Thursday, October 30, 2008

You got some 'splaining to do, Lucy

Three years ago Hurricane Katrina came rolling through the Gulf Coast and pretty much wrecked most of Louisiana. But before the winds had even died down, Gas prices were skyrocketing, almost doubling overnight in many places. Gas shortages abound.

Things quieted down eventually, but the price of gas never really recovered, getting over $4.00 a gallon this past summer. "It's the price of crude oil" said the gas companies, and they dutifully passed along the expense in the price of their product. Over the last 8 weeks the price of oil has come down by more than half, yet, gas prices (by my rough estimation) have come down 25-40%, maybe.

So imagine my thoughts when I see this headline screamed across this morning:

Exxon Mobil: Biggest profit in U.S. history


Seriously - am I the only one who gets pissed off about this? Because the way I see it, Exxon Mobil has been inflating prices beyond what is reasonable in order to increase their profits to *record* numbers. That's also known as "price gouging". I understand companies want to make money. I understand they have an obligation to provide value for their shareholders.

Honestly, and I'm not a fan of this, but they are begging for the Federal government to begin regulating them. A lot of our economy is based on the idea that fuel is cheap, that transporting goods for sale is cheap. As the price of fuel goes up, the health of our economy went down.

I call on everyone out there to rise up, gather sticks and stones and pitchforks and torches and guns and bombs and take ALL the gas from their local gas stations, teach those companies a lesson!!!!

Ok, not really. That would pretty much be stupid. Don't do that. But enough is enough.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sounds like our podcast

Ok, so every AM I take about 10 minutes and skim the news websites for interesting or enlightening information. Obviously, one of the major topics in the news is the upcoming Presidential election.

It was on that I found this little nugget about Sarah Palin.

Now, I'll concede the point that any election is not over until the last hanging chad is either counted or ignored. And I'll avoid the possibility for rigging elections with all the electronic voting machines. For now. But really, if you're the GOP, is this the time you want to paint anyone or anything in your own house in a bad light?

Happy fun excerpts:

" Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue." "

" A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign. "

" "She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else." "

The article goes on to cite other instances where the V.P. candidates disagreed with the general campaign strategy. My analysis? She's trying to find some way, any way, to stay relevant on and after November 5th. I wish her luck.

Updated: Electoral Predictions

As an update to this blog entry, I have revised my latest Electoral prediction for next week's Presidential Election. As of the time of this posting, I have it at :

Barack Obama - 338
John McCain - 200

I intend on making one more updated prediction on 11/3. I've always fancied myself as someone who can accurately process raw information and draw accurate and useful conclusions from that data, so I'm curious to see how close I can get to the actual number.

Make your own prediction in the comments section if you'd like.

UPDATED 10/29 - WAY COOL statistical analysis website HERE

Friday, October 24, 2008

Not even a little peck on the cheek?

In case you have been following the news, the world appears to be in a "slight" economic crisis. I've noticed the price of a gallon of gas has been dropping steadily for the last few weeks - $2.93 a gallon the other day here in Northern VA - which is a good thing. But I started to wonder why, so I check the price of oil. All this week, a barrrel of crude oil has been hanging around just below the $70 mark.

"Wow" I thought, "That's like half what it was a few months ago". I started to get a little more curious... So I called my buddy, Google.

It wasn't long before I discovered that the range of prices for a gallon of gas when oil was in this range varied from around $2.00 to $2.50 a gallon. Yet, I just paid $2.93.

No, I know other factors come into play, but I have to say, the idea that I'm paying that much more (as much as 40% more) for gas when oil was this price, well, I feel like Andy Dufresne when he first got to Shawshank and met up with "The Sisters", who had their way with him until Andy got in good with the guards.

I don't blame a company for trying to make a profit, but there comes a point when it's simply taking advantage of people...

Monday, October 20, 2008

They're not old. They're "Chronologically Challenged"

Driving home yesterday, I was listening to the Redskins / Browns game on the radio. The Redskins radio team - Larry Michael, Sam Huff, and Sonny Jurgensen - were the main source of my entertainment, and not the game.

First you have Larry Michael (far right), who is kind of cross between a play-by-play announcer and a wrestling manager. To call him a homer would be like saying Osama Bin Laden *might* be wanted as a person of interest in the whole 9/11 affair - it's an understatement. He's not bad when it comes to telling you what just happened on the field, unless you want accurate facts like score, time, who ran which way, etc. Larry has decided the Washington Post is trying to infiltrate "Redskins Nation" and is nothing more than a bad PR guy masquerading as a broadcaster. A bad broadcaster.

