Opinions, Etc 05.26.04


I just accepted the role of Ted Allen in the upcoming Queer Eye for the Dead Guy film parody. – Kandriasin

You’re going to need more than my help, kid.  Just don’t camp it up too much, okay?

Damn, this new medication is giving me a case of the drowsies.  I’m going to have to start taking it at night and/or hope that habituation gets rid of it.  That being said, Courtney Fucking Love is staying out of jail due to a plea bargain, making me wonder about whether there’s justice in this here land.  Justine is now simply the title of a book by the Divine Marquis to the French after the Belgian Threat was eliminated.  And various and sundry occurs as the world turns.  So let’s get on with it.


I was about to send out my column yesterday when we lost power.  Everything was gone.  Rather than try to half-ass a column, I decided to skip this week.  I’ll be back next week with a review of the game “Curses!”, some sports stuff, and more of my hippie socialist politics.

Cool by us, Ron.  Shit happens.


Eric Idle his own self takes on the FCC’s censorship-mania in a nice bit of audio slamming (note:  direct download).  A must-listen.

Mister Anderson makes his long-awaited return, and we’re all grateful.

I can agree with Coleman when I say:  eat more beef.

Haley is essentially correct about the Kane thing, but with one proviso:  Kane has actually held the world title in the past (the distant past, and only for a day, but he has), which gives him more cred than Bradshaw.  I find the feud perfectly acceptable, if only for the reason that Benoit gets to keep the belt for a while longer.

Watch out, Conley.  Gagnon won’t let you touch Goldylocks, you know.

Don’t let him fool you.  Rutherford really is secretly infatuated with me.  Must be something to do with being Australian.

EVOCATOR! reflects on what I consider the perfect pot album, the one album you want to listen to over and over while stoned.

Cocozza doesn’t give me credit for getting his lyrical reference.  Maybe my clues were too oblique.

Lucard has only one more game left on his list.  All I know is that it doesn’t involve Pokemon in any way, shape, or form.

You’re right, Misha.  I’m getting Bonnie Langford vibes.  That’s not good.

Let me assure Erhardt that Preacher is truly magnificent.  I thought so at the time it was released, I still think so now.

And, finally, everyone go Awwwwwwww at Little Daddy.


The ads on 411 have progressed past spyware. So far I’ve had 3 installers pop up on Firebird 0.7. The pop up says “Install IE Plug-In, OK/Cancel” (or something like that) and of course clicking cancel just makes it pop up again. The only way past it is to close the tab right after canceling. I haven’t seen the ad on my Firefox system with AdBlocker but I’m stuck with 0.7 at work for reasons not worth getting into. – Semi-Regular Kyle McCowin, a loyal reader of not only me but of all of 411.

You therefore know what gets printed…

We still have people advertising spyware on this site.  Therefore, I will still provide the links to effective, easy-to-use, functional anti-spyware programs.

Spybot and AdAware.  The ONLY two spyware removal tools to trust.  Do NOT buy any spyware removal tools, because none of them work better than these two, and all of them except these two are suspect.

SpywareBlaster.  Will nuke twelve hundred different potentially malicious ActiveX controls, and now has the ability to prevent a number of non-ActiveX methods of installing spyware for people who use Mozilla/Firefox.

SpywareGuard.  From Javacool, like SpywareBlaster.  It’s a real-time scanner for spyware.  A decent first line of defense.

IE-SpyAd.  Throws numerous ad-related URLs into IE’s Restricted Zone, where they won’t display or affect your system.  Bookmark this one, since it’s the only one that doesn’t have an in-program update.

Of course, only download them from the links provided above.

With AdAware and Spybot, check for updates using their internal update function at least once a week.  Run them at least once a week or whenever you think you might have problems.  Remember, the new version of Spybot has browser protection capabilities, so have that run at startup and leave it running.  Check for updates to SpywareBlaster once a week.  It only needs to be run once initially in order to establish protection.  Then, after it downloads updates, just click on the line that says “Enable Protection For All Unprotected Items” (definitely run that one, since they just put in another database update in the last couple days) and kill it.  It doesn’t need to be active.  For IE-SpyAd, bookmark the site and check for updates twice a week, since it has no kind of internal updater.  Since all it does is add Registry entries, it doesn’t eat up anything.

If you’re having trouble with spyware or a browser hijacker, or think that you do, head over to the SpywareInfo Forums, where the pros there can help you diagnose and get rid of stuff.  Currently, I’m in training over there as an assistant, and they’re good, knowledgeable people.

