Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You Make The Call (Or Fold (Or Raise)) II

Here's a somewhat similar situation to the last You Make The Call post. Still pretty early in a No-Limit Hold'em Tourney at Phil's (blinds are 20/40), I find myself in mid-position with 7h 8h. Sean, one to my right, limped in and I followed behind him. Action folded around to the blinds, SB calls and BB checks.

Flop is 8d Th 3c. Everyone checks to me, and I make it $100 to go. Both blinds fold, and Sean calls.

Turn is 8s (sweet). Sean checks, I bet $300. Sean calls. Hmmm..... two check-calls.

River is Td, the worst card that could have come. The board is now 8d Th 3c 8s Td. Sean bets $300. I have about $2,300 left, and Sean has about $2,000 left.

So the question is, do you call, fold or raise?

Nigerian Princes Have Emigrated To England!

Do you get a lot of spam? On one of my old email addresses that I still have to use, I do. Just got this email, and it made me chuckle. Instead of the normal splash of images and exclamation points to get my attention, this note contained no images and was written in courier font, as you might expect a government note would be. The good news is, it will only cost me $98 to get an ATM card worth $1.5 million! I plan to use my money to get our nation back to a budget surplus.

PO BOX 555, NEW YORK NY 10116-0555 
EMAIL: upsinspector@in.com

This is to notify you that we have intercepted your parcel from DHL COURIER SERVICE is making the delivery and we have stopped the delivery process for some 

security reasons stated below:

1.  Our scanning system has detected that your parcel contains a confirmable ATM CARD to the tune of $1,500,000.00 USD.

2.  Such ATM CARD coming from African /Europe/Asia is been verified by the POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE which we have directed our inspection team to proceed 

with the verification to ascertain the authenticity of the ATM CARD and now after all the verification on the Parcel/ATM CARD, having contacted the issuing 

institution who made it known to our office that the ATM CARD is a Genuine one and Not ILLEGALLY ACQUIRED. We have also forwarded the Serial Number of the 

ATM CARD to the U.S, Treasury Department and they confirmed that the CARD is Authentic and ready to be cashed at any ATM MACHINES.

Also for the Delivery of the Parcel to continue, you are in obligation to obtain from England, a Duly Sworn Affidavit from British High Court which will back 

up the Origin of Fund. This is in line with the Anti-Terrorist Campaign which the USA Government has embarked on recently to protect our Territory from 

future attacks. You should therefore contact the sender of the ATM CARD or the DHL Courier Agent in LOndon,England to get the Sworn Affidavit for you while 

we wait to receive from you the Affidavit File Number to enable us forward your ATM CARD to your address. 

Below is his contact information. Note that the cost of the Affidavit is $98 and do not hesitate to remit the amount to him.

Name: David Martins
Email address: dmartins2000@bellsouth.net
Tel: +44 704 570 5374

We shall then forward the ATM CARD to you and you will be sure of a genuine ATM CARD that is coming to you.  We are doing this for your interest considering 

the rate which fraudulent and stolen checks/ATM CARD are been sent to our innocent citizen that most times put them in problem. Always send your 

correspondence to our secure email: upsinspector@in.com

Your urgent action on this notice will be appreciated.


Walter Moore
Chief Postal Inspector

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Meet the Natives

I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do, I usually resort to the same old shows since not much on is worth the time it takes to watch. I wonder how many more channels we would need to get some decent shows. Some of the shows I turn on when there is nothing on are Dirty Jobs, Criminal Minds, Numb3rs and Fringe. Yeah, sorta nerdy, sorry. But I found a new show tonight that was severely entertaining and in many ways heartwarming and educational: Meet the Natives.

I am fascinated by tribal cultures and have been known to begin nonsensical rants with, "well, if we all lived back in tribal times...". But I find a lot of documentaries boring. Some of the shows where guys, usually British for some reason, insert themselves into a tribe for a spell can be pretty interesting but often feel stretched out and sometimes staged. This show center around five ambassadors from a small culture from the pacific island Tanna. They have an odd system of beliefs and connections with the West, specifically with Prince Philip and a WWII guy who went by (I'm guessing) the nome de guerre Tom Navy.

These guys ditch their traditional nambas for clothes that will keep them warm in the U.S., and they travel to five locations to spread their message of peace and happiness: Montana, New York City, Peoria, IL, Orange County, CA, and Ft.Stewart GA/Washington D.C. And their message comes through. They are quick to point out with a refreshingly simple honesty many of the things they see in our lives that are the same, that are great and that they do not like. It is both an interesting and fun show, although I admit it brought to mind various newsletters from a simpler day, when some brave ambassadors from the University of Dayton spread their own messages of peace, brotherly love and jock-strap nambas.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Audit the Fed

As anyone who follows politics realizes quickly, some things stay the same, some things change. I've been shocked that this Audit the Fed bill, pushed by Rep. Ron Paul, has gotten as far as it has. First off, who cares about monetary policy? Second, with super corrupt politicans running both parties, who'd a thunk that they would support the audit of an organization that so many of them, just months ago, said should run the unsupervised distribution of trillions of taxpayer dollars. Ahhhh yes, the voters are mad. I guess that still makes a difference in this day and age. Voters getting mad has changed, politicians doing anything to keep their jobs has not.

I encourage you to watch this whole video, it's not super long, just over 13 minutes. Take the time to understand how confused some of these experts are on the difference between auditing an organization and controlling it (would they object to a corporation getting audited as the same thing as relinquishing control of it?). Look how mad the opening Republican is. I also especially like the ending of it, where the healthcare bill slips into conversation, as does Clute, TX.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Illusory superiority

I am a decent cook. Actually, I am an above average cook. I don't do it a ton- my wife (God bless her) does much more than me. But when I actually do head into the kitchen to make something, it usually turns out to be pretty good.

At least that is what I have for a long time believed about myself.

Then Sept. 23 rolled around and that entire thought was blown to pieces.

Before I finish the above story, I need to delve into something called "illusory superiority." This is a bias that exists in each one of our minds that makes us either overestimate what we see as desirable qualities in ourselves or underestimate the degree of what we see as negative qualities. This defense mechanism creates a belief in our mind that we are better at those things we wish we were good at than we really are. A classic example of this was a study done by a researcher named Swenson in 1981 that surveyed Swedish and American drivers about their driving ability. What they found was pretty impressive- nearly all (93%) of the American drivers thought that they were in the top 50% of drivers with regards to driving skill and safety. Swedish drivers were not quite as generous but still thought they were better than they probably were (69% placed themselves in the top 50%). With regards to safety as an individual measurement, 88% of the US group and 77% of the Swedish group put themselves in the top 50%.