Then there's Sonny Jurgensen (middle), Hall of Fame Quarterback. He's pretty good, and the color commentary is insightful to both novice and seasoned fans. Sonny's real name is Christian Adolph Jurgensen. You'd go by Sonny, too, if that was your name. I like Sonny. He's smart, observant, and funny. He could also throw a football 30 yards behind his back. I'm not kidding.

Then there's Sam Huff (far left). Sam is in the Hall of Fame as well, as a linebacker. He played for the Giants and Redskins and was one of the meanest linebackers of his era. Apparently, now, he's brain damaged. Or something. I can't decide if it's an act or just the way he is. Just before halftime, as the Redskins were driving for a field goal attempt, Huff told his broadcast partners he was hoping the Redskins wouldn't call timeout because he was ready for a commercial. Odd. Then about 10 seconds later, he said something to the effect of "Man, I really need to go".

I'm 41. I've never heard a broadcaster intentionally say he had to go to the bathroom ON THE AIR. The mental image of a Hall of Fame linebacker doing a pee-pee dance was most entertaining. Sam also seems to forget things. A lot.

Huff: "They should run right more. They do great running right. Never left, nothing to the left."

A couple minutes pass.

Huff: "The should run left more. All the yards are to the left."
Jurgensen: "You just said they need to run right."
Huff: "No I didn't. You quarterbacks don't know right from left."
Jurgensen: "But I do know brain damage when I hear it." *
Huff: "They can't run right. All the linebackers are over there."
Jurgensen: "Shut up, you old Feeb." *

So, for the better part of an hour, I listened to these two guys go back and forth, and I swear I can hear Sonny getting more and more ticked at Spongebob Geezerpants. I couldn't turn it off - I was waiting to see what Sam was going to order for lunch, or what kind of flower he would take to his 1st grade teacher on Monday.

* Words not actually spoken by Jurgensen, but an interpretation of the groans he let out listening to Huff.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Keep it on the chips

It's solid beef, baby.

A nail in the coffin

I've been watching this Presidential Race with great curiosity, even flip-flopping a couple of times on who I would vote for in November. Personally, I'm not a big fan of either candidate. Barack Obama seems to get by, in my opinion only, too much on charm and charisma. John McCain, well, there's not a doubt in my mind he's a "Great American" and that he has sacrificed a lot for his country, but I've seen nothing to tell me he can make the right decision at the right time.

And now, Former Secretary of State and Four Star General Colin Powell has come out with a fairly strong endorsement of Barack Obama. What's also interesting is that in 2007 Powell donated the personal maximum to John McCain's campaign.

Here's some pertinent blurb:

Colin Powell appeared on the NBC program Meet the Press to announce that he would be voting for Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. Powell referred to the Republican candidate, John McCain, as a "friend of over 25 years," but cited several points that had led him to decide in favor of Obama. Powell said that in response to an ongoing financial crisis "Mr. McCain was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems we're facing." He said of McCain's choice of Vice-Presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, "I don't believe she's ready to be President of the United States."

Speaking of the Democratic candidate, Powell mentioned Obama's "intellectual vigor" and what he described as the inclusiveness of Obama's campaign, as opposed to the "narrower and narrower" approach of the Republican party. Powell was dismissive of the McCain campaign making "almost a central issue" of Obama's association with William Ayers, calling it "a stretch." He said that he was disappointed by the Republican party's move to the right, and Palin's indications of a further trend in that direction. In particular, Powell mentioned that "high-level" Republicans had repeated to him the rumor that Obama is a Muslim. Powell said, "He's not a Muslim. He's a Christian; he's always been a Christian," and condemned the notion of Islamic faith as a disqualification from the Presidency. He told the story of a Muslim American soldier who died in the Iraq war, and asked, "Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim kid thinking he or she could be President?"

Meet the Press host Tom Brokaw asked Powell for a response to the sentiment that Powell might be endorsing Obama because both Powell and Obama are African-American. Powell said that if that were the basis for his decision, he could have made an endorsement "six or eight months ago."

I think what I find most interesting is Powell's near-condemnation of the GOP. Personally, I fully expect the GOP to roll out every negative attack ad and misleading rumor they've got left in their bag this coming week, but at this point it looks to be nothing more than shouting at the wind.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2008 General Election

Picking the winner of this Presidential race, well, that's too easy. No, a good contest is to pick the winner AND the number of electoral votes. There's a cool tool to do that here. FYI, if you divide up the states by who is leading, giving ties to McCain, Obama gets 313 electoral votes. You need to 270 to win a majority.

Interesting how the Democrats seem to have WAY more money to spend in this election than the Republicans. I wonder how much that has influenced the "battleground" states this time around.

Take On Me

This is what happens when you take things too literally.

I always wanted to be a sketch-drawn henchman.


