Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On the Complex Mathematical Intricacies of Leap Year

Overheard this morning from a disc jockey on drive-time radio, in a discussion about how February 29th happens only once every four years and thus leads to funny discrepancies between age and number of birthdays (paraphrased slightly, because we lack photographic memory):

“I have a friend who turns forty today. . . . So she’s, like, six.”

Happy sixteenth birthday, Dad. Thanks for making sure I mastered basic math.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Johnny Cash


Singer and songwriter Johnny Cash, born J.R. Cash on this date in 1932, released eight dozen albums (ten or more of them certified platinum or multi-platinum) and had thirteen number-one songs over a storied, almost legendary fifty-year career. He was inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was an powerful influence on country, rock, and gospel music in the latter half of the Twentieth Century.

Cash dressed in black and sang about sorrow and suffering long before goth kids tried to make it uncool—and then years took one of their favorite songs and made it better.

A Christian converted from a hellraiser, Cash held close to his heart not only prisoners (for whom he performed for free, most notably at San Quentin on 1969) but also the “poor and the beaten down” and the “sick and lonely old.”

While the phrase “American icon” gets thrown around all too casually—it’s the title of a recent book on pitcher Roger Clemens, for example—it suits or, if possible, even shortchanges Cash’s stature among his peers, critics, and fans.

Even if he weren’t an American icon, though, we would commemorate him today simply because we think this picture is awesome:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mangled English

Part 4 of a Potentially Infinite Series

 Please be quite what? Quite charming? Quite loud? Quite drunk, and singing
quite off-key in slurred German at two a.m.? Yeah, we can manage that.

And we shouldn’t even bother pointing out the redundancy of “surrounding neighbors.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Executive Order 9066: February 19, 1942

Just imagine a menace like this loose on your streets.1

 On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed United States Executive Order 9066, allowing the government to remove more than 100,000 U.S. residents of Japanese ancestry—the majority of them American citizens—from their homes and place them in internment camps. Many were given only days to find caretakers or storage for the possessions they were not permitted to take with them; many had to sell their homes, farms, or businesses, “usually at great financial loss.”2

Fortunately for America’s soul and conscience, this policy of infringing on the rights of its own citizens was the result of clearheaded strategic thinking and military necessity. It was designed to put an end to the plague of clandestine fifth-column terrorist attacks that had never happened, perpetrated by tens of thousands of citizens who had done nothing wrong, who were never put on trial because they had never been charged, and never been charged because no crime had been committed in the first place—and had nothing to do with bigotry, widespread stereotyping, ignorance, or hatred.

Nothing at all.

“I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. Let ’em be pinched, hurt, hungry, and dead up against it. Let us have no patience with anyone whose veins carry his blood. Personally, I hate the Japanese and that goes for all of them.”
— Henry McLemore, Sacramento Union, Jan. 30, 19422

“A viper is a viper, wherever the egg is hatched—so a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parents, grows up Japanese, not an American.”
Los Angeles Times, 19424

“Their racial characteristics are such that we cannot understand or trust even citizen Japanese.”
— Henry L. Stinson, Secretary of War, l9425

“The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.”
—Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, landing a two-for-one shot on both
Constitutional rights and common sense, February 19426

“[T]he hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor.”
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 19407

As the date of the above quotation clearly indicates, Roosevelt was talking about something else entirely—the Italian invasion of France in June 1940—but it struck us as a particularly apt statement. It’s unknown whether Roosevelt or millions of panicked or bigoted Americans knew that in February 1942, theirs were the hands that held the dagger.

1. WRA photograph by Carl Iwasaki.
2. “Japanese American internment,” Wikipedia article, accessed 19 February 2012, right before breakfast.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Courtney Love and Bobby Brown to Spare Two Innocent Lives, Marry One Another


This is what the world is left with . . .

. . . instead of this. It hardly seems fair, does it?

The Swiss Institute for Groundbreaking Studies has confirmed that any potential child of the union between Love and Brown would be the world’s highest-functioning cocaine-based lifeform, relegating Charlie Sheen to a distant second.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Eli Manning No Longer his Family’s Fredo Corleone

For New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, perhaps the most thrilling aspect of his team’s February 5, 2012, victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI is the fact that he is now, undeniably, no longer the Fredo Corleone of the Manning family.

“I can handle things,” said Manning in a postgame press conference, his knuckles white as he gripped the Vince Lombardi Trophy. “I’m smart! Not like everybody says . . . like, dumb. . . . I’m smart and I want respect!”

Manning—now not only a two-time Super Bowl winner but also a two-time Super Bowl MVP, and one of only eleven quarterbacks to win the game multiple times—has spent the bulk of his seven-year career in the dual shadows of his more famous (and, in most ways, undeniably more accomplished) brother—the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning—and their father, Don Vito “Archibald” Manning, a respected quarterback in his own right and two-time Pro Bowler.

