Another thing about soccer

I hate it when people (usually uppity fans from Europe who sneer at us ignorant Americans) insist that "football" is the proper name for the sport where you try to guide a round ball into a goal without using your hands.

"Association football" is the proper name of the sport, and "football" and "soccer" are both contractions of the term. However, "football" can also mean American football, Australian football, Canadian football, rugby football (of which there are actually two variants), or Gaelic football as well, depending on locale and context.


Inciting hatred (or, classic German sense of humor)

Apparently this is a serious criminal offense in Germany. I've heard this charge mostly applied to people who deny that the Holocaust occurred, but as the World Cup approaches, folks are warning England fans (and presumably fans from other non-Axis nations) to refrain from making Nazi jokes or references.

What I really want to know is, are the German police going to arrest people who wave Euro bills at Juventus and Italian national team players?


Another reason why I hate television

Towards the end of the Detroit Pistons' Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, ABC showed a montage of heartbreaking moments in Cleveland sports -- The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, and the two World Series losses.

Having watched Aaron Boone's home run innumerable times over the last 3 years, I would like to tell these sports programming directors to go copulate with themselves.

EDIT: Forgot one for Cleveland -- watching the Browns leave town, move to Baltimore, and win a Super Bowl in 2000 with a criminal as their MVP.



For some reason, this blog received over 100 hits the last couple days, which is way more than it usually gets.


Apparently Boston is only the fifth-worst city in the United States when it comes to road rage, trailing Miami, New York, LA and Phoenix.


For what it's worth, I always thought Boston drivers who drove badly usually did so with some purpose in mind, like the guy who drives 60 down on Commonwealth Avenue in the left lane so that he can make a left turn before the green arrow disappears. In comparison, bad LA drivers tend to be somewhat clueless.

The one thing about Boston driving I loathed the most was the 1-1/2 second lag between the light turning green and the car ahead of me going. I can understand why the first car would wait (so as to not get sideswiped by a car running a red or by an oncoming car immediately making a left), but I never understood why every subsequent car also had to wait 1-1/2 seconds, especially given how aggressive Boston drivers usually drive in all other circumstances (almost a necessity given the cramped, haphazard nature of Boston streets). This particular habit made driving down Fresh Pond Parkway in Cambridge an excruciating experience, particularly during rush hour or on Sunday afternoons (when part of Memorial Drive closes on summer days, causing a big backup as cars line up to turn onto North Harvard Street).

Courtesy of some guy on fark, here's a link to an intersection in the Greater Boston area. At one stop light, there are four lanes; let's number them 1, 2, 3, 4 left to right. Lanes 1, 3 and 4 turn left. Lane 2 turns right. The arrows point diagonally to the upper left and to the upper right respectively.


See, this is why you shouldn't use MySpace or Facebook

Fron ESPN:

Northwestern suspends women's soccer team
Associated Press

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern University suspended its women's soccer team Monday while the school investigates alleged hazing involving players last year.

The school learned of the allegations Monday, athletics director Mark Murphy said in a statement.

"If the investigation shows that there has been a violation of Northwestern's policies, appropriate sanctions will be imposed and the Athletic Department may take additional action as well,'' Murphy said.

The statement did not provide details about the alleged incident, and a Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage said the school would not comment further.

A Web site on Monday displayed pictures allegedly of Northwestern soccer players in T-shirts and underwear, some wearing blindfolds and others with their hands tied behind their backs. Other women had words or pictures scrawled on their bodies and clothes, and it appeared some were drinking alcohol.



Another year, another Triple Crown threat

As happens seemingly every year, the winner of the Kentucky Derby (this year, Barbaro) gets anointed as the next Triple Crown threat.

After three consecutive years of horses winning the 1-1/4 mile Kentucky Derby and Preakness and then nutting up in the 1-1/2 mile Belmont, will this be the year that bettors stop paying irrational prices for the prospect of a Triple Crown? Stay tuned.


Red Line

The Harvard men's ultimate frisbee team has just taken the New England regional championship and the NE's #1 seed to Nationals by beating Brown, 15-6. This is a big breakthrough for the Red Line -- this is Harvard's first NE regional championship ever and its first spring win since 2001 over perennial power Brown.


Size deflation

Apparently a size 8 Ann Taylor skirt from 2000 is equivalent to a size 0 from the same store today.

What I find most amusing about this article though, besides the inevitable comparison to grade inflation, is the following quote:

''I tried on a size 0 skirt and it was too big," said Chao, a 30-year-old graduate student of molecular biology at Harvard University. ''To me, a size 0 is antimatter; it's something devoid of any physical reality."

Let's hope she never needs a medical PET scan.


Ben Bernanke

Our new Fed chariman single-handedly killed the stock markets late yesterday afternoon by going on CNBC and "clarifying" comments about interest rates that he claimed journalists had misconstrued.

I would comment further on this piece of financial news, but I'd be way out of my league in doing so. Instead, I leave you with this hilarious music video, produced by a bunch of Columbia MBA students. The singer in the video is pretending to be Glenn Hubbard, one of the other candidates for Fed chairman and dean of the business school.

(HT: Levitt and Dubner.)

Xanga further marginalizes itself within the blogosphere

Apparently Xanga now has a setting where you can force the viewer to be logged into his or her Xanga account in order to view your Xanga blog.

Under pressure

Remember when Vanilla Ice flatly denied lifting the bass track on "Ice Ice Baby" from Queen's "Under Pressure"? That was pretty funny.

