Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dirty Heads - "Lay Me Down"

When I first heard this song on Radio 104, I thought: "This sounds like something Bradley Nowell (from Sublime) would write in about 15 seconds."

Turns out, I was more right than I thought.

It's still catchy.



5-30-10: World Cup - Group Stage Picks

I’m really excited about the World Cup. I’ve been following European soccer quite closely since the last World Cup, so I’m ready for a few weeks of greatness to come.

With that, here are my picks for the Group Stage:


Group A:

South Africa
Mexico
Uruguay
France

Advance: Mexico and France.


Group B:

Argentina
Nigeria
South Korea
Greece

Advance: Argentina and Greece


Group C:

England
United States
Algeria
Slovenia

Advance: England and United States


Group D:

Germany
Australia
Serbia
Ghana

Advance: Germany and Ghana


Group E:

Netherlands
Denmark
Japan
Cameroon

Advance: Netherlands and Cameroon


Group F:

Italy
Paraguay
New Zealand
Slovakia

Advance: Italy and Slovakia


Group G:

Brazil
North Korea
Ivory Coast
Portugal

Advance: Brazil and Ivory Coast


Group H:

Spain
Switzerland
Honduras
Chile

Advance: Spain and Chile

Once that’s settled, I’ll make my Knockout Stage picks.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

5-29-10: The End of an Old Oxford Tradition

Every morning I listen to the New York Times’ Front Page podcast (it has vastly improved over the last few months) to get a feel for what’s going on. The other daily news podcast I listen to is the NPR Hourly Newscast, which also provides a great synopsis.

Yesterday morning I heard a story on the Front Page podcast about how Oxford’s All Souls College (the abbreviated name for “The Warden and College of the Souls of all Faithful People deceased in the University of Oxford”) is no longer requiring students to take a traditional admissions exam. The exam: given three hours and a single noun, write a coherent essay.

As a senior in high school, I was asked by the English department, along with several other students, to take part in a remarkably similar exam. It was voluntary, and there was a prize for the best essay. We were given a single sentence and had to write an essay in under two hours revolving around that sentence. Unfortunately, my vocabulary wasn’t quite, oh what’s the word, large enough, and one of the words in the sentence was brand new to me. I forget what it was, but it was a good SAT word, for sure. I didn’t win the prize.

I enjoyed the experience, but I can see where Oxford is coming from. As interesting as it sounds, after about an hour, you’re just trying to stretch it out. I can see where a single noun can be spun into something quite interesting, but what value can you get from a student trying to impress? They may babble on for pages and pages about some story in their life that they found relevant. How do you measure brilliance based on that? What’s the standard? Length? Coherence? It’s tough.

I think I’ll try something like this out, actually. I’ll be done with my Master’s in Electrical and Computer Engineering in August. Maybe once that’s all done and dusted, I’ll give this a shot. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

5-27-10: The Federal Response to the Gulf Oil Spill

I read something today saying the majority of people responding in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll (six out of ten respondents) disapproved of the Federal response to the Gulf Oil Spill.

I’m a bit torn on this. It could be because I’m from the north, far from the Gulf Coast, but I’m of the opinion that, for a few weeks at least, the people in charge underestimated the volume of oil coming from the leak. I have no idea if it was deliberate or not; that’s another issue altogether. But let’s assume you’re Obama. The timing isn’t great. You had announced recently plans to continue off-shore oil drilling when an oil platform in the Gulf exploded. As easy as it would be to blame the Bush Administration for allowing the safety regulations to be ignored by oil companies, your administration is on the hook for approving the permit for the platform that exploded over a month ago. Now you’ve got Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governor of Louisiana – who coincidentally has been called the “Republican Obama in waiting”, and James Carville, a renowned Louisiana native and Democratic television personality who advised Bill Clinton, saying the Federal response has been severely lacking. What do you do?