By the way, those ads are causing us to lose readers.  Here’s a missive from former 411 reader Jim Hall:

Well, you were right.  It is ironic that at the very moment I was reading your column regarding spy-ware, I had a warning pop-up telling me that I did not have administrative access to install new software (did I mention that I read your site at work?).  I was not trying to install software, and can only assume that spyware was being installed from either 411mania or from one of the numerous pop-up ads.

I am writing the administrators to inform them that I won’t be visiting the mania anymore because of this.  It is a shame, because I really do enjoy many of the writers here, yourself included.  Maybe if enough people do this, they will get the message.  I just wanted to let you know that you were right, and that the loss of my one hit per day is not the fault of any of the content contributors to the site.

What was attempting to be installed was the bullshit ActiveX control that SpyFucker uses to attempt to display some scary characteristics about your system.  It in itself is harmless.  The way it’s used is repulsive.  Again, don’t buy anything from them, and let’s hope that someone at some ad broker realizes that ads like this are costing sites their readers, not gaining purchases.


From Reuters:

The New York Times said on Wednesday some of the information it received from Iraqi defectors for past stories about Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction program was not supported.

In a letter from its editors entitled “The Times and Iraq,” the paper said, “… we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.”

“Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.”

The Times cited five stories — including several page one articles — written between 2001 and 2003 that had accounts of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq that have never been independently verified or were discredited by its own reporters or reporters at another news organization.

When reporters wrote stories that refuted the original reporting, they were buried, the Times said.

Sources for the stories depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on “regime change” in Iraq, the Times said.

Ahmad Chalabi, once a favored Iraqi exile of the Bush administration whose headquarters in Baghdad were raided last week by Iraqi police, was cited as a named source who introduced Times reporters to several exiles.

“Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq,” the Times said, adding that administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources.

The letter said editors should have challenged reporters and pushed for more skepticism, but were “perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper.”

“Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Saddam Hussein ousted,” the Times added.

The paper said it considers “the story of Iraq’s weapons, and of the pattern of misinformation, to be unfinished business. And we fully intend to continue aggressive reporting aimed at setting the record straight.”

Man, coming on the heels of Jayson Blair…it used to be that there were two sources of news that you could unequivocally trust as being accurate:  the NYT and the BBC.  The Hutton Report damaged the reputation of the latter for generations.  Now, the NYT has dealt itself a major blow just as the whole Blair thing was disappearing from view.

The whole incident exposes the NYT to even more charges of shoddy journalism.  The reporters received info from Iraqis who had a very specific agenda, namely to get rid of Saddam, knowing that the Junta has taken a position on the situation which would lead to Saddam’s ouster by military force.  The reporters, in order to confirm the story like the good journalists they supposedly are, go to the Junta to get confirmation.  Of course, they’re going to say, “Yeah, yeah, they’re right, there’s WMDs all over the place there.”  And the editors, in an attempt to sell more papers, print the lies.  Everyone’s done their job, so everyone’s happy.  Right?

Not when it spins into a chain of falsity that goes against what journalism stands for, namely the truthful presentation of information to the public.  The Iraqi exiles were liars, pure and simple.  They’d do anything to get what they wanted.  The Junta wanted to invade Iraq prior to September 11th, as has been reported numerous times, so they saw a chance to use the reputation of the NYT to keep spreading the bullshit and make it “official” in the eyes of the public.  The reporters went to the wrong people to check their facts, thinking that the Junta wouldn’t be biased about this type of information.  The editors wanted to make brownie points with their superiors in the Grey Lady, so they printed the stories instead of being skeptical about the information given.

And the NYT has to perform an auto-da-fe in order to get back some semblance of self-respect, damaging its reputation and demonstrating that, to the Junta, journalists are simply tools to be used to further an agenda.  No surprise, really; Attorney General Bormann has been ripping apart the Constitution for his own benefit, so why not the First Amendment while we’re at it?  And the NYT is dragged down to the level of the Weekly World News in the process.  Hey, it’s only collateral damage.

This is more depressing than anything that Fox News does (good luck, El).  At least with them you know it’s active deception and spin.  This is outright manipulation.  They used the fact that a juicy story can short-circuit instinct to buffalo the reporters, who did the same to their equally-vulnerable editors, and in the process were able to leverage the reputation of the NYT in favor of presenting their bullshit to the public under the guise of “fact”.  Doesn’t this demonstrate once and for all the length the Junta was willing to go in order to sham the American public into buying their little armed conflict?  Isn’t this reason enough to want to get rid of them in November?

