Monday, January 31, 2005

No Bias Here

"An article on Jan. 16 about the way presidents fare in their second terms misstated the reason Bill Clinton was impeached. He was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice, not of having an affair with an intern."--correction, New York Times, Jan. 30

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Anna Benson Pics

The Anna Benson pics can be found here.

Bumped up on the queue for the last time.

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Google tip of the day

Put search information in the form of an answer.

I spent years running searches like: how many calories do you burn in a day?

But google tends to give better results if your search looks like: average man burns * calories in a day.

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Global Warming from Tolles

Tolles is back up and posting. Last week's post was typical of the Tolles genre: smear those who disagree with you, cite an article favorable to you (frequently from some absurdly anti-American source), and assume metaphysical levels of malice and/or stupidity from anyone who disagrees with you.

The true beauty of his post can be found here:

For some time the right, in this county and abroad, has been quite successful at mucking up the issue of global warming. Throw up a bunch of bullshit, hope something sticks.
So, anything anyone says to counter him is automatically placed off limits. He KNOWS global warming and all the dire predictions are 100% guaranteed true. Yet, oddly enough, he mocks those in the "faith based science club". Then, he compounds the giggles by concluding with:

I'm sure this report won't change many minds, but that won't change the reality of the situation.
Here is the deal, Mike: I guarantee you I am more open to the possibility of global warming becoming a problem than you are to the possibility that it is, at the least, extremely overblown.

While I have a rule against arguing religious issues with people, I'll make a couple of points:

At the risk of being accused of simply "Throw[ing] up a bunch of bullshit, [to] hope something sticks...

First, one reason reports like this one don't change many people's minds is this:

"[W]e have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements,
make little mention of any doubts we might have . . . decide what the right
balance is between being effective and being honest."---Stephen Schneider
See, when leading environmentalists call bullshit on themselves it makes it hard to believe the scare stories they then relate.

Second, on the issue of Watson getting fired: I suspect it has little to do with Exxon telling President Bush that Watson is too pro-Kyoto. Incidentally, the idea that "Exxon did it" comes directly from an Al Gore speech, so kudos for good unbiased reporting. Dr. Pachauri's views were well known before his appointment; he is an environmental activist. Plus, the US didn't "put him in his post" as the article says, there was a vote of member nations. Dr. Pachari won 76 to 49 over Dr. Watson. But don't sweat the details when they are anti-Bush, right. Here is an alternate theory on why Dr. Watson got canned:

What really ticked off the Bush Administration was Watson's behavior in Shanghai on January 20–21, 2001. There the IPCC adopted its latest compendium on climate change. Watson approved the insertion of a new "storyline" (that's what the IPCC now calls its future projections) that predicted a silly warming of 11°F in the next 100 years. Those of us in the scientific community who had reviewed the document the previous summer never saw this outlandish projection because it was inserted after the general peer review.
The reason it wasn't subjected to that customary process was that it never would have passed. One peer scientist is John Christy of the University of Alabama, who has developed the satellite temperature history, which shows very little warming in its 23 years of existence. Commenting on the 11°F forecast a hearing chaired by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Christy said that was the one forecast made by the U.N. "that was not going to happen."
It's also worth noting that the U.N. made 244 other temperature forecasts, all cooler than 11°F. But Watson pointed to the hottest one and said that it "adds impetus for governments to find ways to live up to their commitments [under the Kyoto Protocol] to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases." Then, in a remarkable insult to the American people, Watson said, "A country like China has done more, in my opinion, than a country like the United States to move forward in economic development while remaining environmentally sensitive."
Six months later, the Washington Post reported that China had fudged its emission figures. The U.S. Embassy reported Chinese emissions had dropped "little, if at all," which should have been obvious to anyone (e.g., Watson) who could see the opaque air of Shanghai.

Let me point out that changing substantive findings after peer review is a big, big no no for reasons that should be obvious. This change was one of the many egregious things Michael Crichton pointed out in his book. Mike, you take a cheap shot at the book. Have you read it?

Why exactly are there 244 different temperature forcasts? Does it give you any pause that the lead author picked the most extreme one as the basis for his prescriptions? Does the absurd reference to China's pollution policies make you think for a second that there is a good deal of politics involved in the science of this issue?

Third, I am sure you consider both of these conservative bullshit, but it is worth remembering that the exact same scientist who are sounding a global warming alarm were sounding a global cooling/new ice age alarm 25 years ago. Also, what ever happened to the population bomb that was going to lead hundreds of millions of death by starvation in the 80s and 90s? Both theories were taken seriously by scientists.

Fourth, predictions of gloom and doom are based on computer models of what might happen. They are, thus, only as good as the assumptions that are entered. The layman's way of expressing this is to say: the weatherman has a difficult time predicting the weather more than 5 days out; these scientists are making claims about what the weather will be like in 100 years. A more sophisticated way of looking at it is to take the future oriented computer models and compare them to actual data from the past. In other words, we are testing the assumptions about temperature change by running those assumptions against actual data. The problem (for radical environmentalists) is that when you do that you find that the models grossly overestimate wheather changes.

For example, the International Panel on Climate Change models would predict a 0.7 degree celcius increase from 1978 to 1998. The reality was a decrease of roughly .01 degrees. When disinterested scientists find that their model not only doesn't adaquately explain reality, but that their predictions are not even in the proper direction, they typically scrap the model and try again.

Finally (for now), for a nice chuckle check out the unfortunate graphics on this graph, which shows CO2 levels increasing with a plane headed for two tall office buildings as a backdrop.

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G-mail accounts

I have four g-mail accounts burning a hole in my pocket. If you are interested in one, put a note in the comments.

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Finally back

Ok, a week in Texas doing some company training and a week at my wife's farm cleaning up from a fire.

Good to be back. Let the posting resume.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

God Bless Texas

I spent last week in south Texas where I was doing a training for my company. More on that later. For now I would simply like to point out the name of the local sports arena:

Sheriff's Posse Arena

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There was a fire on my in-law's farm last night. They lost several barns and machine sheds. Farmers and volunteer firemen worked through the night to put it out. I got up to the farm tonight and will be spending the week working on cleanup.

My dad once said he'd give anything for 3 years where nothing big went wrong. I am starting to understand what he meant.

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Goodbye, Johnny

My all-time favorite comedian, Johnny Carson, died today. Rest in Peace.

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Mondays Off! Championship Quickpicks

We here at Mondays Off! would like to make one thing perfectly clear: we LOVE snow football. Honestly, is there anything better? Oh yes-I forgot. High-Definition snow football. But that's it!

These picks are, by far, the hardest we can remember for a day of playoff games. Have there ever been so many unknowns to consider after 20 weeks of football? How will the weather be? Is Ben Roethlisberger hurt? Can Philly really play offense without Terrell Owens? Which Michael Vick will show up? Can the Patriots dominate like they did last week? Will the Falcons score 47 points, or give up 47 points? Can the Eagles really stop the run? Is it possible to go to the Super Bowl with a wide receiver playing nickelback? Or a rookie playing quarterback? Is the state of Pennsylvania cursed when it comes to Championship games? If the Eagles lose for a fourth straight year, will the Philly fans break out pitchforks and torches (old-school) or will they just turn over cars and flash their boobs (nu-skool)?

Anyway, all of these games could easily be termed "too close to call." But we at Mondays Off! are fearless, so on to our quickpicks:

NFC Championship Game: Atlanta (2) at Philadelphia (1)

All season, we here at Mondays Off! have been waiting for someone to ram the ball down Philly's throat. Jeremiah Trotter was a huge addition midway through, but the blitz-crazy Eagles still haven't seen anything like Alex Gibbs's three-headed running attack. The Eagles are the better team, but the windy weather could make throwing the ball problematic, and Brian Westbrook, as gifted as he his, is not a 34-carry-106-yard-pound-it-until-you-beg-for-mercy kind of guy. TJ Duckett is, and Warrick Dunn doesn't get the credit he deserves for his short-yardage slipperiness. The Mondays Off! crew has spent quite a bit of time attempting to figure out how the Eagles are going to win this game, and we're still struggling. As always, turnovers are going to be the difference, and Atlanta has the edge there.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Falcons 24, Eagles 14

AFC Championship Game: New England (2) at Pittsburgh (1)

Well, we picked Pittsburgh from the beginning because we thought they were the best team. But Ben Roethlisberger is definitely hurt, and the weather actually favors New England, who will have no problem throwing the ball in the cold. Bill Belichick is a terrific coach, and will soon be taking his place among the greats, but there are things you cannot scheme. With two relatively fresh bruising backs, if Bill Cowher has any sense at all, he'll run the ball 40-50 times today, and wear down the relatively light Patriots linebackers. Although it pains us to knowingly pick against the defending champs for the second consecutive week...

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Steelers 20, Patriots 13

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The worst nightmare ever

Wake me up. PLEASE, PLEASE someone wake me up. This can't be real. I'm dreaming. I'm going to wake up and it's going to be Sunday. None of this is real. That didn't actually happen, did it?

The Factor is in pain.

