Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Under a spell

I guess Bad Orange Man made a typo the other day in one of his tweets. This isn't news, but apparently one of the beneficiaries of his purchases thought it was trollin' time:

We are funny, so funny
Of course, typographical errors are yet another sign that the 25th Amendment should be invoked, at least according to John McWhorter:
The president of the United States has many faults, but let’s not ignore this one: He cannot write sentences. If a tree falls in a forrest and no one is there to hear it … wait: Pretty much all of you noticed that mistake, right? Yet Wednesday morning, the president did not; he released a tweet referring to “forrest fires” twice, as if these fires were set by Mr. Gump. Trump’s serial misuse of public language is one of many shortcomings that betray his lack of fitness for the presidency.
Trump writes sentences. Professor McWhorter does not approve of his sentence structure. I am a writer by trade, although I don't write much for my employer, because I have a team of copywriters who handle the work. Do I prefer copy that is free of typographical errors? Of course. This is also why my company employs a copy editor.

McWhorter knows his premise is faulty, but persists anyway:
One must not automatically equate sloppy spelling with sloppy thinking. Quite a few admired writers are not great spellers before editing. The problem here is that he neither checked the tidiness of this message before it went out to the public, nor asked anyone else to take that step, about an issue as dire as an interruption of governmental services (Governmental Services?). Such negligence is of a piece with Trump’s general disregard of norms, details, and accuracy.
One must not do something, but one does it anyway. Thanks for clarifying, Professor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Nobody does it better

Trump feeds the Clemson Tigers fast food and turns the outrage meter up to 11:

Image result for trump fast food clemson
Have some
The sputtering rage on my social media feed was something to see. A representative sample:
REPREHENSIBLE. In America it has been customary for champions of any sport to be invited to the White House for a celebration. Prior to Jan 20, 2017 it was a high honor. Now that the criminal occupant of the WH is there, the ceremony is ridiculous. For the football national champions Clemson University, the “menu” is McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s; fast food chains. There’s a 5 STAR CHEF at the White House, and this imbecile serves the champions junk food. Disgusting!!!!!!
It's all there. And you don't need to figure out which fork to use.

Snowmageddon in St. Louis -- Sloppy

We pick up the story the following morning. By the time we had to check out of the Hampton in Chesterfield, the snow was turning into rain. That makes all the difference, because now we were simply dealing with wet roads. We were able to make our way to the Saint Louis University campus, then head back west to the Delmar Loop area of St. Louis, a district of shops and restaurants that reminds me of Grand Avenue in St. Paul, although with one difference; there are no Chuck Berry statues in St. Paul:

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, snow, tree and outdoor
Meanwhile, I'm still thinkin'
Had the temperature dropped, as generally happens in the Twin Cities following a big snowstorm, things would have been much worse. We were generally able to get around, especially since many of the good citizens of St. Louis were still hunkered down. We headed back to SLU and got the rest of Fearless Maria's things unpacked, then headed to our hotel, near Union Station. It's a great location and the building itself dates back to the early 1900s.

Image result for drury inn st. louis at union station
Old school
They don't build 'em like that any more. It was a much better day.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Snowmageddon in St. Louis

Well, that was a hell of a weekend. We went to St. Louis to drop Fearless Maria off at Saint Louis University. You may have heard about the snowstorm that hit the area over the weekend. It was tough out there. Really tough. I've clipped a map to set the scene:

MoDot hostage situation

The main road shown is I-64, which begins around Wentzville, Missouri, about 20 miles to the west. We arrived at the area about 6:00 p.m., heading eastbound. Our car was located about where the 64 logo is shown on the left of the screen. It was snowing heavily and traffic was stopped.  Absent any information from the Missouri Department of Transportation about road conditions ahead, we assumed it was a temporary delay. It was not. The road was closed up ahead. We did not know that. We turned on the local radio, hoping in vain to find out information about our particular situation. Instead, we got Cardinals happy talk on KMOX. By about 6:45, we had edged to the area around the off-ramp, but we were in the middle lane and could not get over. By this time, we'd started downloading the MoDOT apps on our phones and were calling MoDOT directly to find out what was going on. We found out that the road was closed ahead. We wanted to know what the plan was to open the road. Apparently there was no plan. Since I was behind the wheel, I couldn't call ahead to our hotel, but Fearless Maria was able to reach the hotel and cancel our reservation.

