Bill Simmons is fired

I read Bill Simmons for a long time. He’s written some funny articles, and his nomination of Bo Jackson as the greatest video game athlete of all time is absolutely right. And he was cool, years ago, when the Celtics, Red Sox, and Patriots all sucked. He’d talk about his beloved local teams now and then, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t ignore. But when they started doing well, it became quite clear that he would be better off writing for the Boston Globe and not something national. Well, maybe he wouldn’t be better off, but we would. He couldn’t go a paragraph without mentioning his teams. And I actually used to like the Pats and the Sox – my grandmother spends a lot of time in New England, so she got to root for both teams a bit, and since they were both terrible for a long time, I was happy to root for them when they weren’t playing the Orioles or Redskins. And then they got good. You, Red Sox fans, are some of the most annoying in all of sports. Some of you, the real die hards, are okay. But most of you have been waiting years, not for your team to be as good as the Yankees, but for you to have the excuse to be as annoying as Yankees fans. It only took one World Series victory to turn you from lovable underdogs into Yankees fans who wear red. But back to Simmons. He had an internship contest that my brother entered. He went to great lengths to explain how he was going to choose the winner, and then ignored all his rules and chose someone who simply aped his style. I stopped reading him completely a few years ago. I just got tired of him talking about his favorite teams all the time. I’d stop reading an article as soon as he started to gush about a Boston team, and pretty soon there wasn’t much for me to read. Many of you may have read this article, which I did not, but apparently it’s not flattering to the Celtics. The wife directs me to this response from Celtics Blog.

From here on out: Stop It. Just Stop. We no longer want you talking about our team publicly. You’ve lost all credibility with Celtics fans. All of it. Don’t bother with some lame and dumb reverse jinx excuse to explain your writing. And really, spare us the joyous article after we do win the title. None of us want to hear about it from Showtime Simmons. Enjoy rooting for Kobe, we hope you’ll be happier sitting next to Diane Cannon, just don’t tell us about it.

I hope he takes it to heart. He has to decide if he’s really a fan, in which case he should write for a Boston area publication and love his teams no matter what, or he can be a national columnist and pretend he cares about other teams in the league (Aside from, apparently, the Lakers). And speaking of the Celtics (The one team from Boston I still like, because the wife loves them and I never had a basketball team I cared about), I actually agree with Mike Wilbon for the first time in a while – the offensive foul on Paul Pierce that they called on his late three point attempt was absolutely awful. I’m glad it didn’t end up affecting the outcome, because it was just terrible. Tayshaun Prince jumped in the air and landed on Pierce while he was shooting and somehow it’s an offensive foul? Crazy. Anyway, I’m looking forward to game 1 on Thursday. Unlike Simmons, I actually want the Celtics to win, and think they can do it. It’ll be tough – LA is a great team. But it can be done, and it can be done by the Celtics. Edit to add: An LA fan thinks that Simmons sucks, too.

Security Theater is getting literal

BoingBoing | European airlines test spycams in every seat that “detect terrorism” in your facial expressions

The European Union’s Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project uses a camera in every passenger’s seat, with six wide-angle cameras to survey the aisles. Software then analyses the footage to detect developing terrorist activity or “air-rage” incidents, by tracking passengers’ facial expressions…

This is SUCH a good idea. I can’t wait until they implement this and they start diverting flights because stoned idiots on the way to Amsterdam are making faces at the camera, or maybe someone who’s agoraphobic is sweating and tense. This will be even better than detaining infants who have names on the terrorist watch list.

At least it isn’t the United States this time. I’m comforted to see that we don’t have a monopoly on totally absurd security theater.

There was discussion at the birthing class of bringing breast milk in your carry-on, and how TSA had initially banned it with their ridiculous no-liquids rule. I think they first amended the rule to allow breast milk if you had the baby with you, and then again to allow it without a baby. That way, women on trips away from the baby who were faithfully pumping and storing the milk for their return would be able to do so.

First, I think it’s good that they allow this – it’s much more of a big deal than I realized before the wife got pregnant. But second, if breast milk is safe on the plane, then SO ARE OTHER LIQUIDS. It is utterly insane to think that six ounces of shampoo will cause a plane to crash into the White House, but a long weekend worth of breast milk is totally safe.

Anyway, I wish the terrorists who hate our freedom would try a plot involving things I don’t like. Maybe they could hatch a plot to put bombs in wheelie bags and drag them around the city! That would be great! Then maybe we could ban those stupid things from getting in my way when I’m walking to work. And I wish these terrorists would have a little concern for MY feelings and MY needs. Selfish jerks.

Birthing Class

We went to our second birthing class today. I continue to feel ridiculous carrying a pillow down Columbia Road. Last week, someone wanted to buy the pillows from us. This week someone asked us if we were on our way to a pillow fight. He did congratulate us when I told him why we were carrying them, so there’s that, but still. Class today was about nutrition. It was a lot of stuff we already knew, and the wife is already doing most of the things that the instructor recommended, but it’s nice to get the reinforcement. The solo husbands from last week both brought wives this time. I imagine the class is more interesting with a partner.

Help Firefox set a world record

Download Day 2008 is coming. We’re just not sure when. They’re trying to set a world record for software downloads in a day. Since you should be using Firefox 3 as soon as it comes out, this is a great opportunity. In case you haven’t tried Firefox, it is light years ahead of Internet Explorer. Even IE7, which Microsoft put out to implement a bunch of functionality that’s been in Firefox and other browsers for quite some time, is a steaming pile of crap compared to Firefox. Anyway, join in. It’ll be fun to watch the Mozilla Foundation’s servers melt with the download traffic.