So last night after putting my son to bed, I checked in on the Rays / Red Sox game. it was the top of the 3rd inning and it was 5-0 Rays. Now, I'm not a HUGE fan of either team, but I would have to call myself a Red Sox fan - their probably my favorite American League team. So I watched for a bit, then when down to check the computer for new emails, etc..

When I came back to the television, it was the top of the 7th, and Manny Delcarmen had just walked two Rays. Sensing the game slipping away, Red Sox manager Terry (Tito) Francona brought in his closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Paps gave up a double off The Monstah and it was 7-0 Rays. He got out of the inning, and the Fenway faitfhful started to leave.


I've been to Fenway. It's the very best place you could ever imagine for watching a baseball game, for enjoying baseball. I couldn't believe people were leaving. I'll grant you, the Sox have played poorly the past 2 1/2 games. But this team came back down 3-0 in the ALCS to the Yankees in 2004 and down 3-1 in the ALCS to the Indians and 2007. But there they were, some of them, enough to have it matter, leaving.


So what happened?

The Sox scored 4 in the 7th, 3 in the 8th to tie and 1 in the 9th to win 8-7. I literally couldn't bring myself to get off the couch, not even between innings. David "Big Papi" Ortiz hit a 3-run homer in the 7th, and from that point on I knew I was watching something special, something memorable. In my minds eye, I saw that pitch travel that exact same path - down and in - and Papi just turn on it. They have been pitching him inside all series, but up where couldn't get anything on it. No, the pitch HAD to be down for him to have a chance. And then it happened. I couldn't believe it. I watched the top of 8th, watched Papelbon not have his best fastball, and it was the most nerve wracking 8 minutes I've had in a long time. But he shut them down, and the comeback was on.

The lesson here? Unless you've got a 4-year old (like I do) you don't leave early. EVER. And if you have a 4-year old, don't bring him to a playoff game - it ended after midnight ET.

Baseball has been called a slow game, lots of standing around staring at dirt and grass. Ok, won't argue that. But in October, in the playoffs, that slow pace can allow drama to build, intrigue to develop, and heroes to rise from being down 7-0 with 2 outs in the 7th inning.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Torturing Democracy ...

is the name of a new documentary examining the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies, produced and written by Sherry Jones.

Ok, so that's not news.

But what is news is that the documentary, which was developed for PBS (Public Television) was denied a "national" airdate until January 21, 2009. The day after the Bush Administration is replaced.

The New York Times has the article here.

I'm all for delaying running the documentary until after the November 4th general election. But the article makes the implication that part of the reason it's being held up is because PBS gets Federal funding. Now, whether the idea is that PBS is worried about losing future funding, or that the Federal government is exerting influence *because* it provides funding, I don't know.

No matter. Most of the stations that make up "Public Television" have decided to run the documentary anyway, independently. Unless you're in DC, where it can't seem to get on the schedule. Shocker.

The entire 90-minute “Torturing Democracy” documentary can be seen at

Boldly going ...

So I've been noodling for the past week about what to do for my first "blog" entry, and today I finally came up with something cool.

Oh, hi. BTW, my name is Rob. This is my blog. What it really is is a place for me to rant and rave about stuff that for at least 30 seconds is interesting to me. If you found this blog via the podcast "Some Guys in a Car", welcome. If you found it because I pointed you here, welcome. If you found it because you heard I had the world's largest collection of furniture porn, you may want to look here. Or ask the gentlemen in the corner about our "VIP" room.

So one of the things I've been looking forward to for a while now is J.J. Abrahms "reboot" of the Star Trek franchise. Entertainment Weekly has the first "scoop" of the new movie, and I have to say, I extremely optimistic at this stage. Pictures included!

I love Star Trek. Could not tell you exactly why, but something about it just rings true for me. It was sad to see the previous brain trust guide the franchise down into the toilet, and I was starting to think that it was done, for good. Sometimes old things have to be thrown out, stuck in the back of a closet in an old shoe box, or just given away on Craigslist, and I was ok with that in terms of Star Trek.

But the new movie.... Yeah, I'm ready to try this again. But there's a catch. As I said before, this is a reboot - a complete revision of the franchise as we know it. The names are familiar. The colors, shapes, and I'm guessing sounds will all be as well. But from what I can tell, from that point on anyone going to see this movie needs to have an open mind. Why? Because Abrahms and his gang have thrown out the old book, and brought a whole new book full of blank pages with them. What was once considered mythos will not be any longer.

Morpheus said it best - "Free your mind".

And buckle up. Full trailer comes out November 14 with the new James Bond film. Release date is May 8, 2009. Rumors of overzealous trekkies already in line are greatly exaggerated.