Kerry Winning!

With the Packers leading the Washington Redskins 20-7 in the third quarter, it looks like Senator John Kerry will defeat the incompetent George Bush. Thank gawd.

Why Tim Russert Sucks

There are so many reasons why Meet the Press host Tim Russert sucks; this is merely the most recent:

This Sunday Russert had former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. As the mayor of New York City, Giuliani was by necessity and in fact, a liberal Republican. Sadly, he has since turned sharply partisan and that was on full display on this Sunday’s Meet the Press.

Russert’s trick is to capture a quote which puts his guest in a box and try and see him wriggle out of it. This is supposed to demonstrate Russert’s tough questioning, but, since everyone knows this is his tactic, they’re prepared for it. And since Russert does it every week, it has become a merely a pretense of tough questioning. The charade was on display again today when Russert reiterated Giuliani blaming the troops for not securing the missing explosives in Iraq:
"No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there," Giuliani said on NBC’s "Today" show. "Did they search carefully enough? Didn’t they search carefully enough?"

Giuliani dodged the question and went on to spread, unchallenged by Russert, a long-winded rhetorical smear against Senator John Kerry that was short on facts and full of fear-mongering.

Russert, seemingly oblivious to the lies being spread on his program, next asked Giuliani if the next president could bring the nation together after such a divisive campaign. Yes, Giuliani said, and it’s essential that whoever wins move to the center, reach out, appoint Administration members from the other party, etc.

It apparently didn’t occur to Russert to question Giuliani drastic change in temperment and tone from the previous moment.

You sure are tough, Russert; you go on belieiving that.

Sidekick II Arrives

So I finally got my Sidekick II.

It arrived, I plugged it in to charge it. I slipped my SIM card in…a n d….it had to activate.

No problem, I guess. I could wait the hour or two I was told it would take to activate when I ordered it. But then two hors turned into five and impatient me called T-Mobile "customer care" and learned that two hours or so actually means up to 48 hours. That’s about 46 hours longer than my patience can tolerate.

Shit. I would have to wait. An entire day. You cannot possibly understand how painful that is.

So tomorrow comes (which is actually today) and I wake up and the damn phone is still "waiting to activate." Two hours later I’m at the office and still, "waiting to activate."


So, of course I call "Customer Care" again and this time I actually feel like I’m being cared for: The woman recognizes that there is clearly a problem and actually sounds bound and determined to fix it.

After checking this and checking that and generally getting nowhere, she tells me to shut down my Sidekick II, pull out the SIM card, and read her the number on it.

The number is okay, so I slip it back in and turn the thing on again a n d…no more waiting to activate. I can actually do stuff. Make calls. Send email. Update my blog.

I should’ve known. When all else fails, reboot.

(Damn. I never realized there was such a thing as thumb-fatigue!)

And The Band Played On…

…Without Ashlee Simpson

You wanna see something painful?

If you missed Saturday Night Live over the weekend (and who could’ve blamed you? It ain’t exactly the cutting edge of humor these days), you missed a lip-sync moment that should be featured on a pop music bloopers tape.

Teen pop star Ashlee Simpson began her second song of the night with her band playing one song live, and her pre-recorded voice singing the lyrics of the song she had previously performed, "Pieces of Me." As if this syncopated pandemonium weren’t enough, the painfully embarrassed Simpson did not know how to deal with the situation: she danced for a few bars before slinking off stage.

At the end of the show, Simpson apologized next to host Jude Law, and blamed her band: "My band started playing the wrong song. I didn’t know what to do so I thought I’d do a hoe-down."

So her band was responsible for her disembodied singing? I don’t know which should be more embarrassing for her: The fact that she was humiliated on national television or her sorry excuse of an excuse.

The fact that music stars lip sync has been an unremarkable part of the pop landscape since Milli Vanilli were outed. What may be controversial, however, is the fact that the snafu occurred on SNL, which I thought was supposed to be, like, the last bastion of live televised musical performances.

In case you missed it, has posted the clip.

(While you’re there–and not at work, if you know what I mean–they have a hilarous video of a woman streaker scoring a goal at a Spanish soccer game. Damn. That shit never happens at Vikings games!)

Planning Against The Vikings Offense

For my money, the most impressive thing about the Vikings’ offense thus far this season has been their ability to set-up the following game by the way they play the previous game.

Titan’s head coach Jeff Fisher and his defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz need to account for Randy Moss simply because Mike Tice has wisely saying that playing Moss with his hamstring aggravation will be a gametime decision.

Even so, if Fisher and company based their gameplan on a Mossless Vikings, it would still be a tall task because you’ve still got too much to account for. First, there’s Daunte Culpepper, whose setting fire to league records by coming off three five-touchdown games, and whose decision-making has never been better. You’ve also got to consider that Culpepper is still a threat to run, as he demonstrated against the Texans.

