Monday, December 27, 2010

Week 52 (12/27-12/31/10... okay, the last 5 days of the year)

What a way to end the year.  Raleigh's first white Christmas since 1947!  Granted, only four-tenths of the seven-inch snowfall fell on Christmas Day, and it didn't start until about 7:30 at night, but it still counts!  It's also the perfect time for global warming deniers to make their case by using a single example.  Of course, the high temperatures for this weekend are expected to be in the low to mid-60s, so they'd better act fast!

The last week of the year means the last week of giving you Things You're Not Supposed to Know, from the book by Russ Kick.  With this theme ended, I will come back next year with another theme.  It involves people you probably don't know, but should.  Have fun guessing.

To replace the celebrity birthdays, I'll give a famous dead person's birthday for every day of the year (including Feb. 29).  And to replace the list of US states' dates of statehood, I'll give each country's so-called "Independence Day" or "National Day".  That should be fun, too.

Also, I'm done following the bowl games.  After reading Death to the BCS, a book co-authored by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter, and Jeff Passan, I can honestly say that breaking down a football game sponsored by a pizza chain is not worth my time.  I might have a top 10 list of the best individual performances in the bowl games.  To the BCS:


Thing #97: HEAD TRANSPLANTS ON MONKEYS HAVE ALREADY BEEN PERFORMED. I want to warn you this is pretty gruesome. Doctor Robert White, a neurosurgeon at Cleveland’s Metro Health Care Center, experimented with keeping disembodied monkey and dog brains alive during the 1960s. In 1970, he did one better (or worse, however you see it… or don’t want to see it). In an 18-hour surgery, White cut off the head of one rhesus monkey and attached it to a different still-living body of a second monkey. There was an article in London’s Sunday Telegraph Magazine that described it:

“Chalk marks on the floor fixed the positions of more than thirty highly drilled professionals: two surgical teams, a squad of anesthesiologists, assorted nurses, phalanxes of technicians, a bevy of scientists equipped to analyze blood and urine samples on the spot."
Naturally, White conducted many of these terrible experiments, not just one. The “Frankenmonkeys” regained consciousness and were aware of their surroundings. From Mary Roach’s book Stiff:
“When White placed food in their mouths, they chewed it and attempted to swallow it— a bit of a dirty trick, given that the esophagus hadn’t been reconnected and was now a dead end. The monkeys lived anywhere from six hours to three days, most of them dying from rejection or from bleeding.”
A bit of a dirty trick. That’s a bit of vomit traveling up my esophagus.

Thing #40: DNA MATCHING IS NOT INFALLIBLE. As he did with HIV testing, risk scholar Gerd Gigerenzer performed a study showing that DNA matching is far from perfect:
“In the first blind test reported in the literature, three major commercial laboratories were each sent 50 DNA samples. Two of the three declared one false match; in a second test one year later, one of the same three laboratories declared a false match. From external tests conducted by the California Association of Crime Laboratory Directors, the Collaborative Testing Services, and other agencies, the psychologist Jonathan Koehler and his colleagues estimated the false positive rate of DNA fingerprinting to be on the order of 1 in 100. Cellmark Diagnostics, one of the laboratories that found matches between O.J. Simpson’s DNA and DNA extracted from a recovered blood stain at the murder scene reported its own false positive rate to the Simpson defense as roughly 1 in 200.”

The College of American Pathologists performed a study in 1999. It sent 135 labs a DNA sample from a “victim,” some semen from a “suspect,” and a fake vaginal swab containing DNA from both parties. They were also sent a strand of the “victim’s” hair. The object was to see how many of the labs would make the correct matches. What happened? Well, three of the labs reported that the DNA from the subject matched the victim’s DNA. Only 14 of the 135 labs actually tested the hair, but even one of those screwed up and matched the hair incorrectly with the “suspect.” Ah, science.

Thing #17: AROUND ONE QUARTER OF “WITCHES” WERE MEN. Andrew Gow, a professor at the University of Alberta, and one of his former grad students Lisa Apps published a book in 2003 called Male Witches in Early Modern Europe. From looking at literature of the time, they found that, between 1450 and 1750, the “high time” of witch accusations, of the roughly 60,000 people executed for being a witch, between 20 and 25 percent of them were men. Local variations were even higher, as about 49% of people executed in Finland were male and about 52% in the French region of Burgundy were men. In Iceland between 1625 and 1685, 110 of the 120 people (92%) killed for being a witch were male. Even in the most infamous case, the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, six of the 19 executed were men. Witchcraft, it seems, was not a crime solely from the “fairer” sex.

