Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who Killed The Electric Car?

I can’t recommend this film highly enough. It’s called WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? and is available thru Netflix and probably any other source you might get DVD’s from. It’s a couple years old now, but it’s so very timely: we could help save the auto industry AND the economy AND the earth AND start to break free not just from foreign oil, but OIL. Please watch this film and tell others to do the same. Here’s the trailer:

Reclaiming the L Word

Sorry folks, "liberal" is not a dirty word.

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
--John F. Kennedy, 1960

Monday, November 24, 2008

BTS: Bowl Tournament Series College Playoff System

It looks like we’re heading for another clusterfuck at the top of the College Football polls, with several worthy 1-loss teams, one undefeated team at the top, plus a couple of other undefeated teams from smaller conferences hovering around the #6–9 slots (Utah and Boise State), plus another small (You’re Not Worthy of Playing In The Cool Big-Conference Clique) conference team in undefeated Ball State sitting back at around #15. So since most proposed college-football-playoff talk (from President Obama on down to Joe The Sportsfan) centers on an 8-team plan (that could still manage to leave off 1 or 2 undefeated teams in favor of “better” teams from The Big Popular Conferences, I proudly present The Bowl Tournament Series (BTS) Playoffs:

Take the 15 traditional (oldest) bowls. Go ahead a slap a sponsor name on each one if that’s what has to be done to keep The Powers That Be happy about The Money, but keep the old name as part of it. Those 15 are the BTS. The rest of the Johnny-Come-Lately.com bowls that no one cares about could still exist in a non-tournament setup, so the 6-5 and 7-4 schools can experience a bowl and get a little money. Those bowls can be played whenever, filling in the December calendar with a couple getting played before/after the Final Four double header on January 1. But the BTS would consist of the following traditional bowls; note that you get a few in Florida, California, AZ, Texas, Lousiana, even one in Memphis.


BTS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AT SITE TBD (maybe just rotate it around nice weather cities with big stadiums like the Super Bowl or whatever)

Perhaps you'd alternate/rotate the 4 Big (currently BCS) Bowls so that one year Fiesta and Orange would be the final four, another year it could be Sugar and Rose.

Then you take the Top 16 teams, which would likely have to be determined by something similar to voter polls and computers like the BCS, but maybe tweaked yet again... but either way, 2007's final standings would have produced these matchups last year:

1. Ohio State 11-1 vs. 16. Tennessee 9-4

3. Virginia Tech 11-2 vs. 14. Boston College 10-3

5. Georgia 10-2 vs. 12. Florida 9-3

7. USC 10-2 vs. 10. Hawaii 12-0

8. Kansas 11-1 vs. 9. West Virginia 10-2

6. Missouri 11-2 vs. 11. Arizona State 10-2

4. Oklahoma 11-2 vs. 13. Illinois 9-3

2. LSU 11-2 vs. 15. Clemson 9-3

Some matchups are better than others. Some are rematches. But that doesn't matter, maybe put in rules for seeding to avoid first-round rematches, or not. Also, try to get the regular season more even: either have all conferences play a champ game, or none. Maybe have everyone play only 11-12 games, not 13. For instance, in 2007 Ohio State was done Nov 17, but WVU had 2 different bye weeks and played through 12/1. So make it all uniform: everyone plays only 11 or 12 games, including Conference Championship games for all conferences, or none in any conference. As long as it’s all the same.

Based on this year's calendar:

Sat. Dec 13 first round
Sat. Dec 20 second round
Jan. 1 Final Four double-header
Mon. Jan. 5 Championship Game

(Another option could be Dec, 20, 27, Jan 1, then Jan.12. This might have to change depending on how the calendar looks each year.)

I mean, if they can have 30 or so bowls played throughout December (and weekly Wednesday and Thursday night games all season) and not "interfere with academics or exams," I'm sure they can do this. Only 8 teams would play more than one playoff game anyway....

As far as the money/payouts attached to the bowls: for the non-playoff crappy bowls, they can stay the same. For the playoffs, perhaps all the interest and increased ad revenue as well as the original payout amounts could go into one large pool and each team gets awarded a certain amount for reaching the playoffs but losing first round, winning one, two, three games, and one final large payout for the winner. So the Big Conference BCS Bowl Big Boy Money could still stay relatively in tact. If a Hawaii or a Boise St isn't worthy, then they'll lose in the first round anyway, right?