If Randy Moss is not on the field, then your next biggest threat is the 6’3" Marcus Robinson, who had nine catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans. That game, after all, proved that defenses that focused soley on Moss would pay for it with Robinson, right?

Wrong. See Week Six, when Nate Burleson got six catches for 134 yards and Robinson still scored two touchdowns in a game where we were minus Moss for more than a half.

Without the deep threat, then you’ve got to account for Robinson and Burleson, then. But if you ingnore Kelly Campbell, you’re vulnerable to…the deep pass.

But with Jim Kleinsasser our for the year, surely you don’t have to worry about the tight end position, right? Again, wrong. Jermaine Wiggins had five receptions for 55 yards and two TDs against the Saints last week.

The Titans certainly will account for multi-purpose running back, fourth-round rookie Mewelde Moore. He has, after all, 209 yard rushing and 182 yards receiving on two starts this season. But with Michael Bennett back in the lineup this week, Fisher has to worry about yet another homerun threat in the Vikes lineup.

Even with Moss out, the Vikings field an offense with too many weapons for defensive coordinators to reasonably deal with.

Online Buzz – Vikings vs. Titans

This week, the Vikings again tower over their opponents in search popularity with the homeboys getting 3,895 team-related searches (an uptick of nearly 200 from last week) and the Titans getting only 1,797. (Read my methodology here.)

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Click for larger version of Most popular searches - Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans

With seven Vikings or former Vikings making the list of 2005 Hall of Fame nominees on Thursday, I thought I’d check on their search popularity. Three of the seven–Jim Marshall, Matt Blair, and Gary Zimmerman–played all or the majority of their careers with the Vikings. The rest (Chris Hinton, Darryl Talley, Herschel Walker, Roger Craig) and played three or fewer years with the Vikings. The following are their searches by popularity:

  • Herschel Walker, RB, [Played for Vikings from 1992-1994]: 273
  • Jim Marshall, DE, [Played for the Vikings from 1961-1979]: 67
  • Roger Craig, RB, [Played for the Vikings from 1992-1993]: 41
  • Matt Blair, LB, [Played for the Vikings from 1974-1985]: 29
  • Gary Zimmerman, OT, [Played for the Vikings from 1986-1992]: 25
  • Chris Hinton, OG/OT, [Played for the Vikings from 1994-1995]: 5
  • Darryl Talley, LB, [Played for the Vikings in 1996]: 0

Chris Hovan searches (71) edge out Titans defensive end Kevin Carter (42). Daunte Culpepper‘s amazing play has begun to pique interest online; his 273 searches are nearly double the number of searches he had last week and outnumber his Titans counterpart, Steve McNair, who has 251. People may be anticipating Michael Bennett‘s return, as his searches continue to increase from week to week, this time with 133. Both Onterrio Smith (83) and Mwelde Moore (54) saw slight increases from last week, while searches for the Titans new running back Chris Brown are a robust (194) for a relative newcomer. You need to keep in mind, though, that Chris Brown is a common name, so searches on his name are likely artificially high.

Randy Moss continues to blow by everyone, breaking the 1,000 search mark this week with 1,040. While Marcus Robinson is a fine complement to Moss on-field, he’s got a lot of field to make up online with a mere 12 searches this week. The Titans most popularly-search reciever, meanwhile, is Drew Bennett with 69.

The match-up of first-round picks falls, finally, in the Vikings’ favor, with rookie defensive end Kenechi Udeze‘s 10 (which has remained at that number for awhile) outpacing the Titans’ first pick, tight end Ben Troupe‘s 5 seaches. Kenechi has a bit of an advantage though, because the Titans actually didn’t have a first-round pick: Troupe was taken in the second round.

Finally, the much-touted matchup of future Hall of Fame Anderso/en kickers–former Viking and current Titan Gary Anderson vs. current Viking Morten Andersen isn’t even close, with Gary winning hands down. Gary gets 62 searches versus zero for Morton Andersen. Only Morton’s last name is misspelt as Anderson does he get any searches, and then only 13.

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Click for larger version of Most popular players searches - Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans

Rep. Mark Kennedy Vs. Patty Wetterling

I’ve got two pieces on the Kennedy/Wetterling race in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District at my Minnesota politics site:

  • Running Against A Symbol discusses how hard it is for Representative Mark Kennedy to run against Patty Wetterling when you consider that she is the perfect cultural fit for this moment in American history, when a parent’s biggest fear is the abduction of their child.
  • When Candidates Attack discusses Mark Kennedy’s attack ad against Wetterling and her devestating response. The Congressman is in trouble.

