November 26, 2006

Day Late and a Dollar Short?

AS I'VE BEEN AWAY for the past week, I've been out of the loop in terms of the news. Oh, sure, I caught the stories about the hordes of shoppers descending like zombies upon the malls in the dead of night, but that's something which happens every year. I mean stories like this, which I happened to miss, but discovered just now thanks to Adam Nash.

Basically, the Government has rebooted its $1 coin program, and done so in a rather clever way. Instead of having just one golden dollar coin, which no one could ever find outside of a vending machine, they're going to produce dollar coins with the images of the nation's Presidents on them. It's not a bad idea when you think about it, either. After all, if people went crazy collecting quarters because they had iconic images of Nebraska on them, it's a good bet they'll be crazy for dollar coins with Presidents on them.

Sure, out of 300 million Americans, only about 16 actually remember who the hell William Henry Harrison was, but that won't have an impact on things. People will simply figure folks like Harrison (and his grandson) are just the Baltic and Mediterrenean Avenues of the Presidency -- they may come in handy, but they're not really necessary to win the game.

Anyway, these coins are good for America, because it means the Government will undoubtedly profit from seigniorage in issuing them -- perhaps as much as several billion dollars. It would especially be nice if the Government would mint a whole bunch of these coins so people could actually use them, instead of throwing the odd dollar in a change dish, or saving it for a vending machine.

The real genius, I think, was the Government's decision to issue gold coins -- real gold coins -- bearing the images of the nation's First Ladies. Each coin will contain one-half troy ounce of gold, making them worth far more than their $10 face values and their office-holding counterparts. Now that's some very sly humor, if you ask me!

Still, I do wonder what will happen when people start getting stuck with Presidential dollar coins they don't particularly like. For instance, let's say someone happens to receive change with a President Nixon dollar in it (the Nixon coins are due out in 2016). Would it be poor form for that person to throw the Nixon dollar to the ground, stomp on it several times, pick it up scornfully and then pooch-punt it into the produce section? What if the person then shouted something like, "And you can take your wage and price controls and kiss it!" as the coin went hurtling towards the boxed arugula? Or would it be better for one to simply sneer at the coin as one deposits it in one's pocket, and then try to find a convenient place to unload it?

In either case, I think you'd have problems. After all, let's say the Nixon dollar bounced off the boxed arugula and shot somebody's eye out. That'd be a lawsuit faster than you could say gas rationing. Plus, since people have myriad opinions on Presidents, you'd face a veritable barrage of coinage from day one. Trying to offload the coins one didn't want wouldn't be easy either, as the following dramatization attests:

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WAITER: I don't suppose you have any paper dollars, do you, sir?
ME: Uh, no! Not at all! Just these Warren G. Harding Presidential $1 coins! Yeah. Warren Harding.
WAITER: Liar!
ME: No, I'm not lying. All I have are these Harding coins. Now ring me up, please.
WAITER: Dammit! Do you know how many Harding coins I'm stuck with? I keep handing them out as change and people find ways to give them back to me!
ME: Well, Harding was a bit of a louse, and ...
WAITER: I don't give a damn if he mooned the Senate and insulted Lloyd George's wife! Stop giving me these goddamned coins! All of you, stop it!
ME: I've got a McKinley in here, would that do?
WAITER: NO!

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Then, there's the third problem: what happens when you give someone a coin in payment for goods and services, and they don't want it?

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STORE CLERK: Hey. What type of Coke you want with that?
ME: Uh ... Sprite Coke!
CLERK: Got it. That'll be a buck for the Sprite.
ME: Here you go. Thanks!
CLERK: ...
ME: Is something wrong?
CLERK: You ain't from around here, are you, boy?
ME: Beg pardon?
CLERK: I mean, that money's no good here.
ME: It looks like legal U.S. tender to me. What the's problem?
CLERK: (holds up the coin)
ME: Yeah, so it has ... oh, come on! That was 150 years ago!
CLERK: ...
ME: You can't be serious.
CLERK: ...
ME: Well, I don't have another dollar. I spent my last dollars on these sandwich thingies ...
CLERK: Paper cash might work.
ME: Oh, for God's sake. All right, hold on a minute.
CLERK: Much obliged.
ME: I don't suppose you could break a $50?