Both of our readers should be happy to hear that I have not actually ended my own life. I was in a dark, dark place there for awhile, though. Uh, both literally and figuratively. Seeing the Colts just roll over like that was easily the worst moment of my sports life. I'm not even sure that depression has fully set in. If I had to guess, I'm still in the denial phase. I know this only because I don't want to taser the holy bajeezus out of Tom Brady. Not yet at least.

Click read more . . .

I've resolved that if I don't watch anymore sports-related programming for the next week, then don't watch football for the next month and then try to avoid any football-related programming until September, I can pretend like the whole season was just a dream. A wonderful dream that went horribly, horribly wrong at the end. You know, one of those dreams where you're totally making out with Mandy Moore AND Jessica Simpson and then Mandy turns into the Predator (tease!), shoots your face off and keeps your skull as a trophy. Really uncool. I always figured that Jessica was the galactic hunting space alien. I'd have much rather taken a laser beam to the noggin than go through that game.

This one was easily the most painful loss of all. In the previous games against the Patriots, the AFC Championship game last year and the regular season opener this year, the cause of defeat was readily apparent. You could legitimately say that if Manning hadn't thrown 4 picks or if the Pats weren't holding on every play, the championship game would have been completely different. Or the if the Colts didn't have three red zone turnovers or if Willie McGinest doesn't get that sack, the regular season opener would have been different. This year? No such luck. There's no singular cause. The Colts just flat out got outplayed, and as much as I hate to say it, out coached. That had to be the ugliest team game by the Colts in the past two years. Right up there with the 2002-2003 41-0 wildcard loss to the Jets. But worse.

This game, of course, brings up all sorts of questions about the team. Why can't they beat the Patriots. They can beat the pants off any other team in the NFL. The freakin' Dolphins beat the Patriots. Even the Cardinals put up a better showing early in the season. Say what you want about the weather and Belichick and all the other factors, the Colts just don't seem to believe that they can win. Where does that leave the team? The road to the SuperBowl is going through the Patriots and probably will for the next few years. Subtract Crennel and Weis, and the Patriots will fill the gaps. They've shown that they can.

What's it going to take?

Next time, Football Gods, warn me ahead of time. Hit me with an errant lightning bolts or a stray linebacker. Just make sure I spend those three and a half hours unconscious or heavily sedated.

I'm wounded. I'm vulnerable. I hear chicks dig that sort of thing. But I've got to get back on the Horse. Let the healing process begin.

After all, there's always next year.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in the bathroom crying.

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Quote of the Day

Tryst turns torrid

Some backstory:

Some early morning hanky-panky nearly proved deadly for a 32-year-old Manhattan woman when a candle ignited a comforter while she and a neighbor were in bed, witnesses said.

The quote:
"This is so embarrassing," said Leo. "We had never done that before and now
she's in the hospital and my cat's dead."

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All the Right Moves

Britney quits pop music to become a forensic scientist

Britney Spears is reportedly set to quit pop music - to become a forensic scientist.

The sexy star has allegedly told friends she is considering swapping her singing career for student life and enrolling at university to study for a degree after being motivated by a TV series.

A source told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: "It sounds ridiculous but she's been inspired by TV's 'Crime Scene Investigation', which shows scientists solving crimes.

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Friday, January 14, 2005

What a Martzhole

Concerned that Randy Moss might have been a bigger ass this week, Mike Martz weighed in on Moss's antics:

UNDERSTANDING MOSS: St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz gives the thumbs-down to the Moss mooning , but understands.

It has been reported that Moss' act was in response to Packers' fans mooning the opposition team bus.
But wait, there's more:

''If you've ever been on that team bus pulling out in Green Bay, what's said to you and thrown at you, I've never been in a situation so brutal and rude and crude as that place,'' Martz said. ''Oakland can't hold a candle to this place.

''In Oakland, if they don't like you, they'll stick you with a knife or shoot you. Here, they're just rude and crude.''
That's right. I think we can all agree that being stuck with a knife or shot is nowhere in the league of rudeness.

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Shallow Reporting

Bush Cabinet to Look Roughly Like First

I continue to be amazed that coservatives are routinely assumed to be racists. Here is a typical bit of reporting about Bush's cabinet which obsesses about the racial makeup of his cabinet. A choice quote:

Bush is following in the footsteps of his predecessors.

His father promised "new faces" would fill his Cabinet; President Clinton pledged a Cabinet that "looks like America." Both ended up drawing heavily from Washington's political establishment, while making sure minorities were represented.

It is simply beyond the comprehension of liberals that perhaps minorities were chosen because they were the best choice rather than because they rounded out some checklist. When I see men and women like Colin Powell or Condi Rice I see highly qualified people. Liberals see a black guy and a "twofer" (black and female).

In closing I offer this true story. While doing graduate work in Houston I was lucky enough to meet Rod Paige. Nice guy; learned a couple of good things from him in my (very) brief visit. When I saw the news that President Bush had picked him as Education Secretary my first thought was: that seems like a good choice, he's done a good job and will be an intelligent school advocate. When I watched the news that night they were dwelling on his race: first African-American man to be sec-ed; Bush appoints African-American man etc.

My thought at the time: Yeah, I guess he is black. It seemed so much less interesting than his qualifications...

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Headline of the Day

Man Eats Raw Duck Before Undies Save Him

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Fair Warning

Posting will be light over the next week as both H-man and I will be out of town.

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Funniest Bit of the Week

More here

Thornburgh peeled off his tortoise shell glasses and gave me a blank stare.

"We've been through this several times now, Rather," he sighed. "The evidence was fake. Forgeries. Made up from whole cloth. There is no Lucy Ramirez. The entire TxANG case is closed."

"So," I pondered, "you're thinking we need to set up a stakeout in Crawford?"

"Rather," he bellowed, "The Guard letters were on Starbucks stationery, and originally discovered in the trunk of Mary's '99 Hundai. Military officers do not address each other as 'Dude' and 'Bro.' Mary FedExed them to Terry McAuliffe six times for spell checking."

"No speaky Esperanto, Commissioner! What's your angle?"

"You ran the story seven days before contacting document experts, and when you did, they were recruited from a methadone clinic. You spent $47,000 of network money on a schizophrenic man who said he could build a steam-powered word processor and a time machine."

I planted my hands on the desk, and leaned over into Thornburgh's face.

"I see where this is all going, Commissioner. You're in on it too! You're just going to sit there and take it when there is a criminal in high office who stole over 20 XBox systems from Texas National Guard!"

"That's enough, Rather," he growled. "Turn in your microphone. You're suspended."

"Too late Thornburgh. I'm suspending myself, at full pay."

I slammed the door behind me. It looked like this investigation would be strictly freelance.

More Here

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Closure on the NFL Year


Rough year. We pushed on our one sizable NFL bet. Let's rectify that. I will go with the Rams this weekend. As you know, I expect them to lose. But if they win, I win the bet. If they lose, Mike Martz is out of the playoffs. A fair hedge.

The only question left is: straight up or are you giving me 6?


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Mondays Off! Vegas Quickpicks

After a stellar 1-3 performance during Wild Card Weekend, we here at Mondays Off! are ready to get back on the horse. Unfortunately, due to non-football-related (and therefore questionable) circumstances, we don't have time to do a full column with our predictions for the Divisional Round. So, without further ado, here are our picks for the weekend:


St. Louis (5) at Atlanta (2)

The Rams have now won three games in a row. That's too many. Eventually, Mike Martz will decide to stop running the ball, and this weekend looks optimal. After all, how is he supposed to coach a passing game AND a running game? Who has that kind of time?

Official Mondays Off! Prediction: Falcons 27, Rams 21

Minnesota (6) at Philadelphia (1)

We here at Mondays Off! are a little weary of the chatter that the Eagles haven't played a meaningful game in a month, and will therefore be too rusty to win. In case you weren't paying attention, these same Eagles didn't play a meaningful game for the ENTIRE SUMMER last year, and somehow Donovan McNabb didn't forget how to throw the football at moving receivers, and Brian Westbrook somehow retained his ability to run really fast. Healthy, rested Eagles plus hobbling Randy Moss* equals:

Official Mondays Off! Prediction: Eagles 31, Vikings 21

*"Maybe next time I'll shake my d*ck at 'em" is arguably the funniest quote of the year. Well done, Randy.


New York (5) at Pittsburgh (1)

This was a slugfest last time, and will be again. The difference: the Steelers are coming off a bye and a week where they rested their key starters (and still won, by the way), and the Jets are coming off a cross-country flight and 70 minutes of Martyball in the slop. Guess who has the edge?

Official Mondays Off! Prediction: Steelers 20, Jets 10

Indianapolis (3) at New England (2)

Bill Belichick has done everything but turn on the sprinklers to slow down the turf in Gillette Stadium, while the Colts started selling AFC Championship sweat shirts on their web site on Wednesday. Meanwhile Mike Vanderjagt bought himself a plane ticket out of Indy in the offseason by calling the defending champs "ripe for the picking." It goes against our very being here at Mondays Off! to pick the Colts at this point, as they have soiled their karma enough to return in the next life as very creepy, itchy little insects. This was, however, the one game we got right last week, so we're forced to ride Peyton and Marvin 'till they buck us off.

