Thursday, September 30, 2010

Good News for the Weekend

A recent Dutch study has apparently found that people who have more than 10 drinks a week are more productive at work. Unfortunately the article doesn't really get into methodology or how they defined something abstract like "productivity," but I'm too lazy to find the study and perfectly willing to blindly accept these results as correct.

But if you do find a copy of the study somewhere, it might be smart to keep it with you for all of those work lunches when you work extensively on your productivity...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Case of the Wednesdays

And the long week continues...

To continue my blogs' dissent into nothing more than a collection of links and stories cropped from other sources (I like to think of myself as a more profane Reader's Digest), here's yet another link I meant to put up a long time ago but never got around to.

As the Twins continue their post-clinch slide, I've maintained to anyone that would listen that this is probably nothing to be worried about and that these loses mainly are coming from the fact that A) these games don't really mean anything (home-field advantage in baseball is the least important of any sport) and 2) they're playing their J.V. squad to make sure everyone's healthy for the games that count.

And the latter really is something so many people in the sports world tend to overlook -- the value of letting someone fully heal instead of insisting they "gut it out" or "play through pain" or whatever lame sports cliche is appropriate. But, of course, letting people fully heal is never as sexy a story as the guy who gives it his all despite pain, blah, blah, blah.

For someone's much more cogent thoughts on how the lauding of players who, often foolishly, play through injuries and how this might not actually be a good thing, check out this good deliberation on the subject from the folks at Red Sox Beacon, people who might know a thing or two about injuries derailing a season...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Case of the Tuesdays

As I'm currently in the midst of putting the finishing edits on some big funding applications (it turns out people don't just give you large sums of money without asking a lot of pesky questions about what you're going to do with it), I've got nothing to blog about.

But fear not! Having nothing to say has never stopped me before, and it will not stop me now. If you're bored and having nothing to do, A) I envy you, and 2) you should spend 5 minutes watching the immortal string of zingers from Norm MacDonald at the roast of Bob Saget. The powerful overlords at Comedy Central have blocked it from youtube, but you can see it on some foreign (Brazillian?) site here. Seriously, go there now. I'll wait.

...and welcome back. If you're still looking for time to waste, I still envy you, and will point you in the direction of this list of fictional character names you didn't ever actually know. For example, the police officer in Monopoly? Why, his name is Edgar Mallory. Of course.

You can thank me later for the literally minutes of entertainment I have supplied you with today...

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

If you, or anyone you know, is having a case of the mondays, nothing will cheer them up more than the recently animated, completely insane children's story as tweeted by NBA rookie De'Sean Butler.

It's the simple story of a young man, his dinosaur friend, having to clean up dinosaur poop, and living at Game Stop. It's got everything you could want in a Monday morning viral video...

Friday, September 24, 2010

A New Twins Anthem

Not that anyone can ever top the simplistic beauty of "We're Gonna Win Twins," but we now have an argument for something a bit more contemporary with the release of "Don't Call Them Twinkies" by the Baseball Project (featuring the obnoxious sprechstimme of Craig Finn). Highlight lyrics include "Watch it in slow motion, Ron Gant was clearly out" and "We don't buy championships but we've won two World Series."

And while we're on the subject of that popular local sports team, there's also this:

With 10 games to go, we've got a 1/2 game lead for best record in baseball, which ain't too shabby...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Hard Is It To Do An Easy Job?

As a long time reader of the funny pages, I've often been dismayed at the poor quality of what passes for comic strips these days. Even from a young age, I recognized that it can't be that hard to come up with more exciting action or funny punch lines than the weak, recycled crap you get everyday reading the comics.

Not too surprisingly, I've become a huge fan of the Comics Curmudgeon, a site where, as the title implies, there's a curmudgeonly take-down of the crappiest of the daily strips. But it's not so much mean-spirited as it's an attempted wake-up call to the people who have long abandoned any pretense of effort and instead sit back on their ever-diminishing royalty checks while twenty young hacks keep shitting out the same tired gags and story lines over and over and over.

Often the site comes up with some pretty fun ways to riff on this laziness, such as a running joke about how the Keane family of Family Circus is actually a millennial cult preparing for the end times or how Marmaduke is actually a soul-eating cerberus from hell sent to destroy everything in his path.