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Ah well. In any event, I'm confident the Government has already thought through these problems, and figured out workable and reasonable solutions for them. Heck, maybe those solutions even involve more seigniorage. We'll see how things turn out, but if my scenarios come true, it's possible we could cut away a good-sized chunk of the budget deficit.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Five Years Ago, I Would Not Have Anticipated This

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Dude! You're 72% from Massachusetts!

Okay, either you come from the western half of the state or from the Boston area. Still, it's not bad, so I'll give you the thumbs up. Cool!

How Massachusetts are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

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MY INITIAL THOUGHTS about this diagnosis are as follows:

1. How YOU doin'?

2. This should make for some interesting conversation back home.

3. And the TORCH has been PASSED to a NEW generation of Americans -- BORN in this century...

4. What kind of quiz about Massachusetts doesn't mention the Red Sox, Dunkin' Donuts or the Blizzard of '78? Isn't that like having a quiz on Christianity without mentioning the Father, Son and Holy Ghost? I mean, boy.

5. Dude, I'm just saying. Yeah, I've only gone to Massachusetts like five times, and three of those trips involved Logan International Airport, but still. Even I, the Midwestern transplant to New England, know this.

6. Back from Ohio. Had wicked good ... er, wonderful Thanksgiving. Hope you did as well.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2006

One for the Ages

THE RANT WOULD like to offer a grudging yet sincere congratulations to the Ohio State University Buckeyes, who eked out a 42-39 win over the Michigan Wolverines this evening in Columbus, Ohio.

The No. 1 Buckeyes and the No. 2 Wolverines fought it out in an epic battle spanning all four quarters, and although Michigan was beaten, its partisans can hold their heads unbowed. In the years to come, there will be other games and other coaches, and the Buckeyes will have to venture to Ann Arbor.

Michigan can stand proud of its performance. With no turnovers, well-coordinated offensive plays and sharp defensive maneuvers, it was able to stay in the game even when things looked grim. Special mention should go to DT Alan Branch, who made a crucial interception AND a fumble recovery, both of which were deep in Ohio State territory. The usual crew -- Hart, Henne, Manningham, et al. -- also deserve praise for their work. Ohio State must also be commended for its performance, as the team DID beat us with that damned offense.

Of course, the game was so strong and so heart-wrenching on both sides that I suppose it might fuel talk about a rematch in Arizona for the national championship. I don't think that will happen for several reasons, not the least of which is that we already had our shot at Ohio State, and missed. But that also tells me something else: that the partisans of teams in the SEC or the Pac-10 or the Big East ought prepare themselves. For on Jan. 8, the night will almost certainly prove very long, and very cold.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GameDay Awaits

THE DETROIT NEWS' Bob Wojnowski has written a great column reflecting on the life and career of Bo Schembechler, the legendary former football coach at the University of Michigan. Schembechler passed away yesterday, and news of his death has stunned the Michigan faithful.

However, I have a feeling the coach would want us to continue the rivalry with an even greater passion than before. As such, I would note Mr Wojnowski's column printed in Friday's edition of the paper.

Here's some key quotes from Mr Wojnowski:


"The Buckeyes have won four of the past five meetings and are 11-0 and ranked No. 1. When they host underdog No. 2 Michigan on Saturday, it's expected to be the biggest day in Columbus since the invention of the deep fryer."

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"Yes, U-M fans can get ridiculous, too, although they save most of their expletives for Lloyd Carr's play-calling. But there's no doubt it's crazier in Columbus, partly because the Buckeyes have nothing else to distract them, no other major rivals, no other major teams to follow, no silly concerns about "academics," no important social or economic issues to worry about, like saving the whales or saving the auto industry."