Attendance is a major hurdle. Even if you reward the 1-8 seeds with a first-round home game, it would be hard to make that congruent with these being the “traditional bowls.” And it would be hard to sell first (or second) round tickets for neutral sites on short notice.

Of course, making this only 8 teams (which most people seem to suggest anyway) would help alleviate some of the scheduling and attendance issues.

I know, I’m a genius. Use the Comments feature below to let me know how much you agree.

Hot Off the Presses: "Enraged" video

Just got an email from our good friends and rockers extraordinaire Girl Loves Distortion. You may remember we reviewed the CD HERE. Now comes word of their new video:

Greetings Earth Beings,
We have just posted our first-ever video for the song Enraged. Our great friend Josh Bolton (Drawing Lines) was kind enough to fly up from Florida this past Halloween Weekend and film the band performing live at the Artery 717 in Alexandria, VA. Most of the footage is from that night. We will also have more videos coming very soon including one for the song Luminance. Enjoy.

Divisional Fantasy Football: My Awesome Idea

So after winning my league Super Bowl following the 2006 season, I quit playing Fantasy Football these last two seasons. Honestly, I must say I have NOT missed it. It's nice to enjoy football for what it is, and not end up screaming at the TV and ruining a Sunday over something stupid like "Damn, why did they throw it to Marvin Harrison? I started Reggie Wayne!!!" That said, I'm still an idea man... and i've got a great idea to breathe new life into Fantasy Football for anyone getting bored or looking for a new twist: Divisional Fantasy Football.

Each of the 8 players gets one NFL Division and can field his team from any players in that division. So the guy with the NFC East could start Eli Manning at QB, Clinton Portis and Brian Westbrook at RB’s, Santana Moss and T.O. at WR’s, Jason Whitten at TE and then choose an NFC East kicker and defense depending on matchups.

It would sort of take the fun out of the draft, since there’d only be one round, but the guy with the first pick still has to strategize… does he take the AFC West so he has L.T., or take the AFC South just to get Peyton Manning? And of course you'd still have week to week strategy of who to start/play.

Besides semi-killing the draft element, another stumbling block is the bye week. Usually the NFL schedule has most or all teams from one division on a bye at the same time. If one division does NOT have several teams on bye the same week, then that team would have an advantage. BUT, what if you had an active/inactive roster, so you could keep most of your top players active, but still leave plenty of “free agents” for other divisions to use one-time only when their division is on bye? Maybe you’d have to leave X number of QB’s available…. Maybe each week you could move players to/from inactive list.

So I have the NFC east, and they're all on bye except Dallas. Maybe I start the best of the Dallas players and then fill in with the unprotected QB's and other players from the other divisions. Maybe force everyone to leave 1-2 QB's from their division on the inactive list so the talent pool was decent....

Not sure if this format would work in head-to-head style of play, or more suitable to a “rotisserie” format where you don’t play against anyone, just accumulate points each week. Maybe it could be done either way.

Not sure how this idea could make money. Unless you could have a website where people could play for $10 and just spread the word around until it’s really popular. Not sure if you could copyright the concept so you could cash in if ESPN and CBSsportsline wanted to start offering this. Probably not, who knows. But consider this date/time-stamped blog entry as my official claim on the idea; feel free to contact me with big-money offers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

RIP Mitch Mitchell

Sad news yesterday... the passing of legendary drummer Mitch Mitchell, most famous for his work with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Mitchell was one of my favorite drummers of all time. He taught me that you can be jazzy and still rock out really hard, that you can respond/react to the other musicians you play with and push each other to new places, and that you can do anything and everything you want on a small drumkit. If Hendrix took electric blues and rock guitar to another level, perhaps it could be said that Mitchell proved that a drumset could be played like a lead guitar. Not sure if that makes sense as an accurate analogy, but it's as if Mitchell took the influence of great jazz drummers like Elvin Jones and Max Roach and somehow fused it with the innovation of Jimi's playing and stumbled upon something thunderous and other-worldly. RIP.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunset Sky

Western Maryland, late summer 2008.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dubya's Legacy

Since the election, my wife has been worried that President Bush is going to do something to somehow screw the Obama administration. Yea, it's called the last 8 years! What else can he do, short-sheet the beds?