This effect of illusory superiority has been demonstrated time and again and brings us to a very uncomfortable conclusion- none of us are as good as we think we are in nearly every aspect of our lives. For instance, I have been involved in 4 car accidents as a driver, three in which the car I was driving was totalled (one of the contributors to this blog and one of its frequent readers might remember one of these events). Yet, despite this, I would not only say that I am in the top 50% of safe drivers out there, but I would also probably say that I am in the top 10% of safe drivers on the road.

This brings me back to the story of Sept. 23. As I mentioned above, I have always thought of myself as an above average cook. On Sept. 23, my wife's birthday, I decided to make her a cake. A german chocolate cake to be exact. I had visions of this cake turning out perfectly and me winning years of "Good husband points" as a result. But the truth of the matter was not quite so pretty. The cake, to put it mildly, sucked. I forgot to put icing between the two layers of the cake so it literally started to fall apart about 10 minutes after I iced it. To make matters worse, this was not a cake made from scratch. This was actually a box cake and it practically made itself, or would have if I knew what in the world I was doing. In the end, it looked like a bear had eaten a bag of shredded coconut and then crapped on a cake platter. Here are two pictures- see for yourself.

My wife was great about this. I actually acumulated all the necessary karma points but she did email the above picture to all of her friends. I would have, too, if I were her.

So this above experience has caused me to try to take an accurate assessment of my life. I am trying to get outside of the illusory superiority that exists in my brain and see if I can identify where I really stand on certain skills. Below is a list of aspects of life that people often think that they are better than they really might be. After much reflection, the first ranking is what I now think is an accurate assessment of where I truly stand on these skills. The rankings in parentheses are actually where I used to believe I stood (100% being the best in the world, 0% being the worst).

Athletics: 40%- this is difficult. I think that I am a top 20% runner but yet I am a bottom 20% basketball/football player. Since most people's idea of sports is weighted towards team sports rather than things like running, I give myself a less then 50% vote- (80%)
Sense of humor/wit: 80%- (70%)
Driving: 95%- (40%)
My skill at my profession: 90%- (75%)
Looks: 50%- (50%)
Poker playing ability: 25%- (25%)
Photography: 80%- (50%)

Please feel free to comment on your own assessment of yourself or your assessment of my assessment of myself.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Going Rouge

Ahhhh, Sarah Palin is back in the news. Or maybe she never left. What an odd phenomenon she represents in both the U.S. and in "conservative" circles. With her new book coming out, some are rushing to the stores to snatch their copy of "Going Rogue". Actually, more than some, she already enjoys one of the highest nonfiction opening days in history, selling over 300,000 copies (just under Bill Clinton's first day, but surpassing Hillary's).

Mrs. Palin is a surprisingly complex woman. She is a walking composite wedge issue -- you can find something to like or hate in her, depending on what's important to you. This makes her both divisive and perhaps less important ultimately than her attention warrants. Let's hit upon some issues she seems to represent as well as some of the traits she embodies that have so many people talking about her.

She's pretty.

I think it's tough to deny that Sarah Palin is a pretty woman. Many liberals might gag at this because they are overwhelmed by her other attributes, but they would probably have no trouble saying Tina Fey is pretty. Mrs. Palin is attractive enough (but not too attractive) to invite the admiration of other women. In men, she might stir a chivalrous reaction. Beauty is one of the first things we notice about people, and we spend an inordinate amount of time looking at our politicians on TV. So it's hard to throw out looks as unimportant, especially when so many female politicians trend in the other direction.

She's a full time employee, full time mom.

This is one of the most important draws in my mind for Mrs. Palin. The women of Generation X have been the first generation in America raised on the bad medicine that they can have it all. Actually, depending on who you are and where you're from, many women have been taught to put their careers first and hold off on family. But one way or the other, millions of working women, working moms and soccer moms across the nation struggle to find this balance in their own lives just to survive. Mrs. Palin has five children, a grandchild from her single daughter, a decent if unremarkable husband and was the governor of Alaska. Talk about a full plate -- a plate full of modern day apple pie successes and problems. It's not so much that other women look to her as "she's done it", but they look to her as "she struggles just like me."

She's a simpleton.

I mean this with all due respect. There's nothing wrong with keeping it simple on a personal level. But in many ways, when I hear Mrs. Palin talk, I am instantly reminded of Dan Quayle. In fact, the parallels are numerous: Vice-president material, concerns about ability or gravitas, good looking, etc. [For full disclosure, I have an autographed copy of Dan Quayle's "Standing Firm" that my dear mom stood in line to get signed and gave to me as a present. Dan Quayle and I share our alma mater and are both better than average golfers. His book was as difficult to read as you might imagine.]

This is where the MSM really lurched at Mrs. Palin. Recall the inappropriate Charles Gibson interview, where he cornered Mrs. Palin about the "Bush doctrine." I had never heard of the Bush doctrine either, and I follow these things fairly closely. In fact, I doubt Mr. Bush accomplished enough as president to establish any doctrine of note -- I've never heard anyone else speak of the "Bush doctrine." Well, watching Mrs. Palin squirm was a telling moment for both "sides". One group thought this proved she was an idiot, the other group thought it proved the MSM is rigged and she could hold her cool under pressure. In either case, this childish tactic could have backfired on Mr. Gibson as his ratings continued to drop and he was eventually forced to announce his "retirement" this September.

There are numerous other stories and quotes that one group interepreted one way and another group the other way. What Mrs. Palin may lack in worldly experience she seems to make up for in honesty and common sense -- two qualities dearly lacking in D.C. However, common sense can only go so far especially when the office of President of the United States is concerned.

Guns, Abortion, Christianity

This decently clever photoshopped picture to the left sums up a lot of images that people like or hate to have about Sarah Palin. On guns, she's a hunter, and all winter long her family lives off harvested meat. On abortion, she has five children, one has autism, and her single daughter has a child. She has not only made it verbally clear, but walks the walk that abortion is not an acceptable part of her life. She is an unabashed Christian, although her apparent membership in a Seventh-Day Adventist Church is as controversial as it is reassuring to traditional Christians.

By contrast in the previous election, our current president made fun of small town folks -- explaining them away practically as aliens to a more important crowd in San Francisco -- for bitterly clinging to guns and religion. He had also said that he would advise his own daughter to abort his own grandchild if the situation should ever occur that she might be saddled with an unexpected baby. Quite a contrast indeed. This political gap on hot-button issues of our time immediately made Palin a star and enemy to many.

Who else is the GOP gonna turn to?

This is perhaps the saddest truth about the situation. John McCain was a straight talk express trainwreck of a candidate. His independence streak ended up not emerging from strong, unshakable principles, where the rest of the world zig-zagged around him as he remained constant as the northern star. No, his "maverick" ways were the result of a superficial political expediency, going which ever way he could to make a name for himself and appear bi-partisan. By the end of the day, he was clearly more aligned with Joe Lieberman than conservatives like Ron Paul. He knew he was losing and needed a boost. In swings the dea ex machina Palin.