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"The competition on the field between the Wolverines and Buckeyes is always spirited, respectful and wonderfully intense. Off the field? Uh, not so much.

"U-M fans aren't blameless, either. I've seen cases where Wolverines arrogantly wore their school colors in Columbus and sometimes even cheered out loud. And I understand many brazenly drive down there -- get this -- in their very own cars with Michigan license plates. Boy, that's pretty dumb. You have a Michigan license plate, you might as well have a sign that states, "Vandalize me! It's OK! I'm insured!""

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Now go read the rest, have some breakfast, turn on GameDay, make sure you have adequate supplies of chips, dip and beer, and get ready for some football.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 17, 2006

I'm at a Loss for Words

THE DETROIT NEWS has reported Bo Schembechler, the legendary former football coach for Michigan, passed away this morning at the age of 77. His death came just a day before Michigan faces Ohio State in what may be the most-anticipated game of their hundred-year rivalry.

Here's another fine story about the game on Saturday, in which Schembechler, among others, shared his thoughts on the upcoming contest.

He will be missed.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Clock is Ticking!

I SUPPOSE I really shouldn't mind the fact ESPN is hyping the Michigan-Ohio State game on Saturday, considering this is one of the few times when the network isn't hyping some matchup in the SEC or other conference I care little about. That said, this countdown clock keeping track of the exact time until the game seems a bit much.

I mean, every fan who could possibly care must know the game will be broadcast on ABC nationally at 3:30 p.m., with one hour of pre-game coverage taking place beforehand. So why have a clock counting down the seconds until the game Saturday? I mean, believe me, I know full well it's 39 hours and change before the kickoff in Columbus. 39 hours. Oh, God.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 16, 2006

Finally, Someone Ate the Lobster

AS A MIDWESTERNER, I've always found living in New England has little perks to it: for instance, the relative ease and cheapness with which one can procure seafood. Being so close to the coast, truly fresh seafood is all but assured, and it doesn't come with the eye-popping pricetags one would find back home. This goes double when you consider I grew up in a city where even decent Italian food was hard to find.

Anyway, my Midwestern roots -- combined with my love for seafood -- have always caused me to react with shock and horror at stories in which someone manages to secure a giant, century-old lobster. This is because the lobster-catchers usually do something unfortunate like release it back into the sea, or even worse, try to send it to some aquarium.

Look. It's a giant lobster. It didn't get where it is by being nice. If you put it back into the sea, it could very well gang up on all the smaller lobsters and cause all sorts of trouble. Also, it's a giant lobster. Wasting it would (or should) be downright sinful. Far better to eat the thing -- and invite a dozen or so of your closest friends to help!

Well, I'm glad to note that finally, someone ate the lobster. In this case, it was a 22-pound behemoth served up to a Louisiana woman, according to The Advocate of Baton Rouge, La.

The woman in question, 28-year-old Summer Price, had requested a 20-pound lobster dinner for her birthday. This was quite a request -- after all, such a lobster goes for about $500 -- but Ms Price had earlier eaten a six-pound lobster during her father's birthday dinner some months before, the paper said. It was during that event when she made the request for the 20-pounder.

For the record, I don't know how ANYONE could eat a six-pound lobster, much less a 22-pound lobster, so I can only assume Ms Price had assistance. I eat lobster perhaps three times a year, and when I do, I usually spring for two lobsters totaling perhaps 2.5 or 3 pounds. The idea of eating twice that much lobster seems a bit excessive, even for me -- and a 22 pound lobster, well, never mind. I mean, my God, what would you use to crack the shell? A Louisville Slugger?