At first this looked like a state problem. Then, once the amount of oil entering the Gulf was found to be vastly underestimated, it became a regional disaster. Louisiana is the hardest hit thus far, but it could become an issue for other Gulf states soon. As a Libertarian, I’m normally of the opinion that, if a state can handle it, let them. But Louisiana has been shouting for help, and Jindal has been very vocal in saying: “Just let us do what we can.” He’s blaming the Federal Government for holding back the relief effort. Many people are still blaming BP for their problems; not many can outright blame the Feds for the oil reaching the coastline. I think Obama is in a bit of a pickle. All he can do is hope the measures being taken by BP – the “Top Kill” is the latest attempt – works, and soon. Then, he can focus on drilling safety to help prevent future disasters.

In the end, there are faults in the Federal response, but I see a lot of it as just acts of frustration. I like what Jindal is doing, and I feel for what Carville is expressing. I was at the beach yesterday afternoon nearby, and couldn’t help but think of the oil in the estuaries and marshes in the Gulf. It’s sad.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

5-26-10: The USA - Czech Republic Game

Last night, myself, the lady, and a few friends attended the USA vs. Czech Republic game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. We live about an hour south of the stadium, so it was quite convenient, and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to see the team before they left for South Africa.

It was my first USA game; first game featuring professionals for that matter. The highest level of soccer I’d ever watched in person was a Division 1 college game at Yale. It was amazing to see the differences. You get a feeling for the speed difference on television, but all the nuances are revealed only in person. The players are certainly gifted athletes.

Overall, it was quite fun. The ride in had its expected traffic problems, but we didn’t have much trouble finding parking (we parked at Cabella’s across the street). Getting out was even easier. I was surprised to see the sold-out stadium. I had figured the game would be well attended, but not a sell-out like it was. It was a great atmosphere for a game. The weather was perfect, too.

The team performed well overall despite the final score: 4-2 for the Czechs. Coach Bob Bradley is paring down his preliminary 30 man World Cup squad today, so he wanted to get a feeling for who would be in his final 23. More than half of the starting XI didn’t play, including Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard (though they did have Guzan in), and Jozy Altidore. They did have Jonathan Bornstein, Maurice Edu, a returning Oguchi Onyewu, and DeMarcus Beasley in, though. They played OK. Some of the younger players looked really good, like Herculez Gomez who scored the second U.S. goal. Overall it was disappointing to lose 4-2, but you could tell it wasn’t about the victory as much as it was allowing guys to get in and play.

The referee had obviously been told: don’t let anything crazy happen. The players were well behaved, but there were still a lot of whistles. About half-way through the second half, it got to be a little much. My friend turned to me and said “This game turned to mud fast.” It made it a bit boring, but it picked back up towards the end.

In the end, it was a lot of fun. I can only imagine what it's like to watch a World Cup match. Maybe one day, if I'm lucky, I'll get that chance.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Game Theory TV

Thanks, Freakonomics!

 
 

Sent to you by Pat via Google Reader:

 
 

via Freakonomics by By IAN AYRES on 5/24/10

Game theory lessons on YouTube.

 
 

Things you can do from here:

 
 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Nike World Cup TV Ad: Full Length Video

 
 

Sent to you by Pat via Google Reader:

 
 

via EPL Talk by The Gaffer on 5/20/10

The much anticipated World Cup TV commercial from Nike has been released. It features a cast of soccer superstars including Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Fabio Cannavaro, Franck Ribery, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Patrice Evra, Gerard Pique, Ronaldinho, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and Thiago Silva.

Directed by renowned Hollywood director and producer Alejandro G. IƱarritu (21 Grams, Babel), this epic football journey unfolds through a match of goal line clearances, game-winning tackles and lightning footwork that literally send a ripple effect across the world.

What do you think of it? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

Related posts:

  1. Video: Noel Gallagher on His World Cup Memories
  2. FA Cup Tour Visits Millwall FC: Video
  3. 1966 World Cup Semi-Final: England v Portugal: Video Flashback



 
 

Things you can do from here:

 
 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

5-16-10: The Bruins' Season

Going into Game 7 on Friday, I had little hope for the Bruins. They'd been up 3-0, sure. But, unlike other 3-0 series leads, it didn't seem, at least going in, that the Bruins should have had such a commanding lead on the series. After all, the Flyers had a nearly identical regular season record (they finished only one spot behind the Bruins in 7th place), and were just coming off a great series against the rival Devils. Going in, I figured it would be a good series.

