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Friday, September 16, 2005

Interview with Coach Speak

AoL: Good evening, Coach Speak, and welcome to DLMSY.
CS: Thanks. It's great to be here.

AoL: As we all know, your predecessor was fired, and lacklust offensive performance is thought to be a key reason for his demise. Tell us about the new system you have implemented.
CS: It's called the "Wet Coat Offense."

AoL: Why is that?
CS: It's because of the special practice jerseys we issue to honor the first team offense: raincoats.

AoL: I see. Formerly opponents would stack their defenses against the run, daring the quarterback to pass. How does the Wet Coat change this equation?
CS: In the Wet Coat we strive to achieve a balance between pass and run. No more games with 400 yds rushing and a measly 80 passing yds.

AoL: So you want to be able to run and pass with equal effectiveness. How is the team progressing with the new system?
CS: We're quite happy with what we've been able to get done and the direction we're at. Last week going into our last possession of the first half we had perfect balance: 25 yds rushing and 25 yds passing. When you can get that kind of balance, it just makes the Wet Coat so much harder to defend.

AoL: I can imagine. So what do you see as the offensive keys for this week's game?
CS: We've been working hard on our 2nd down plays. That's really the key down for the Wet Coat.

AoL: Interesting. Lots of other coaches focus on 1st down yardage or 3rd down conversion percentages. Why 2nd down for the Wet Coat?
CS: We really need to get 10-15 yds on second down to be successful. We're usually operating in a 2nd and 10 or 2nd and 11 situation. If we only get 8 or 9 yds on second down, it makes it hard to pick up that 3rd and 1 or 3rd and 2. So we really need to get big plays from our 2nd down offense.

AoL: I see. Well, we're all out of time for today, but thanks for joining us here at DLMSY, Coach.
CS: My pleasure.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Frog of Lisbon

I took this picture last week in Lisbon and emailed it home to Mrs. Abe that night. "The Frog" is a bar/cafe along the river in the Expo 98 area. They had a number of signs, but this is my hands down favorite.

The British call the French "Frogs," perhaps due to the tendency of the French to eat frog legs. The French call the British "Les Roast Beef," apparently the quintessential British food from a French perspective.

The froggie in question has a distinctly British look about him: bowler hat; beer mug; necktie; cigarette; and roast beef plate. Also the French phrase at the bottom is a twist on "Honi soit qui mal y pense," ("Shame on those who think ill of it") the motto of the British Order of the Garter. The modified version in the sign means, "Shame on those who drink little of it."


Short Takes

1) The coverage of Hurricane Ophelia hit an old sore spot with me. What's the point of having the TV reporter out in the hurricane? I know TV wants visuals above all else, but this is asinine. If it's supposed to encourage people to stay out of the hurricane, I doubt it's working. If anything, it's probably bringing out the "inner moron" in more people.

2) The moral high ground is never lower than when Teddy Kennedy is occupying it. (Talk about an illegal occupation...)

3) Department of Redundancy Department:
"MAC address" = Machine Address Code address
"PIN number" = Personal Identification Number number
"ATM machine" = Automatic Teller Machine machine

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Old Joke About Europe

... but a goodie:

European Heaven:
The French are the chefs.
The Germans are the mechanics.
The Swiss are the administrators.
The Italians are the lovers.
The British are the police.

European Hell:
The British are the chefs.
The French are the mechanics.
The Italians are the administrators.
The Swiss are the lovers.
The Germans are the police.

Sensible Words on Nebraska Gas Prices

Mr. Wilson at The Lincolnite Blog casts some much-needed light on a topic that has generated a lot of heat recently: gasoline "price gouging." No one enjoys paying higher prices for anything, and when a disruption causes a rapid increase in price the ever-popular search for Someone To Blame can reach a fever pitch. Mr. Wilson's post is chock-full of good economic analysis and common sense. We'd quote a portion of it, but we can't find anything to leave out.

The price of anything in a market is set by the interplay of supply and demand, in other words, through the decisions of individual buyers and sellers. When there is a sudden change in supply (or demand), the price must change to re-balance buyers and sellers. Any attempt to prevent the establishment of the new equilibrium, say by passing a law that sets the price at a different level, inevitably results in a shortage (for a price cap) or a glut (for a price floor).

When prices shoot upward, everything looks like a conspiracy. Suddenly, the fact that the market always keeps prices pretty consistent from one seller to another is "evidence" of "price fixing" rather than the natural part of a market system that is really is. Heads must roll! Fortunately, foolish moves to impose price controls have been avoided (outside of Hawaii), and further damage has been avoided. Gas prices are trending downward again, and shortages and long lines have been avoided.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Can't Tell the Players Without a Scorecard

Manuel Miranda sharpens his pen and his tongue to lay out the cast of characters for today's hearings on the Roberts nominaton. He takes no prisoners:
OpinionJournal - The Next Justices: "For lovers of ballet, the Senate Judiciary Committee's first day of hearings for John Roberts, beginning today at noon, will be easily recognizable: one danseur noble and 18 ballerinas fighting over a single tutu. When I previously described the Senate's confirmation process as a kabuki dance, a reader suggested the proper comparison is to a Japanese Noh play where the actors appear in grotesque masks. Pretty good. Of course, a puppet show, with various interest-group heads pulling the strings comes easily to mind. But let's just say that it is a simple play, complete with a cast of characters:..."
The descriptions of the individual senators are not to be missed.

Feingold and Who?

Evidently Sen. John McCain finds his own laws regulating political speech to be too complicated. Club for Growth reports: McCain Breaks McCain-Feingold Law. (H/T Hans at The (not so) Daily Me)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Waiving the Flag

We recently noted the addition of a new "feature" to blogger, namely the "Flag?" option on the Blogger navbar. This provides a way for readers or random passersby to notify Google if they find material on your blog that they deem "objectionable." If some (unspecified) level of complaints are received, Google/Blogger may decide to remove your blog from its listings.