Also, as much as I admire the fact someone finally ate the lobster, I would need a lot of persuading before I dropped $500 on a giant lobster, particularly when you figure that doesn't even include tax and tip. After all, that's enough for ten, if not twelve, fairly extravagant two-lobster dinners -- or a lot of other things.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 15, 2006

Programming Note

IN THE EVENT any of my readers are close to a television, you may be interested in checking out the Miami of Ohio v. Bowling Green game now on ESPN2. Due to heavy rain, the gridiron has turned into a soupy, muddy mess. It's the fourth quarter, Miami is leading by a score of just 9-7, and no one can handle the ball -- players are dropping passes, falling down while running, slipping during field goal tries, etc.

It's a hell of a great football game!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Michigan, It’s Time for Trampling Out the Vintage

ON SATURDAY, the nation’s two best college football teams will play the greatest game in the greatest rivalry of sporting history. The undefeated Michigan Wolverines, ranked No. 2 in the national standings, will play the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes, who reign supreme in college football. Yet this reign is a tenuous one, for the ranking formulae say Ohio State leads by just three thousandths of a point over their rivals. On Saturday, only one team shall be left standing.

Never has such a battle taken place before, and perhaps no such battle may happen again in our lifetimes. Ever since 1835, when Michigan and Ohio fought a small armed conflict over Toledo, these two states have had it in for each other – a rivalry which is now fought on the football field. As someone who grew up in Michigan, and an alumnus of the University of Michigan, I can only hope my Michigan Wolverines triumph in Columbus on Sunday.

I know they can do it. I have watched them play nearly every game this season. Their defense is impeccable and their offense is extremely good. The same can be said for Ohio State, of course, but Michigan has been infused with a drive and a passion this year that I haven’t seen in a long time. This is a team which wants to win; a confident and determined team which will strike with furious anger when need be.

Besides, Mark May on ESPN just predicted Ohio State would win, and he has annoyed me for the last time. Thus, I would beseech my Michigan team: beat Ohio State. Beat them. Beat them without mercy. Beat them until the Buckeyes’ fans wail and gnash their teeth, and rend their garments in agony and despair. Or, at the very least, are in a bad mood on the drive home. Whichever works – the point is, just beat them. Throw the Buckeyes down to the ground.

Yes, men of Michigan, if ever there was a time for trampling out the vintage, this is it. It has been a hard-fought season and our victories have been sweet, but could there be anything sweeter than earning a shot in the national championship game AND ruining Ohio State’s season at the same time? Clearly, there could not. So though you walk through the valley of the Horseshoe, fear not, for truth and justice – and the best defensive coordinator in all of college football – are on your side.

Good luck, and return Champions of the West.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2006

Some Things Never Change Dept.

"They say we have among us a regiment of spies -- men and women -- sent here by the wily Seward. Why? Our newspapers tell every word there is to be told, by friend or foe."

-- Mary Boykin Chesnut
Montgomery, Ala.
May, 1861

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Well, That's a Fair Point

"Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?"

-- U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel
15th Congressional District, New York

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Borat: Make Benefit for Glorious Nation of Lawyers

ACCORDING TO THE GOOD people at TMZ.com, two frat boys who appeared in the hit film "Borat" have sued 20th Century Fox and various film-production companies, charging they were tricked regarding the circumstances of the film's distribution. They claim to have suffered "humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community," TMZ.com said.

I think my favorite part here is the poll question: "Are the frat boys lame for suing?" With more than 30,000 votes, it's running 82-18 in the affirmative.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Sea Change in American Life

THIS WEEK, America witnessed a revolution in the standing order of things. As a nation watched transfixed, a small band of partisans challenged the establishment, and triumphed. It was a victory which will undoubtedly make its way into history, and one which has shaken many basic assumptions about American life.

What? No, I'm not talking about the election. I’m talking about Rutgers – Rutgers, for God’s sake – beating Louisville on Thursday night football, and scoring 21 unanswered points to do so. For that matter, I’m talking about the whole Big East Conference, and the very idea of having to take it seriously. My God.