And it was, for the most part. The Bruins had three good games in a row to take the 3-0 lead, then lost in overtime in Philadelphia on a goal from the returning start Simon Gagne. You'll give the Flyers that, with Game 5 in Boston.

Game 5 was the first indication to me that the Bruins were in trouble. They'd lost Krejci, and their offense had struggled all year. It looked like they'd run out of steam. They invested a lot, and the injuries really caught up to them. Sturm got hurt on the first shift of the series. Savard had just returned from a long stint away from the ice with a concussion. Mark Stuart also just returned from injury. It just didn't look like the Bruins had it. The Flyers, who had some bad moments themselves, looked more confident.

Then, as if to toy with us, the Bruins had a fantastic first period in Game 7, jumping to a 3-0 lead. It looked promising, but, as was the case with the first three games that gave the Bruins a 3-0 series lead, they ran out of energy, and gave up their 3-0 lead in the game. It was disappointing to see them lose at home.

Nevertheless, it didn't feel all that bad when you look at the team's situation. They made it to the second round, a feat many fans didn't see them accomplishing. I hope they will take this in stride, and there were a few players who really showed some heart. They certainly have some work to do on offense, though.

Friday, May 7, 2010

5-7-10: The Shelton Terrorist

Not having grown up in the All American Valley, I can't claim to be a native. I simply live there now. I'm writing this from my apartment in Derby, the smallest city (yes, it's a city!) in Connecticut. The house of Faisal Shahzad in Shelton is less than a mile from where I am currently sitting. The house is actually being foreclosed upon, which I'm guessing is a result of the same financial troubles Shahzad came upon that led him to become more religious, and eventually out for revenge against a system he grew to hate.

On a funnier note, here's an e-mail I got from my father after telling him how close Shahzad's old house is to me (NOTE: I moved to Derby after Shahzad and his family left Shelton):

Saw that. Also heard his house is being foreclosed upon. Probably a good buy with plenty of open space once the Shelton police, the FBI, the CIA, Homeland Security, Interpol, the New York City police, the Connecticut state police, and, less we forget, the Shelton housing authority (know [sic] idea how they're involved) get through with it.

I heard about Shahzad while driving down Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton on Tuesday, in fact. I had just left the gym (on that road), and was genuinely shocked to hear that, of all places, the guy lived so close by. The strange part was: I wasn't spooked by it. It was simply a strange coincidence. Had he recently lived in New York and New Jersey, I think I would have felt a bit more spooked by the fact that he was an American citizen working, in his mind, for a terrorist organization. But no, I was more surprised than anything to bother feeling scared.

I think people my age, I am 24 years old, have a peculiar way of looking at terrorism. I was a junior in high school when 9/11 happened. I remember it well. I remember when we invaded Afghanistan, then Iraq. I remember it being a time of immense national pride. I remember the feeling that we had to beat the terrorists by hiding our fear, because they were so far away. They still are, for the most part, despite the acts of one man who happened to be a U.S. citizen. Hell, there were even some people that doubted what he did was actually terrorism! I guess part of the requirements for being a terrorist are that you have to come here solely to perform the act. People thought Ted Kaczynski was just a nut, and that Timothy McVeigh was a monster, but how many times have you heard them called terrorists? What is it about the term makes it relate only to foreigners bent on destroying American society? I consider Kaczynski and McVeigh terrorists. I think the same of the Columbine shooters.

Home-grown terrorism is something a lot of people think is a matter of either insanity or intolerance, yet when we speak of the War on Terror, it's a foreign policy debate. What do people feel about Shahzad, then? He's not a native to our land, but he was a naturalized citizen. Where does he fit into the mix?

He's a terrorist with an American passport, folks. Live with it. We're just lucky he's really bad at it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

5-5-10: Spurs Win Champions League Spot

Great win today by Tottenham over Manchester City.

Here's my favorite highlight from today's action:


Saturday, May 1, 2010