Thursday, December 31, 2009

Overflowing with Bombast

Rush Limbaugh's recent trip to the hospital reminded me to post the Limbaugh-Shatner interview, which is really fantastic. Even if you dislike Limbaugh (I can't imagine any of you disliking Shatner), you may enjoy this interview, as Shatner and Limbaugh's styles play off each other quite well.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What the hell is a "Stanford situation?"

Warning: Post contains football.

When ex-BSU coach Houston Nutt was acclaimed as the "inventor" of the Wildcat formation, those of us who are total nerds thought, "Wait a minute, isn't this just the single wing?"

The single wing was the dominant football offense well into the 1960s, and like the Wildcat, it featured an unbalanced line, long snaps, and an emphasis on running. (Note that single wing formations are different than shotgun: shotgun snaps are high, with the center looking ahead, whereas single wing snaps are line drives, with the center looking beneath his legs.)

You can watch Michigan use the single wing (along with some line shifts that are utterly illegal today) to demolish USC in the 1948 Rose Bowl here.

Fortuitously, you can read Michigan's playbook for this game right here. You can get another exposition of how the offense works from Iowa State's 1968 playbook, devised by future Pittsburgh and Tennessee coach Johnny Majors. The Majors playbook also contains an interesting strategy section, so you'll always know what to do when the defense lines up in a Stanford situation and when to call a first down punt.

Monday, December 21, 2009

An idea someone else will make money off of

Self-help books written by the mentally ill. If done correctly, they could make for funny reading, as well as provide insight into abnormal thought processes, in much the same way you can learn about autism by reading A Class in Spookville or Sonichu*

You could start with Seven Habits of the Highly Effective Sociopath, then move on to Who Moved My Cheese, and Who is He Working For? (from the paranoid), I'm OK, I'm Not OK, I'm the King of Alaska (bipolar I), He's Just Not That Into You, Probably Because of Something You Did, Now He's Leaving You Just Like Daddy Did, He Can't Do This! (borderline personality), Everything You Would Want to Know About Sex, If You Cared (schizoid), and What Color is Your Parachute? Mine is Red. You Know, Leonardo da Vinci Designed a Parachute in the 1600s, But The First Successful Parachute Was Tested in 1783 by Louis-Sebastien Lenormand… (Asperger's)

*note that this particular rabbit hole goes down quite deep, and contains some non-work-safe material

Friday, December 11, 2009

A story for your kids

Do you know why the government that's bigger than a city but smaller than a state is called a "county?" It's because every one has its own count.

And like most counts, these counts are vampires. But they're friendly vampires. The count for each county (Count Ada, Count Canyon, Count Payette, etc.) is only allowed to travel around his county and is responsible for chasing away ghosts, Frankensteins, and other monsters. When a count dies, the county commissioners get together and pick a new count, who moves into the secret hidden castle that you might be able to find on Google Maps if you look hard.

This is true in every state except Louisiana (where the French settlers entrusted supernatural defense to priests, hence "parishes") and Alaska (vampires like to live there because of the long nights in the winter, so they have whole colonies of friendly vampires who live in underground burrows, so the counties are replaced by "boroughs").

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Were You Aware Of It?

Many of the seven hundred hobo names presented in my long-lost twin brother John Hodgman's book The Areas Of My Expertise would be good names for roller derby participants?

10. Whispering-Lies McGruder
17. Name Withheld
27. The Damned Swede
29. Ol' Barb Stab-You-Quick
33. Sweet Daddy Champagne
70. Slow Motion Jones
77. Stun Gun Jones
82. Stick-Legs McOhio
93. Bathsheba Ditz
95. Lolly Hoot Holler
102. Chrysler LeBaron
125. Zaxxon Galaxian
175. Commodore Sixty-Four
178. Fast-Neck Nell
212. Cecilia Graveside
243. Lord Winston Two-Monocles
260. Mastiff Mama
271. Laura Delite
283. Professor Challenger
315. Maury the Monsoon
326. The Railbender
348. Itinerant Jane
429. Four-Fisted Jock Socko
455. Battling Joe Frickenfrack
468. Dr. Nobel Dynamite
477. Unshakably Morose Flo
512. Bum-Hating Virgil Hate-Bum
545. Andrea Clarke, the Human Shark
628. Stinging Polly Papercuts
630. The Wisconsin Scourge
662. La Grippe
694. Mallory Many-Bruises

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What is the dumbest thing?

Some people think that sexting is the dumbest thing. Other people think that backyard wrestling is the dumbest thing. Still others would nominate the Word of Faith movement, or the nine-hundred-page racist rape-promoting roleplaying game, or Mike Huckabee's clemency process, or panties with Robert Pattinson's face on the inside.

A new nominee comes from the Washington Court of Appeals in State v. Thompson.

Eighty-year-old Shirley Crawford gave her friend Judith Thompson a power of attorney to handle her financial affairs while she was in a nursing home. Judith and her husband James promptly funneled about $400,000 worth of funds (including money she got from selling Shirley's house) into their own pockets. But that's not the dumbest thing.

The dumbest thing happened when Adult Protection Services got involved. The Thompsons showed up with a videotape. And the contents of the tape?

On the video, Judith and James and other members of the Thompson family are shown gathered in Crawford's nursing home room. Judith Thompson hands a typed statement to Crawford. James Thompson tells Crawford that he wrote it from things that she said. Judith Thompson reads from the statement, which is written in the first person as if Crawford were speaking. It includes statements such as, "I wanted Jim and Judy to have my house." The video shows Crawford nodding and agreeing with the statements.

The Thompsons were shocked when they were charged with witness tampering. Judith testified at trial:

She said they had gifted Crawford's estate to themselves in order to protect it from would-be thieves....

I think that deserves consideration as the dumbest thing.