Thing #98: SCIENTISTS ARE RECREATING THE 1918 SPANISH FLU VIRUS. The influenza epidemic from spring 1918 to spring 1919 killed anywhere from 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, about 675,000 in the US. Its mortality rate was about 2.5%, compared to the typical less than 0.1% mortality rate from an everyday flu strain. Many people died less than 24 hours after catching it. In laymen’s term, it was bad.

So you’ll be glad to know that Dr. Jeffrey Taubenberger of the US Armed Forces Institute of Pathology found parts of the 1918 virus in tissue samples from the time period. Not only did he and other scientists decode its genetic sequences, in 2001 they spliced a gene with an everyday flu strain. In 2002, they injected two genes into a regular strain. Not surprisingly, it killed mice at a higher rate.

The Department of Agriculture Inspector General conducted a report in 2003 on laboratories housing deadly viruses. Quote:
“Security measures at 20 of the 104 laboratories were not commensurate with the risk associated with the pathogens they housed.”

That’s not good. It continues:
“Alarm systems, surveillance cameras, and identification badges were commonly lacking in buildings housing the laboratories, and keycard devices or sign-in sheets were not generally used to record entries to the laboratories.”

Feeling safe? Here’s a specific example that will probably make you vomit:

“We discovered a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention select agent at one institution that was kept in an unsecured freezer and for which no risk assessment had been made. The agent, Yersinia pestis, causes bubonic and pneumonic plague and requires strict containment. The freezer that stored this agent had not been inventoried since 1994, when a box of unidentified pathogens was already noted as missing.”

This study was done in 2003, and a box of “unidentified pathogens” had been missing for nine years???? Happy New Year, everyone!

Celebrity birthdays:

Gerard Depardieu (French actor) Dec. 27, 1948
Seth Meyers ("SNL") Dec. 28, 1973
Jude Law (actor) Dec. 29, 1972
Tiger Woods (golfer) Dec. 30, 1975
Anthony Hopkins ("Silence of the Lambs") Dec. 31, 1937

Entries into the Union (United States):

Iowa: Dec. 28, 1846
Texas: Dec. 29, 1945

Happy birthday, States!  Happy new year.  See ya next time!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 51.5 (Friday recap and Sunday bowl preview)

Hawai'i Bowl:  Tulsa 62, #24 Hawaii 35... G.J. Kinne (QB- Tulsa):  17-31, 343 yards, 3 TDs.  Damaris Johnson (WR- Tulsa):  4 receptions, 101 yards, TD; 5 rushes, 98 yards, TD, fumble lost.  Bryant Moniz (QB- Hawaii):  24-47, 403 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs; 10 rushes, 38 yards.  Greg Salas (WR- Hawaii):  13 receptions, 206 yards, 2 TDs, fumble lost.  Congrats, Tulsa Golden Hurricane!

Game notes:  Hawaii couldn't recover from a first-quarter knee injury to Kealoha Pilares... or 5 first half interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.  My prediction of 100 points almost came true.


Little Caesars Pizza Bowl:  Florida International (6-6) vs. Toledo (8-4)
Time:  8:30 PM EST (ESPN)
Place:  Detroit, MI
Synopsis:  Florida International was the surprise winner of the Sun Belt Conference this year.  The Golden Panthers are appearing in their first bowl game in the six years they've been in the Football Bowl Subdivision.  Their main star player is running back Darriet Perry, who has 14 rushing TDs on the season.  Quarterback Wesley Carroll, a transfer from Mississippi State, has also done a decent job, throwing 15 touchdowns in 12 games.
The Toledo Rockets are in a bowl game for the first time since 2005, and backup (and freshman) quarterback Terrance Owens has done a fantastic job, tossing 12 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions in the six games he has appeared.  Sophomore wide receiver Eric Page, a former high school quarterback, has caught over 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns, and all 3 of his completions this year went for touchdown.  (The incompletion was an interception, however.)  Quarterback Austin Dantin might be healthy to start, but his status is still uncertain.  He has thrown more INTs than TDs this year, so why mess up a good thing?
My prediction:  The reason we have bowl games is to create a quasi-vacation atmosphere in a WARM place.  Detroit is not warm.  Having pizza as a sponsor is also not making me want to watch this one, especially when there's an NFL game on Sunday night.  Toledo 24, FIU 10.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Week 51.4 (Thursday recap and Friday bowl preview)

Poinsettia Bowl:  San Diego State 35, Navy 14... Ronnie Hillman (RB- San Diego State):  28 rushes, 226 yards, 3 TDs; 2 receptions, 16 yards, TD.  Ricky Dobbs (QB- Navy):  8-15, 147 yards, TD, INT; 24 rushes, 102 yards, TD.  Congrats, San Diego State Aztecs!