By 7:30, we were under the overpass. Still, no movement. Stuck in the center lane. The snow continued to fall. Nothing. No communication. Eventually, I was able to find an open space and get over to the right lane. By 8:50, we were at the merge point from Boone's Crossing to the highway. We were able to turn the car around and then go back up the on-ramp. We saw hotels (not shown) on the right side. We were able to pull into the parking lot of the Hampton Inn property. They had no rooms, but they were hoping there might be a cancellation, and offered us the opportunity to stay in the lobby. I did that, while Fearless Maria trudged through the snow to find a restaurant. Just about everything had closed, including the Brick House Tavern (shown on the map), which is next door to the hotel. They pointedly refused to get us food. Maria met a customer leaving the Brick House, and he told her that there was a Raising Cane's down the street that was still open. Mrs. D was able to find her way over there and get food and bring it back. By 9:50, the night manager at the Hampton had found us a room and our ordeal was over.

We were fortunate, actually. MoDOT was prepared to leave people out on that highway all night long; we learned the next morning that they were doing "wellness checks" on people stranded in the area, bringing them water and perhaps a snack, but weren't doing anything to get the road cleared and people off the highway. Eventually things cleared in the morning, but had we not been able to sidle our way over to the right lane and go back up the on-ramp, we'd have been out there all night. The poor schmucks who were stuck past the merge point, who knows when they were freed?

The next morning, the roads were cleared sufficiently so we could continue our journey and get around the area. There's more to the story and I'll pick it up tomorrow. Let's just say this -- MoDOT is a clown show.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Benster and D Pick Your Games----Divisional Battle Edition

So old dude, do you think that Gino helped run Cody Parkey out of Chicago for what happened Sunday? I personally found it to be quite amusing.

There were laughs. Yes.

Divisional weekend is up next, and the big dogs come out to protect the home field advantage they earned.

Yep. And we must evaluate from snowbound Chesterfield, MO, where they don't have football any more.

But we have it. It is time to watch me work.

Indianapolis Colts (+5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are a team who have struggled to win in the playoffs when it matters. In fact, Andy Reid will sell you a manual car that can't perform when you engage the clutch. The Colts are a difficult draw because they are the type of team that can handle a high powered offense with good defense and a quarterback who is viewed as old news. I like the Colts to pull the upset and set the stage for a very interesting throwback AFC title game. Colts 31, By The Way, What's Wrong with the Chiefs? 17.

It's snowing like hell here in St. Louis and it's snowing in Kansas City, too. Is that an advantage for the Chiefs? Historically, not necessarily. Colts are playing with the house money, but I like the Chiefs this week. Chiefs 28, Colts 20.

Dallas How Bout Them Cowboahs (+7) vs. Los Angeles Rams. Much has been said about the Sean McVay revolution this week when the Packers hired LaFleur, so we get to see if the HYYYYYYYPPPPEEE! is worth it. There are going to be a lot of Cowboys fans in the Coliseum on Saturday night, ready to see if Dallas can get past the barrier that is the Divisional Round. The Rams can play bully ball as well, and I think Dallas is going to waste more talent again. Rams 50, Cowpokes 0.

That's a subtle pick. Can Zeke Elliott play? He'll give it a go. Rams are rested and ready. Rams 31, Cowboys 21.

Los Angeles Chargers (+5) vs. New England Patriots. The Chargers get rewarded with another long trip to play an early game in the Eastern time zone, and to a place where the home team does not lose. Problem is that Patriots fans will never bring up that you can win at Foxboro in the playoffs. This Chargers team looks very interesting to me because Rivers looks like he wants to equal Big Ben and Eli in getting a ring to make those choices all look about equal. This Patriots team reminds me of 2009/2010, a good team that lives off past glories. Chargers 11, Patriots 0.

The Chargers are a team without a country, or even a fan base. But they don't care. The Patriots may be past their sell-by date. I agree with the young fella. Chargers 24, Patriots 17.

Philadelphia Eagles (+8) vs. New Orleans Saints. Well, Nick Foles survived his trip to Chicago and the Eagles are still defending their crown. New Orleans plays amazing in the Dome, though I think the week off is going to be something that hurts a Saints team that thrives off momentum and they also sat their starts. The Eagles are a proven champion team, and I can't pick against Foles, who laughs at your doubts. Eagles 30, Saints 10.

Ah, no. Saints are the best overall team in the tournament. And they will win at home. Saints 31, Eagles 24.
Enjoy your weekend. Ben out.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Travelin' shoes

Back on the road this morning. Driving into a storm, it appears.

Image result for winter storm warning st. louis
Let it snow

Benster will post his thoughts on the playoffs tonight, but I expect posting to be light otherwise for a few days.

