You've Been Asleep for a Hundred Seconds

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Not Cheating

I am sick of all these baseball writers whining about steroids. “It’s cheating!” Bullshit. The fact that people talk seriously about whether or not people like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire should have asterisks put on their record home run seasons is just asinine. If they were found to have used corked backs or juiced up balls that would be different. That is changing the objective rules of the game in which all players are expected to compete on a level playing field playing field with only themselves and their skills to measure who is better. Steroids are no different than lifting weights, working out, and other things players do to prepare their bodies to perform.

But steroids make it an unlevel playing field right? Again that’s bullshit. Players like Tony Gwynn and Ichiro clearly don’t use steroids but they obviously have unfair advantage over the Felix Fermins of the world. As Dan Bern Says in his brilliant song “73”, if you are going to run Barry out for the game for steroids then you have “burn all the poems by poets who took lithium as boys”. (You can download this gem here.)

Elective surgeries that enhance players’ skills. I’d long known about pitchers getting Tommy John elbow surgeries that they probably did not need and becoming better pitchers than they ever were before because of the extra kick the surgery gives to their pitches. But I was completely unaware how widespread LASIK eye surgery has become in sports, until I read this article on Slate. Tiger woods had LASIK to get 20/15 vision? Mark McGwire wore contacts that gave him 20/10 vision? None of this is considered cheating but steroids is? Bullshit.

Steroids isn’t cheating. LASIK isn’t cheating. Tommy John style robo-elbows isn’t cheating. No, gambling is on baseball is cheating. Throwing a game is cheating. Corking your bat is cheating.

But what do I know? I don’t think Barry Bond is an asshole. In fact he’s been my favorite player for almost 20 years.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Onion Man

Commuting via the bus from Ballard to Redmond and back again every day means I get to run into my fair share of crazies usually on the Montlake to Ballard portion of my commute. Most often its some schizophrenic guy or drunk homeless guy that gets on in the U-District starts screaming or something and ends up getting kicked off the buss in Wallingford. But today was something different.

I had just missed catching my bus in front of the UW Hospital. It was going to be 20 minutes till the next bus so I sat down to read my book. After a few minutes smelled something funny. I looked around and there was only one other guy at this normally busy bus stop. He was a short stocky black guy with a mustache and mini-dreads wearing a gray addidas track suit, bright red children's sunglasses, and black velvetine Mastercard cap. He kind of looked like a weirded out Easy-E. He also had a pair of kids safety scissors and a metal can opener hung from his neck with an old shoe lace. On the bench next to him he had a couple beat up overstuffed grocery bags filled with papers, books, socks, etc. This guy looked off but from his looks he could have just be eccentric rather that really out there.

He kept turning away and I couldn't figure out what he was doing then I saw him repeatedly flinging little white things in all directions. It was onions! I had smelled onions. He was cutting up onions with his kid's scissors and can opener and flinging the chunks and slices in all directions. After doing this with 2 onions he reached into one of his bags and pulled out a spray bottle of what appeared to be some sort of Lysol cleaning product and started to spray his body with it ending by spraying his chest in the same cross gesture made during a catholic blessing. The liquid in the bottle was clear so he may have been spraying self with water rather than Lysol. For his safety I hope he was.

He repeated this process 4 or 5 times and remained oblivious to the large group of people now waiting for various buses. And then he just picked up his stuff and walked west on Pacific with out getting on any of the buses. What was he doing? My best guess was that he was protecting the bus stop from vampires. Maybe that was holy water in the spray bottle? Or he wasn't crazy and it was some weird performance art? Whatever he was doing it made my day see an Easy-E lookalike blanket the sidewalk with a dozen onions. You go, Onion Man, you go!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tag in the Dark

Tagging is the buzz on the Internets these days. Tagging is assigning words or phrases to a information item. Flickr is all tagging crazy. Amzon is experimenting with tagging through 43 Things. Lots of blogs use tagging to categorize posts (including Soapnix!). Its pretty exciting stuff and its nice to see people are into it but the idea that free text tagging is the answer to real information retrieval needs is just silly.

This article in Newsweek perfectly illustrates this wrong headed attitude. The writer clearly doesn’t understand how libraries have dealt with information retrieval. The Dewey Decimal system is not a cataloging scheme it’s just a classification scheme for placing books on a shelf. Similar books are located together for so that you can collocate similar materials. I won’t even get into his bogus Frederick the Great example. But the real strength of the library is the catalog not the shelf.