Game notes:  The grounds crew did a fantastic job pumping the flood waters out of Qualcomm Stadium and prepping the field.  Ronnie Hillman also set a SDSU freshman record in rushing yards, breaking Marshall Faulk's old record.  The Aztecs also outgained Navy on the ground 279-235, making it clear there is no absolutely certain pick when it comes to bowl games.  The same could be said for a playoff system, if only the old geezers listened...


Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl:  #24 Hawaii (10-3) vs. Tulsa (9-3)
Time:  8 PM EST (ESPN)
Place:  Honolulu, HI
Synopsis:  Though Tulsa is listed as the "home team", the game is being played at Aloha Stadium, Hawaii's home field.  The Warriors have scored 62 offensive touchdowns this year, and QB Bryant Moniz leads the country with 4629 passing yards (356.1 per game).  His 36 touchdown passes is tied for first in the nation with ECU's Dominique Davis.  Wide receiver Greg Salas leads the nation with 1675 yards, and Kealoha Pilares is third in the nation with 15 TD receptions.  Not only that, running back Alex Green has 17 rushing touchdowns on 1135 yards this season.
Tulsa is no slouch offensively either, with 58 touchdowns on the season.  Quarterback G.J. Kinne is tenth in the nation with 28 touchdown passes and he also has 7 on the ground.  Damaris Johnson leads the team in rushing (443 yards) and receiving (771 yards), and he also has a punt and a kickoff returned for a TD this year.
My prediction:  Not only does Hawaii have a fantastic offense, the Warriors also lead the nation defensively with 23 interceptions.  Tulsa is fifth in the nation, with 19 interceptions.  Unfortunately, Tulsa is second to last in total passing yards allowed (3668), and Bryant Moniz leads the country in passing yards.  That could lead to over 100 points being scored.  Hawaii 55, Tulsa 48.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Week 51.3 (Wednesday recap and Thursday bowl)

Las Vegas Bowl:  #10 Boise State 26, #20 Utah 3... Kellen Moore (QB- Boise State):  28-38, 339 yards, 2 TDs, INT, fumble lost.  Shaky Smithson (WR- Utah):  3 receptions, 56 yards, fumble lost; 3 rushes, 32 yards.  Congrats, Boise State Broncos!

Game notes:  The Broncos overcame 3 early turnovers (4 total), and shutout the Utes in the final 3 quarters of the game, while holding the Utes to just 200 yards on offense.  Wide receiver Austin Pettis also completed a 2-yard pass to himself.  That was cool.


San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl:  Navy (9-3) vs. San Diego State (8-4)
Time:  8 PM EST (ESPN)
Place:  San Diego, CA
Synopsis:  My vote for the worst name of a sporting event in all of recorded history.  Luckily, the teams are good.  Unfortunately, San Diego's had a ton of rain in the past week.  That might not affect Navy, who are fifth in the country with 288.9 rush yards per game.  Quarterback Ricky Dobbs has scored 13 of the team's 36 rushing TDs, and in only 135 pass attempts, he also has 12 touchdown passes (74 total completions).
San Diego State is in its first bowl game since 1998, and it will be at Qualcomm Stadium, the Aztecs' home field.  Quarterback Ryan Lindley has thrown for over 3500 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season, and two receivers (Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson) have over 1100 yards each.  Redshirt freshman Ronnie Hillman has 14 rushing touchdowns on 1238 yards.
My prediction:  There might not be a lot of defense in this game, but the intense rainfall in the past few days will affect the field's grassy surface.  Navy 40, San Diego State 34.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Week 51.2 (Tuesday recap and Wednesday bowl)

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl:  Louisville 31, Southern Miss 28... Justin Burke (QB- Louisville):  20-32, 178 yards, 2 TDs; 4 rushes, 21 yards.  Austin Davis (QB- Southern Miss):  19-32, 205 yards, 2 TDs; 13 rushes, 16 yards; 17-yard TD reception.  Congrats, Louisville Cardinals!

Game notes:  A blocked field goal and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown made the difference for the Cardinals.  With a 17-yard halfback pass as well, this was the first bowl game worth watching.


MAACO Las Vegas Bowl:  #20 Utah (10-2) vs. #10 Boise State (11-1)
Time:  8 PM EST (ESPN)
Place:  Las Vegas, NV
Synopsis:  Finally, a good game to watch.  Our first bowl with two ranked teams features schools from non-BCS conferences who have won a BCS bowl game in the past.  Utah comes in with 51 offensive touchdowns scored this year, but backup quarterback Terrance Cain will have to start in place of Jordan Wynn, who had shoulder surgery.  Cain is 9-1 in his career as a starter for Utah, and he is completing almost 71% of his passes in 2010.  Split running backs Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide have also combined for over 1300 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns.
The Utes face none other than the Boise State Broncos, a team that was ranked as high as #3 for much of the season until losing at Nevada in overtime, thanks to two missed field goals.  The Broncos have scored 69 offensive touchdowns this year, and they are second in the country with 46.7 points per game and fourth with 519.5 offensive yards per game.  Quarterback Kellen Moore has thrown 33 touchdown passes and only 5 interceptions, and running back Doug Martin has rushed for 1084 yards and 11 touchdowns.
My prediction:  Barring an emotional letdown from Boise State, this should be a wild game.  While both teams have explosive offenses, Boise's defense has allowed just 20 touchdowns in 12 games this season.  The Broncos defense is fourth in the country, allowing just 13.6 points per game.  Will I get another prediction wrong?  Boise State 45, Utah 28.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Week 51.1 (Tuesday bowl)