And now that the GOP has been thoroughly destroyed and humiliated for its sins of the recent past, there is a vacuum of power and direction in the party. Things are so bad for the brand that characters ranging from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to Mitt Romney and Mike "Shucks" Huckabee to Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty, and yes, even to Sarah Palin are being thrown around as the "future" of the party. The GOP is so clueless even now as to why it lost so badly while it helped destroy our country that it is further exaggerating its own limited imagination, as its website is trying to make the party look home to diversity and multiculturalism. (This from a group so lacking in free speech concerns that they wouldn't let Ron Paul on the stage in some debates!) I know there are and have been plenty of black Republicans, but let's not let reality get completely distorted. African-Americans as a group continue to be political sheep, and they baaaa towards the Democrat side, not the Republican. The GOP will get nowhere chasing race.

Meanwhile, "conservatives" are rising up all over the country in reaction to the liberal landslide in what appears to be independent thought and outrage. As the GOP tries to take advantage of this, they continue to betray the truth of their own allegiance to big power, not to the people. Here is a very recent speech by John Boehner, arguably the most powerful GOP left in office, as he completely confuses the Constitution with the Declaration of Inedependence (imagine the uproar if Nancy Pelosi had made the same mistake? Ahh, the conservative movement has far to go in honesty and alertness)

[I deeply apologize for asking the reader to watch Rick Sanchez, who is absolutely awful.]

She's a real person.

This may seem like an empty or sarcastic comment, but I saved it for last as I believe it ultimately is Mrs. Palin's greatest charm and attraction (and her greatest real public attribute). It is also perhaps her most unspoken aspect and one that Americans need to be willing to talk about in regard to whom we elect as leaders. We know where Mrs. Palin comes from. We know where she grew up. She has a regional accent. She doesn't come from privilege. She is as typical as most girls are in this country. Contrast that with politicians like George Bush and Al Gore, who claim to be from states they're not really from; who were raised by political families and groomed purposefully albeit poorly to become something they were incapable of becoming, and yet were forced upon us anyway.

Compare that to our current president, who was born in Hawaii, had his father abandon his family, spent a good chunk of his childhood in Indonesia with a step father, lived in Kansas for awhile, travelled the world on someone else's dime, was finally baptised for the establishment by Harvard, is torn between two religious identities, two racial cultures and is more a child of the world than a child of the United States. Despite (or because of) the idiotic birthers movement, very few people openly questioned the importance of the background of our president. Or perhaps because his background was so hard to define, we could barely even talk about it -- a lot of simplistic lies really hampered discussion. Now along comes a person like Sarah Palin. And she is attacked by many for precisely the things we should be seeking in leaders: some kind of normalcy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Other White Meat

If you're in the Lou this Friday night and looking for some rock n roll, head down to Vito's. Known for their ability to make people dance and at times inspire riots, Pork has been a local favorite since the mid-90's.

Although their relationship with their fans has often been described as lustful (their really love their fans), tensions in the last 6 years have actually kept the band offstage. While never officially breaking up, the band hasn't played a show since January 3, 2003. The reason for the disharmony? An intra-band dispute over writing credits for their songs. But fortunately for the St. Louis music scene, the band has come to a consensus that the majority of their songs were probably written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

So if you're a fan of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bob Dylan, or any other band, come on down to Vito's and check out Pork, who will take the stage about 10:30. And... I'll be sitting in with them on bass, trying to do my best Bill Wyman impression (or at least my best Mike Callahan impression).

Hope to see you there!

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."

President Obama is lighting the place up for better or worse. The "unintended consequences" of representing our president in the fashion (depicted on the right) by Chinese artist Liu Bolin perhaps outweigh his actual sentiment, which is completely lost on Occidental cultures. However, the phrase "unintended consequences" probably will end up best representing President Obama's legacy, as the gigantic federal programs he has continued from the Bush era and greatly expanded in his own way will leave a huge footprint on the backs of the American middle class. News Nits credits our president with his first good move of reversing the missile shield slated for the Czech Republic and Poland. Although some experts have critiziced him for his lack of tact in an area that demands diplomacy and delicacy, it is at least the right move strategically. Otherwise, it is business as usual in the nation's capital. [N.B. News Nits knows that the missile shield reversal was old news, but we are constantly trying to find positive things about the current administration and are willing to be redundant when faced with a vacuum.]

The internet is freaking out. First off, speaking of freaking out, Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, revealed her complete lack of composure and tact (despite her obvious intelligence) by insulting the people we are both bombing and fighting for. This now seems to be a pattern with Mrs. Clinton, who earler freaked out immaturely as she was horrified that someone might ask a question about her husband, the former president.

Now back to something much more interesting, the internet, er, freaking out. A district judge has ruled that email is not protected by the fourth amendment, which restricts the government from conducting unlawful search and seizures of property. Although we at News Nits are constantly hawking over any government infringements of civil liberties for you, dear reader, it is tough to disagree with this ruling. Email resides on a third-party server and is their property, not yours. We shudder to think of the implications, though, that companies like Google and Facebook literally own so many parts of us. It does beg the question that there might be a business opportunity here though... email that functions more like letters or phone calls than like, well, email.

Also, internet addresses are set to change from their Latin base only to accepting other character bases, like Chinese or Arabic. I smell opportunity again. Facebook has won a lawsuit against super-spammer Wallace to the tune of $711 million. And in a weird move yesterday, Mark Cuban announced a plan he has to kill Google. (News Nits wishes he would focus his brilliance on the Mavericks.)

Time for the News Nits wrap up. Wired remembers the death of Leon Theremin with a nifty little piece about him and an almost touching video of him playing his bizarre instrument. Here are six really cool(?) things you can do with electricity. As the energy/oil/military/foreign policy/gas prices/climate change debate heats up[sic], it's perhaps more interesting to focus on some of the simpler aspects of reality, like that currently, about 10% of the energy in the U.S. comes from recycled nuclear warheads, many of which come from the old USSR. And in an ongoing thread here at News Nits that examines the effects of sports technology designed to increase the safety of athletes while possibly actually causing harm (re: expensive running shoes...), the WSJ writes about a link between football helmets and concussions. Talk about unintended consequences.

If anyone can figure out what the Frank is going on with Iran, News Nits wants to know. When Russians aren't busy selling us their fissional material, they're selling chopped up humans to kebab houses. And the Post Office announced it lost $3.8 billion last year. If you work for the USPS don't worry about layoffs, a bunch of jobs are about to open up in the government healthcare sector. Finally, we think this picture is funny and would be appreciated very much by contributor Roller.
You know how Congress is. They'll vote for anything if the thing they vote for will turn around and vote for them. Politics ain't nothing but reciprocity. -- Will Rogers

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Phil Ivey

As I type this post, the final table of the World Series Of Poker Main Event is underway. You've probably seen commercials on ESPN, you're probably familiar with the poker boom, how to play No Limit Texas Hold 'Em, and you have probably at least seen the gentlemen to the right's face a few times. The final table of the Main Event will air on ESPN on Tuesday night, and Phil Ivey will be one of 9 players who beat a field of over 6,000 entrants and made the final table. Beating a field of 6,000 is an incredible accomplishment for all players at the final table, but it caps off a pretty remarkable 15 year run for one Phil Ivey.