I found this idea so troubling that, faced with such a situation – in which No. 15 Rutgers knocked off No. 3 Louisville, which itself had knocked off No. 3 West Virginia the week before – I did what many Americans would do. Namely, I consulted The Revelation to John to see if this was a sign of the End Times. In Revelation 6:18-25, I found the following:

When he opened the eighth seal, I looked, and behold! there was a great earthquake; and the Trojans fell, the Mountaineers were thrown down and a giant wild boar did devour the War Eagle down to its last feather. The BCS standings vanished like an old ledger shredded on a tired Jan. 3, and every conference was removed from its place.

Then the coaches of the earth and the sportscasters and the columnists and the season ticket-holders and the fans engaged in much wailing and gnashing of teeth, particularly if they rooted for the SEC. Even in Ann Arbor and Columbus, the fans of the great powers paused for a moment and said, “Wait, what? Rutgers did what? Aren’t they the ones with the blue field? No? Wait -- the ones with the blue field are undefeated too? This is madness!”

I don’t know about you, but I have to agree with the commentators tonight who described Rutgers’ victory as the most important since the school beat Princeton – in the first college football game ever. It was an amazing comeback and an amazing performance and proof that Rutgers needs to be in a major bowl game this year.

I’m just having trouble getting my mind about the fact that Rutgers has a great football team. Also, I wish I could say this was an isolated experience this year, but I’m increasingly becoming befuddled at the changes happening in college football. I mean, Wake Forest has a good team this year? What’s up with that? Kent State has a winning record this year? Kent State? One of the worst teams in college football?

That’s not to say I mind the changes – after all, there’s nothing wrong with USC getting knocked on its ass for once – but things are getting a bit out of hand, especially with all these football commentators going on about the BCS. Now look. All this talk about who will play second-fiddle in the National Championship Game is meaningless. We all know which one-loss team will be in the best position to play on Jan. 8.

Ohio State, of course.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 06, 2006

Nods of Respect

MY GOOD FRIEND Chris wrote me recently and asked whether the Oakland Raiders, having defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, would soon be receiving the "Boba Fett Nod of Respect."

I can assure Mr Weinkopf -- and everyone reading this blog -- that the Raiders will not be receiving the nod of respect anytime soon. In fact, given the way they're playing against the Seattle Seahawks tonight, I'd sooner give the nod of respect to my high school's football team.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On a Better Note ...

HERE'S A NICE DEVICE for those of us who hate spending extra money on electricity: the Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. For $30, one can gauge what electric devices are worth keeping plugged in all the time -- or, alternatively, see how much certain devices cost to operate. Hopefully, one could soon realize savings from the device which would recoup its cost.

(via Boston Gal's Open Wallet)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

In Which I Insult All Things Peyton Manning

NOTICE: Loyal Rant Readers are advised the following post contains considerable bluster, negative vibes, and outrageous statements about the following people, places and things: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, the Sprint Nextel Corp., MasterCard Inc., the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the Southeastern Conference of the NCAA, the South Division of the AFC, and a good broad swath of the American South -- but mostly Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

Thank you, and remember: buy more! Buy more now!

Standards Dept.
Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant Inc.
Hamilton, Bermuda

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A MAN CAN ENDURE MUCH in life, provided he has the right attitude. That may mean suppressing one's indignation at a perceived slight, staying on an even keel through a prolonged period of difficulty, or forsaking a small gain to potentially earn a large one. But there are times when one faces the unendurable, and times when even the calmest of men must stand in opposition to gross pride and infamy.

As such, I stand and say: I've had it with Peyton Manning.

No, really. I've had it with Peyton Manning. I've had it with his smarminess and arrogance. I've had it with the fawning adulation devoted to his every act and the hagiography which appears in the daily press. I've had it with the attention paid to his football career, which too often overlooks all his great offensive lines and his amazing ability to choke whenever the going gets tough. And I've especially had it with all the people who keep foisting the Golden Child onto a national advertising market. Please. Stop it already.