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl:  Southern Miss (8-4) vs. Louisville (6-6)
Time:  8 PM EST (ESPN)
Place:  Saint Petersburg, FL
Synopsis:  The name of this bowl is the very reason why the bowl system is nothing but a farce.  The "Saint Petersburg Bowl" was not sexy enough, I guess.  Anyway, Southern Miss comes in with Austin Davis, a quarterback who has thrown 18 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions, and he also has 10 rushing touchdowns this year.  The Golden Eagles have scored under 30 points only twice this season, and I don't see that happening in the bowl game.
Louisville has not had more than a two-game winning streak this year, but they have also not had more than a two-game losing streak.  The Cardinals are 6-6 (L, W, L, W, W, L, W, L, W, L, L, W), mostly thanks to running back Bilal Powell, who has rushed for over 1200 yards (114.5 yards per game) and 10 touchdowns.  The Cardinals were picked preseason to be last in the Big East, so they're just glad to be in a bowl game.
My prediction:  If this becomes a shootout, Louisville will not stand a chance.  Either way, I am not eating at Beef O'Brady's any time soon.  Southern Miss 35, Louisville 21.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Week 51 (12/20-12/26/10... XMAS!)

Why are you reading?  It’s freaking Christmas!!!!  Go out and celebrate or whatever you do for the holiday.  I'll just list some celebrity birthdays, and the final week will have the final four Things You're Not Supposed to Know.

Celebrity birthdays:

Dick Wolf ("Law & Order") Dec. 20, 1946
Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond") Dec. 21, 1957
Diane Sawyer ("Good Morning America") Dec. 22, 1945
Eddie Vedder ("Pearl Jam") Dec. 23, 1964
Ryan Seacrest ("American Idol") Dec. 24, 1974
Jimmy Buffett (musician) Dec. 25, 1946
David Sedaris (humorist) Dec. 26, 1956


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week 50.2 (12/18 bowl recaps, or boy was I off)

New Mexico Bowl:  BYU 52, UTEP 24...  Jake Heaps (QB- BYU):  25-34, 264 yards, 4 TDs, INT.  Cody Hoffman (WR- BYU):  8 receptions, 137 yards, 3 TDs.  Kris Adams (WR- UTEP):  3 receptions, 153 yards, 3 TDs.  Congrats, BYU Cougars!

Game notes:  It was not worth watching.

Humanitarian Bowl:  Northern Illinois 40, Fresno State 17... Chandler Harnish (QB- Northern Illinois):  17-26, 300 yards, TD; 10 rushes, 72 yards, 2 TDs.  Ryan Colburn (QB- Fresno State):  28-38, 288 yards, 2 TDs.  Congrats, Northern Illinois Huskies!

Game notes:  In the spirit of Christmas, 'twas also not worth watching.

New Orleans Bowl:  Troy 48, Ohio 21... Corey Robinson (QB- Troy):  32-42, 387 yards, 4 TDs.  Boo Jackson (QB- Ohio):  14-21, 209 yards, 3 TDs, INT.  Congrats, Troy Trojans!

Game notes:  Let's face it.  Basketball games are more entertaining than the first week of "Capital One Bowl Week"... which, of course, is really two weeks long.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Week 50.1 (Saturday bowl previews)

New Mexico Bowl:  BYU (6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6)
Time:  2 PM EST (ESPN)
Place:  Albuquerque, NM
Synopsis:  BYU has had a tough year starting a freshman quarterback.  After starting 2-5, the Cougars won 4 of their final 5 games to become bowl-eligible and earn a spot in the 5th annual New Mexico Bowl.  Freshman QB Jake Heaps has thrown for 2052 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, not great but good for a freshman.  Junior running back JJ Di Luigi leads the team in rushing yards and receiving yards for the Cougars.
BYU will face fellow 6-6 team and old rival UTEP.  UTEP started the season 5-1, thanks to a cupcake schedule (the 4 BCS teams UTEP faced at the beginning of the season won a TOTAL of 8 games this year), and the Miners' only win since Oct. was against SMU on Nov. 6.  Well, they're still bowl-eligible, thanks to quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, who threw 19 touchdown passes this season.  Wide receiver Kris Adams caught 11 of those touchdowns.  The Miners are looking to win their first bowl game since 1967.
My prediction:  BYU is on a hot streak, and UTEP is just lucky to be here.  It should be like any other matchup between 6-6 teams.  Ugly.  BYU 30, UTEP 14.