For those of you who don't know who Phil Ivey is, at the age of 18 he introduced himself to a table of 7-Card Stud regulars at a casino in Atlantic City as Jerome. On his 21st birthday he came in and reintroduced himself as Phil. Fast-forward 12 years, and he's widely considered the best poker player in the world. He plays (and wins) in the highest stakes you (he) can find, both online and live. Aside from making millions of dollars a year in poker, Ivey is also a part-owner of FullTiltPoker. (Cha-ching).

Money, talent and compulsion to gamble makes for a pretty insane life... one that I can't help but gawk at from time to time. Ivey has been asked by Tiger Woods how he handles the pressure of making million-dollar decisions. He's teased Michael Jordan, asking him why he's "nitting" it up, when Jordan "only" bets $10 grand a hand when they play BlackJack. You remember the last play of the first half of last year's Super Bowl? Ivey had the Cardinals in the first half. That play cost him $800,000 (he said he was watching the game with his mom, too, so he couldn't exactly express his true feelings at the time).

Before the beginning of the 2008 WSOP, a confident Phil Ivey laid a lot of people pretty favorable odds that he would win a bracelet in one of the tournament's 50+ events. He found many takers. Time passed, and no bracelets. More bets made. No bracelets. Big bets on NBA playoff games. No bracelets. The picture to the right sums up Phil Ivey's 2008 WSOP (Phil wasn't upset because he's a big Jazz fan).

Before the beginning of the 2009 WSOP, a confident Phil Ivey laid a lot of people even odds that he would win a bracelet in one of the tournament's 50+ events. Again, he found takers. It didn't take long before Phil won one (his 6th overall), and minutes later he was offering anyone who wanted double-or-nothing. He found takers, and won another bracelet soon after. He offered more action, but by that point no one was bold enough to bet against him.

The WSOP ends each year at the end of July with the Main Event. Ivey showed up for the Day 1 of the event coming straight from a 36-hour session at Bobby's Room. (Barry Greenstein, half-jokingly, said that unless Phil wins the $8.5 million first place prize, playing the tournament might have actually cost Ivey money. The games in Bobby's Room were pretty juicy, with pots over $1 million a few times a day.) Eight days later, play broke when Jordan Smith was eliminated in 10th place. Immediately thereafter, just like many of the seven days prior, Ivey was overheard on his mic whispering to a member of his crew, "Lock me up a seat at Bobby's."

Tournament promoters and sponsors finally got what they'd been wishing for: one of the most well-known and respected pros at the Final Table with a complete amateur like Darvin Moon, the lumberjack from Maryland. The perfect balance of a champ to pull for and a "hey, if this guy can do it..." Joe Average. Ivey only has about 30 big blinds going into the Final Table, good for 7th in chips. He'll need a little luck in the beginning to keep from being chased down by the blinds and antes, but if he does manage to chip up, look out (Las Vegas odds makers aren't too worried, laying the man 7th in chips 7:2 odds to win the whole thing).

Anyone else out there completely bedazzled by all this? Anyone else tuning in on Tuesday night to hopefully watch Ivey pull down his 8th bracelet?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Risking Death for Reproduction

Have you ever noticed how many worms die on your driveway/sidewalk/curb/street? If not, the photo to the right and its informative caption should give you a frame of reference.

After a good rain, my driveway is like a virtual worm cemetery. My guess is that accidental suicide, not the hungry Robin, is the leading cause of death to Annelids everywhere.

So why do worms come up from their burrows when it rains? Is it because they will drown in their water-soaked homes? That sounds logical, but it's actually not the case. The truth is that worms don't have room to mate underground, and like its ancestors the armadillo and raccoon, must come above ground to procreate. But as many a sidewalk knows, coming up for a quick roll in the grass is a risky endeavor for these creatures. So they wait until Mother Nature sets the mood, so to speak, to keep their species alive. The only problem being that they often can't find their way back home!

I feel bad for the worms. After a moment of pleasure, they are probably too delirious to know where they're going. All of a sudden they're not on dirt anymore and just not smart enough to find their way back. Perhaps enough of the geographically-challenged members of the species will die off, and worms as a species will evolve to know how to get back to organic ground (or never leave it).

And that will make for some well-fed Robins.

And if they continue to evolve, well, we can only hope that Michael Gross is still around!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ending the charade

At this point in time, to call myself a contributor to this blog, would be like calling the University of Illinois Football team the favorites for the national championship. A few weeks or months ago, I don't know which, I tried to revive my blogability by giving new life to our Law & Order series. Not only did it send our few loyal readers back into print media, it virtually crippled ratings for the new season of L&O . . . so the research hasn't come totally back on that one yet, but the hate e-mail I got from the sole member of the Elizabeth Olivet fan club sounded pretty convincing.

The effort on my part was specifically designed to draw myself back into the blogosphere. Get blogolicious ideas floating around in my head. Get back that blogging feeling, whooooa that blogging feeeeeling. I knew no one was going to respond, but I thought maybe it would rid my brain of the only other idea I had for a post, which, fortunately for you, is the subject of this one.

I'm done. I am officially resigning my position as the Loop blogger. The only idea I've had for a blog post in the last six months was one about how I really have no desire to post anymore. While it is true that the blog has drifted in a direction that doesn't really fit my style, I can only blame myself for going into blog hibernation for 6 months at a time.

Marty, Austin or Jim (all aliases) would be more than suitable replacements for me, though only one is a true Loop native. By virtue of their commenting in the past year, they have all demonstrated that they would be a much better asset to the blog than I.

This isn't to say that I am done writing or blogging. I'm quite sure I can't delete myself from this blog and I doubt Roller is going to do it for me. Perhaps in six months to a year, we can revisit my participation on an internship level. In the meantime, my writing needs to focus on other areas. In particular, getting hired at a great company and scoring chicks. Preferably ones that have not have corrective surgery.

I can only end this by saying that this is as good as I've felt about a post in a long time. I just feel bad it had to be about me not posting anymore. Good luck everyone.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."

Whoah is we at News Nits. We have not been as on top of our game as we normally are. We apologize profusely and will do anything we can to get our readership back. Both of them. We are also excited by the addition of another contributor and hope he builds upon his debut piece. However, we will continue to count him among our readers so as not to alarm our advertisers.