Or do you prefer to not know the facts?


Well, the Brandon Mayfield situation has put yet more egg on the FBI’s face.  The best summary I can find is at The Smoking Gun, which has the arrest affadavit available.  Here’s the blurb about the denoument from…ahem…the NYT:

Days after the train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people in March, Spanish authorities, who were unable to find a match to fingerprints found on a plastic bag full of detonators, sent the FBI a digital copy, hoping the bureau could find what they could not.

The FBI quickly and confidently found a match to a Portland area-lawyer, setting in motion a chain of events that led authorities in the United States to link the wrong man to those fingerprints, tie him to Islamic terrorists, arrest him on a material witness warrant, jail him for 17 days and then drop the case on Monday and face withering questions about how its investigation could have gone so wrong.

Court records unsealed Tuesday showed that the Spanish authorities had raised questions about the FBI’s fingerprint match to Brandon Mayfield, 37, a Portland-area lawyer. Yet FBI officials were so confident of a match they described as “100 percent,” they never bothered to look at the original print while they were in Madrid on April 21 to meet with Spanish investigators.

The FBI was relying on the digital copy that was sent to them, returning to view the original over the weekend, only after the Spaniards had linked the print to an Algerian national, and after it had aggressively pursued its case against Mayfield.

A senior FBI official said Tuesday the use of a copy of the fingerprint, rather than the original, was allowed by lab guidelines. “It was absolutely acceptable to examine a digital image,” the official said.

So, in other words, they used a digital copy of a fingerprint that was shoddy to begin with to identify the guy.  Oh, that’s brilliant considering the fact that artifacts are introduced even in uncompressed digital processing.  And it makes me think about certain things.  When I had my prints taken for the new job, it was done via a digital scanner and transferred to an analog print card instead of the old “ink your fingers and press” method.  Wonder how accurate that was?

Ah, but why go after Mayfield?  Well, the NYT tells us exactly why:

In making their case to a federal judge in Portland for arresting Mayfield, a Muslim convert, FBI investigators said their reasoning went beyond the fingerprint match, according to the affidavit: Mayfield had represented a terrorism defendant in a custody case, telephone records showed a “telephonic contact” on Sept. 11, 2002, between his home and a phone number assigned to Pete Seda, the director of a local Islamic charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, who is on a federal terrorism watch list. Earlier this year, federal agents searched the foundation, seizing financial records and other documents.

The Mayfields denied having any contact with Seda. The affidavit also said that Mayfield’s law firm — he runs a family and immigration law practice in Beaverton, Ore. — advertised in a “Muslim yellow page directory,” which was produced by a man who had business dealings with Osama Bin Laden’s former personal secretary. The yellow pages directory was administered by Jerusalem Enteprises Inc., which was registered to Farid Adlouni, a Portland resident whom the documents said was “directly linked in business dealings” with Wadih El-Hage, the former Bin Laden secretary who was convicted of conspiring to murder U.S. citizens. Finally, the affidavit said, Mayfield was seen driving to the Bilal mosque, his regular place of worship. That mosque, said officials with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, had been under surveillance, but the FBI’s mention of his attendance at the mosque as a justification for his arrest infuriated Muslim groups.

Thomas H. Nelson, a friend of Mayfield’s who represented Mayfield before his case was turned over to Steven T. Wax, the federal defender for Oregon, said of the affidavit: “This stuff is so unsubstantial I think the only reason it was in there was to inflame the grand jury.”

But while Muslim groups attacked the FBI for its handling of the Mayfield case and accused it of ethnic profiling, bureau officials said that his status as a Muslim had nothing to do with the case against him.

Bullshit.  If everything that the FBI revealed was true, he was on their watch list.  If the prints were a near-match, they would have brought up red flags at Quantico.  Add in the incredibly circumstantial evidence, and that’s reason enough for the FBI to haul him in.

This demonstrates the mentality the FBI is working under.  Mayfield is a radical lawyer who happens to be a convert to Islam.  He has business dealings with members of the Islamic community.  Prints that MIGHT have been his were found in Madrid, but the identification was made from ONLY digital copies sent from Spain.  The Spanish even told the FBI that they’d been able to link the prints to an Algerian suspect, but the FBI went ahead anyway because, to them, Islam is Evil and all Moslems are Suspects.