So on the day that George W. Bush welcomed President-elect Barack Obama for a White House visit... I'll leave it to Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald to sum up just some of what has happened in this country:

As the Bush administration comes to a close, one overarching question is this: how were the transgressions and abuses of the last eight years allowed to be unleashed with so little backlash and resistance? Just consider -- with no hyperbole -- what our Government, our country, has done. We systematically tortured people in our custody using techniques approved at the highest levels, many of whom died as a result. We created secret prisons -- "black site" gulags -- beyond the reach of international monitoring groups. We abducted and imprisoned even U.S. citizens and legal residents without any trial, holding them incommunicado and without even the right to access lawyers for years, while we tortured them to the point of insanity. We disappeared innocent people off the streets, sent them to countries where we knew they'd be tortured, and then closed off our courts to them once it was clear they had done nothing wrong. We adopted the very policies and techniques long considered to be the very definition of "war crimes".

Our Government turned the NSA apparatus inward -- something that was never supposed to happen -- spying on our conversations in secret and without warrants or oversight, all in violation of the law, and then, once revealed, acted to immunize the private-sector lawbreakers. And that's to say nothing about the hundreds of thousands of people we killed and the millions more we displaced with a war launched on false pretense. And on and on and on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama

At 9:34 pm, 23-7 would like to be the first to officially project Barack Obama as the winner of the Presidency of the United States.

Yes we can.

Celebration of Now

I voted today. Line wasn't too bad... about 35 minutes, but I live in a rural suburb. Fingers crossed. I'll be honest, maybe I'm just a fuzzy feel-good liberal but I actually got a little choked up voting for Barack Obama. One of my best friends once gave me some good advice: "Don’t ever start a sentence with 'If I was black I would....' cuz you don't know." With that in mind, I can't begin to imagine what the emotions would be like for 50- or 80-year-old black folks to pull the lever (or touch the screen) for this guy and actually cast a vote for a man who will likely be the first African-American President.

For so much of this campaign, while we’ve certainly acknowledged the “historic nature” of it, so many have tried to downplay race, the Obama campaign included. Sure, most of us are voting for him based on the content of his character and because we think he’s the best person for the job. But while we’ve been told that Obama is “Post-Racial” (whatever that means), I think it’s okay to not only acknowledge the magnitude of this milestone, but to celebrate it. Not just black folks. But us white folks should be able to be proud too. You don’t have to be black to feel some of these emotions… My mom used to tell me, “It’s okay to cry.” At the time I think she meant it about sad stuff, even if it was just a movie (like Brian’s Song). But I think it can apply to happy stuff too… and maybe that’s why I felt myself welling up just slightly in that voting booth while I stared at my selection for “Sen. Barack Obama (Democrat, Illinois).”

Assuming he wins, we should be happy that this country is taking a step in the right direction just from a purely political and ideological standpoint, even if it’s only a small step and the road ahead is very long and still littered with the atrocities of the Bush years. But on top of that, we should also let ourselves pause and smile (or cry with joy) about finally starting to fulfill Dr. King’s dream. It might not seem appropriate to quote Ronald Reagan here, but maybe now it finally really is “morning in America.”

This was all summed up a bit more eloquently in this past Sunday’s Washington Post by Donna Britt:

For one shining moment, let's call a halt to our red-blue bickering and predicting. Rather than glancing back at our racist past or peering into our uncertain future, we'll allow ourselves a brief celebration of now. We'll be brave and reckless enough to be happily surprised by one undeniable change:

Against all sensible odds and reasoned predictions, untold numbers of Americans of every persuasion have opened their hearts, minds and souls to the possibility that a black man is the best choice to lead them. Whatever happens, an immeasurable amount of light has illuminated our darkness. Once such doors have been pried open, it's hard shutting them as tightly as before.

That's a change worth believing in.