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl:  Northern Illinois (10-3) vs. Fresno State (8-4)
Time:  5:30 PM EST (ESPN)
Place:  Boise, ID
Synopsis:  Northern Illinois dominated the MAC, going 8-0 in the regular season and scoring at least 50 points 4 times.  Unfortunately, they lost in the conference championship game to Miami-OH, and head coach Jerry Kill is now taking the job at Minnesota.  The Huskies still have a fantastic team, led by quarterback Chandler Harnish, who has thrown 20 touchdown passes this season, and running back Chad Spann, who has 20 rushing touchdowns this season.
NIU faces Fresno State, a team that has won two straight squeakers after being blown out 51-0 at Boise.  Quarterback Ryan Colburn has tossed 21 touchdowns, and sophomore running back Robbie Rouse has rushed for 1059 yards and 8 touchdowns while appearing in just 10 of the Bulldogs' 12 games.
My prediction:  While Northern Illinois is the better team on paper, there is certainly a letdown after losing the conference championship.  The head coach that led the team to its 10-3 record is also not coaching the bowl game.  Finally, a forecast high of 37 degrees with a rain/snow mix will certainly have some limiting effects in the passing game.  Fresno State 27, Northern Illinois 20.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl:  Ohio (8-4) vs. Troy (7-5)
Time:  9 PM EST (ESPN)
Place:  New Orleans, LA
Synopsis:  Ohio started the season 1-3, but tallied 7 consecutive wins before the final loss at Kent State.  The only bowl-eligible team the Bobcats beat, however, was the 8-4 Temple team that was cheated out of a bowl.  Quarterback Boo Jackson has thrown 15 touchdowns and also leads the team with 7 rushing touchdowns, but he has also thrown 16 interceptions.  The two leading rushers, Phil Bates and Vince Davidson, each have just 482 yards on the ground, so the game could be in Boo's hands.
Troy is the only Sun Belt team with an overall winning record, but the Trojans finished second in the conference because of a loss to Florida International.  Quarterback Corey Robinson has thrown for 3320 yards (12th best in the country) and 24 touchdowns on the season.  The game is being played in New Orleans, just a few hours away from Troy, AL, so there might be a few more Trojan fans than Bobcat fans in the stadium.
My prediction:  Troy seems like the better of the two teams, but that's just in offense.  The Trojans' defense has allowed 46 touchdowns this season, while Ohio's has allowed just 32.  Ohio has also allowed 1380 rushing yards, the 12th lowest in the country.  Ohio 21, Troy 17.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Week 50 (12/13-12/19/10… nifty)

Well, it's time for bowl season.  That wretched time of year.  Including the BCS National Championship game, there are 35 bowl games, and, including the BCS National Championship, there is only one bowl game that really matters.  It's the time of year again to learn superficial facts about a random school while also having sponsors' commercials ingrained into our minds.  I mean, who wouldn't want to spend the day after Christmas pregaming for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl between powerhouses Florida International and Toledo?

Like I did with the conference tournaments for basketball way back in March, I will have a breakdown of each game and my predictions.  Since I typically go .500 with picking the outcomes to the bowl games, I don't expect this to be any different.  The three games this week (the first three bowl games hooray!) all happen on Saturday:  the New Mexico Bowl at 2 PM EST (12 noon MST), the Humanitarian Bowl at 5:30 PM EST (3:30 MST), and the New Orleans Bowl at 8 PM EST (7 CST).  Yep, two games in the Mountain Time Zone.  That's how bad the first few bowls are.  The New Mexico amazingly does not have a sponsor, so I guess the bowl game's organizers want you to come visit sometime.  Unless it's for a bowl of chili or a quesadilla, fat chance.

Thing #49: ADVERTISERS’ INFLUENCE ON THE NEWS MEDIA IS WIDESPREAD. Look around you. Unless you’re holed up in a nuclear fallout shelter, you’re seeing at least one advertisement trying to sell you something you don’t need. Advertisements are everywhere you look. Are you going to watch the BBVA Compass Bowl or the Bowl? Have you noticed your favorite soap opera having more hard focus camera shots on a box of Cheerios? If you’re in Massachusetts, you might even be seeing an ad for a car dealership on the back of your report card. This is something everyone knows, that advertisers’ influence on the media is significant.

Take this 2002 survey into account, done by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. 103 TV newsrooms across the country were asked about pressure from sponsors. 17% of news directors from the 103 newsrooms said sponsors had discouraged them from pursuing some stories, and 54% had been pressured to cover stories about sponsors. Half of the stations who investigated car companies that were sponsors suffered economically, by the withdrawal of commercials.