You could substitute other words for “Islam” and “Moslem”.  Try this phrase out for size:  “Leftists are Evil and all Leftists are Suspects”.  Or better yet, “Niggers are Evil and all Niggers are Suspects”.  Offensive?  Definitely.  But that’s the presumption the FBI went by fifty years ago.  You think that they as an institution and we as a society would have learned from that.  Yet the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover lives on (wearing a stunning number in black taffeta, no doubt) at FBI HQ.  Profiling is alive and well, and there are too many people out there who buy it, especially people whose only knowledge of Islam is what they get on television.  As a person who’s had dealings with Moslems, let me assure you that they don’t deserve the treatment they receive.  The vandalism of mosques and the beatings of Moslems after September 11th sickened me to no end.  And now the FBI has done a Richard Jewell on some guy who’s found a good niche in his law practice.

You know, maybe the fact that Mayfield is white might actually help.  The intolerant bunch can’t dismiss him because his skin is of a darker hue and his nose exhibits Semitic qualities.  But that didn’t help with John Walker Lindh.  The public rejected the fact that this white suburban kid could have joined the Taliban on his own volition and for reasons he considered correct, and the military courts reflected that by putting him in the clink for twenty years.  No, I fear that we’re fated to look at Islam in the worst light, and Abu Ghraib is simply a reflection of this.

We’ve got a long way to go as a society.


Again, from Reuters:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday denounced human rights groups critical of his record and accused some of serving the interests of dubious organizations.

He made no specific mention of any single group in his annual state of the nation address, in which he devoted 15 minutes to the importance of democracy.

“For some of these organizations the priority has become a different goal — in particular receiving funds from influential foreign and domestic foundations — and for others serving dubious groups and commercial interests,” he said.

He said the groups in question often failed to speak up about actual abuses.

“There is nothing surprising about this — they cannot bite the hand that feeds them,” he told 800 parliamentarians, ministers and public figures in the Kremlin.

Rights groups were quick to criticize the president’s comments, with some branding them reminiscent of the Soviet-era KGB security service.

“Equating the receiving of official grants by human rights…organizations with serving ‘questionable interests’ comes across as the style of thinking that was characteristic of the KGB,” said prominent rights activist Lev Ponomaryov.

In a statement, Ponomaryov said strong criticism by rights activists of Putin had prompted the president to speak out.

Rights groups have accused Putin’s administration in the past year of stifling media freedom, in particular limiting access to state-run television for his defeated rivals in March’s presidential election.

They say Putin has made Russia increasingly undemocratic and criticize the jailing of former boss of oil major YUKOS, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, as unfair and selective. He is awaiting a trial on fraud and tax evasion charges. Putin says it is up to the courts to determine whether Khodorkovsky or other magnates who acquired property in chaotic 1990s privatizations broke the law.

Rights groups have also criticized Putin’s actions in Chechnya. They say pro-Kremlin forces are involved in torture, abuse and other atrocities in the region.

Arch foes of Putin, like Khodorkovsky and exiled media tycoon Boris Berezovsky have funded human rights organizations in the past.

Rights activist and Soviet-era dissident Valeria Novodvorskaya said the fact groups had to rely on funding from businesses and organizations highlighted the Russian government’s lack of interest in human rights.

“If a country doesn’t need rights defenders, if it doesn’t put even a penny into human rights, then inevitably those who support these defenders will be the international organizations that see some sense in human rights protection,” she told Ekho Moskvy radio.

Again, this is no surprise.  Putin’s a product of the old system, and what he’s allowed in Chechnya provides a good framework for viewing this argument.  The thing is, though, that no one involved in this little imbroglio is innocent.  If you want some background on who Putin’s foes in this are, grab a copy of David Hoffman’s The Oligarchs (Amazon link here).  It’s a little out of date, but it gives you a great background on how Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky made their fortunes.  Let’s just say that they’re an argument against laissez-faire capitalism.  The human rights groups are being used as a weapon against Putin by them.  So don’t condemn Putin out of hand for saying this.  But definitely go after him for putting his foot in his f*cking mouth.  Jesus, he needs some lessons on PR.


Last week, I punked a little bitch named Alex, who’s some sort of demented Jeff Hardy fan.  Well, normally after being YAMed, people just curl up and die.  Some people, though, are persistent.  Alex is one of those, like his fellow f*ckstick from Connecticut, Jason Gallo.  And, so, I must LART him again, the little asshole…

Ok, well I was looking online and I saw that my response was put into your article. Well, it’s obvious you are just an internet fan and nothing more because all they do is talk crap about wrestlers and look for anything wrong with them.