But sometimes the slights really get kicked up a notch, such as they have been this week with Random Dick, a simple internet machine that produces any three random Dick Tracy panels and then challenges you to find a difference between the three randomly selected panels (one randomly-selected “Dick Tracy” panel, one “Other Person” panel, and one “Building or Object” panel) and an actual, honest-to-goodness Dick Tracy comic. You can't, because there hasn't been a new or interesting Dick Tracy plot line since long before I was born...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We're Gonna Win Twins...

In what is a confusing development this early in the season, the Twins clinched the AL Central last night without even getting close to a game 163.

Over at Twinkie Town they argue this is because this is simply the best Gardy-managed Twins team yet, and I'd have to agree with them. The 2006 run was magical, but these guys have the moxie and the ability to actually hit the ball. And since we all know the playoffs are just a crap shoot, who knows what'll happen from here on out?

In more Twinkie-centric links, the always long-winded and entertaining Joe Posnanski wonders why so few people are talking about how Grady is clearly the best manager in baseball. This may just be my home-town bias, but you'd be hard pressed to find a guy who's done more with less like Grady has. And now that he has a realy payroll and a Hall of Famer coming off the bench to pinch hit instead of guys that probably shouldn't even be in Triple-A ball, we'll see if he can finally turn that managing acumen into some post season success...

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's About The Music, Man

Just read a really interesting article at the Wall Street Journal about how the Black Eyed Peas are the most corporate band in America. It's a great in-depth detailing of how group frontman/hologram views the band as "a brand" and uses said brand to make millions, shift paradigms, unlock new cash flows, and other corporate buzz words I can't even bother to make up.

It's a pretty fascinating read and pretty indicative of the myriad problems of modern pop music. What's most striking about it is how proud Mr. is of his corporate shilling -- it not only doesn't strike his as odd or out of sorts that he would spend most of the time recording an album working on the one promotional track for Dr. Pepper over the rest of the music, but how proud he is of his corporate connections. It's still somewhat shocking even for someone as jaded and cynical as I to read of a "musician" so proudly discussing how he specifically makes music only as a vehicle shilling for various corporate backers.

It's also a good counter-argument to people who call you a music snob for not listening to shitty music. When I say this type of music is horrible and only designed to sell cell phones and third-rate soft drinks, I'm not being hyperbolic, I am quite literally describing what happens. And much the way commercial jingles are rarely good, top-40 music that is specifically designed to be long-playing commercial jingles is rarely good as well.

It's just funny to think that at one point in time, bands were called sell-outs for leasing their music for commercials. A sad, far cry from specifically making your entire career for commercials...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Los Links!

First, a follow up to last Friday's post on the NFL's brewing labor troubles. Over at Rolling Stone Matt Taibi weighs in on the goings on in a much more eloquent and informed way, but hey, he gets paid to do this shit.

On a little more lighthearted and day-specific note, may I present to you Is It Tuesday?, the handy website that answers the eponymous question for you anytime you desire. It's based out of the UK, though, so be sure to factor in international time ones when interpreting the answer.

A Woman in Pants?!?

The strib has a fun little section in which they run old articles from issues past. And by old, I mean they're often 100+ years or so old.

Today's is especially fun, as it's an article from September 1883 discussing the ruckus arising from a woman wearing man's clothing.

It's not only humorous for the old timey language and the fact that people were upset over a woman wearing pants, but it's also a textbook example of our changing norms over time. Whereas once it was so scandalous for a woman to wear pants that it was an arrestable offense that makes the newspaper, now I would go so far as to argue it's almost even acceptable for women to wear pants.

Just a handy little example to remember the next time someone argues something has always been that way and will always be that way, because as intelligent and rational people, we know that's true about very, very few things...

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Little Labor Solidarity in Your Football

Last night before the Vikings pissed away a game to the Saints in which there was obviously some rust from the guy who didn't bother showing up to camp until he was begged and prodded with more money, also featured players from both teams showing a brief moment of labor solidarity on the field before the game began.

Even though I'm always a bit biased toward labor in any dispute, as this potential/likely lock up heats up and gets more intense, it's important to remember that most NFL players don't make millions of dollars. The average NFL career lasts 4 years and those players tend to make the league minimum, which granted, is in the mid 6 figures, but that does not set you for life. It's also very important to remember that the average life expectancy for NFL players is 50 years, and few get any form of health insurance from the league despite the myriad of on-going injuries nearly all of them have.