Yes, people at MasterCard Inc., that means you. Now that you're publicly-traded, I realize why you're advertising on television. After all, having more people use their MasterCard cards to buy things translates into more revenue for you, the processing network. Well, guess what. The idea of trying to pay cash until you stop using Peyton Manning in your advertising feels pretty goddamned priceless right about now. Use someone people can actually stomach, like Chicago Bears QB Rex Grossman.

As for you, Sprint, you can take your Sprint NFL Mobile service and shove it until you start using quarterbacks that are better than "pretty good." Perhaps you could sign, oh, Tom Brady, who is classy and includes his offensive linesmen in his commercials. If that doesn't work, why not use Charlie Batch, whom everyone likes and respects? Hell, even Matt Hasselbeck would be nice. But Peyton Manning? No.

This is not to say that I'm opposed to the idea of Peyton Manning advertising stuff. But I can't understand why the advertisers think he would play to an audience outside the states of Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana, which are his natural audience for a variety of reasons. Outside those states, people have their own football loyalties and teams, and generally speaking, they're far different than in those states.

Here in New England, for instance, people generally react to the Colts (and Peyton Manning) with something approaching disgust and nausea, as if they've just seen someone throw up in front of them. As a Steelers fan, I'd venture to guess most Steelers fans would TiVo Colts-Steelers games just so they could go back and watch Peyton get sacked again and again. And I can't imagine this scenario is different anywhere else. There are 32 teams in the NFL and only the fans of one team like that son of a gun. Even the AFC South -- crappy division that it is -- has to hate the guy.

I have to think the national advertisers are overplaying their hand, or are relying on the strange idea that people like Peyton Manning because of his college career. He was a good quarterback at Tennessee, although certainly not worthy of the Heisman Trophy. Yet even this doesn't explain the strange jump to the national scene. Sure, all the Tennessee partisans liked him and thought he was robbed, but come on.

Ah, well. It turns out this post wasn't as bent-out-of-shape as I thought it would be at the start. However, I do think all of us who really don't like Peyton Manning should boycott the products he advertises until the advertisers stop using him as a pitchman, or at least tone things down a bit. Christ.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Well, That About Sums Things Up

THE RANT WOULD like to note this post from Basegirl, the New England-friendly sports blog which you ought regularly read, if you are not already doing so. She writes, in reference to last night's game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts:

Please stare at this lovely image of Jason Varitek on a unicorn while Kristen rambles on about the worst possible time for Tom Brady to turn human, wonders aloud if it hurts John Madden to have his head that far up Peyton Manning's ass and considers if John Mellencamp has been brought in to drive her completely batshit.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up how people reacted to last night's game -- even if, like me, they're not generally Patriots fans.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 07:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 05, 2006

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls -- It Tolls for Pittsburgh

THE RANT IS PROUD to note our Saskatchewan Roughriders, in an amazing 30-21 victory over the Calgary Stampeders, have made it through the first round of the post-season. They'll play the British Columbia Lions next Sunday for the Scotiabank West Division Championship. Clearly the Grey Cup awaits!

I'm glad to see there's joy in Regina, or Saskatoon, or wherever the Roughriders play, tonight. Even though the Roughriders fell behind 21-5, they managed to score 25 unanswered points to return to victory. How did the Roughriders end up scoring five points, and then scoring 25 additional points? You don't really want to know. Anyway, this -- oh, hell.

Pittsburgh lost. Again. Shit.

This play kind of sums up the Steelers' season thus far. The player on the poster is Hines Ward, Pittsburgh's star wide receiver. At the moment this photo was taken, Mr Ward was doing his damnedest to cross the goal line for a crucial touchdown. Sadly, Denver Broncos free safety John Lynch knocked the ball free from Mr Ward's grasp, leading to a fumble which Denver then recovered.