Yeah.  Your point?

To tell the truth, I am actually glad that Bradshaw said that stuff about you internet people.

“You” Internet people?  How exactly are you sending this mail to me?  Telepathy?  Hate to tell you, oogums, but you’re part of the Mass Conspiracy too.

I don’t know if he was staying in character or telling the truth but it sure seems true.

Who cares?  It’s Bradshaw.  He’s said shit like this before, and we ignored him before, just as we’re doing now.

Now, about Jeff’s cousin, I have talked to her online and it is not a trick because she has sent me pics of her with Jeff and Matt in the pic as well.

Which could have been taken at an autograph show or something.  Big f*cking deal.

Meat inspectors DO NOT put their body on the line,

Let’s see.  First of all, we have the three inspectors who were killed in California that I mentioned.  I know at least four inspectors who have had their tires slashed.  I know three inspectors who have been physically assaulted by plant management.  I’ve been threatened at knifepoint more than once.  I’ve had a certain large retailer that shall remain Wal-Mart investigate me in order to get dirt on me because I was “causing them trouble”.  I’d say that would constitute putting one’s body on the line.

they just take their hands and look through meat for stuff in it, wow, that will injure somebody!

No, we don’t.  That would be unsanitary.  Well, there’s boneless beef reinspection, but that’s the exception.  You’re working constantly around knives, saws, and other sharp objects in a non-amenable atmosphere.  I have scars on a few fingers from cutting myself open.  The job entails risk.  In other words, I know what I’m talking about and you don’t.  What a surprise.

Jeff and RVD aren’t just wrestlers who use high-flying moves to get a big reaction from the crowd, they are fantastic wrestlers who can
wrestle many styles.

We shall now pause so that the audience can laugh their asses off.

Done?  Good.  Have you noticed that Van Dam has been wrestling the same match for the past two years?  He’s gone into a Five Moves Of Doom routine just as badly as Cena has.  And Jeffykins is a spot artist, period.  He can’t wrestle another type of match.  He even turned a match against UT into a spot-fest.  Give it a rest, kid.

Not everyone is a Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, or Kurt Angle.

Finally, you said something that makes actual sense.

Like I said before, you have never pinned HHH and the only thing you have done involving HHH is bitch about everything he does backstage so you think he will actually give a crap about what some internet person has to say.

Kid, have you pinned Trip?  Why do you keep bringing this up like it’s relevant to anything?  And, frankly, my target audience isn’t Trip.  I don’t care if he reads me or not, and I know he won’t care what I have to say.  However, there are over a hundred thousand other people who do, and that’s who I write my stuff for.  I know for a fact some wrestlers read me, but it’s a tough slog for them because they’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer, if you catch my drift.

You are actually talking to me like this though,

Because you’re a little bitch.

I’m not some lazy 40 year old

Not until November, thank you.


Six foot even, 200 pounds, which doesn’t make me fat, and, if I can brag for a moment, I’ve got a nice ass.

internet reporter who still lives with his mom,

Which would make my mother’s house 550 miles long.  That’s some house.  For the record, I haven’t lived consistently at home since I was 17.

I’m 15 years old, not some guy who you probably thought was a lazy 40 year old who uses all his time on the internet.

No, I honestly thought you were a 15-year-old from the start.  You see, I can tell the age of my correspondents by the level of retarded statements they make.  Yours fit into the 13-to-15 Male demographic.

I can actually tell an internet person and a normal person apart,

Huh?  What the hell is an “internet person”?  And how does it differ from a “normal person”?  You’re demented.

and you will probably think, wow, great for you, but think about it, there are the normal people who watch WWE who can actually enjoy it without having to know every single thing that happens on RAW or Smackdown before it happens.

Yes, we call them “marks”.  And regular readers know exactly how much respect I have for them:  less than none.

Then, there are the internet people who have nothing good to say about any of the wrestlers and always looking for the worst thing to say about them.

We don’t go out of our way to look for that information.  It comes to us, presented in a nice little package every week.

You think that Jeff should just go back to WWE to get big checks. Most wrestlers do it for the fans, not just for the checks.

Oh, my God…most people grow out of this level of naivete by age 15.  You need to get out more, kid.  Get a lesson on what the real world is all about.

Jeff can make a lot more money than you in a 2 minute match than you can inspecting meat for three hours straight.