I’m a librarian and my job consists mostly of building and maintain a taxonomy and tagging sites on the intranet of a local mega-corporation. The multi-user uncontrolled free text tagging is an inherently flawed system that is easily corruptible. For instance what’s to stop me going on Flickr and tagging photos of my Lt. Picard action figure with the term dog? Ideally traditional library ideas of authority control can be used to enhance these systems and help connect searches on canine with things tagged with dog. Maybe blending the old and the new will help improve information retrieval.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Mr. T Says Respect Your Mother!

With Mother's Day coming up, do yourself a favor and take some time to reflect on this video of Mr. T's freakishly hilarious tribute to his mother. It's apparently from motivational video tape Mr. T did back in 1984 called Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool!, the rest of which looks even sillier than this song. Pray I don't pay too much for it on eBay.

All credit goes to Merychippus for forwarding this video to me.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Hoops and Woody

I think I was one of the few people in America to both watch the NCAA Basketball Final and go to see Woody Allen's new film Melinda and Melinda all in the same night. I guess that says a lot about me and who I am. Good or bad you decide.

The North Carolina-Illinois game was fantastic At the half it looked like it was going to be a blow out with the Tar Heels pulling away but Illinois rallied back and it was tied with under two minutes to go, when former Bremerton High star Marvin Williams slammed home a putback to seal the victory For North Carolina. One of the best back and forth championship games in while.

Melinda and Melinda was excellent. I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone that doesn't already love Woody Allen's films, but if you are into Woody its easily his best since Sweet and Lowdown. Radha Mitchell is fantastic in the title roles. Both tragic in the dramatic half and charming in the comedic half. Will Ferrell was really hilarious he made his character more than just a stand in for Woody, he made it a Will Ferrell character through and through.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sin City

I am skeptical of pretty much all comic book movies. If you try to judge them against the comics, you'll only find disappointment. Like Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell went from being a meditation on the history Masonry, London, and humanity itself on the page to be a goofy Jack the Ripper whodunnit with Johnny Depp on the big screen. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City however is very a different beast.

It's not so much an adaptation of the comics as it is a direct translation. The movie is exactly like the comics and its exhilarating. I think the idea of total digital filmaking is really neat but too often the technical feats are exciting but the films are awful, like Sky Captain. That is definitely not the case with Sin City. Of course along with the strengths of the material it has the flaws (hackneyed dialog, thin characters) of Frank Miller's books as well. But ultimately its one of the funnest (and hideously violent) movies I've see in a good long while.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Mitch Hedberg 1968-2005

Comedian Mitch Hedberg is dead. Likely from a drug overdose. That really fucking sucks. Here's some choice Mitch quotes:

"I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it."

"I haven't slept for ten days, because that would be too long."

"I love blackjack. But I'm not addicted to gambling. I'm addicted to sitting in a semi-circle."

"I don't have a girlfriend. But I do know a woman who'd be mad at me for saying that."

"I saw a human pyramid once. It was very unnecessary. It did not need to exist."

"I think Pringles' initial intention was to make tennis balls. But on the day that the rubber was supposed to show up, a big truckload of potatoes arrived. But Pringles is a laid-back company. They said 'Fuck it. Cut 'em up.'"

"I have a cheese-shredder at home, which is its positive name. They don't call it by its negative name, which is sponge-ruiner. Because I wanted to clean it, and now I have little bits of sponge that would melt easily over tortilla chips."

"I got an ant farm. Them fellas don't grow shit."

"If carrots got you drunk, rabbits would be fucked up."

"I was at this casino minding my own business, and this guy came up to me and said, 'You're gonna have to move, you're blocking a fire exit.' As though if there was a fire, I wasn't gonna run. If you're flammable and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit."

More comedic brilliance here.

Friday, April 01, 2005


My new blog venture with my friends Keith and Ryan K. is Soapnix an MP3 blog, where we write about songs and post the tracks. We all have some pretty eclectic tastes in music so there should be some interesting music being shared. Keith has done most the posting so far (err make that all of the posting so far) but my first post is up today detailing the glory of "Mind Games"!