It's been awhile, so News Nits is prepared to go on a tear, or a buddha shaped pear. In fact, we're going to go retrograde on your brain, reaching back for old material from before the last news nits only to switch and zoom ahead to the current time. We can not guarantee your lack of confusion. Brace yourself Neo, News Nits does not strive for coherence.

While Congress continues to expand into more corners of our lives, they cannot seem to protect what they should protect, as Chinese hackers have hacked in again to our (very expensive) Joint Strike Fighter program. For the runners among us, it appears that running shoes might be bad for your body. Run barefoot or in sandals! And while running, listen to Vatican radio. Who said religion and science are incompatible, the Vatican is building the largest solar panel field in Europe just north of Rome. Let's see Dan Brown try to undermine that.

Last April, the CFO of Freddie Mac, David Kellerman committed suicide. Let us never forget the cesspool of government corruption and regulation that has consumed more men than poor Mr. Kellerman, if it really was a suicide. If we still counted unemployment the way we did before the Clinton administration, it would be above 20%.

Recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, our president, has still failed to close Guantanamo Bay prison. Little Yemen won't even take back their own citizens. Remember when this was hailed as some sort of accomplishment? Looks like no one wants all these innocent saints. In fact, our peace loving president is reopening military trials. Perhaps he will hire Dick Cheney as a consultant. As more and more time goes by, Mr. Obama is appearing to be more and more like Mr. Bush. It is the height of arrogance or sophomoric intelligence to think that if we simply replace the regulators, things will work better.

With the swine flu starting to go around the U.S., let's take a moment to put it in context with the 10 worst epidemics in history. A man has successfully become the first U.S. patient to undergo a double hand transplant. For those of you with chilluns, do you really need the baby monitors? You're messing up my Wi-Fi, man! And if you ever get in some medical trouble, just twitter your friends, and they'll hit 911 if you can't.

In a painfully simple conversation, Rep. Steven Cohen makes a fool out of the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller. Watch for yourself, and continue to think about the differences between behavior and laws, and families and the federal government.

Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.
- H. H. Williams
Maybe our politicians could learn something from Mr. Williams. News Nits wonders in all honesty, WTF? What would Eric Holder think (WWEHT?). Global Climate change theories remain a work in progress, to say the least.

So let's wrap this issue up with just a few more nits. A Russian billionaire has installed an anti-picture-taking laser on his ridiculously awesome yacht. And if you haven't read about how the Netflix challenge was finally won, it's worth the read. The method that created the solution is perhaps more interesting than the solution itself. And finally, even the head of the worldbank is cautioning against giving the Federal Reserve more power (more power that Bernanke insists is necessary for our safety). If things are bad now, it's going to really hurt if the world begins to reject the U.S. dollar as the vehicle currency.

And with that thought, we return to the present moment. Have a good weekend, dear reader.
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
-- G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Trying something new

I was recently talking to Roller and he told me that at some point, he hoped that a lot of people would someday contribute to this blog. Now, I have no intention of being a regular contributor and at first I didn't think much about his comment. As you may or may not know, I haven't always been the first person to adopt new technologies- in fact, I am sure I was the last person who has ever posted, commented or even read this blog to have a cell phone. But now, I am trying to turn over a new leaf. At this point, I am 75% sure that these computers thingies are going to stay around, at least for the near future. In addition, since they got this internet thing on computers now, I imagine this is going to appeal to a lot of people, including all the kids out there with their new do-dads and whats-it-nots. If you haven't checked out this "web" that stretches "worldwide" you should try it right now.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 12% of Americans create or contribute to their own online journal or blog. So if I actually submit this entry to Roller and he decides to publish it on the blog, do you see what this means? I have, for the first time in my life, become an early adapter of new technology. I will be in the elite group of bloggers, looking forever down on the 88% of those of you who have either never blogged or got into this technology after I did. That's right- AFTER I DID. I haven't felt this superior since I signed up a long time ago for a Facebook account before most people did (and then proceeded to never check my account again).

I really am making an attempt to become technologically inclined and this January an event happened in my life that forever changed me- my wife got me an iphone for Christmas. I know that people say possessions aren't everything and that they cannot make you happy. I am hear to tell you that those people are a) full of crap and b) have never owned an iphone. My iphone is the greatest toy I have ever received. I am particularly fond of the app store which I explore on a regular basis looking for new apps to download. While you can find just about anything on the app store, I have listed a few apps that I hope to God will be available for download in the near future and that I am waiting anxiously for.

Personal weather app: I know what you are thinking- "Aren't there like 10000 apps that are out there for updating you on the weather?" and, of course, the answer is yes. But this is a "personal" weather app. What it does is create a high pressure system directly around you which ensures that at all times, there are only sunny skies above you with humidity that never exceeds 30%. If you are willing to pay a little extra you can get the Frenemie add-on that allows you to create a low pressure system around anyone that you have friended on Facebook but secretly cannot stand. This will ensure rainclouds around that person at all time, no matter what the local weather is supposed to be.

Love app: as we all know, Google acquired the rights to the emotion that we call love in 2007. Since that time they have been working with the folks at Apple and have created an app that actually takes care of all the messiness (which girls like to call "romance") of that thing that we call love. This app actually sends a signal to your brain that let's you know things that no guy is supposed to know. For instance, this app will update you on such important nuggets as "If you place 1500 candles in this poorly ventilated space in the second story of your house, the carbon monoxide that is released will be assessed by your wife/girlfriend/girl-you-just-met-at-the-bar's brain as romantic and you will increase your chance of intercourse by 40%." Please try to tell me that you wouldn't pay $1.99 for this.

Diaper changer app: here is a conversation that I have actually had with my son more than once (and I'm not kidding about this)- "My god, you weigh 20 lbs. How the hell could you have just placed a 6 lbs load in your pants? Have you been packing yourself like a musket just waiting for a moment until your mom left the house?" Once you download this app, this conversation will never happen again- this app will take care of all those number two's for you. Of note, this app is not necessary for parents to download until a child turns 4-6 months old and solid foods are introduced. As we all know, this is the age in which your little angel begins to make what I like to call "man poops". It is amazing how much you can love something and yet so despise something that comes out of their body.

Babysitter app: for some reason, the department of family services in St. Louis says to me that I cannot just leave my son at home with a whistle in his crib while I go out to a bar to have a beer. For some reason, the cops that have come to my house and ticketed me for this issue don't accept "this is bulls**t" as an explanation. Once I download this app, the man will no longer be able to interfere with my god-given right to get a beer at a bar while leaving my child at home without adult supervision.