No.  Jeffykins can make more money than me in a two-minute match than I can make as an inspector in a week, actually.  Except that during that week, I’m saving people from illness and even death through my actions.  He just blows spots.  I’ll get a lot more satisfaction out of what I do than what he does, trust me.

By the way, I’m not a sexually-undetermined teenage boy, I have been with girls before, and I’m not talking about my mother.

Liar.  As a fifteen-year-old obsessed with wrestling, statistics point to a very, very high probability of virginity.  The mere fact that you have to state that you’ve “been with girls” means that you haven’t.  No problem, really.  I lost my virginity at 16.  But I wasn’t insecure about it like you are.

I have watched Jeff’s matches in the late 2002-2003 range and maybe his matches weren’t all five star matches,

None of them were close.

but you would feel tired if you had to wrestle every week.

Let’s see, five minutes in the ring three to four times a week…yeah, that’s an exhausting schedule.  The travel takes more out of you than the matches do.  Have you heard of this concept called “conditioning”?

What fans are you talking about, the people who are bored and have nothing to do so they go on the internet and read your articles so they can turn into internet people too?

I am Eric of Borg.  You will be assimilated.  Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own.

You’ve stumbled over my Master Plan, Mister Bond.  Yes, I write my articles for the express intent of creating an army of zombies and true believers so that I can achieve World Domination.  I plan to unleash them on innocent people like you at any moment, so watch your back.

What a f*cking dumbass.

I don’t give a crap if you make me the YAM of the week,

No, kid, you’re reaching Gallo/Kotex level now.  Shit, even Coby Preimesberger learned, and now when he writes me, it’s actually coherent material and presents a relevant argument.  That’s what YAM is all about, converting the retards like you into good citizens who can discourse about various subject without sounding like an idiot.

I don’t care if you put this in your next article like you did the last one.

No, I decided to wait until Black.  Why should the Wrestling column have all the fun?

I don’t care if you have a YAM of the year poll for the people who you think are YAMs and then they vote and I win.

No, I don’t leave that up to my readers.  I decide that on my own.  And even though there’s seven months left, I don’t know if anyone can beat you out for Moron Of The Year.

I also sent your article to Jeff’s cousin and I’m not gonna give you her screen name

What is this “screen name” you talk about?  Oh, yes, you’re an AOLuser, which explains the mentality exhibited nicely, thank you.  Sorry, kiddo, hate to tell you this, but AOL is not the Internet.  I don’t even go on AIM.

so you can bug her because she actually has a life, and so do I.

No, you don’t.  You’re fifteen.  No one has a life at fifteen.

She also showed Jeff the article

Big f*ckin’ whoop.  If he wants to do something about it, hell, I’m in the book.  Let him come here.

and he probably thinks, and I know that some internet person like you is just not worth it.

Probably.  That’s because he’s a professional, as am I.  You learn to let the critics roll off your back.  And he knows, as you don’t, that my criticisms are valid and correct.

Now leave.


Here’s a suggestion to all writers here at 411.  If you want feedback, talk about European soccer.  Your mailbox will overflow.  It happened to me during the World Cup, and it happened to me again last week when I talked about the status of the UEFA Cup as second-rate.  I was getting mails from all corners of Europe, especially the British Isles, and even some from soccer fans here in North America, from people like Misha over in Games, Gerald Leggett of powerwrestling.com (whom I helped out with a column of his), fellow Arsenal fans Colin Pigeau and Alan Dobson, Regular Ian Wright, Semi-Regular Nick Howells, and too many others to mention.  The consensus was that, indeed, the UEFA Cup is second-rate, but only for first-rate teams.  The UEFA Cup is populated by the second-stringers and the glad-to-be-heres, but is still considered an accomplishment.  Thank you for the information, one and all.

And to the person who asked, whose e-mail I can’t find at this moment, what the Gunners did this year by going undefeated in CL play is unprecedented (well, it hadn’t been done in a century and a quarter, and the game’s changed since then) and really defies comparison to any accomplishment in American sports, including the ’72 Dolphins.  I’d put it up against UCLA’s basketball winning streak, but I don’t know if the comparison is really valid considering the different natures of the game and the equality of competition during that period.  I can’t put it in any real context, so I don’t really want to dwell on it for fear of being charged with damning with faint praise.  Let’s just hope they come through in Europe, and I’ll leave it at that.