My happy hour was a success

A couple weeks ago, I started planning a happy hour for the Columbia Heights Forum because people were starting to argue a bit too much, as people tend to do on forums. I figured it would be more friendly if people met each other in person. So the happy hour was last night at Wonderland, and it was pretty cool. I met a few people I “know” from the forum, and we had some local blog coverage (The Heights Life has a picture of our group at that link). There was a bit of discussion about making these meetups a little more regular, so we’ll see what happens. There are still a few forum regulars I’m dying to meet in person. Edit to add: In the comments to the Heights Life post, there is a discussion EXACTLY like the discussions that prompted me to plan the happy hour in the first place. People get angrier discussing things on the internet because you can’t see a person’s face, you can’t hear the tone of their voice, you can’t get the non-verbal cues that tell you what the person is really saying. And it’s anonymous – it’s much easier to hate someone you don’t actually know. So I think it’s kind of amusing that the post about the happy hour generated exactly the sort of discussion that the happy hour was supposed to prevent.

Maybe Metallica finally gets it

Ethan Kaplan, the VP of technology at Warner Bros. Records, just announced a new website for Metallica that makes it look like they’ve finally decided that music plus internet is not necessarily bad. The site looks like it’s trying to build a community of fans by giving them some free stuff, deals on merchandise, and promoting the new album. It’s too bad I’m not still fourteen and eager to buy anything Metallica produced. It’s funny that the crotchety old guys who wanted to kill the entire internet when people first realized they could download music illegally are now near the front of the pack of major (Okay, it’s questionable if Metallica counts as “major” these days, but bear with me) bands embracing a “I can make more money by giving away non-scarce goods to promote the scarce ones” business model.

A trip to Camden Yards

Camden YardsThe Orioles climbed out last place yesterday with a win over the Yankees. The wife and I went with two other couples. I had almost forgotten how much I like the stadium in Baltimore. The new Nationals Park is nice, but it’s no Camden Yards. I suppose that may be because the Orioles are my team, and I’d love their park no matter what. Anyway, it’s kind of depressing to go to a game there these days. Thanks to Peter Angelos and his commitment to pretending to want to win, attendance at Camden Yards is pretty sad. There were more Yankees fans than Orioles fans (Although most of the Yankees fans left after the Orioles went up 6-0 in the seventh). I’ve never been to a sporting event where the visiting fans were so overpowering. There were Yankees chants that Orioles fans mostly ignored. I guess it’s hard to yell back when you’re outnumbered. The win was nice. Garrett Olson was pretty dominant in seven shutout innings. Nick Markakis had three hits, two runs, and two RBIs. And aside from Matsui and his three hits, the Yankees were pretty pathetic on offense. And we saw a drunk woman in a Jeter shirt get escorted out by security. We saw an Orioles fan propose to his girlfriend (She said yes). And the weather was beautiful. Now all we need to do is a few more wins to put some distance between us and the bottom of the division.

Mars Landing

Bad Astronomy Blog and countless others are all over this, but it took seeing pictures to really get me excited. We just landed something on Mars that is going to try and find out if there is or was or could be life on the planet. That’s pretty friggin’ cool. The potential for life on Mars doesn’t really excite me that much – it’s not like we’re going to meet E.T. or anything. The life we’re hoping to find is either long dead or just a couple of cells. Scientifically fascinating and important if it’s there, but not that big a deal for the average person. But Mars. It’s incredible that we can actually put a little machine on the planet, and then have it do stuff and send back information. Kinda makes you wonder why there are still places you can’t get decent cell phone reception.

Getting rid of some books

Last night I joined BookMooch to get rid of some of the extra books I have lying around that no one will ever read again. They range from old paperbacks I bought for plane trips to pretty new hardbacks that I read but didn’t love. I mean, I’m not giving away my tattered paperback Catch-22 that I’ve read a dozen times, or my signed copy of Halting State. But I have plenty of books that I don’t need. BookMooch works by giving you points for giving away books. 1/10 of a point for listing a book you’re willing to give. One point for actually sending it, and 3 for sending it overseas. For each point, you can request a book from someone else. The sender always pays shipping. So I listed eleven books last night that I’m willing to part with. Within an hour, I already had four requests, and by this morning it was up to six. So it looks like I’m making a trip to the post office tomorrow. And I have some space on our bookshelves for some new (Or new to me) books. I think the wife is a little skeptical about the whole thing – we’re trying to get rid of stuff to make room for the incoming baby, not get random people to send us books. But I think she’ll be fine as long as I keep a good ratio of sent-to-received books.

Saturday Night at Nationals Park

DSC_9672We went to our first game using my company’s season tickets. The seats are great, just past first base. The results of the game weren’t too great – a 5-2 loss to the Brewers. Luckily, I’m an Orioles fan, and I don’t really care too much if the Nats lose. Not many others seem to care, either – 30,029 was the announced attendance, just shy of 3/4 full. For a beautiful Saturday night over Memorial Day weekend, I expected a full house. There were a ton of kids there – the lines for ice cream were crazy, but it was easy to get a beer. The rest of the pictures are here. They’re probably only really interesting to me, but you’re welcome to look at them, too. DSC_9707I’m looking forward to our next game – the Cardinals are in town, and we’ll get a good look at Albert Pujols at first. Always nice to see a future first ballot Hall of Famer in the prime of his career. And we saw Charlie Manning’s major league debut. He gave up a hit and struck out two, so I imagine he’s pleased with that. Finally, we made a return trip to Ben’s Chili Bowl, fantastic as usual. For $7, the veggie chili cheese fries are a deal by ballpark standards. Going to the stadium and skipping Ben’s is just crazy.