Our main beef with this, which is also how we happened to notice it, is that the html code has a simple error in it that prevents us from keeping DLMSY validated to the XHTML 1.0 Transitional standard. We can't fix it and we can't turn it off, so we're stuck with it until Google acts.

Many Blogger users are also concerned about the potential abuse of "flagging" and what exactly Google will do with this information. People can take offense awfully easily these days, and now it's easy to ding someone anonymously if you don't like something they say. Would it surprise anyone if we were to learn that people are already flagging as "objectionable" the political views they disagree with? It's a safe bet that if LGF and Kos were on Blogger, they'd each have a big pile of "objectionable" flags already. What, if anything, Google would do about that is unknown.

One Blogger blogger, Al S. E., has created a blog devoted entirely to this issue: Censorship by Blogger. We encourage you to read the linked article and the comments, particularly if you are a Blogger user. He also includes (in a previous post) a long list of links to what others have written about this, including our previous post at DLMSY.

Al S. E. believes his other blog has been de-listed by Blogger as a result of flagging. While I don't agree with much of what he says there, I do agree that a de-listing for this content would be completely inappropriate. He's expressing his opinions. They are far left views, but not "hate speech" or advocating anything illegal as far as I could see.

So has Al S. E.'s blog been de-listed? It isn't clear to me. His arguments for this are that 1) is not getting pinged when he posts; 2) since 8/1 he's getting zero traffic from the "Next Blog" button of the Navbar; 3) he never sees his blog on the "recently updated" list of Blogger; and 4) people have told him they flagged his blog.

In my experience the Blogger automatic pinging of just doesn't work for DLMSY, at least it fails more often than it works. I manually ping to get the update pushed to the Alliance and Homespun lists, because it often didn't happen otherwise. The auto-pinging of Technorati appears to work fine for DLMSY.

As for traffic to DLMSY from the "Next Blog" button, it is spotty. Sometimes I'll go for weeks with no referrals, then I'll get 20 in an hour. I got 1 earlier today after not seeing any for at least 2 weeks. As far as I know Blogger/Google doesn't reveal anything much about how the destinations for "Next Blog" are selected. I'm sure they want to avoid people gaming the system, so they keep the selection criteria secret. It's not even easy to tell that a referral you receive comes via "Next Blog." If the refering page is a Blogger blog with a Navbar and no other link to you, it's a pretty good bet. I don't believe DLMSY has been de-listed, even according to Al S. E.'s criteria. I'm still getting some traffic via "Next Blog," not zero.

Most of the time a blog will not stay on the "recently updated" page for long. Whenever I have looked they'd all been updated in the last minute. The emails Al S. E. received and posted from Blogger support have explicitly denied that he's been de-listed. They don't answer his questions about why he's not getting "Next Blog" hits, but they do say it's not because of any de-listing.

From what Blogger has posted about the policy, being flagged will not automatically affect your blog. A Blogger person must act on the flags for them to have any effect. Google claims that they have no desire to limit political discussions on blogs in any way. Unfortuately, they don't say what their criteria are for de-listing or even whether or not a de-listed blogger would be notified of the action. Transparency and an appeal process would probably go a long way in easing people's minds on this, but so far Google is sticking with secrecy.

Now Google is not the government and exercising control over content on Blogger is not censorship per se. As a private service/company providing the forum, Google certainly has the right to de-list or delete any sites it is hosting for any reason or for no reason. We, the "content providers" for Blogger, can choose to take our content elsewhere, if we don't like that. Frankly, considering the amount of work I'm putting into DLMSY, the prospect of Google content policing hitting me someday does make me nervous. If there's a risk of that, it will be better to change to another service sooner rather than later and start building up the new site right away.

We're Not Making This Up

MAF Music
We previously mentioned an amusing translation error in a communication about the conference we attended in Lisbon last week. The author described the music for the banquet as a conbination of "sacred and profane," meaning "secular" instead of "profane."

At the right you see the cover of the pamphlet for the group's performance at the banquet. The group consists of five vocalists singing a cappella. Despite the title, there was no profane music involved as far as we could tell, although some of the words were in Latin.

The music was outstanding, and the local organizers of the conference also did a superb job.


Here's a younger, thinner Abe from 1983 in front of the World Trade Center (from Battery Park, I believe). What amazing human ingenuity it took to design and build those masterful towers. What a paean to what man can accomplish when his creativity is unleashed by freedom and capitalism.

Those who destroyed the towers could never have built them. Their ilk could not even have created the technologies they used to destroy the accomplishments of their betters. A society based on their ideas is a prison colony, devoid of progress, denying any learning not approved by the tiny minds who would rule them.

For 15 yrs I lived and worked within 50 miles of NYC. I haven't been back to Manhattan since 9/11/01; it's a long way from Lincoln.


Here I'm with Mrs. Abe, Tycho, and Viper in 1995 on the Staten Island Ferry.

Update 9/14: According to Mrs. Abe, and she's never wrong, the 1995 pictures were not taken on the Staten Island Ferry, but rather the ferry between Battery Park and Statue of Liberty Island.

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Nebraska-Wake Forest Game Report

Final score:
Husker Defense 21
Husker Offense 10
Wake Forest 3

Well, the defense is definitely for real. They produced two interception returns for TDs, and another one with a good, long return. Husker safety, Daniel Bullocks, stole the ball from the running back's hands and returned it for a TD. The run defense was solid against a good running team, which we haven't been able to say for the last few years. There was excellent pressure on the quarterback, which caused the interceptions.

The offense finally showed some spark in the second half, and they didn't give up any touchdowns this time.