Chris Harris wants to talk to me from the Ancestral Homeland:

First off, let me congratulate you on leaving my home state of Nebraska. I don’t blame you.  Congrats as well, on the new job. Let me say I’ll feel safer with you inspecting my meat…well, AHEM, you know what I mean.  What level will you be starting out on?  I had childhood friends whose dads were inspectors when I was younger, but if I remember, they were state inspectors.  There are state inspectors in Nebraska aren’t there?  Forgive me, but it was 25 years ago or so.

There’s no state program in Nebraska.  They’ve been talking for years about setting up one.  That’s why I went with USDA.  I’ll be starting out at GS-7, whereas most inspectors start at GS-5.  High monetary difference and four years up the career ladder.  Not bad.

Here’s my real question: As we’ve discussed before, the stretch of I-80 between Omaha and Des Moines is penis wrinkling brutal.  (I am, in fact taking that trip next week.  Wish me luck.) Now that you can take I-35 (I believe…) to Des Moines, are you ever, for ol’ times sake, gonna take I-29 to Omaha and then hit I-80 East?  Or will you take I-70 to I-55 back to Chicago?  I’ve never driven I-35 in southwest Iowa, but I’ve heard nightmarish stories. If you venture on it, let me know.

I’ll be living off I-35, so I’ll be taking 35 to Des Moines, 80 to the Quad Cities, then in on 88 if I have the two and a half bucks for the tolls.  I won’t take 70 because I don’t feel like dealing with KC and St. Louis, plus I’ve driven 55 from STL to CHI before and it wrinkles your penis almost as badly as 80 between Omaha and Des Moines.  Besides, I’d pass Springfield that way, and I might not be able to resist firebombing the Department of Agriculture while I’m there.

This week I’ve been experimenting at work (not on my home PC, mind you) with Spy Sweeper from Webroot.  I’ve got to be honest, I’m liking it so far, but here’s the rub: You got to pay for it.  I try my damndest not to pay for software, but, if I came across a free copy of it, I’d probably use it.

I like Webroot’s software in general, and I use Window Washer.  But when there are free alternatives that are better, and Ad-Aware and Spybot are better than SpySweeper, I have to recommend those.

Lastly, on an unrelated note.  Because, I’m not a native Chicagoan, and because I can give or take watching baseball, I’ve never
gotten into the whole Sox vs. Cubs thing.

As I said many times, you really have to have grown up in Chicago to understand the level of sheer hatred that exists.

However, I can say that the Cubs fans are starting to piss me off.  Not quite the level of the obnoxious Husker fan, but pissing me off just the same. And not because I live on the south side, either.

You’re a man of taste, especially since I know which neighborhood you live in.  And they are on the level of Husker fans.  Maybe it’s because you haven’t been exposed to them as much as I have.  All fans of the alleged baseball team are obnoxious, smelly Neanderthals.

I’m doing a show right now at the Stage Left theatre, about three blocks south of The World’s Largest Beer Garden – I mean Wrigley Field. Probably because they went to the playoffs last year, or maybe because I don’t hang around in this area much, but damn, there seem to be a lot more drunken bandwagon jumpers than I can ever remember.  It’s gotten disgusting.

It’s always been disgusting around there, even during the off-season.  That whole stretch of Clark running from, oh, Belmont to Irving is awful.

We tried an experiment the other night outside the theatre, and asked passing fans who the Cubs shortstop was.  Only one group out of five knew.  Yeah, go Cubs.  So, I’m asking you, as a Chicagoan, has it always been like this?  Is the appeal really Wrigley field? If the Cubs moved to Wheaton, would anybody give a shit?

Yes, yes, and yes in that order.  Thanks to owning a national cable channel, the Tribune Company has focused its marketing efforts on people outside the city to great effect.  So you have tourists from West Bumf*ck, Tennessee whose major exposure to baseball has been games on WGN.  Since they couldn’t market the quality of their alleged team, they marketed Wrigley Field and Harry Caray, and they’re still marketing Harry despite the inconvenience of him being dead.  The whole Wrigley Field mystique (“See baseball in the daytime when it was meant to be played!  Check out the ivy!”) makes it more of a tourist trap than a baseball stadium, and that lures casual fans.  Those casual fans would be lost if they moved.

Memo to Kyle McCowin:  Winny wasn’t very good either as proof-of-concept or as a P2P program.  I don’t really know anyone outside of Japan who really used it.  This doesn’t really compare to the Napster/Gnutella situation due to the fact that so many protocols have been introduced in the meantime, most of them decentralized, and some of them have been able to reach critical mass.  The loss of one particular protocol, even one that supposedly guaranteed anonymity (and its anonymity ability was cracked, by the way), isn’t going to matter per se.  Only the unrealistic believe that P2P can be stopped.