Official Mondays Off! Prediction: Colts 27, Patriots 20

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

No Wonder They are so Misguided

Apparently, the ACLU has a totally different copy of the Constitution than the rest of us. Here is the text from the "free speech" page of the ACLU website:

It is probably no accident that freedom of speech is the first freedom mentioned in the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

That's funny. My copy of the constitution says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is the point where Tolles would call the ACLU "assholes". Right, Tolles?

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If I had a Nickel...

Here's a classic.

A JILTED girl tore off her ex-boyfriend's testicle with her bare hands - then popped it in her mouth, a court heard yesterday.
Popped it in her mouth?

[She] put it in her mouth to hide it.

From who????? But, then it gets better:

The testicle was later found by a pal of Mr Jones who handed it back, saying: "That's yours."
His pal found it????? Was it still in her mouth? He handed it back to the guy with a suave line??

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Stabbed in the back by a Canadian

The Factor thinks that Mike Vanderjagt is ripe for a shovel to the groin.

1. Mike Vanderjagt is Canadian.
2. Mike Vanderjagt is the only player of the entire Colts offense that didn't play at the top of his game this year.
3. Mike Vanderjagt is a kicker.
4. Mike Vanderjagt botched the game tying field goal against the very team he's knocking in the regular season debut.
5. The Colts have not beat the Patriots in New England in their last 8 tries.

Click read more . . .

The evidence is undeniable. Mike Vanderjagt is an idiot kicker.

Above are four of the many reasons that Mike Vanderjagt should have shut his piehole and kept it that way. But he did not. Vanderjagt, the Colts' eternally liquored up kicker said of the Patriots to an Indianapolis TV station, "I think they're not as good as the beginning of the year and not as good as last year." He also claimed that they were "ripe for the picking." WHY?! Why in the world would the Colts' idiot kicker go out and say something like this with one of the most important games this team has ever played bearing down on them?

Vandy's said some stupid stuff before. He implied that his all-time QB and stand-up coach didn't care about winning enough. I get the feeling that Manning and Dungy spend more time watching film than Vandy spends at spray-on tanning salon. What the hell does Vanderjagt know about winning football games? Don't get me wrong, the guy has hit his share of game winning field goals, but he's never had to analyze a defense or take on a blocker. The Pats are ripe for the picking? How the hell would he know? His job isn't going to be any easier because of injuries to the Pats starting corners, and all he should be concerned with is his job.

Question: Why hasn't Bill Polian worked a shock collar clause into Vandy's contract yet? Seriously, if you don't let the guy off the team grounds, none of this ever happens. Couldn't Ryan Diem "slip" and hit Vandy in the jaw with a nightstick while the two walk down a dark alley? Is that too much to ask?

To make things worse, Pats safety Rodney Harrison shot back calling Mike "Vanderjerk." Between the two of them, they've probably come up with the worst incident of trash talk since Shaq's "Sacramento Queens" act. But dorky word puns aside, the last thing I want to see the Colts go up against is a Pats team with a chip on their shoulder. Fortunately, it was the kicker trying to trade barbs and seeing as how Vandy's dissed his own team more than any other the damage should be minimized. That doesn't make Vandy any less of an idiot.

I was really hoping the only pre-game news would be the Pats signing of feared corner Hank Poteat. Thanks a lot Vandy.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Never better, thanks . . .

The Factor had a great sports oriented weekend --

Why there's nothing good on TV

From the 01/07/2005 Daily Quickie:

"Anna Benson (the "new Finch") leads this year's edition of the annual list. Prescient? Report today says she's in talks to host a VH-1 reality show."

The Factor's take: REALLY? So, you've got Paris Hilton on a hit reality series and now this. Apparently all you need to do to get on TV these days is to be really slutty (or at least threaten to be).


Kennoy Kennedy actually said this out loud about the Colts receivers, before the game: "They are small guys, anytime they can they jump on the ground. You've got to be physical with them. They don't like it."

Click read more for more . . .

The Factor would like to congratulate Kennoy Kennedy as his Broncos defensive backfield mates on the stellar game they played on Sunday . . . for the Colts. Yes, as expected, no more than a week after insinuating that the Colts' receivers were soft and that they could be handled if played physically, the Broncos secondary let the Colts throw up and down the field to the tune of 457 yards, the second most in NFL playoff history. Included in that performance was 10 catches for 221 yards from Reggie "Party On" Wayne, the third highest in playoff history. It turned out to be the Colts' receivers that out physicalled (I'm aware that's not a real word) the Broncos' secondary, with Marvin "Gardens" Harrison flat out lighting up Champ Bailey with a nasty block at the end of Reggie Wayne's second TD catch and "Party On" Wayne running effortlessly through tackles all day. I think that this proves a point that we already knew - Don' talk smack before the game. Uh, especially when the team you're talking about destroyed you in last year's playoffs. Kennoy Kennedy embarassment aside, my favorite play of the game was "Radio" Raheem Brock just flat out blowing up "Body by" Jake Plummer late in the second quarter for a 9 yard sack. My second favorite would be Dallas Clark's one-handed snag of a tipped Manning pass with Champ Bailey waiting patiently behind him for a pick that never showed up. Colts 90, Broncos 34 and one not so scathing comment.

I nearly lost it when I saw Subway spokesgeek Jared in the NFL postgame introducing his friend the Subway sandwich to the post game crew in a Marcus Pollard's #81 jersey. This is a bad omen. A very bad omen. When a world class blowhard hack like Jared shows up in your team's jersey, you shudder. You start throwing salt over your shoulder and knocking on wood. I mean the guy's only famous because he was too lazy to make his own damn sandwich! The karmic reprecussions of someone that useless publicly flaunting your team's jersey could last for years! Haberman will probably tell you this but I described at least three different ways to end the Jared curse following the show and Gandhi wouldn't approve of any of them. If some horrible fate befalls Pollard in the next few weeks, my vengeance will be swift and stealthy. Like a ninja.

Hey Favre . . . next time just dive for the first down marker, huh?

You just got that feeling at half time. At least The Factor did. We all should have seen it coming, really. A team that was underachiveing was throwing down with a team that overachieved all season. The only real difference between last year's dead last in the league Chargers and this year's Chargers was the improved play of Brees and Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense. They're a relatively young team that was just a year older without much playoff experience. And the Jets - they've been a (should have been) playoff team since Pennington took over. Unfortunately CP's schtick isn't going to go off as well against the 'ol Stillers. Although Chadwick had himself a hell of a game, his tosses hang up there longer than that old purple leisure suit in Haberman's closet. Which is too bad, because Haberman looks killer in a leisure suit. Eventually Penn's going to have to try to hit a 10 yard out and I get the impression that the Steelers are taking that one the other way for six. However, I heard something on SportsCenter yesterday, something like, "The rookie QB has yet to lose a game." There's just something wrong with that sentence. I realize that Bennie Raftluhnadfberger isn't necessarily the key to the Steelers' ball game, but I get the feeling that the Jet's will pull off the upset at the Ketchup Bottle.

Why in the hell do they still play "Who Let the Dogs Out," at football games? Did ANYONE EVER like that song?

You think Holmgren's going to get a Mike Martz voodoo doll? I bet it'll have that special Mike Martz I'm-happy-but-I-don't-really-know-how-to-look-happy-like-a-male face. Seriously, game winning TD, everyone's celebating and all I see on Martz face is, "The star QB just asked me to prom!!" I always wait for him to hug the nerdy chick that wears the same pink sweater everyday.

How is anyone EVER still shocked at something that Randy Moss does? That a sports reporter could still think that Rany Moss isn't going to do something stupid confuses me more than trying to figure out how Bill O'Reilly fit falafel into his phone sex calls. Let your minds run away with that one.

The Factor Sympathy award

One dude I really feel for: Matt Hasselbeck. First he's gotta sit the bench behind RoboQB Brett Favre. Then his dorky little brother (and clearly the inferior QB) nets a pseudo-celebrity hottie. Then, when he finally gets traded to a place where he can start, he ends up with a bunch of wideouts that would apparently rather play DB. In his first playoff game, he displays some of Haberman's hated premature jocularity with his famous, "We want the ball and we're going to score!" action. Of course we all know he did score on that first drive with a TD toss to a Packers corner. You get the impression little bro Timmy didn't say, "I want Colleen and I'm going to score!" before he proposed. Although I'm sure he does plenty of scoring. I hate that guy. Then this year, poor Matt tosses a game tying pass on 4th and 4 to Bobby Engram, who summarily - yeah, like you didn't see this coming - drops the ball. Sure part of Matt's game-ending, pound-the-ground hissy was losing the game, but I think most of it was, "DEAR GOD YOU PLAY RECEIVER, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO CATCH THE FOOTBALL!! WHY MEEEEEEEEEEE?!" At least that's what he was saying on the inside. Seriously, half the DB's in the league have better hands than these guys. I'm thinking they could move rookie safety Michael Boulware and his six picks to flanker and get a solid improvement in the passing game. I think we need to put Hasselbeck on Ricky Williams watch until training camp. Although I'm think Matt's less of a weed guy and more of a Vicodin guy at this point.