Then there was another survey done by the Department of Journalism at Marquette University way back in 1992. It questioned 147 editors of daily newspapers and found some startling stats:

93.2% said sponsors had “threatened to withdraw advertising from the paper because of the content of the stories.” 89% of the companies said the advertisers had followed through on the threat.

89.9% said advertisers had “tried to influence the content of a news story or feature.”

71.4% said “an advertiser tried to kill a story at the newspaper.”

55.1% said they had gotten “pressure from within the paper to write or tailor news stories to please advertisers.”

36.7% said advertisers had “succeeded in influencing news or features in the newspaper.”

Thinking about investing in gold or purchasing a Snuggie? Well, maybe you should turn off FOX News and watch a real news channel.

Thing #80: CONDOLEEZZA RICE COMMITTED PERJURY BEFORE THE 9/11 COMMISSION. Well, duh, of course she did. Rice appeared before the 9/11 Commission on Apr. 8, 2004 and talked about the Presidential Daily Brief of Aug. 6, 2001. Rice was under oath. I can’t stress this enough. She was asked this question by commission member Richard Ben-Veniste: “Isn’t it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country?” Rice was under oath, and apparently a doctor, too. She replied:

“You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.”
What was the name of the PDB of Aug. 6, 2001? “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.” What did its final paragraph say? “The FBI is considering approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAB [United Arab Emirates] in May [2001] saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.” I guess it’s also worth noting that Bush also lied, saying the “PDB said nothing about an attack on America.” You wanna know why people think Bush and Rice are criminals? Because they are.

Celebrity birthdays:

Jamie Foxx ("Ray") Dec. 13, 1967
Michael Ovitz (talent agent) Dec. 14, 1946
Don Johnson ("Miami Vice") Dec. 15, 1949
Steven Bochco ("NYPD Blue") Dec. 16, 1943
Chris Matthews ("Hardball") Dec. 17, 1945
Brad Pitt ("Fight Club") Dec. 18, 1963
Jake Gyllenhaal ("Brokeback Mountain") Dec. 19, 1980

Entries into the Union (US):

Alabama: Dec. 14, 1819
New Jersey: Dec. 18, 1787

Happy birthday, States!  That's all.  Gotta work on graduate school application stuff, so until next time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 49 (12/6-12/12/10... over)


Well, the football season is finally over, except for the Army/Navy game next.  Week 14 consisted of only 19 games, and many of these were conference championship games.  A typical week in the middle of the season has about 50 games, so it would be unfair to have 10 top performances (almost as unfair as having a four-loss team in a BCS bowl).  This week will highlight every performance that was better than the lowest-scoring performance to make any top ten list this year.  The low score was 32, and Week 14 had seven performances scoring better than 32 fantasy points.  That's pretty reasonable, considering I had 40% of the typical workload to search.

I wouldn't have any list without mentioning the few performances who just barely missed the list.  Even for an abbreviated week, there were still great performances missing the cut.  For example, a wide receiver with over 160 total yards and 2 touchdowns (Tavon Austin, West Virginia) is not on the list, nor is a wide receiver with over 170 yards and 2 scores (Jermaine Kearse, Washington).  A running back with over 170 total yards and two touchdowns (Vai Taua, Nevada) also came close to the top list.  Finally, the three quarterbacks who missed the list by mere points all threw 3 touchdown passes and ran for a touchdown (Kellen Moore, Boise State; Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech; and Jeff Tuel, Washington State).  Here are the top performances of the final week:

#7:  Darvin Adams (WR- Auburn):  33 points.  If you think Cameron Newton is the entire Auburn team, meet wide receiver Darvin Adams.  He had his best performance of the year in what was, up to that point, the biggest game of the year for Auburn, the SEC Championship game.  He caught two long touchdown passes, including a 51-yard hail mary to end the first half up 28-14, as Auburn rolled over South Carolina 56-17.  The 56 points scored by Auburn is the most points ever scored in an SEC championship game.  (217 receiving yards = 21 points) + (2 TD receptions = 12 points) = 33 points

#6:  Allen Bradford (RB- USC):  37 points.  What a way to go out for USC's Allen Bradford.  The senior running back caught a 47-yard touchdown and also ran for a 73-yard score in the 4th quarter to beat archrival UCLA 28-14.  He ran for a total of 212 yards to help USC finish the season at 8-5.  Unfortunately, the Trojans are ineligible from postseason play for two years.  You should probably Google it for more information... (212 rushing yards = 21 points) + (rushing TD = 6 points) + (47 receiving yards = 4 points) + (TD reception = 6 points) = 37 points

