same tally as Wes Brown).

I only follow one club closely, so I don't feel qualified to say who should have won. I've heard more than one say Giggs's teammate Vidic was more deserving. That all but one of the candidates came from one club is a travesty. Manchester United could well win three major trophies this year (I don't count the World Cup nonsense). But, their billion plastic fans notwithstanding, they have no monopoly on quality. It is absurd to suggest that, on the basis of this campaign, Giggs should have even been nominated, while the likes of Terry, Torres, and Lampard were left out. Agbonlahor was more deserving of a nomination.

That Giggs had never won it was an injustice, so I don't begrudge the award . It's just unfortunate that he didn't earn it on the pitch in the year it was given.

Clarke and Dawe

These guys are brilliant

Good Luck Sami Hyypia

Before signing with Bayern Leverkusen, Sami Hyypia has had a ten year career at Anfield, some of them as captain before handing the armband to Gerrard. He has been on sides that have lifted nearly every cup available, though only a shocking collapse by Man Utd will earn that last one. He was never a speedster, but had the size, determination and timing to be competitive. Now thirty-five, his career is winding down, and his appearances have dwindled. At the time of the PFA awards, he had only started as many league matches as Ryan Giggs. Erm, anyway, only injuries to Agger and Skrtel put him on the pitch that often. I'd love to see him back at Anfield as a coach after his playing career is over, but I'm glad that he won't be poaching playing time from the younger central defenders.

03 May 2009

LFC 3-0 NUFC

Benayoun might have been offside, but there were three flat-footed Newcastle players in the six-yard box for the first goal, which took the air out of Newcastle. Shortly afterward Benayoun's threat was ruled offside, a second suspect decision by linesman (Mark Scholes). Gerrard and Kuyt combined for the second goal that looked like a training ground exercise. For the rest of the first half, a third goal seemed more likely than a first.

In the second half, both sides showed no sense of urgency to add to the scoreline, though Liverpool's quality meant the Kop end was more likely to be rewarded. As in the first half, the bar cruelly denied Alonso.

A stupid, reckless and pointless tackle by bad boy Barton earned him a red card. To be fair, it was dangerous and unnecessary to be sure, but looked more sloppy than malicious. Alonso had to be stretchered off.

Poor defending allowed another training ground header, this one between Aurelio and Lucas. As time elapsed, Gerrard also beat Newcastle only to be denied by the woodwork. At the other end, the closest Newcastle came to threatening was when former Liverpool boy wonder Michael Owen took the ball only to be ruled offside. In the end Reina was never asked a question by the visitors: five shots, none on goal.

Newcastle will need to be much better to avoid crossing paths with Birmingham City, who today earned promotion back into the Premier League.

Pre-Match

Gerrard and Torres have only started together in eleven of thirty five league matches this season. Liverpool have shown that they can win without one of the stars (and even beat Man Utd without either). Still, six points back before the match with four to play, I have to feel that but for the injuries to those two, the top spot of the table might be different.

Poker: Game of Skill

I've long contended that poker is largely determined by luck in the short run but that over time, the more skilled player will consistently win. Since it is a contest of skill, it should not be outlawed as gambling. This study seems to agree.