Oh those beautiful unis!!

The Cavs yellow throwbacks from Saturdays game against the Knicks are gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. And keep in mind I don't use the word "gorgeous" often when not talking about Kristin Kreuk (yeah I watch the WB, wanna fight about it?). LeBron's facemask, however, is not gorgeous.

Photo from Sideline Apparel

King of the World . . . still

The Illini notched another big win on Saturday at Purdon't. They trailed most of the first half (nearly doubling the time they've spent trailing all season) before ripping off a 23-6 run keyed by three Dee Brown treys to pull ahead. And Haberman wonders why I'm so premature with my jocularity. Uh, not that I'm really premature about anything else, okay ladies? Game note: I wore pants for this one. But don't expect that to happen again.

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Who Said Brave Public Service Was Dead

"Why stir up a political hornet's nest . . . when there is no urgency?" said Rep. Rob Simmons (Conn.), who represents a competitive district. "When does the program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then."
WaPo 1/11/05

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Out of Context Quote of the Day

Last spring, after attending my niece's Swarthmore graduation, I started work on a large canvas depicting the war of robots and dinosaurs.

Peter Wood 1/11/05

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Define Bias

The cutest part of the "Rathergate" report is its insistence that they could find no evidence of political bias in the event.

I guess there are two relevant questions. First, what would it take to prove political bias and second, how hard did they look.

The left has jumped on the finding that there is was no political bias like Rosie O'Donnell on a young orphan carrying a bag of malomars. Click read more.

But trolling through left wing blogs looking for dirt, taking documents from a mentally instable man with an axe to grind against Bush, working to secure a book deal for said partisan hack, coordinating with the Kerry campaign to put them in touch with the hack, doing little to no work to discover the source of the document, failing to get the documents authenticated, and rushing the patently fake documents on the air all smack of something more than "the normal rush to get a story out".

Or is the report suggesting that this is status quo?

More to be found at Powerline, the blog that broke the original story.

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For Sale: One Biosphere

Slightly used. Great for simulating life in earth's environment. Also good for...ummm...something cool, I'm sure. Come on, its a biosphere. You'll be the only kid on the block to own one. Please.

On a far more serious note, when I first saw the headline, Texas Company Wants to Sell Biosphere 2, I feared a Pauly Shore revival. Wasting 200 million dollars to build a biosphere is one thing, but resurrecting Pauly Shore would be a serious mistake.

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Monday, January 10, 2005

I'm turning into a woman . . .

I'm disgustingly embarassed with myself right now. Mortified. But sometimes your mind gets away from you. The only respite I have is that what I thought was true.

When chatting with a female co-worker today, I actually caught myself thinking, "Wow, that sweater really brings out the color in her eyes." AND I MEANT IT!!

Why me?

I don't want to be a woman.

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Tolles Civil Liberties Redux (Part One)


By far my favorite response that you have posted. I think you hit several issues well here. I'll clarify my end a little ordering my responses to your comments. Click read more.

1. Not sure if you mean "mucking" or "making" up facts. I think I'd plead guilty to "mucking" a little. Seven parts and I still didn't explain a lot of stuff very well. Nothing here is "made" up in any sense, I think.

2. Fundamentally: I do think that Republicans/conservatives on the whole are more intolerant and less supportive of an important set of civil liberties. The purpose of the post isn't to defend on party or ideological grounds. There is a defense of country aspect to this. I think to see these findings and feel disappointed in your fellow citizens is a reasonable response. To see them and fear the rise of the fourth Reich is a little too much.

3. I didn't say the survey responses meant nothing; I said "knowing that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to curtail civil liberties tells us nothing." I gave what I thought was a reasonable question: by how much? Let me try it this way: imagine you move to a new town where you know nothing at all about the schools. You ask a real estate agent which of two schools would be a better choice for your kids. She tells you: "Kids at Benjamin Franklin score higher on standardized tests than kids at George Washington". What has she really told you? Anything? What if kids at BF score in the fifth percentile nationally while kids at GW score in the third percentile? Technically, she is right, BF kids score higher. Is that meaningful data or a complete dodge? Both schools totally suck. If you read the Yahoo news report you linked to and don't look at the technical report, it is easy to work yourself into high dudgeon about how bad republicans are. Absent thought about the actual numbers, the news item is simply an invitation to prejudice.

4. Since we have both now seen the report, we can seriously discuss the findings. Let me begin by clearing the air again. There are problems with the weightings and a lot of the questions. On the question you cite with the 40/24 split, I'll say a couple of things. First, I do not think the weighting problems account for this difference. I think it is stunning how high the number are both in aggregate and split out by party. In other words, I would not have guessed that the Republican numbers would be that high, that the Democrats numbers would be that high, or that the overall numbers would be that high. On this question, I think your initial impression is right.

5. Since we are not hiding from the data, it should be pointed out that the split is not 40/24. It is 40/24/17 with independents making up the third group. The 40/24 difference is almost certainly significant. The 24/17 could be, but who knows? It is interesting that the independents score so much more low on this than both the Ds and Rs. Not the case with other questions here.

6. Going backwards a little. Interesting that you complain about my complaining about weighting on the very day that this appears: As late as 7:33 P.M. on Election Day, Mitofsky and Lenski were apparently telling their clients (NBC, CBS, CNN, AP, etc.) that after "weighting" Kerry was beating Bush by 9 points among women and losing by only 4 among men. By 1:24 P.M. the next day (see this file) revised results revealed that, in fact, Kerry won women by only 3 points while Bush won men by 11 points.
So weighting gave Kerry approximately 6.5 million more votes than he actually got if we extrapolate the numbers from sample to population. Weighting is not a trivial issue; it is in fact a very, very hot topic in the survey community. As a very technical response, weighting could, in fact, account for all the difference in the 40/24 split. I don't believe that, but you seem prepared to pick nits. To make it clear: the weighting of the exit polls amounted to 5% of the total of voters (as an aside, wasn't it these exit polls that fueled the fire that Bush had obviously stolen the election in the first place?). Taking 5% off the Rs and giving them to the Ds would make the split 35/29 which is inside the margin of error for the survey.

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Tolles Civil Liberties Redux (Part Two)

7. Similarly, snidely referring to the "science of 'hang ups'", doesn't change the fact that 'hang ups' are a very real survey problem and one that major pollsters invest a lot of effort into overcoming. Click read more.

Smaller research projects like this one don't deal with it at all save for ex post facto weighting. In fact, weighting is in some senses an explicit acknowledgement of the problem of hang ups. I have worked at a public policy center, have designed surveys, have worked with pollsters, and have published research based on survey responses. Weighting and hang ups are problems. Period.

8. Points 6 and 7 don't mean that all surveys are worthless, they just mean that some thought needs to be put into them and how much information you can extract from them. I think your initial post went way over the top and I think you were all too willing to look at the veneer of scientific respectability supporting a prejudice of yours and run with it.

9. To address the point again. I am aghast at the "registering your whereabouts" question. But before I would use it as a jumping off point for implying that America was just this side of fascism, I would think through it a little more. I would be much more worried about the state of the union if there appeared to be a politician seeking to implement a registration of Muslims requirement. I am sure you see this creeping fascism in about 40% of the congressional republicans, but I don't sense that at all. Leaders of both parties are running away from even sensible discussions on something like immigration reform for fear of seeming to be racist.

10. This difference (I am assuming we differ) of perception extends to another point you make that I did not clarify. First, you have me out on this point. I said that sloppiness of this sort wouldn't pass for a second year grad student (I'll come back to the sloppiness). I stand by it. You catch me on a bit of sloppiness of my own: I didn't tie down the KKK example at all. Here is the deal: The KKK is nominally a Christian organization and is nominally both civic and volunteer. We know who they are in fact. I suspect people would support FBI infiltration of the Klan. When I read the survey question about infiltrating Muslim civic and volunteer organizations I assume the FBI would be doing so with a reasonable understanding of the true activities of the organization. In other words, I trust that the FBI would target the KKK but not the Knights of Columbus. Why? Because they know one is up to no good and one is not.

Similarly, when applying the question to Muslim groups I would expect the same thing. I am not reading it as "The FBI will harass all Muslim groups"; I am reading it as "The FBI will infiltrate KKK-like groups of Muslim origin." That Muslim civic and volunteer groups have been large financial supporters of terrorist groups around the world is not speculative. It is as factual as the wealthy Boston Catholics who supported IRA terrorism for decades. Is there potential for abuses if we allow the FBI to do this? Absolutely. Is it pushing us down the road to fascism? Not if proper safeguards are in place, as I said in my original piece.

I strongly suspect you read the question as: "should the FBI be allowed to spy on all Muslim groups at any time for any reason." Or something similar. If the question were worded that way, I would be 100% against it. If it were worded the way I read it, I would be mainly for it. My question to you is this: if two intelligent people can read the question and draw radically different interpretations of its intent, how certain are you that it is a valid question? How certain are you that it measures what you think it measures and not what I think it measures? Put one final way: what if Rs categorically read it the way I am reading it and Ds categorically read it the way you are reading it? How smug could you continue to be about your Ds superiority on this question? I am not being mean here. Maybe your response is: totally smug, because even your reading is reprehensible to me. But it seems like it is worth a little thought before pointing out similarities between social security reform and the Reichstadt fires.