#5:  Colin Kaepernick (QB- Nevada):  39 points.  Man, if it weren't for Cameron Newton, Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick would have a legitimate case for the Heisman Trophy.  The #14 Wolf Pack finished the regular season on Saturday, winning at Louisiana Tech 35-17.  Kaepernick completed 13 of 17 passes for 159 yards, and he scored three touchdowns on the ground, including two in the second half, where Nevada outscored LA Tech 21-3.  Kaepernick is the third quarterback ever to thrown 20 touchdowns and rush for 20 touchdowns in a single season, and he has a chance to break Eric Crouch's record of 59 career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in the (I'm not making up this name) Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Jan. 9.  (159 passing yards = 6 points) + (155 rushing yards = 15 points) + (3 rushing TDs = 18 points) = 39 points

#4:  Chris Polk (RB- Washington):  41 points.  Two years ago, the Apple Cup was affectionately called, by some, the "Crapple Cup."  Washington State won two games that year, and Washington went winless.  This year's game was a much improved game, thanks to sophomore running back Chris Polk.  Polk ran for a career high 284 yards and two touchdowns, and he had a key fourth down conversion late in the 4th quarter to help the Huskies beat Washington State win 35-28.  With the victory, Washington became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2003.  They'll be facing Nebraska, who beat them 56-21 back on Sept. 18.  (284 rushing yards = 28 points) + (2 rushing TDs = 12 points) + (18 receiving yards = 1 point) = 41 points

#3:  Bryant Moniz (QB- Hawaii):  43 points.  Hawaii ranks #1 in passing offense in the country, and it's all thanks to Bryant Moniz.  He had another massive performance on Saturday, throwing for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns.  He also ran for 2 touchdowns that started a 45-0 scoring run from the first all the way to the 4th quarter.  Hawaii beat UNLV 59-21 to earn a three-way tie atop the WAC, and the Warriors will basically be playing a home game in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.  (380 passing yards = 15 points) + (4 TD passes = 16 points) + (INT = -2 points) + (29 rushing yards = 2 points) + (2 rushing TDs = 12 points) = 43 points

#2:  Cameron Newton (QB- Auburn):  46 points.  Another day, another top performance from the best player in college football.  Newton threw 4 touchdown passes and ran for 2 more scores in a 56-17 victory over South Carolina in the SEC championship.  He scored at least one touchdown in every quarter.  This guy is a fantasy sports player's... well, fantasy.  Because his game ended a few minutes before Nevada's, Newton became the second player in college football history with 20 TD passes and 20 rushing touchdowns in a single season.  (335 passing yards = 13 points) + (4 TD passes = 16 points) + (73 rushing yards = 7 points) + (2 rushing TDs = 12 points) + (fumble lost = -2 points) = 46 points

#1:  Dion Lewis (RB- Pittsburgh):  49 points.  Believe it or not, there was a performance better than Newton's, and it came by necessity.  Snow covered the field in Cincinnati, and the only good passing game on Saturday was via snowball fight.  (The Cincinnati mascot was actually ejected from the game and given a disorderly conduct citation for throwing snow and pushing a security guard.)  Sophomore running back Dion Lewis was the entire offense, rushing for 261 yards and 4 touchdowns, including a 76-yard scamper to open the 2nd quarter.  Pitt won 28-10, avenging last year's 45-44 defeat, also in the snow.  (261 rushing yards = 26 points) + (4 rushing TDs = 24 points) + (14 receiving yards = 1 point) + (fumble lost = -2 points) = 49 points

Well, here is the final counter.  I didn't know what color to assign Auburn's 9, so I decided to highlight the background around it.

Auburn 9; Hawaii 7; Nevada 6; Michigan 6; East Carolina 5; Nebraska 5; Baylor 4; Houston 4; Illinois 4; Oregon 4; USC 4; Fresno State 3; Tulsa 3; Western Michigan 3; Wisconsin 3; Arkansas 2; Cincinnati 2; Colorado 2; Connecticut 2; Eastern Michigan 2; Georgia 2; Kansas State 2; Mississippi 2; Navy 2; NC State 2; North Texas 2; Ohio State 2; Oklahoma 2; Oklahoma State 2; Oregon State 2; Pittsburgh 2; San Diego State 2; South Carolina 2; Temple 2; Texas A&M 2; Washington 2; Arizona State 1; Arkansas State 1; Army 1; Boise State 1; Boston College 1; BYU 1; California 1; Central Michigan 1; Clemson 1; Colorado State 1; Florida 1; Georgia Tech 1; Idaho 1; Kansas 1; Louisiana Tech 1; Maryland 1; Michigan State 1; Middle Tennessee State 1; Mississippi State 1; Northern Illinois 1; Rutgers 1; South Dakota 1; South Florida 1; SMU 1; Southern Miss 1; Stanford 1; Syracuse 1; Texas Tech 1; UAB 1; UCLA 1; UTEP 1; Virginia 1; Virginia Tech 1; Wake Forest 1; Western Kentucky 1; Wyoming 1

QB 65; RB 67; WR 14

Finally, here are the bowl-eligible teams.  The two not receiving a bowl are Western Michigan and Temple.  Western Michigan, I understand.  Temple, a team that beat Connecticut 30-16, I don't.