Dave Swenton invites a query about the meat industry, which I’m always happy to answer:

Are cattle raised for beef the same as cattle raised for use in leather making?  For instance, when a cow is slaughtered and the meat removed, it is my understanding that most of the waste (non-edible) products are disposed of.  However, is the hide of these same cattle retained for leather products or are cattle raised entirely separately for this purpose?

Meat packers don’t waste anything.  If they can cut a deal with a tanner for quality hides, they’ll do so.  It isn’t cost-effective for smaller slaughter operations, since most of the time, tanners will make the slaughterhouse cull the good hides from the shitty-looking ones, and that means trained people.  Plus, they have to be thoroughly cleaned before being sent off, which would also be the responsibility of the slaughterhouse.  For a lot of the higher-quality leathers, specially-bred cattle are used.  But most standard leather goods come from the same place as your steak, and maybe from the same cow.

Lotsa Baseball Hall of Fame letters…let’s start with Tom Fowler:

I was wondering how you felt about Edgar Martinez.  The knocks against him are that he’s missed a lot of time due to injuries, and he’s been a DH for years now.  However, his OBP is 17th all time, and his OPS is 25th, to go along with being a career .300 hitter.  I think the baseball writers will judge him too harshly for being a DH, but the DH is part of the game, so I don’t see how they can hold that against

BBWAA types are very old-school.  Despite the fact that the DH has been around for thirty years now and isn’t going away, they still don’t like it very much.  It “pollutes” their game.  Martinez is going to be a quandary.  He’s going to be the first solid candidate who spent most of his career at DH (he’s been a full-time DH since ’95).  His time as a third baseman isn’t going to help him, because he wasn’t Brooks Robinson while there.  He’s only had one truly great season (2000).  Only broke the thirty-homer mark once.  Only broke the 125 RBI barrier once.  Never had 200 hits in a season.  Those aren’t good numbers for someone who’s supposed to be concentrating on being a hitter.  Injured way too much.  He doesn’t get in.

And, oh, my God, SMIL wants to check in with my thoughts on five other players.  Who am I to deny Smilowitz?

Curt Schilling:  Won a ring and a bunch of games, but only had one real standout year when he was more than just “another all-star caliber pitcher.”  He may have to lead the Sox to the WS, if not a ring, to cement his plaque.

Inconsistent and had a big rep earlier in his career as not being able to follow through on his potential.  Entered this season with virtually the same number of losses as Randy Johnson, but with sixty or so less wins.  Except for those two good years, pretty medicore.

Tom Glavine:  Baseball’s answer to Snottie Pippen, minus five rings.  Hard to argue with his numbers, but he’s probably never been truly great.  I say no.

He got exposed by going away from Maddux and Smoltz, but not enough to dent him seriously.  Double-digit wins fourteen straight seasons.  Five seasons with 20 or more Ws.  Respectable ERA.  Important contributor to eleven straight division titles, with a WS ring.  He makes it before Schilling does, that’s for certain.  However, Maddux and Smoltz make it before he does, and both of them are in.

John Smoltz:  Probably needs a few more good years to cement it, but I think his incredible conversion from ace starter to ace closer should get him in.

See above.  He makes it because Eck did, period.

Craig Biggio:  I can’t imagine he makes it in, having never in his career been one of the 25 best players in the league.

Lack of power numbers can’t gloss over the bleh BA like with a, say, Mike Schmidt.  Never came close to winning an MVP.  His black-type categories aren’t very impressive either (led the league in doubles three straight years, yay).  Bagwell is a good probability.  Biggio isn’t.  He’ll get his votes and stay on the ballot for a few years, but that’s it.

Kevin Brown:  Nearly won consecutive rings with two different teams (Hello Jack Morris) but a lot of unmet potential.  He may be in the Schilling “needs a second ring” group.

Injured constantly and was the beneficiary of some of the most imbecilic contracts ever written by baseball management.  The writers won’t forget those eye-popping salary numbers for that kind of performance.  Nope.

That’ll be it for this one, I think.  I’ll be back Thursday night/Friday morning with the debut of Smackdown Short Form.  I’ll also be pulling a guest shot in CKOne’s column over the weekend.  Until then, enjoy yourselves and play safe.