You didn't answer the question. Would you support infiltration of the Klan (or Catholic groups supporting the IRA)? You also pass by whether the other civil liberties questions are about civil liberties at all.

11. You greatly miscatagorized my point about 1930s Jews and 2000s Muslims not being equivalent. Muslim leaders have declared war on us. Jews were not at war with Germany. I know most Muslims are not at war with us, but to suggest that there is no difference is nonsense. Plus, you conveniently glide past a much more apt example of the Japanese internment camps. I suspect we might pass through a stage much more like 1940s America before jumping to 1930s Germany. But to point that out, you would end up comparing Bush to FDR rather than Hitler so it probably doesn't sit well.

12. The Churchill quote (paraphrase, actually) was simply inserted as a reminder that America is a *good* country, an observation that has stuck in your craw more than once. Look, you stop suggesting that America is one step away from fascism and I'll stop saying it is a great country. We can both continue to believe what we want. Or keep uncovering clear indications that Bush secretly communicates with Hitler via séances, and I'll keep pointing out that it is highly unlikely.

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Tolles Civil Liberties Redux (Part Three)

13. Out of order slightly: Look: religiosity is a measure of how religious one is. Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, Hindu, etc. everyone can have a level of religiosity. That doesn't strike me as even being an interesting observation it is so obvious. They have excluded everyone who is not Christian or atheist/agnostic from this measure. Does that make any sense? Click Read more.

Second: I'll use myself. I am Catholic. One of the religiosity questions asks if you believe the Bible literally. So according to this definition, fundamentalist Christians are automatically more religious than anyone else. More religious by default than I *can* be by virtue of my Catholicism. Another question asks if you self identify as "evangelical". Same story. Another asks if you believe Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical prophesy. Again, these are not measures of how religious you are. They are measures of whether or not you are a fundamentalist Christian. Honestly, I am flabbergasted that you attacked this point. But since you did, I'll point out that there are very commonly used measures of religiosity in survey research. There are also very commonly used measures of fundamentalism. I know; I have used them. I just defended a dissertation that has both sets of measures in it. I am not "toss[ing] out inconvenient definitions". Nor am I "determining for myself what religiosity means". As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said: "everyone is entitled to their own opinions; everyone is not entitled to their own facts". This one is simply a fact.

14. I stated that the "male/female thing is not likely to be an issue" for a couple of reasons. First, to point out that the male/female example I had just used is not indicative of polling reality. I used it because we know for a fact that this should break down very close to 50/50. Pay close attention. Weighting male/female doesn't lead to much potential bias because 50/50 is very, very close to reality. What is the reality of Dems vs. Reps? See why male/female doesn't make a difference? There is no worry about intentional or unintentional bias affecting the results. It is not a difficult concept, although maybe it was poorly explained.

15. Your third item below conflates a couple things by tying together the male/female thing and the lack of race reporting. Those items were actually three posts apart and not related at all. Let me clarify the racial issue. They go out of their way to note that they weighted by race. There is no particular reason to note it; they are not being methodologically rigorous in a lot of things. But since they do note it, it calls particular attention to the fact that they never report any data broken down by race. I left the rhetorical question laying out there. Let me be more straightforward.

Race is inherently "interesting" in the academic world right now. It is difficult to get pieces published if you have not considered the race angle even if it is just to include a line saying: "results did not differ between the sample as a whole and the minority/black/Latino sample". Virtually anywhere a dependant variable differs by race there are social scientists swooping in to publish work based on those differences. To someone who is accustomed to this milieu, it is quite odd to see researchers call attention to the fact that they weighted by race but never present findings by race. Since this is obviously not a peer reviewed piece, they are free to do this. My strong guess is that their minority sample scored significantly worse on civil liberties than the white sample and they didn't want that finding muddling the "good" message that religion and Republicanism lead to lower levels of civil liberties.

16. On point six: I'll start by saying that I have a rule of thumb: I don't go to to see what conservatives think and I don't go to to see what liberals think. Both sites have been co-opted by the loonies of their followers and it is an intellectual cheap shot to try to tie them back to the mainstream of liberal or conservative thought. That is why I refer to the moonbat left: to distinguish them from the serious, important left. One is worthy of respect, the other is not. But since you asked, I checked it out. Here are the first five responses to the article:

A. Sorry to be so crass, but I do[support restricting Muslim's civil liberties].
B.You know, I hate headlines like that. These pollsters only interview a select amount of people, and then they extrapolate the results onto the population at large. It annoys me when they such-and-such percent of Americans believe so-and-so, when really, they mean that that percentage of the people they interviewed believed that.

Sorry, off my soapbox now. FWIW, I think curtailing Muslims' civil rights is a VERY bad idea. What about the next group that offends people? Christians are a majority in this country, but hey...we offend people, and weren't McVeigh and Nichols Christian?

You see where I'm going with that.
C. Muslims have their civil rights as does anyone else. But we would be stupid not to profile them, we would be stupid to allow their organisations to send money to terrorists in the Middle east, we would be crazy to forget the fact that so many Muslims have already been caught aiding the enemy.
Didnt we profile Italians, Japanese, the German Bunds.

Civil rights are one thing defense is another.
D. Our Constitution prohibits such action. Moslem citizens enjoy the same rights every other citizen enjoys. In the USA, we treat all citizens alike. Only if a citizen breaks the law are constitutional liberties restricted, and that only after due process.

We change this at our peril.
E. We are engaged in a bloody World War with muslims, we got to face up to the truth that radical muslims want to kill each and every one of us. No time for foolish self defeating political correctness on our part. We gotta do what needs to be done to defeat the enemy or else lose this conflict. President Bush are you listening? Take a lesson from the history of WWII and what was done for homeland security during that war..

If you cherry pick your way through the comments there are clearly a lot of outrageous things being said, but honestly this was far less outrageous than I expected. The thread appeared to still be open by the way. On the issue of ignoring the post 9-11 crackdown on Muslims: I dunno. Reports suggest that the Justice department quickly rounded up between 5,000 and 6,000 Muslims (out of a population of between 5,000,000 and 8,000,000; no one is quite sure). Those with criminal problems or immigration problems were dealt with, the rest were interrogated. They were not randomly picked up but were people of interest. Were some innocent people accidentally caught up in this? Surely, yes. Still, there is a difference between questioning 1 out of every 1,000 members of a group (those strongly believed to have valuable information) and sending 100% of a population off to slave labor and death camps. The difference is subtle, I grant, but there. Having said that, I will say that I am glad there are dedicated civil libertarians to watch over events like this, but I don't accept their every utterance as proof of the existence of a new SS.

On the No Muslims, No Terrorists bumper stickers I refer back to the freerepublic point. The existence of moonbats does not mean much. I can probably find people who think President Bush started the Tsunami by setting off undersea nuclear explosions to detract from the war in Iraq. But I wouldn't seek those comments out as proof of liberal thought. I am not sure I really get the bumper sticker. Is it suggesting we kill all Muslims? Deport them all? Just pointing out that terrorism is largely a Muslim thing these days? The last possibility does bring up a second point. What percentage of terrorism that we face today is non-Muslim? I grant it exists, but what is it? 1%, 5%?

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Tolles Civil Liberties Redux (Part Four)

Now, on your end of things. Starting from the beginning of my posts and working through your reply:

1. You didn't rise to the challenge of telling me how great you thought the R/D difference would be before you looked it up. In retrospect what do you think? It didn't surprise me that Rs were worse than Ds on this in part because I think they are less supportive of civil liberties and in part because I think they read some of these questions differently. Click read more.

Were you surprised that almost a quarter of Ds would ask Muslims to register their whereabouts? Were you surprised that independents were better than both parties? Can you see that these questions can be interpreted differently and are likely to be interpreted differently and these differences are reasonable?

2. you ignored my example of the Coleman report on public/private schooling. The point was that sample size and significance are tricky and can skew the presentation of findings. Agreed? Or didn't seem important somehow?

3. I will not accept the charge of accepting no data that hurts my party, country or viewpoint. In this and other posts I have openly admitted both personal faults and faults of party. Don't know about ideology or country, I'd have to think if I have posted anything contrary there. Now, fair trade time. Can you point to any times you have gone against party, ideology or posted a pro-America posting?

4. You pick on me for bringing up the issue of weighting? Is it not a legitimate issue? Have we not seen how out of wack weighting can be recently? If you don't see it as an issue just let me know what the proper weight of Rs and Ds is, I'm sure the polling world will be appreciative to have the problem solved.

5. Ditto hang ups, which are directly tied to the weighting issue.

6. Explain for me how questions about literal Bible interpretation, fulfillment of the prophesies and evangelism are measures of religiosity and not fundamentalism.

7. KKK infiltration?

8. reread point 8 above. That was the central point of the postings.

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Tolles Civil Liberties Round Two

A week ago I posted a response to a piece Tolles had on his blog. He and I then went back and forth in a round of email comments. Here is his reply with one more from me to follow.