I have been following this blog and I have seen how the dynamics of the comments section works so I can anticipate some of the possible comments that may arise. As a result, I would like to post my responses to these upcoming comments here to save time:
1) Response to G: If you truly want to have an open discussion about this issue, you are going to have to bring some debatable points to the table. You cannot just state that the iphone is the spawn of Satan without providing a shred of evidence. I am going to have to know exactly how Lucifer gave birth to an iphone before we will be able discuss this issue like two grown adults. Thus, either support your statement or retract it. While you are retracting, I am also going to have to have you retract statements 2,3,5,7,13 and 15 that you made as well. Statements 4, 6, 8 and 9 were totally incomprehensible so no need to retract those. Please do not retract the nude picture of Farrah Fawcett- your argument was quite convincing and I would like to hear more of it.

2) Response to Ryan: You elitist bastard. Also, I am not so sure that it is accurate to say that a cabal of computer programmers have acted in concert with the federal reserve to use the iphone to infringe on our personal freedoms in the way that you outline. Still, here is a link to a website that contains information about people doing good things for society that Sarah Palin would label as "dangerous to America."

Finally, in keeping with tradition, I will close with a loaded question that I will present for all to comment on- would you prefer to hang out in a closed room with one of Sarah Palin's death panels that wants to kill your grandmother or a room full of adorable puppies?

Friday, September 18, 2009

30 Years of Law & Order: Part VI.I Update

Now that TLATL's readership is soaring at an unprecedented rate, it is time to rekindle the series on our favorite courtroom drama, Law & Order. We've taken quite a hiatus. Since our last installment, there have been many changes. Junior Detective Nina Cassidy left the two-seven after only one year and was replaced by Det. Cyprus Lupo. Then the unthinkable, Detective Green leaves. Cyprus Lupo moves to senior detective while Kevin Bernard takes his old position of junior detective. Bernard is no stranger to the 27th precinct as he was the Internal affairs detective who investigated a shooting involving Green. The new Executive ADA is Michael Cutter. A young no-nonsense go-getter, that reminds us all of a certain young DA whose brass was a little too shiny for his saxophone. That's right, I'm talking about Robinett.

Of course I'm talking about Jizzack McCizzoy. He assumed the role of District Attorney. TLATL has made some changes of our own. We've added a member to our blogging crew. Ryan has gone from lead commenter to kick-ass contributor.

So we had to ask ourselves, how do we finish this series without starting from the top? To fix this, Roller and I took our TLATL residuals and went to Vegas. We spent six days and seven nights pouring over not only all of our previous posts but also the newer episodes of this epic drama which will air its 20th season this fall (for those keeping score at home, that's a photo of roller reassuring Coovo that there's always next year). We came up with the following:

  • The subject of our final post and the final position of the show is the Asst. ADA, currently held by Connie Rubirosa. She dates back far enough (2006) that she would have been considered even before the changes.

  • None of the new characters, I mean crime fighters, while frigging awesome, had any affect on our takes in the previous posts. I thought for a second that Lupo's performance might cancel out Green's performance giving my nod to Junior Detective nod to Logan, but I think it was just too much of Roller's single-malt scotch.

  • For this last post, our comrade in arms, Ryan, will give his take through the comments as he was so adept at doing for the previous 6 posts. But, when we pick our L&O Dream Team, which might be before New Year's Day, Ryan will cast a vote right along side Roller and me.
To get you back in the mood we present a special bonus: The Shrink.

There have been two profilers that have assessed the mental capacity for the district attorney's office. First is Dr. Elizabeth Olivet. Practicing for the DA's office from 1991-1997, and then again in 2002 and again in '06, '07, '08 and '09, Olivet has received favorable comparisons to both Brett Favre and Michael Myers. She recently testified for the defense in a case that Cutter was trying. McCoy warned her that the gloves would come off. Cutter reveals that she had been romantically involved with a patient, a Detective, while treating him. Ouch. I turned the channel before the verdict. Olivet fun fact: She is one of five characters to appear in all 4 Law and Order series (Criminal Intent, SVU, Trial by Jury). They don't count the short lived Law & Order: Conviction, Law & Order: UK, or Law & Order: Evidence Schmevidence. The others: Ed Green, Arthur Branch, Elizabeth Rodgers (the Medical Examiner) and our man Lenny Briscoe.

In between Olivet's stints is Dr. Emil Skoda. While Olivet seems to be more caring and compassionate, Skoda just tells it like its is. "The guys a classic case of post-traumatic stress syndrome. He knew it was wrong. You going to finish that brownie?" Skoda is a psychiatrist whereas Olivet is a clinical psycologist. Skoda misses out on the L&O grand slam by having never appeared in Trial by Jury, however Olivet never appeared in a prison "group hug" scene.

Coovo's take: Have been and always will be a Skoda guy. Olivet is a good at what she does but Skoda doesn't read through the prisoner's b.s. Pardon my French abbreviation. I always kind of liked when they brought in the shrink and liked it better when they would piss off McCoy by disagreeing with him. Which would seemingly put me in the corner of Olivet. Not quite. BBS: Bring Back Skoda!!

Roller's take: This is an interesting choice. I've always been a fan of J.K. Simmons; I think he's an excellent character actor, with the range of comedy to creepy. I never liked the Skoda character too much, but I think Simmons delivers the role exceptionally. Kind of like Casino, where I loathe Sharon Stone's character, but I think her acting was surprisingly top-notch. I don't have any complaints about Olivet, but I think the way the role was written and delivered was, in retrospect at least, somewhat typical. I'll give the nod to Skoda.

We hope you enjoyed the return of L&O, and as always, we'd like to hear your takes as well!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Law & Order

TLATL's own Roller and Coovo devoted quite a series of posts to, well, quite a series on TV. It appears that they aren't the only two devotees to the great show of Law & Order. A comic I saw on Comedy Central (who did an overall pretty funny show) had some stuff to say about TLATL's favorite guilty pleasure:

John Mulaney - Jerry Orbach
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John Mulaney - Law & Order
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Audacity of Change

Recently at TLATL a spirited debate over the radical healthcare reform proposed by the Obama administration and opposed weakly by the properly neutered GOP was had in our comments section of News Nits. As with many good parties, sometimes the welcome particpants get a little too drunk, stay a little too late and end up in the kitchen unwilling to go home or go to bed, so it was shut down.

In any event, the debate was complex and interesting, ranging from exploring if healthcare insurance should be considered a "right" to wondering if a program run by the federal government would even be effective at all.

In more recent posts, a video of an incompetent high up in Goldman Sachs whose job it is to oversee/investigate/audit the disbursement of public funds raised little discussion. But the same people who have poorly run the bailout fund would be running the new healthcare system in our country, which would quickly subsume 100 million Americans. So is that OK? As long as our appointed, endorsed economists are from the Ivy League and win Nobel Prizes? As long as they write for the NYT like Paul Krugman? As long as (the GOP insists) the new giant government program is bi-partisan? As long as the guy we voted for is in office? How quickly, it seems, promises are reversed and award-winning models crumble.