Have an open thread.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I don't know, but I've been told

Have you ever wondered if anything you read is true? Take yesterday, for example:
“The president stomped out of the meeting when he said to me, ‘Will you support a wall?’ and I said no. Now they’re trying to mischaracterize what he actually said,” Pelosi said of GOP leaders. “It was a petulant president of the United States.”
Was it? Do you trust Nancy Pelosi's account of the matter. Or do you have to pass the meeting to see what's in it? There's more:
Trump made clear to Democrats that “there will be no deal without a wall,” said Vice President Mike Pence. It was the third such bipartisan meeting in a week, all of which were unproductive. But this was the shortest, clocking in at about 30 minutes.
Did some one have a watch? Read on:
In the bipartisan meeting, Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Trump, Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen did almost all the talking, according to a person briefed on it.
A person briefed on it? Who is the person? Who did the briefing? In a court of law, this would be called hearsay. Based on previous observation, although from afar, it's easy enough to believe that Pelosi and Schumer were doing a lot of talking. Schumer in particular loves the sound of his own droning voice.

We can believe that these individuals were in the same room, but do we really know what happened in the room? Do we trust any of the participants are telling the truth? Based on what assumptions?

You can go a long way into the weeds with epistemological discussions, but as you attempt to observe the sausage being made, especially from over 1000 miles away, it's never a good idea to assume you're being told the truth.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Approaching lifelike

No, this isn't particularly creepy:

Every picture tells a story, don't it

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Welcome Matt

So the Packers have hired a new coach. It's not this guy:

Image result for matt lepay
Shameless homer Matt Lepay
And it's not this guy:

Image result for matt leblanc friends
That "Friends" guy Matt LeBlanc
Nor is it this guy:

Image result for guy lafleur
Flying Frenchman Guy LaFleur

Instead, it's this guy, Matt LaFleur:

Image result for matt lafleur
The new face of the Packers

The biographical data, from Pro Football Talk:
The 39-year-old LaFleur, who played college football at Saginaw Valley State, started his coaching career there in 2003. After five years as a college coach, LaFleur became an offensive quality control coach with the Texans. Two years later, LaFleur joined Washington. Four seasons later, he served as quarterbacks coach in Atlanta, working with Kyle Shanahan. LaFleur then become offensive coordinator with the Rams for one year, before taking that same job in Tennessee (where he was working with a defensive coach, giving him more control over the offense).
A few observations:
  • While I'm not certain the young hotshot model is always the way to go, LaFleur has good credentials and demonstrable success, especially in Atlanta. Matt Ryan was never better than in 2016, the year LaFleur was there. How much credit LaFleur deserves for that is impossible to know, but the record shows Ryan hasn't been as good since then.
  • Most of the national pundits thought Josh McDaniels, who has been Bill Belichick's right hand in New England, would get the job, but I'm not surprised he didn't. After the way McDaniels jilted the Colts last season, it would have been difficult for McDaniels to assemble a coaching staff. McDaniels is known for his innovative offensives. Unless I miss my guess, the Packers figured LaFleur could do what McDaniels does without the baggage.
  • It sounds like the Packers are going to retain the incumbent defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine. That's a good move. Pettine did nice work this past season, despite an unbelievable run of injuries. By the end of the season, the Packers were playing street free agents in several spots on defense, but Pettine was able to keep things from falling apart. His steady hand will allow LaFleur to concentrate on the key part of the job, which is. . .
  • Aaron Rodgers. Can LaFleur do for Rodgers what he apparently did for Ryan? That's the wager the Packers are making. From what is known about LaFleur, he has the intellectual firepower to deal with Rodgers, a brilliant but arrogant man who happens to be the most gifted quarterback of his generation. It was clear that Mike McCarthy's relationship with Rodgers was beyond repair, which is why he's looking for work. I doubt Rodgers had veto power over the hire, but I'd be willing to wager that Rodgers is okay with it.
  • I was surprised the Packers moved this quickly, but if they decided LaFleur was a better choice than McDaniels, it's likely another team might have felt the same way. The other advantage is LaFleur gets a head start on assembling the rest of his staff. That matters.
The formal announcement should come today. The Green Bay job is unique and the Packers usually are patient with coaches, but there's a sense of urgency given where Rodgers is in his career. Good luck, Coach.

Monday, January 07, 2019

This should work well

Quote of the day, from French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer:
“We need to stop being a country that listens to those who cry the loudest,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told LCI news channel.
I'm sure more high-handedness will be exactly the solution France needs.

Saturday, January 05, 2019


Changed up the background a bit. Always want to keep it reasonably fresh. May do some more tinkering on the edges in the coming days. Hope you like it.

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Don't Talk about Playoffs Edition

So, Old Dude, let's talk about playoffs.

You're kiddin' me.

Baby, I'm not foolin'.

I gotta whole lotta love for playoff action, even if  a certain team we don't like is involved. But we'll troll Gino later. And I have a good one for our pal Gino. Watch me work!