I was going to start out by saying I didn't have to time to post a 7 part reply, but then I realized I'd be lying. I do have the time. It's just that most of Max's post is so patently silly it doesn't justify a serious response. Click Read More.

So instead I'll diagram the right-wingers guide to micking up facts. First: Accept no data that hurts your party, country, or ideological viewpoint. Tell people that the survey response mean "nothing." Talk about general problems with weigtin in surverys, then pretend that this could account for a 40/24 Rep/Dem split on agreement with the statement "All Muslim Americans Should Be Required To Register Their Whereabouts." When that doesn't work, cite the science of "hang-ups," and pretend that this is a huge factor in survey outcomes. Insist that hang-ups is a perfectly reasonable factor in huge R/D split.

2) Insist that the requirement that particular religious minorites register their whereabouts with the government is in no way reminiscent of any sort of fascist society. Express outrage that anyone would suggest this. Then imply that such an idea is not a big deal by citing 9-11 and quoting Winston Churchill. Call the United States "our country" but don't point out that Muslims who would be affected by statement have equal lay to said term. When finished, wave the flag and sing a patriotic song.

3)Make up your own subjective criteria for what is and is not valid for purposes of surveying. State "the male/female thing [split] is not likely to be an issue", then offer cryptic comments on why data for race was not reported. Phrase in the form of rhetorical quesion for maximum confusion.

4) Determine for yourself what "religiosity" means. Toss out inconvenient definitions and data that do not match your own.

5) After denouncing "sloppiness [that] wouldn't fly for a second year grad student" equate infiltration of KKK with survey statement "Muslim civic and volunteer organizations should be infiltrated". State that survey deals with a simlilar infiltration. Don't actually quote survey statement, since equating said statement with KKK might make you look more ridiculous.

6) Finally, gather no outside anecdotal evidence. Do not go to to view trolls celebrating survey. [doubtful thread is still open] Ignore media reports of post-911 Justice Dept crackdown on Muslims. Ignore Salon report of vendors selling bumper stickers at CPAC stating "No Muslims, No Terrorism." All this might undermine hard work performed in items 1-5.

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Shouldn't that read: "Fired"

Girlfriends hired to stop nagging

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Because One Generation Named after a Brutal Killer is Not Enough

Stalin names child 'Tsunami'

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Neverending Lightbulb

I always thought this was an urban legend. Snopes thinks it is true.

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Blockbuster Drops Late Fees

An early contender for most annoying ad of the year is the Blockbuster ad announcing they are dropping their late fees. I feel like I am only a viewing or two of that ad away from... well actually I am not sure. With all of the entertainment options out there, I haven't been in a Blockbuster in 3 or 4 years.

They probably have to drop the late fees to stay competitive with NetFlix. Whether this move (and their attempted takeover of Hollywood Video) will be successful is a matter only time can tell.

Mark me down as guessing not. Blockbuster will go the way of buggy whips within 5 years.

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Strangest Trivial Pursuit Question Ever.

What Scandinavian country saw gang troubles escalate in 1996, when the banditos fired anti-tank missles at the Hells Angels?

Honestly, I feel like this is actually three different questions stiched together. Click read more for answer.


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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Hey, get your hands off my life size Miss Universe action figure

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One Previous Owner; Rarely Worn

Mariah's lingerie to be released next year.

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Headline of the Day

Chilly stop to gay Snowball party

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NFL Playoffs Day One


Reprisals for your wild card weekend pics can wait until tomorrow. For now I will give my impressions of day one.

First, the Rams managed to win yesterday despite the fact that Mike Martz showed up and, from the looks of it, coached the game. In retrospect, our picking Seattle was crazy bad as it relied on Mike Holmgren overcoming the weird playoff jinx he has created for himself. I wonder if 5 years from now *everybody* rather than just 75% of us will be talking about how obvious it was that he was simply in the right place at the right time in the 90s.

Even more forehead slappingly stupid than the Seattle pick was the San Diego pick. Good God, Marty Schottenheimer coaches that team. Schottenheimer is the Norm Stewart of pro-football: great in the regular season, one and done in the post season.

As someone who has viscerally disliked the Kansas City Chiefs for as long as he has known folks from Kansas City, I can say I have a lot of experience rooting against Schottenheimer and should have seen last night's loss a mile away.

Note that the Rams are a victory away from having a winning season. If the Vikings win tonight, the Rams will play the Falcons for a shot at the NFC title. I've got them losing next week (in our soon to be seriously revised picks, but I thought you'd like the idea of the NFC title game featuring an 8-8 team.

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Lawmakers Request that they "be hot, like the Catholic School Girl Ones"

Orange County Lawmakers To Consider Public School Uniforms

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Things Not to Do List

1. Do not have sex with an unconscience girl.

2. Do not have sex with an unconscious girl who is underage.

3. Do not videotape yourself having sex with an unconscience girl who is underage.

4. If for some reason you must break rules 1, 2, and 3 do not brag about it to the girl the next morning.

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Quote of the Day

"There is no girl out there who wants a filthy glue-sniffing street kid so the only way
to relieve our sexual appetite is to masturbate," he explained.

From an article about roving gangs of boys who follow beautiful women around and masturbate in public in front of them. No, seriously.

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Strictly for the Ladies

One of our regular readers kindly mentioned her disapproval of all the Anna Benson pics. This one is just for her.

Mickey Rooney's Wardrobe Malfunction.

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Headline of the Day

"Gambling Creates Economic Winners--and Losers", Albuquerque Journal, Jan. 7

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No Bias Here

Spectators standing on the side of a salt water swimming pool watch a surfer (3rd-R) at Dee Why Point on Sydney's north shore May 12, 2004. It sounds insignificant alongside the Indian Ocean tsunami, yet an almost imperceptible annual rise in the world's oceans may pose a huge threat to ports, coasts and islands by 2100. REUTERS/Will Burgess

This is a picture of a guy surfing. Would someone please tell me what the second sentence of the above caption is doing there? Just when you think Micheal Crichton's new book, State of Fear, goes a little over the top in accusing the press of laizily inserting evnironmentalists press releases into their coverage, you see something like this.

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Friday, January 07, 2005

A Little Royal Advice for King Factorman

Wow. It's only January, and the Factor is already calling for an undefeated season and doing the Humpty Dance. That sort of premature jocularity makes me want to cover my eyes like... well... like Dee Brown. If I were you, Factorman, I'd be praying for that first loss right about now. It'll be right around 20-0 or so that Digger Phelps starts analyzing the rest of the schedule, and Dickie V starts yelling for some other Big 10 team to step up and play your Illini. Right around 23-0, that matchup with Northwestern starts to look a lot scarier than it did in November. And at about 32-0, at the end of an undefeated season--oh boy--that first round tournament matchup with sixteenth-seeded Northwest Southern Alabama Tech State seems awfully dicey. Yup, if I were you, Factor, I'd put my pants on, don my finest purple and red stripes on game day, turn off your ESPN2 and look into getting busy in a Burger King bathroom.

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Knowing Your Target Audience

Our office just recieved a flyer for a new gym, Fitness for Women.

The location of the gym according to the flyer:

"Next to Lamar's [Donuts]."

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Headline of the Day

"Police: Burglar May Be Targeting Victims' Homes"--headline, Associated Press, Jan. 5

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It's Good to be King

The Factor can't believe his good fortune --

Right now I'm on top of the world. King of the mountain. Ruler of the kingdom. Mountain of the rule, er, or something. Number one in all the land. The best in the country. It's like being Teen Wolf -- in the original, not the crappy sequel (seriously why would you EVER agree to box a werewolf?).

I am The Factor's tremendous elation.

Okay, so maybe I'M personally not number one. Well, except in obscure cartoon references and desire for another Terminator sequel. But my mostly alma mater the University of Illinois is number one for the fifth straight week, and I get to be part of that. The Factor is fired up and bleeding orange!

It is a glorious thing, life at the top. I can gaze mercifully on all those below me, knowing that they'd sell assorted body parts (is the soul considered a body part?) and various family treasures to be where I am. It makes me giddier than fried chicken. And I love me some fried chicken. I'm the king and to me go the spoils. I am exalted warrior, fine meats and cheeses for all in my court. I'm the envy of everyone! This must be how it feels to be Kevin Federline or the Olsen sister that didn't get shipped off to skinny camp. Covet all you want folks, it's all mine!

For the first time in my life, I have a team of my very own that strikes fear into the hearts of opponents. A team that has won only one game by less than double digits. A team that knocked off the former number one by 18 points in a game where they led by 32 late in the second half. A team that's downed three top 25 teams one their way to an undefeated non-conference schedule. A team that has a really tall goofy white guy. A team that plays in a conference that's playing some of their worst basketball as long as I can remember. A team that has four guys, count 'em FOUR, that could go off for 25 points in any given game. And when one of those guys doesn't, James Augustine drops 21 on Ohio State. It's a team that inspires dreams of - dare I say it - an undefeated season. A team that flat out dominates its opponents. And all of this on the centennial of Illini basketball.