President Obama, for example, has maintained or even increased every single bad Bush administration policy of importance. Our aggressive foreign policy continues to expand. Although the smoke screen has been laid by closing Guantanamo (the order was signed, but it has not been executed because it's logistically maybe impossible) and by Eric Holder investigating the Bush-era behavior of the CIA (an investigation that will go nowhere), Obama has just reinstated the policy of "rendition", which essentially outsources torture. Also, Ben Bernanke (a Bush appointee) has received the full backing of Obama. No change is good change. I thought the Bush family had broken promises. This should destroy all hopes for us honest voters that meaningful change to the power establishment can be brought about by smooth talking, globalist lawyers.

This video is the best concise summary I have come across concerning not just the bailouts but the inpenetrable core of our country's financial system. And Ron Paul wants to audit the Fed, he must be crazy... Crazy like a pear!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Most Underrated Fruit

It's not the prettiest, it's not the most "passionate", it's doesn't have the most anti-oxidants, but it is the most underrated. By the power vested in me, I declare The Pear, to be #1 on Roller's List of the 100 Most Underrated Fruits.

I suggest you all go out and buy a few pears and see what you've been missing.

A word on timing: Pears that are still pretty hard to the touch can be purchased, but keep them in a bag for a day or too. When a pear feels slightly soft, they are perfect for consumption. Too soft, and they are just that - too soft and mushy.

If anyone would like to offer their own most underrated fruit list, or dispute my claim, please add your comments below, and I'll tell you why you're wrong.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

America's Best and Brightest

The point here, is that no matter how "smart" or "qualified" the people in place are, large sums of taxpayer money can simply disappear from oversight. Not to mention, Goldman Sachs has reported record profits. On this day, retail sales have been reported to drop again, and unemployment has gone up yet again.

Remember when we were told that if we did not bail out these giant financial institutions, then the whole world would fall apart? (this was the most concrete argument I heard during that whole time period) Well, normal people are still getting screwed, the stimulus isn't working, and the bailout worked great -- for the financial industry and banking cartel that is at the inpenetrable center of our governmental power.

And yet powerful Democrats still block Ron Paul's bill to allow Congress to audit the Federal Reserve? And Ben Bernanke's claims that he wants to expand the powers of the Fed are met with serious consideration?

It's time to start a new political party based on private people not government power. These Capitalist bankers have done such a horrible job with our country, that now people are seriously considering a Socialist alternative. We have been lied to that these are our only choices.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."

It's been awhile for news nits. And we apologize to our reader. Fact is, it looks like 95% of blogs have been abandoned by their owners. Is there a blog pound? Will blogs get put to sleep? Will large companies or Jesuit schools declare eminant domain over, uh, your old domains? We will blog about ongoing developments, irony noted.

Cool picture above is of a new cloud type that has been turning up around the world more frequently since 2005. These new clouds are being called "asperatus" which is going to totally make the weather channel more fun to watch.

A lot of people have died as well. In a short amount of time, Ed McMahon, Farrah Faucett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays all died. Only Ed McMahon was old. Farrah meant more to a previous generation, when she was super hot. Out of all these people, I felt the most sorry for Billy Mays, dead at 50. Billy Mays was the fringe product schill who turned OxiClean into a household name with a legitimate national market share. Quite a story, and through the loud pitch and funny gimmicks, you got a sense that he was a real guy just trying to make it -- refreshing honestly somehow poking through a thin but entertaining shtick. MJ was very controversial and had long ago become more myth than man, if he was ever much of a man to begin with. Anyway, behind the media images and hype of these real people, may they each rest in peace.

Fast forward nits: A 14 year old boy in Germany was walking to school and got hit by a meteorite (the size of a pea) on his hand and lived to talk about it. Unfortunately, he only spoke in German, so I couldn't understand a word. Our brave soldiers fighting our politician's wars in Afghanistan may be in this longer than they or we would have thought. According to Marine Lieutenant-Colonel Christian Cabaniss, "we're going to seize the population from the Taliban and never let them go". Hang in there guys, we'll get some real leaders in office as soon as possible. (More on that at the bottom.)

Monkeys who ate 30% fewer calories but maintained the same high levels of nutrition lived longer and way better lives. This wasn't about obesity, this was about low calorie, high nutrition diets. It's been showing up in the literature for awhile now in mice and such (and in my own experiments on my fish, Bill) but the findings in monkeys are getting us closer to our own selves.

Ben Bernanke, our nation's favorite superfreak, says he wants the Federal Reserve (a private bank run by unelected officials) to expand its role and become "supercop". Mr. Benanke sites the recent awesome jobs his little cartel has done controlling the money supply and the effects that has had on the current economy. He also sited his boy Geitner's job in doling out trillions in taxpayer money to all their old buds from Goldman Sachs. In this picture, he shows you how he will squish your little brains as you relax in the pulsing, gooey matrix and lounge on cheap patio furniture while eating bags of funions.

At least some people are getting the joke. Russ Carnahan (D - MO) runs chin first into a crowd of good old, "show me" Missourians, who just will... not.... buy this farce of a centralized, socialist style takeover of healthcare being championed by Comrade Obama (especially precious are the looks on the women's faces who sit aside their wise leader as they are shocked that anyone would question his authority, benevolence, and supreme knowledge):

"In America, we have a two-party system. There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party. Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called bipartisanship.” -- Sam Francis

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Call for Class

I bring to you today a tragedy I have just recently learned about. A young man named Willard Bryant Payne was recently found dead in St. Louis Forest Park. Please read a touching tribute to this man's life written by Bill McClellan in the St. Louis Post Dispatch online. I never knew or met Mr. Payne, a SLUH alum, but my brother was acquainted with him, and others in my brother's circle knew him well. They described him as "a good guy." They were shocked to learn of his death, and as they emailed each other about it, they were even more shocked to read the way his death was treated by the Riverfront Times.

I ask you, to my own dismay, to please click on the following link and read the way Chad Garrison -- a professional journalist -- wrote about Mr. Payne's death. The sarcasm and complete lack of respect, class or even basic professional prudence disgust me as much as it outraged my brother's friends who knew Bryant well.

I would ask each of you reading this, then, to make the smallest effort with a few clicks of a mouse and a few strokes on the keyboard to not only protect the honor of Mr. Payne's life but to uphold the honor we all share as being part of a class. This is not just about where you went to high school. This is about anyone who has ever belonged to a group of friends, family, or classmates whose combined honor and virtue becomes greater than that of any separate individual; so that, in turn, such honor and mutual respect is shared by all of her members.

Please take a moment to forward this post on not just to other SLUH classmates and other friends of Mr. Payne, but to other people in St. Louis who demand basic respect for their own from, at the very least, the professional media funded by businesses we own, work for and support as customers.

Then, please click here to write a brief note to the editors of the RFT requesting that Chad Garrison make a full public apology for his outrageous behavior as well as a private apology to the Payne family.

Finally, take a moment to say a prayer for Willard Bryant Payne and his family. May he rest in peace.