Shit.

Not that Mr Ward had anything to do with the loss. He played brilliantly throughout the game and that's why this picture depresses me, because the man has grit. But as my father has said, and a colleague of mine said today, it's not the winning that defines a sports fan -- it's the losing. The endurance and the pain of losing.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 10:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2006

Nature Communed With

REMEMBER BACK IN September when I took a hiatus from the blog for like three weeks? Well, I was here -- and other places in the American Southwest. This photo was taken soon after I arrived at Grand Canyon National Park. It was the first time I had been to the Grand Canyon, and although it is simply a giant hole in the ground, it ... well, it's an extremely impressive hole in the ground.

I went on a driving tour on my trip. Parts of my journey were the same as mentioned in this article in The Telegraph, although I drove in a Chrysler Sebring sedan with an I4 engine. I think I might have preferred the V12 in the Bentley GTC Continental which the Telegraph's guy got to drive. However, no matter what you drive, a driving tour through Grand Canyon National Park and Kaibab National Forest nearby is definitely a great road trip.

I also drove -- entirely by accident -- through Oak Creek Canyon on Arizona Route 89A when heading from Flagstaff to Sedona. This was entirely worth it, however, and provided some of the most scenic driving of my entire trip. I'd also encourage folks to check out the tiny mountain hamlet of Jerome, Ariz. It's about 5,000 feet up and seems built right into a mountainside; it's really rather stunning. Also, for those who prefer going places that aren't built up and touristy, Jerome might fit the bill. Again, I found this place entirely by accident.

Another cool thing about my trip -- this was earlier in the journey -- was my drive from Los Angeles to Death Valley. Much to my surprise, I apparently took the "back way" to Death Valley -- and I can honestly say I don't think I've ever been that alone ever. When you can drive for twelve miles without seeing another car on the road, and get out of the car and hear nothing but your feet on the ground, that's alone. The drive, again due to the lunar-like scenery, was incredible: but I'm glad I bought extra water before heading out.

Of course, I can't write without mentioning my good friends Chris and Mary Kate, with whom I spent an enjoyable weekend, and my good friend Simon From Jersey, who immediately got the joke when I called him from the desert, viz.:

ME: Hey, guess where I'm calling you from?
SIMON: Uh, would that be the World's Tallest Thermometer in Baker, Calif.?
ME: YES!

Anyway, like I said, it was a great trip -- although this does present a bit of a conundrum. You see, I realized after coming home that I haven't yet visited two great swaths of the country: the Old South and the Northwest. I mean, excluding trips to Florida (which were more eastern than southern), the closest I've gotten to the Old South is Fairfax County, Va., which isn't southern at all. On the other side of things, I've visited Eugene, Ore., and Colorado Springs, Colo., but other than that haven't spent ANY time in the Northwest at all. I've never been to the North Central states either. Hell, I've never even been to Wisconsin. Chicago, plenty of times -- that may explain why I've never been to Wisconsin -- but boy.

So I think I'm going to have to plan some trips for those parts of America, just because I probably should. After all, there are 50 states in this great country of ours -- not 30-something.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 08:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2006

This Bodes Well for Annapolis

EARLIER THIS WEEK, Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney told a New York newspaper that his Falcons squad would defeat Army by the outlandish score of 49-7. Cadet Carney went so far as to say his team needed to run up the score against some opponent.

Now, in any collegiate or professional football game, a 42 point margin of victory is pretty amazing, even in an early-season chump game. Generally speaking, it represents a thorough stomping of the other side, and a completely lopsided game. As such, it's an especially bold prediction to make when one is about to travel to the stadium of one's opponent, and when that opponent is similarly talented.

Well, here in the third quarter, it's Air Force 43, Army 0.

Gawd.