This, of course, leads to stark fear as well. Am I being a good enough fan? If I'm not, what will happen to the team? Could I live with myself if I were to be responsible for the demise of the perfect season? How can I make sure that Dee "Don't call me, uh, that other Dee Brown" Brown stays healthy? If I forget to wear orange on game day, will the top ranking meet it's bitter end? That last one usually leads to me watching games at home in an Illinois t-shirt, orange socks and no pants. The pantlessness is less of a superstitious thing and more of a protest. It's important to make your voice heard. Regardless, all of these are reasonable concerns to me. And not a one of you can prove them to be unjustified. Wait, could I be jinxing it right now?!

Listen, I know it's a little premature. It's only January after all, and the games that count happen in March. I know that it's more than likely that Illinois will lose 3 or 4 as the season wears on. I know that thus far they've played mostly home and neutral site games. But none of that matters right now. Illinois is 15-0 (after punking Ohio State this week). Zero losses. None. Nada. Zip. And all the other ways to say zero. Right now, Illinois is number one and that means so am I. Everytime I think about it, I do a little happy dance that involves a lot of shoulder shaking and wobbling from side to side. It looks a lot like the Humpty Dance (step off I'm doin' the Hump!).

Please basketball Gods, just let me have this one. Just this one. I'll never ask for anything again.

Um, yeah, and I'd appreciate it if you could get your fellow sporting Gods of football to throw in Colts Superbowl win. Give me that and I'll never stalk another teenage celebrity. I sware.

(Note: A special thanks to Max Power and Haberman for inviting me to join their distinguished blog. It was likely a temporary lapse in sanity on their part, so I'm slipping this in before they wise up.)

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And There was Much Mourning at My Office

Diamond Seals the deal for Heidi

Heidi Klum is headed down the matrimonial runway again, we hear.
Grammy-nominated singer Seal proposed to the supermodel while on a holiday south of the border, spies tell us.

Seal? Seal?!?

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Desperate Housewife

Teri Hatcher hasn't had sex in four years.

Teri Hatcher has revealed she hasn't had sex in four years.

The beautiful actress, famous for her role as Lois Lane in '90s hit TV series 'The New Adventures of Superman', has confessed she hasn't had any fun between the sheets since splitting from actor husband Jon Tenney in 2000.

The star, who also plays a frustrated single mum in the acclaimed US series 'Desperate Housewives' told Britain's The Sun newspaper: "There just isn't any space for it.

Well, I don't like the sound of that.

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When I picture your upcoming trip to Vegas, this is what I am seeing.

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I Think We've All Had this Dream

Lottery Winner Comes Forward After Divorce

"I'm still going to have to wake up in the morning, put one leg in my trousers and put the other one in and get dressed like everybody else."

Yeah, but once his pants are on, he makes hit records. Stick with him and you'll all be wearing solid gold diapers. (click the link below the Christoper Walken picture.)

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Tidbit of the Day (Not for the Kids)

Man Charged for Allegedly Sodomizing Dog

The dog is a Rottweiler which reminds me that about 15 years ago there were a rash of stories about Rottweilers in the news. Doubt if that will repeat itself with this storyline. Here's an odd quote:

"This is obviously an uncomfortable case for any law enforcement agency or any
rational human being to deal with," said New Jersey SPCA President Stuart Rhodes. "It is my hope that this animal will never be subjected to this horrific abuse ever again."

Another animal, ok. A different type of abuse, ok. But *this* animal should not have to suffer *this* abuse again.

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America to Oliver Stone: Your Movie Sucks

Stone to America: You are all a bunch of bigots.

Stone Surprised by Poor Response to Epic

I just love the way these two sentences collide in the article:

Director Oliver Stone said he was surprised by the critical reaction to his historical epic "Alexander" - and put the blame on the fundamentalist morality in some parts of the United States.

Critics lambasted the film...

So no one went to see his crappy movie. The movie critics hated the film, but that couldn't have anything to do with it. Are the critics homophobes, too? If the critics hate it could it be because it is bad? If it is bad could that explain the fact that it flopped? Just wondering.

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Good Day for the Trial Lawyers

Yesterday, President Bush gave a speech about litigation reform. Almost immediately after it was over the trial lawyers unleashed a broad based attack of their own with appearances on all the talk/news shows on both TV and radio. They also had ads on the air during the commercial breaks.

What made it a really big win, however, was that almost no trial lawyers appeared on any of the shows or in the ads. The shows and ads featured victims of medical malpractice. Smooth. Much easier to arrgue with rich, greedy lawyers than with victims.

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But it's Rectalicious

Toilet Brush, Rectal Thermometer Warnings Win for Wackiest Consumer Warning Labels of Year

...A $100 third prize went to Ann Marie Taylor, of Camden, S.C., who submitted a warning from a digital thermometer that said, "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."

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The Law is an Ass

Yates' murder conviction overturned

Andrea Yates is the woman who drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2003. The conviction was overturned. Why?

According to a report from The Associated Press, Yates' lawyers argued last month before a three-judge panel of the First Court of Appeals in Houston that psychiatrist Park Dietz was wrong when he said he consulted on an episode of the TV show "Law and Order" involving a woman found innocent by reason of insanity for drowning her children.

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Monday, January 03, 2005

Mondays (Play)Off! Preview

O, the beauty of the NFL! After what turned out to be a relatively unmemorable regular season—plagued by injuries to key players, marred by embarrassingly bad coaching, chock full of me-first subplots—the league gives itself an opportunity for redemption. Now, we return to football in its purest form. No longer will we be bombarded by touchdown pass-counts, coaches holding inanimate turf solely responsible for poor play, or contract talk. We’re back to the basics—win or go home. Nothing else matters.

Except, of course, our predictions!

Welcome to the first annual Mondays Off! playoff prediction edition. Let’s get a few of the logistics out of the way first:

-These predictions are for recreational purposes only, and for that reason, we here at Mondays Off! ignore the artificial Vegas spreads. Only wins and losses matter.
-While we’ll be predicting the entire playoff scenario, we reserve the right to update these picks later, as most of them surely will be wrong.
-These picks will be based on the assumption that the NFC playoff games will actually be played, despite the fact that we all wish they would just quietly go away.

So without further ado, away we go…

Wild Card Round- NFC (seeds in parentheses)

St. Louis Rams (5) at Seattle Seahawks (4)

It’s truly a shame that, according to NFL playoff rules, one of these two teams must be declared a winner and thereby advance to the next round. Trust us, we checked. The other unfortunate reality is that all of us football fans must endure the inevitable "our first goal was just to get in, and now we did that, so anything can happen!" crap for the next week from two heartless teams. The burning questions for this game:

-Will the Seahawks receivers (including, heaven help us, Jerry Rice) actually catch the airborne football, or would they rather continue to play patty-cake with it? How Matt Hasselbeck hasn’t ripped out his own trachea by now is beyond me. He would’ve thrown for 9000 yards this year if his receivers had played offense instead of defense. I guess they were jealous of Troy Brown.

-How long can the Rams continue to overcome the turnovers and horrifying special teams? Is this an evil little game Mike Martz plays with his team to get them psyched up? Hey Mike, beating yourselves doesn’t count for as much as beating the opponents. It’s just part of the game. Sorry.

-Did Armen Keteyian really interview his doppelganger Mike Martz this week, or was that just a special effect using mirrors, like on Star Trek? Has anyone ever seen these two in the same room?

Anyway, the Rams have now won two games in a row, which is about the consistency limit for this team. They can overcome turnovers in the dome, but not in the chilly, rainy conditions in Seattle. This game will come down to which quarterback throws the ball to his own guys, and Mondays Off! won’t be picking Marc Bulger in that situation.

Mondays Off! Official Prediction: Seahawks 31, Rams 24

Sidebar to Shaun Alexander: Shut up about your rushing title. You weren’t "stabbed in the back." Your team won the division, and you were given 19 opportunities to gain 83 yards. You came up a yard short. That’s the game you play. Ask Kevin Dyson about coming up a yard short when it really matters.

Minnesota Vikings (6) at Green Bay Packers (3)

Mike Tice and the Vikings didn’t just back into the playoffs this year—they were dragged, kicking and screaming, losing 7 of their final 10 games. And now they have to head to Lambeau, which doesn’t bode well for an offense built for the AC. Mike Sherman is apparently worlds better at calling plays than his offensive coordinator, and the switch has paid off more than almost any other coaching decision this year.* The Packers are banged up at wideout, but it won’t matter in the cold, as Ahman Green and the offensive line will steamroll the weak-willed Vikings. No squeaker this time.

*What, exactly, does the offensive coordinator do, if he doesn’t call the plays? Is he now solely in charge of printing those cool overhead pics of the defense and handing them to the quarterback when he trots off the field? I’m pretty good with computers—I’d do that for half of what the current Packers coordinator gets paid. Hear that, Green Bay? I’m available to start at training camp!