Indianapolis Colts (+1) vs. Houston Texans. First, a little housekeeping. Jim Mora has nothing to do with this Colts team. This game is not exciting to me. Yes, I said I have a whole lotta love for the playoffs, but these are two of the most generic teams in the NFL. The Colts were left for dead in October, but they have been red-hot down the stretch. I think the Texans blew a chance at a first-round bye and the Colts are a bad matchup. Colts 21, Texans 6.

Keep it coolin', baby. I'm at best lukewarm about this one myself. It should be a good matchup but I'm still trying to figure out how the Colts are winning. I think the Texans are a better overall team. And since they are at home. . . Texans 28, Colts 23.

Seattle Seahawks (+2) vs. Dallas How Bout Dem Cowboahs? Great. These clowns again. Two of the most obnoxious fan bases in the league and they get the prime-time slot. And two of the coaches we love to hate. It's Rah-Rah Cheat Carroll vs. Jason "Sparky the Sea Lion" Garrett, always clapping his hands. My rule of thumb for the playoffs -- is your quarterback a proven performer. Russell Wilson fits that bill. Dak Prescott? Not yet. I think Seattle will jump out early and take Zeke away, which means Dak will have to win the game on his own. Can he do it? He has about as much chance of that as Skip Bayless has of getting a meal in Green Bay without the cooks spitting on his burger. Seahawks 28, Cowboahs 0.

Mmmm, a bacon cheeseburger with loogie sauce! It might be more palatable than this game, actually. I share Benster's contempt about these two franchises, but I agree with his analysis. The Seahawks have done this before. The Cowboys? Not since Benster had a rattle in his hands. Expect some rattling tonight. Seahawks 24, Cowboys 13.

Los Angeles Chargers (+2.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens. If you're looking for an upset this weekend, this game is going to be the one. The Ravens, for my money, are the best defense in the league. I'm going to be interested to see how the Chargers start, considering it's an early kickoff on the East Coast. I know Lamar Jackson has never started a playoff game, and I'm going against what I've written earlier. If I'm an NFL coach, Baltimore is a team I do not want to see, either tomorrow or down the line. Ravens 17, Chargers 10.

I would love to see Phillip Rivers have one last playoff run to cement his place in history as a great NFL quarterback. He's had a wonderful career, but often he's been away from the cameras, as the Chargers are only sporadically a glamour team. Baltimore is a very tough place to win, though. This Ravens team is nasty and built for the playoffs. They will be too much. Ravens 24, Chargers 20.

Philadelphia Eagles (+6.5) vs. Bear Down Chicago Da Bearz Still Suck. Gino would like to remind you that his Bears are the NFC North Champions. I would like to remind Gino that he has a namesake who committed this crime against music:

Gino's been lost, living inside himself all season long. But now come the playoffs and the defending champion Eagles are coming to town. Do you remember this playoff game?

That was a weird game. Bears fans, including our man Gino, have been claiming their team is for real all season long. I must admit they are a legitimate team. That being said, they are playing the defending champions. This season won't be a failure for the Bears, but I don't think they can win. Eagles 35, da Bears 31.

I must admit the Gino Vannelli is a nice touch. I'm also glad you spared us all a look at his chest hair. Anyway, this is a matchup that will put hair on your chest for sure. The Eagles were much better down the stretch than they had been, but there's a reason they are a #6 seed, beyond the obligatory Vikings reference. The Eagles aren't consistent. The Bears have been remarkably consistent all season. The key, as is often the case, is can Mitchell Trubisky not lose the game. This week, I think he survives. Besides that, I really want to see a Bears/Rams playoff game next week. Bears 24, Eagles 14.

Clemson Tigers (+5.5) vs. The Crimson Tide of Alabama, in Santa Clara. This is the National Title Game that nobody wanted, but here it is anyway. I'm sick and tired of both of these teams. It was fun the first time, but this is like a cash grab sequel. I would like Clemson to win, since they are slightly less annoying than Alabama. Maybe next year we could have something new and different. Better get rowing that boat, there, P.J.! Clemson 34, Alabama 33.

Do they still make Brylcreem? It seems like a perfect product for the Clemson coach to market. A little Dabo do ya? Well, do ya, Clemson? Alabama really ought to petition the NFL for an expansion franchise at this point. I am with Benster on this one -- it's bad for the game if you have the same two behemoths battling it out every year. As for this game, Alabama is better. Again. Yawn. Alabama 41,  Clemson 30.

Well, that's a lot of territory we covered, old dude. And up to now, I haven't even used the word HYYYYYYYYPPPPPPE! But I got it in. Contractual obligation. Ben out!