So remember that the majority of NFL players trade a third of their life for a couple years of good money, and then are saddled with crippling lingering injuries that often burn through that money incredibly quickly. Not that you should feel too bad for NFL players, but only a select few get the fame and millions of those on the commercials...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

You Think Your Job Is Stressful?

Well, for Sin-Soo Choo, right fielder for Cleveland, it's win a gold medal at the Asian games or join the army.

In South Korea, all males are required to serve a two-year stint in the Army, with exceptions given to those who win a gold medal in international competition. Apparently Shoo has been putting off his service for years now and is running out of time.

And now, unless he comes home with gold, he will not be able to put it off any longer. No pressure or anything...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What Makes A Crime Heinous?

The problem is, no one really knows. Sure, we can all look at some really messed up things, like the Oklahoma City bombings or the Dahmer killings, and say those are truly heinous, but really, it's all a judgment call. Quite literally in fact -- most states and jurisdictions have special provisions for the harsher punishment of crimes that are truly heinous.

Problem is, like so many things, when you leave this up to an individual person to decide, you get quite different results. And not too surprisingly, the crimes judged most heinous are often the crimes committed by the most socially maligned groups of people.

Well, in an effort to correct some of these imbalances, a noted group of forensic scientists are working on what they call the "Depravity Scale." This scale is attempting to create an objective measure of what the most heinous crimes truly are as a way to make sentencing more fair and focus on the heinous aspects of the crime in question rather than the individual in question.

And you can do your part by taking part in their survey to get a general measure of what American society finds truly heinous. Once enough data is collected, they should have a good view of what the American body politic finds most objectionable, and therefore a much more objective measure of what should induce those extra punishments.

If ever you've thought something was your patriotic duty to help correct some of the most glaring imbalances in our nation's criminal justice system, this would be a great place to start...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Great Meritocracy

In what has become my apparent quest to be a one-man People magazine, hot on the heels of Tuesday's post about those crazy rappers and their million-dollar silly words, I bring you the highest earning t.v. stars, from those muckrakers over at TV Guide.

The list is similarly amusing and depressing -- amusing in who is on it (Jada Pinkett Smith apparently still exists, and makes a shit ton of money) and depressing for the obvious reasons (Charlie Sheen gets paid over $1 million dollars an episode for what is possibly the shittiest show of all time).

So again, sit in your cubicle and peruse the list, and then try to hide from your coworkers the fact that you're crying because even the other guy on Two and a Half Men makes more per episode than you do in a decade...

My future employer?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Imperialism, Science, and Sociology Still Can't Get No Respect

Sociology definitely has little man syndrome -- we're so obsessed with proving we're a real science, we often go quite overboard in defending and attempting to prove our scientific merit. But much like the hypothetical little man who feels the need to prove his toughness because of some perceived slight, it isn't really our fault. Working on a recent research project, I was required to read several articles from nursing journals. And even though these were highly respected journals in their fields, if any sociologist used their methodology and tried to publish it, they would be laughed out of the profession. These articles would look at 12 people and make sweeping judgements about the general population, while sociologists often look at thousands of people and then make very limited and qualified statements about the world. But this is probably because nursing is recognized as a real science, while most people think sociologists are social workers.

Psychology is similar -- because psychologists work with the brain, which is "real" as opposed to social forces which many of my students insist I'm making up, they get a lot of credibility for their statements,even though their methodology is at worst horrible and at best not at all sufficient for the claims they make.

During my brief period as a psych major in college, I heard the joke multiple times that psychology is the study of the college sophomore. Turns out, that's not a joke, it's true.

A recent meta-study done by researchers at the University of British Columbia found that between 2003 to 2007, undergrad students made up 80% of all subjects in the top 6 psychology journals and 96% of published studies used subjects from nations that only compromise 12% of the world's population.

Yet these researchers, and especially the media reporting their findings, seem to have no problem claiming these are universal results true of all people. This is a great example of imperialist hegemony; not only is psychology seen as "real" science (and therefore speaks to all people), I can't think of a more imperialistic assumption that to say that 20-something American college students represent all people in the world.

And yet, sociology still gets no love...