Um -- congratulations, Air Force. Geez.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Great Moments in International Diplomacy

A UNITED NATIONS AGENCY hosting a conference on how the Internet should be managed couldn't provide conference-goers with a working Internet connection, CNET News said.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 12:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 02, 2006

There's Always a Catch, Isn't There?

SO THE NEW YORK TIMES has just published a fabulous article on a wondrous city where the ratio of available women to available men is an amazing five to one. This classic case of shifts in demand and supply has created quite a stir in the local dating market, where women make a point of competing for male attention.

Wouldn't you know the city in question is Beirut?

(via Dean's World)

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The Institutions of Football Must Be Preserved

FOOTBALL IS A SPECIAL GAME. Those words, which legendary announcer John Facenda made famous many years ago, remain true even in this troubled age. It remains a game which has captured the hearts and minds of millions; a game which values pride, loyalty and honor; and a game which demands professionalism and results.

That’s why Paris Hilton’s ten-second appearance introducing “Monday Night Football” was such an abomination, and why events like it must never, ever happen again on any National Football League-licensed telecast. Ugh. It was bad enough we had to watch the Minnesota Vikings get their heads handed to them by the far superior New England Patriots, but that didn’t make me, you know, choke down vomit. But being exposed to the horrid visage of Paris Hilton, something I have diligently avoided until now, was enough to make me nauseous. “I’m ready for some football” indeed.

I don’t know whose bright idea it was to include Miss Hilton on the intro – it was likely some dunderhead at ESPN – but surely that person could have gotten, I don’t know, anyone in The Walt Disney Co.’s television/movie empire to take part instead. But no. We got Miss Hilton, who would undoubtedly be more at ease watching useless sports, such as rowing or badminton. That’s just great.

Now look. Football is a special game, OK? Hundreds of thousands of high school athletes, many of whom have had a rough time of things thus far in life, learn a lot through playing football. They learn about character and teamwork and hard work and grit. Tens of millions of football fans watch the game for its beauty and its glory, even when the players are earning nothing more than pride. Hell, football is such a great sport that if you’re up late watching old game footage and hear the line, “The 1988 Houston Oilers tested the waters of greatness,” it not only works, it seems like genius.

As a result, it is not something with which Paris Hilton – whose antics have tarnished and cheapened her family name – should be involved. As much as I admire Miss Hilton’s ability to spin gold from straw with her tawdry career, I can’t sit idly by when that same tawdriness threatens an institution which I’ve come to cherish deeply. Please, football types, no more Paris Hiltons and Justin Timberlakes. We’ve got a good thing going here. It doesn’t need to get screwed up in misguided attempts to generate “buzz” or get “the young people” more interested.

(via Steve Silver, who jogged my memory)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 01, 2006

A Bull in the China Shop

RECENTLY, A GOOD FRIEND sent along a column which appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune lamenting the demise of the Ford Taurus, the type of car I have driven for the past ... well, 15 years that I've had a driver's license.

Like columnist David Grimes, I'm also sad the Ford Taurus is no longer being produced, considering I've had largely good experiences with my two Taurii and the Mercury Sable before it. That said, while I've also found Ford's decisions a bit strange lately, I don't think I would suggest Ford is "managed by people who were dropped on their heads as infants," as Mr Grimes does. After all, there are successor models to the Taurus, and they should be fine. As long as you can get 200 hp out of the engine -- and with the Ford 500 and Ford Fusion, you can! -- there really seems like little to complain about.

Of course, I'm not really a car person -- I'm more the type who wants to get from Point A to Point B with a minimum amount of fuss, expense and pain in my lower legs. Besides, no matter how much one pays for a car, they all turn to junk in roughly a decade or so.

Which reminds me: sometimes, it may make more financial sense to buy a slightly-used car as opposed to a new vehicle, since buying new means an owner takes on all the initial depreciation expense himself. People who really want a Taurus for their next car -- like me -- will likely find them in abundance at used-car dealers, since the cars have been popular in rental fleets.

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