Well, I was kinda excited about the bowl games, but upon hearing that an 8-4 team, who beat a team in a BCS bowl by TWO TOUCHDOWNS, did not get invited to a bowl, I'm pretty pissed.  Seriously, there's a bowl called the "Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl."

Thing #38: THE SUICIDE RATE IS HIGHEST AMONG THE ELDERLY. You’ve probably heard a lot about suicide lately. Stories about teenagers and young adults killing themselves is a hot topic in the media, and you might think this group is the likeliest to have the highest suicide rate. Well, when it comes to sheer numbers, you’re right, but when it comes to the rate, or the percentage of people in the demographic, people aged 15 to 24 actually have the second-lowest rate of suicide. It is, in fact, the elderly who have the highest rate of suicide.

This is data from 2000 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization), so it is a little dated, but in the US, people aged 75 to 79 had a suicide rate of 16.5 for every 100,000, and people aged 80 and over had a rate of 19.43. Compare this to the 8.15 per 100,000 rate of people between 15 and 19, and 12.84 for people between 20 and 24.

The information is worse for men, who kill themselves at a staggeringly higher rate than women. Of people 65 and older, 84 percent of suicides are men. The suicide rate for men aged 85 and over in the US was found to be 54.52 per every 100,000 from this study released in 2000.

Why don’t we hear about old people killing themselves? It’s possible we care more about sheer numbers than percentages or maybe we don’t understand percentages that well. Possibly it’s because suicides occur in much higher frequencies in Eastern Europe and Asia than in the US. (From 2003 information, Belarus ranked first, with a 35.1 per 100,000 suicide rate of the general population. The US ranked 40th, out of 106 countries measured.) It’s sad, but it’s true that the elderly kill themselves at a higher rate than any other age demographic.

Thing #1: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS WE ALWAYS SEE AREN’T THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. This is definitely a weird one. There is something out there called the “Documentary hypothesis,” which holds that the Five Books of Moses (Pentateuch, Torah, and so on) was derived from originally independent, parallel, and complete narratives, which were combined by editors. One idea in support of this hypothesis is the Ten Commandments.

If you’ve read Exodus, you’re probably familiar with the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus 20:2-17. (This is of the King James Bible.) Thou shalt not steal, no coveting thy neighbor’s ass, and so forth. These “Commandments” are being spoken by Moses, who is repeating what God told him on Mount Sinai.

Later, Moses goes back to the Mount, where God gives him two stone tables with rules (Exodus 31:18). Moses comes down the mountain, sees the people worshipping a statue of a calf, and he smashes the tablets on the ground (Exodus 32:19). So Moses goes back for new tablets, where we actually see the phrase “ten commandments” first (Exodus 34:28). However, the rules on the tablets are different than the rules Moses had recited back in Exodus 20:2-17. Here are the Ten Commandments as handed down by the LORD unto Moses, from Exodus 34:13-28.

I. Thou shalt worship no other god.
II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
III. The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep.
IV. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day, thou shalt rest.
V. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
VI. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
VII. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
VIII. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left unto the morning.
IX. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
X. Thou shalt not seethe a kid [young goat] in his mother’s milk.

Nothing in there about not committing murder. These Commandments are referred to as the “Ritual Decalogue,” while the Commandments Moses spoke to the people are called the “Ethical Decalogue.” Again, this is the translation from the King James Bible. Will the real Ten Commandments please stand up? Or maybe there are really fifteen? Mel Brooks might have been on to something… (History of the World, Part I, anybody?)

Celebrity birthdays:

Steven Wright (comedian) Dec. 6, 1955
Tom Waits (musician) Dec. 7, 1949
Teri Hatcher ("Desperate Housewives") Dec. 8, 1964
Felicity Huffman ("Desperate Housewives") Dec. 9, 1962
Kenneth Branagh (Shakespearean actor) Dec. 10, 1960
Rita Moreno ("West Side Story") Dec. 11, 1931
Bob Barker ("The Price is Right") Dec. 12, 1923

Entries into the Union (US):

Delaware: Dec. 7, 1787
Mississippi: Dec. 10, 1817
Indiana: Dec. 11, 1816
Pennsylvania: Dec. 12, 1787

Happy birthday, States!  Looks like next week I will take a look at the bowl games.  That should keep me busy.  Until next time.