Anyway, you may have heard of Kaavya Viswanathan, a Harvard undergrad, writing a teenage chick-lit novel during high school which plagiarized a few passages here and there.

This article from the Harvard Independent suggests that she may have pressured herself into signing her book deal and finishing up her work in order to strengthen her college applications, and that she may have fallen to the temptations of plagiarism as a result. The fact that her mea culpa is really weak doesn't help either.

I don't really have anything further to say about this incident, but I do know that there have been at least two incidents in the history of the Westinghouse/Intel Science Talent Search, a high school scientific research contest that gives out large amounts of scholarship prize money, where authors submitted mathematics papers that were almost wholly unoriginal and copied from other sources and won significant prizes. I do know that there were significant consequences for one of the authors; I don't know about the other. I don't know if the prizes were subsequently revoked or not.

I won't identify the students here, as both of these incidents happened a number of years ago -- high school kids do stupid things and shouldn't have it held against them forever. I'd say the same about Kaavya, but her story is currently national news that will be preserved for posterity, thanks to the Internet. The fact that these projects could slip past the judges, however, reflects very poorly on the judges of the contest. I'm not sure if they were genuinely unfamiliar with the work, if they're expected to consult reviews of math research articles or other experts, or what have you.

Kids these days feel immense pressure to earn admittance into, secure funding for, and succeed at top colleges. (As a college TA/instructor for the past several years, I have caught on average about 1.5 incidents of cheating on schoolwork per year.) Projects and publications like the ones described above often impress admissions officers. If your son or daughter is in high school, feels this sort of pressure, and is working on one of these kinds of projects, make sure it is completely vetted for authenticity before it gets submitted.

EDIT: Salman Rushdie agrees.


Doug "Rosebud" Mirabelli saves the day

Well, maybe not. But once the Red Sox got him from San Diego last night for Josh Bard, he hopped a plane this morning, flew cross-country, landed at Boston's Logan International Airport, caught a ride with Boston police to Fenway during rush hour traffic (!), put on his Sox uniform in the car, and arrived at the ballpark 10 minutes before game time to catch for Tim Wakefield against the Yankees.

Mirabelli's line for the game: 0-for-4, no passed balls, 1-for-1 throwing out base-stealers, and a whole bunch of times where he pounced on loose knuckleballs like they were live grenades (something Bard never learned to do). Plus possibly the largest ovation in history for a backup catcher. Things like this are why I miss Boston.

Wakefield's line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.

Johnny Damon goes 0-for-4, receives a mixture of applause and boos for his first appearance, then gets booed mercilessly for the rest of the game. I don't fault him personally for signing with the Yankees, as they were clearly the best fit for him on the field. There's still no reason he shouldn't be booed though.

Damon and Derek Jeter lose a ball in shallow center field when the wind knocks it down prematurely. Later on, with the Sox playing an overshift defense against Jason Giambi, Jeter tries to take third on a groundout to right, turns back, and gets nailed at second for the inning-ending DP.

Joe Torre completely blows it in the bottom of the 8th when, with the score tied, one out, and two runners on, he brings in Tanyon Sturtze instead of Mariano Rivera. Sturtze promptly gives up a RBI single to Mark Loretta. Mike Myers then comes in to some modest cheers and serves up a 3-run HR to David Ortiz.

Jon Papelbon comes in with a 4-run lead and annihilates A-Rod, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada in order. Normally you want to limit a new relief pitcher's exposure to the other team, but this'll give the Yankees something to think about for later.

Life is good.

If you're not a Red Sox fan, you might think that I'm petty, spiteful and vindictive. You would be right.


The UCLA women's ultimate frisbee team is heading to Nationals, having beaten UCSD 13-8 in the finals of Southwest Regionals.

Sincerest form of flattery

Thanks to the magic of Technorati, I have just discovered that a bot has plagiarized one of my recent entries.

My only real recourse is to purchase insurance for my new car from someone other than State Farm.

Wellesley students arrested for chalking up town square sidewalks with peace signs

Interesting little news item back from the other side of the country in Wellesley, MA.

What these girls did is against the law -- you don't get to write your opinions on a public sidewalk that's not specifically designated for that purpose. Writing it in the town square also makes it a bigger offense (practically speaking, not legally speaking) than writing it on some residential street. The fact that the chalk washes off after a couple days of foot traffic or a rainfall or a concentrated hosing is also immaterial -- that's still a significant period of time that they're improperly using the sidewalk. But I think the cops may have overreacted just a tad by throwing them in the slammer instead of just issuing a citation and making them wash it off. This was certainly one of those "teachable moments", and they blew it.

Lots of cities have walls and other spaces designated for public expression. Maybe these Wellesley kids can support a proposition for such spaces to be built. (Given the population of the town of Wellesley though, I doubt it'd ever pass.)

Would the same have happened if they wrote "Support Our Troops" instead? If someone cared enough to narc on them as happened here, I would guess that they'd be ordered to clean it off. There might be a lesser chance of them getting thrown in the slammer. But I could be wrong on either count. And I don't think the cops would have done anything at all if it had been a hopscotch board.

Defacing a sidewalk is like keeping a pet in a dorm room. If it's a goldfish or a hamster, no one will care as long as it doesn't leave the room and doesn't bother anybody. If it's a dog, the neighbors will complain, and the RA will have to enforce the letter of the law.