After eldest brother Cooper’s injuries put an end to his career, Peyton took over and led the family to heights beyond anything his father could have imagined—pain-free games, winning records, playoff berths, and a legitimate front as one of the nation’s largest importers of olive oil.

Horrific injuries rendered Cooper only barely more mobile than his younger brothers.

With his brother occupying a place of respect in the NFL, Eli Manning was taken with the first overall pick in the 2004 draft, sparking immediate discussion about whether his high selection was based on his abilities or on the shady influence of his powerful family.

Giants starter Kurt Warner “voluntarily” voided of his contract after the end of the 2004 season and signed with the Arizona Cardinals, leaving Eli to be declared the team’s starting quarterback. This raised further suspicions, especially given Warner’s statement that it was “probably better to play for Arizona than sleep with the fishes . . . I guess.”

The NFL’s formal investigation into the Warner Incident came to a stumbling halt, however, after anti-Manning crusader Senator Pat Geary  announced in the middle of the hearing that 
”I can state, from my own knowledge and experience, that Mannings are among the most loyalmost law-abiding—patriotic, hard working American citizens in this land. And it would be a shame, mister chairman, if we allowed a few rotten apples to bring a bad name to the whole barrel,”
before exiting suddenly and leaving the committee without one of its most important members.

Since then, Eli Manning’s seven-year career has revealed sporadic signs of greatness amid long stretches of mediocrity, with his performance in the 2008 playoffs being almost dismal enough to qualify him to play for the rival New York Jets. His best single-season quarterback rating is less than Peyton’s career average rating, he throws significantly fewer touchdowns per game and more interceptions per game, has scored far fewer rushing touchdowns than his brother despite having superior mobility,1 and, of course, failed to protect his father from a vicious (albeit eventually unsuccessful) assassination attempt engineered by Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo.

That said, though, Eli has accomplished enough in his career to no longer deserve to be compared to the real Fredo Corleone:2
  • Eli effectively stole the thunder from his brother’s longtime rivalry with the other premier quarterback of this generation (Tom Brady’s Chin of the New England Patriots), upstaging Peyton by beating Brady twice in the only game that really matters. Peyton has failed to even meet Brady in a Super Bowl.3
    “Every time I put a ball in the air I said a Hail Mary,
    and every time I said a Hail Mary, they caught the ball.” 
  • In 2011 Eli compiled more passing yards than Peyton Manning has ever managed in a single season, and it’s probably only a coincidence that this happened in a season in which harsh language counted as pass interference. It’s quite likely, though, that Peyton would have put up similar numbers had he not had to flee the country and live incognito after murdering Virgil Sollozzo and corrupt police captain Mark McCluskey.
Peyton, master of disguise, went undetected in Sicily.
  • Eli, ever the ladies’ man, crossed Moe Greene in Las Vegas by “banging cocktail waitresses two at a time,” preventing players from getting drinks at their tables. We’d like to see Peyton try that.4
  • And of course Eli has won two Super Bowls, to Peyton’s one. As if winning one Super Bowl were even that hard. Heck, all sorts of forgettable quarterbacks have won one Super Bowl: Jeff Hostetler, Trent Dilfer, Mark Rypien, Dan Marino, Jim McMahon—so really, for Peyton to hang his professional reputation on one measly Super Bowl ring5 is awfully silly.

So clearly, Eli Manning deserves every bit of praise he receives, as long as, you know, it’s not too much. He has proven beyond doubt that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in his immediate family, and his brother certainly won’t mind being momentarily upstaged in his home stadium.

      Still, it might be wise if Eli were to skip the family’s annual Lake Tahoe fishing trips for a while.

      “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.”

      1. In much the same way that a drifting continent is more mobile than, say, a dead turtle.
      2. Who is, of course, not technically real.
      3. Purists and nitpickers might attempt to bring up that Peyton Manning has not and never could face Tom Brady’s Chin in the Super Bowl, because they play in the same conference, but we’d like to respectfully point out that we never asked for their stupid snotty opinions.
      4. We don’t really mean this. In fact, there’s nothing on Earth we’d rather not see.We mean it—stop calling us, Peyton.
      5. That is, one Super Bowl ring plus his mastery of every measurable criterion of quarterbacking excellence, with the one minor exception being the ability to outrun a toddler.

      Friday, February 10, 2012

      Today in Hockey History: Mike Ricci's Head Suspended Two Games for Conduct Unbecoming a Face

      February 10, 1997: Immensely popular Colorado Avalanche fan-favorite Mike Ricci (above) appealed the decision, but it was rejected on the grounds that nobody could figure out what, exactly, was Mike Ricci’s appeal1 in the first place.

      1. Get it? It’s a pun!

      Sunday, February 5, 2012

      Broncos Rookie Linebacker Von Miller Wins Prestigious Steve Urkel Impression Award


      Miller’s prize-winning performance.

      “Rookie of the Year? Yawn. When he single-handedly
      saves a floundering sitcom by making it
      twice as stupid, maybe I’ll be impressed.”

      Wednesday, February 1, 2012