Mondays Off! Official Prediction: Packers 27, Vikings 17

Wild Card Round- AFC

New York Jets (5) at San Diego Chargers (4)

The Rams exposed a serious problem with the Jets yesterday: they really, really, really can’t throw the ball down the field. Even Justin McCareins, who was a terrific deep threat for Steve McNair and the Titans, now plays with Chad Pennington as though he’s tethered to the line of scrimmage with about 7 yards of slack. Santana Moss seems destined to spend his career scampering 42 yards laterally for 8 yard outs. Some people blame the play-calling, while others attack Pennington’s arm strength. As with all things in sports, I’m sure it’s some combination of the two. But it comes down to this: If someone (that’s you, Marty Schottenheimer) figures out how to stop Curtis Martin, the Jets are finished. It’s that simple. And either way, the dink-and-dunk Jets offense won’t be able to throw up 28 points, which is what they’ll need to do to keep up with Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Chargers 31, Jets 17

Denver Broncos (6) at Indianapolis Colts (3)

Two things to note here:

Thing 1) Yesterday afternoon, Jim Sorgi, Dominic Rhodes, James Van der Beek and some girls put up two touchdowns against the Broncos defense, IN DENVER.
Thing 2) Jake Plummer will be the Broncos’ starting quarterback in a playoff game, ON THE ROAD.


Mondays Off! Official Pick: Colts 38, Broncos 20

In summary: okay, we picked all the higher seeds. It couldn’t be helped in this round. Look at the matchups. The other thing we noticed here at Mondays Off! was the high scoring, when the playoffs usually are defensive battles. Not this year—or at least not in the first round. Anyway, moving right along…

Divisional Round- NFC

Seattle Seahawks (4) at Philadelphia Eagles (1)

Make no mistake, losing Terrell Owens was absolutely the worst possible thing that could’ve happened to the Eagles. He was the second best player in the NFL this year, and would’ve been the best, were it not for Peyton Manning’s historic achievements. Too many people, though, have forgotten that it was essentially this team, sans TO, that made it to the NFC championship game three consecutive years. Last year, they might have gotten past the Panthers if they hadn’t lost Brian Westbrook to injury. This year Donovan McNabb has someone else (Westrbrook) to rely on, even if it’s not TO. Owens might’ve been the best player on the team, and McNabb might be the leader, but Westbrook is the most valuable. And he’ll be facing a Seahawks team that barely eked out the worst division in football by barely beating a Falcons team with Matt Schaub at QB. Yikes.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Eagles 27, Seahawks 17

Green Bay Packers (3) at Atlanta Falcons (2)

Not too long ago, Michael Vick strode into a snowy Lambeau Field and single-handedly dismantled Brett Favre and his Lambeau mystique. This time, even though he’s playing at home, he won’t be so fortunate. Let the record show that this is easily the toughest game in our Mondays Off! scenario to call, but I just don’t trust the Falcons. They rely on Michael Vick and his Vick effect too much, they rely on a playmaking, but touch-and-go defense too much, and they rely on Warrick Dunn too much. Despite Brett Favre’s troublesome history in domes, I trust him and his offensive line more than the Falcons. This will, though, be the first low-scoring game of the playoffs.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Packers 17, Falcons 13

Divisional Round- AFC

San Diego Chargers (4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1)

The statement that the Pittsburgh Steelers made yesterday should not be overlooked and cannot be overstated. Their B-team (no Roethlisberger, no Bettis) went out and manhandled a Buffalo team that had, for the last month, played better than anyone else in the league. To be honest, Mondays Off! had Buffalo primed and ready to be our trendy Super Bowl pick, if only they could’ve sneaked into the playoffs. But those Bills ran into a brick wall with this Steeler group, and I’m not sure there’s anyone out there who is ready to face them. The Chargers have a very nice core of guys to build around (finally), but they’re staring at a buzz saw in Pittsburgh.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Steelers 27, Chargers 16

Indianapolis Colts (3) at New England Patriots (2)

Bill Belichick has been a magician again this year, out-scheming injury after injury to keep his team on track. But it’s time. These Colts, who have suffered so many heartbreaks at the hands of Adam Vinatieri, Willie McGinest, Tom Brady and Ty Law that Peyton Manning’s collection of voodoo dolls outgrew his closet months ago, are ready. The thought of lining up opposite Troy Brown in a playoff game must have Brandon Stokley licking his crustached lips. Peyton’s been playing this entire season with a chip on his shoulder—the one thing that’s been missing from his game all these years—and he and his flawed defense are ready to take it to the Patriots, even in the cold. I may regret betting against Tom Brady, but I just can’t see them winning this one.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Colts 34, Patriots 24

Conference Championship Round- NFC

Green Bay Packers (3) at Philadelphia Eagles (1)

All year, there’s been a nagging feeling in my gut about the Eagles—they just don’t stop the run. They have a very good secondary and a terrific pass-rusher in Jevon Kearse, but we at Mondays Off! have been waiting for someone to stuff the ball down their throat, and we think Green Bay will finally step up and do it. The weather won’t be a factor. The Philly faithful could be, but Brett Favre shouldn’t have any trouble with that, especially if the Packer offensive line can dominate the Philly blitzkrieg. In this game, the Eagles will truly miss Terrell Owens for the first time, as their weak receivers won’t be able to take advantage of an average Green Bay secondary. There aren’t many quarterbacks whom we’d pick on the road in Philly, but Brett Favre is one of them. After four straight NFC Championship game losses, you have to wonder how the Philly front office will react.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Packers 20, Eagles 10

Indianapolis Colts (3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1)

At some point, you have to worry about a quarterback who has won nearly 30 straight games. It’s just not natural. Ask Mike Vanderjagt about making all those consecutive field goals last year, then tanking one that mattered in Week 1 against the Pats. But Ben Roethlisberger seems to be one of those guys who is just immune to outside pressure. Maybe it comes with having your own hamburger. Once you’ve eaten a burger covered in fried egg, you realize what’s really important, and that it could all be over in the blink of an eye. Either way, this kid is just special, and he won’t be asked to win this game, just as he hasn’t been asked to win any others. The Steelers proved yesterday that they can win without him (and just about everyone else—who DID play in that game? Terry Bradshaw? Lynn Swann? Bubby Brister? I really have no idea.) and the Colts just don’t have enough defense. Sadly, no one in the Colts seems to realize this, as they keep giving huge contracts to replaceable offensive players like Brandon Stokley.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Steelers 34, Colts 27

The Super Bowl

Pittsburgh Steelers (1) vs. Green Bay Packers (3)

It’s too bad we’re all going to have to wait until February to see the AFC officially beat down the NFC when it really matters. Though we’ve had a pretty good run of exciting Super Bowls recently, this won’t be one of them. Pittsburgh has been the class of the NFL all year, and with Terrell Owens’s ankle went any hope of an interesting Super Bowl game. Brett Favre will be the sentimental favorite, of course, but the Packers won’t even know what hit them.

Mondays Off! Official Pick: Steelers 31, Packers 13

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Fun with Surveys (part 1)

Tolles has a piece up discussing a civil liberties survey he found. Summoning the ghost of Martin Niemoeller, he begins by asking us to imagine a report suggesting that nearly half of all Americans wanted to restrict the civil liberties of Jews. He then stuns his readership by pointing out that you can replace Muslims for Jews and the report is real.

But once you actually look at what is being reported there is much less there than meets the eye. Today’s exercise is a look at the survey and its findings. Click Read more.

Some findings:

1. Republicans are more apt to curtail civil liberties of Muslims than are Democrats.

2. Those calling themselves more religious are more apt to do so than less religious.

3. Those who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim Americans.

4. 44 percent favored at least some restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans.

5. Forty-eight percent said liberties should not be restricted in any way.

6. 27 percent of respondents supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register where they lived with the federal government.

7. Twenty-two percent favored racial profiling to identify potential terrorist threats.

8. 29 percent thought undercover agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations to keep tabs on their activities and fund-raising.

Tolles concludes: Republicans are evil (duh), TV news is trash, the actual level of respondents favoring restrictions is much higher than this survey suggests, and (I think) that this is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Seriously, I am not sure on the last one but I think that is the point of tying it back to the “They came for the Jews” bit at the top of his piece. And then he becomes physically ill at the end of the post just thinking about the proto-fascist country AmeriKKKa has become.

But there are a couple of problems with both the survey and Tolles’ response. Next page.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

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Fun with Surveys (part 2)

First, knowing that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to curtail civil liberties tells us nothing. Nothing. More likely by what percent? 1%? 10%? 80%?. No fair researching: what would your guess be? Put more formally, is the difference between republicans and democrats statistically significant? The article never says or suggests that it is. Click Read more.

Clicking on the link to the survey found in the article is only slightly more enlightening. It does confirm that they are looking at raw survey responses rather than OLS regressions or even difference of means tests, which verifies the thought that we are not talking about statistical significance here. This is a common trick in the academic community.

Here is another example. A famous report by James Coleman found that Catholic school students score significantly better than public school students on standardized tests. Follow up research showed that while the difference was significant (due to an enormous sample size), it was a difference of 1.87 questions correct out of 50 (totally from memory so this could be wrong). When you have a huge sample size you can cloak the truth by hiding behind significance. When you have a small sample size you can cloak the truth behind raw differences that have no significance. That is what this study seems to have done. Next page.

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