Read My Mind

A long time ago, on a blog not-so-far away, I promised a post on Google Reader. Like everything on this blog, it just takes a while.

Google Reader is a one of many "feed readers" that are available for free. If you are unaware of the term, a feed reader is an application that allows a user to aggregate all the "feeds" to which they subscribe in one handy place. "Feeds" are just syndication of content. You've probably seen the icon on the right on various websites (including this one). It means that this site syndicates its content, and when there is new content available it will publish that content to its subscribers. This saves the subscriber from having to always go check the site for new content, and allows the publisher yet another way to get its content out to subscribers.

Is this the most exciting post ever, so far, or what? OK, so why this is cool...

The most basic reason to use Google Reader or any feed reader is that it allows you to go to one place to read all the content you normally read. Instead having to remember to go to xtreme-knitting, Angie's Romance Reviews, Curling News, The Antarctic Sun, 99 Sense, (and many more) every day, I just open Google Reader, and the latest content from each of those is right there for me to read.

Google Reader advertises itself as "the inbox of the web" you basically have all your feeds in a column on the left, and the content from each of these feeds is displayed in the center of the window. Content is either displayed as the title of the artical only, or the full article itself (I prefer the latter). You can scroll through the content pane, perusing all the latest content from your numerous feeds, sifting through until you find something you like. You can also apply labels to your feeds, and filter the content pane on those labels.

That's the jist of how feed readers work, but Google Reader has a number of other features besides syndication aggregation. For each piece of content you have the option to:
  • E-mail a link to the article to someone.
  • "Star" the content. (I think of this as bookmarking it, making it easier to find later)
  • Apply new labels to that content (sometimes if I want to read something but don't have the time, I label that particular item with my "Reading List" label. Then later I can filter by "Reading List" and see what I have to catch up on.
  • "Share" the content. Anything you "Share" will be published into a feed of all the items you have shared. And anyone else can subscribe to that. What is incredibly cool about this feature is that I can subscribe to your shared items, and then I can comment on your items, and anyone else can read that, and a discussion can happen. This "social" feature makes it so simple to see what your friends are interested in, and discuss. And of course, the only things that are published are those that you explicitly mark "Share".
Hopefully now you can see the benefits of Google Reader. It allows you to read and manage the content you want more efficiently, and at the same time share and discuss with your friends! For more animated demonstrations of Google Reader, check out the videos below. I hope you all try it out, and please let me know your thoughts!

Monday, June 29, 2009

You Make The Call! (Or Fold)

Played an interesting hand of poker I thought I'd relay to everyone.

Post-tourney cash game, .50/$1 blinds. I start the hand with somewhere around $55-60. Chris has a little more than me in front of him, but he's stuck on the night. Al has maybe around $30 in front of him.

I'm the big blind. Al raises to $3 from Under the Gun (player to the left of the big blind). Action folds around to Chris, in the small blind, who calls. I look down at 7h-Th (7 hearts - 10 hearts). Calling is a little loose, but it's getting late and in the later hours we all have a little more gamble in us, Al, Chris and myself included. So I make the call. There is now $9 in the pot.

Flop comes Tc-Ts-2c. Jackpot. Chris checks. I check, expecting Al, the pre-flop raiser, will continuation bet. He doesn't.

This is where it gets interesting. Turn is a Qs, putting 2 flush draws on board. Chris bets $2. I pause for a second, and make it $7. Al thinks for a while, and just calls. Chris then raises to $14. Now there is $39 in the pot, and with the call from Al and re-raise from Chris I have to consider that I don't have the best hand.

I have three options here, fold, call or raise. With 2 flush draws on board, having to only call $7 into a pot of $39, and a very strong hand, folding isn't really an option. I glance over at Al and I can see he's holding the rest of his chips (maybe $20) in between his thumb and index finger. He's thinking of pushing. If I shove, I'll be raising a pot of $46 about $45, giving about 2-1 odds to Chris and about 3-1 to Al (as he only has $20 to call with). It's probably a play that would chase Chris and MAYBE Al off a flush draw.

Instead, I elect to just call the $7 to see what Al does, and if he pushes, to see what Chris does after that. If he pushes and Chris calls, I'll have a tough decision. Al makes a tough fold (based on his cursing under his breath). The pot is now $46.

The river is a red 3. Chris takes a few seconds, looks at his chips, and announces all in. Chris has me covered, so I'd be calling all of my $45 to win $91.

I'll post the end of the hand in the comments section in a couple days. But first, I thought it might be fun to give everyone (or at least just Ryan and Coovo) a chance to say what you'd do. I would like to hear it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


A couple years ago, I started hearing all the tech podcasters talking about the newest fad, Twitter. Described as "micro-blogging", well you know what Twitter is. A way to syndicate a quick thought or your location to people who are interested stalking you.

Twitter grew, and grew, and with the rise in popularity came numerous outages in the service (I suppose it's hard to afford the infrastructure for ever-increasing volume when the company doesn't really have a way of generating money). But it just got more popular.

The tech podcasters had a good prediction, though. Once a celebrity (Britney was the oft-cited example) figured out how easily they could easily leverage the app as a way to reach their fan base, Twitter would explode.

And it has. Britney was perhaps one of the first, biggest stars to join (although it's believed that it's her PR people actually "tweeting"... probably because of the lack of grammar and spelling mistakes). Ashton Kutcher got in early. It was one of the many Web 2.0 tools employed effectively by the Obama campaign. Shaq started using it to give away tickets before games. Of course, the adoption of Twitter as a marketing platform by celebrities hasn't come without it's flops and moments of humor.

Then a few months ago I saw Jimmy Fallon using Twitter as a way to let fans send questions for his guests on his show. A month later I saw SportsCenter posting athletes' tweets. Pokerroad has teamed with Twitter to provide up to the minute updates during the WSOP. It's no longer a geek buzzword, it's everywhere now.

And there have been numerous rumors of tech giants in talks to buy Twitter - even though Twitter still has no way of making money!

I personally have no problem if people like to use Twitter to stay in touch with friends, follow people of interest, etc. To each his own. I think my attitude towards it kind of falls in line with this Conan bit, though:

But then, just when I feel somewhat justified for believing Twitter is a little silly, it becomes one of the only methods for getting on-the-scene news out to the world from the riots in Iran. The credibility of Twitter-based news can always be questioned, but it may be the best metaphor for the shift in "breaking news" journalism. The average citizen with a camera phone and Twitter now dictate the stories for journalists to run down.

And it's no different at TLATL. Instead of Coovo telling me what to write, me telling Ryan what to write, and Ryan telling Coovo what to write, we will be following the crowd. And what better way to dive right in than to head to Iran, meld in with the crowd, and work as undercover journalists. And you can follow it all on our Twitter feed! Hope to hear from you all soon.