Daunte Culpepper’s Got His Mutha F***ing Roll On

The Strib‘s Mark Craig has a piece today on Daunte Culpepper‘s audacious season thus far and how if he keeps up the pace, he’ll be shattering all kinds of records. Future Hall of Fame quarerback Dan Marino was in town to interview Culpepper for a segment to air during this Sunday’s game.

Craig points to the irony that some of the records Daunte may shatter are Marino’s own. The greater irony is that if Culpepper stays healthy and maintains his performance over the course of his career, Marino may be looking at the guy who could shatter his own career records. If your memories go back far enough, you’ll know that it was Marino who shattered the records of another guy who was very familiar to Minnesotans: Fran Tarkenton.

Craig closes his article by asking Marino what he thinks of Culpepper’s "roll" dance. Marino’s response: "When you throw as many touchdown passes as he’s throwing, you deserve to dance any way you want."

But what of that dance that looks like he’s calling illegal procedure? Turns out, it was inspired by the song Get Your Roll On by Big Tymers.

I can see why Daunte likes Get Your Roll On because it’s got a great beat and is awfully catchy. I don’t get my undies in a bunch over song lyrics–because, well, that’s just stupid–but that might be another reason Daunte likes the song: It might be his own little joke.

He just might be getting a chuckle out of the fact that every time he does his "roll on" dance, he’s referring to a song whose mildest lyrics are in the chorus:

Everybody get yo roll on
Everybody getcha motherf***ing roll on

A little knowledge is dangerous, ain’t it? I suspect you won’t be watching Daunte’s touchdown dance in quite the same way anymore.

Gerhard Weinberg & The Secret Dialogue Of Footnotes

I’m one of those geeks who reads books with two bookmarks. Not always, but I’ll decide whether I need two bookmarks when I start a new non-fiction book by scanning the footnotes section.

I read footnotes. There, I said it.

I have one bookmark to mark the page I’m currently reading and the other to hold my place in the footnotes. And I read a lot of history. In history books, authors will often use footnotes not just to cite source material, but to expand upon or further clarify points made in the book proper. It also often leads the reader to other great books of which they wouldn’t have otherwise known.

I am currently reading A World At Arms by Gerhard Weinberg, which is a very good comprehensive history of World War II. It is one of those books that you plow through because it is thorough and exceedingly informative yet, while clearly written, the writing is not exactly a breeze to get through.

Including footnotes, the book is 1,125 pages long.

So, yesterday I was reading a passage about espionage and signals intelligence that discussed the rivalry between British intelligence agencies, how those rivalries often lead to disaster, and how those disasters were used by one intelligence agency to discredit another. The footnote to this passage made the point that the similarities of the rivalries between intelligence agencies in Germany, Britain, and the US "simply cries out for a comparative analysis."

It sounded to me like a plea. So it occurred to me that Weinberg was using his footnotes not simply–as he’d been doing throughout the book–to inform the reader that there is a dearth of scholarly investigation to the subject matter at hand, but to alert and encourage scholars themselves to fill in the sketchy areas with their own research and analysis.

After all, despite the fact that I’m reading the book, A World At Arms is not a piece of popular history in the tradition of such historians as Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen Ambrose, and Michael Beschloss. It is meant for scholars.

I was rather delighted when it dawned on me that he was speaking to his fellow historians and encouraging them to fill in the dark spots of our collective knowledge. It is a beautiful thing when the human need to discover is so clealy illustrated and even more pointedly so, when seen within the context of the oppressive societies of World War II, where that need would be largely starved.

A Mossless Vikings

This Vikings team continues to put on impressive performances every week and the reason that it’s impressive is that they have yet to field a completely healthy team.

This week it was Randy Moss who went down (but not without scoring another spectacular touchdown), luckily with just a hamstring strain. The Vikings were forced to play more than a half without him and the offense never hesitated in his absence.

The telling statistics from the Vikings/Saints match-up is this: Six for 134. Those are Nate Burleson‘s receiving stats and they reveal more about Marcus Robinson than Burleson himself. They reveal just how much Robinson means to this team. The fact that our third reciever got six touches for one-hundred-plus yards tells me that teams are acutely aware that Robinson is a threat. With a Mossless Vikings, the Saints turned all of their attention to Robinson.

Robinson had four catches for 32 yards but two of them were touchdowns, one a pretty jump ball that would’ve made Randy proud.

Mewelde Moore

The obligatory line on any story about Moore during training camp was that (I can practically recite it from memory) he was only the second player in NCAA history to amass at least 4,000 rushing yards and 2,000 receiving yards with former Vikings running back Darrin Nelson the other.

All I can say, is: As Advertised.

Against the Texans, Moore gained 92 yards rushing, 90 receiving, and returned one kick for three yards; that’s 185 total yards from scrimmage. Against the Saints, Moore rushed 15 times for 109 yards, caught seven passses for 78 yards, and picked up 51 yards returning kickoffs for 238 all-purpose yards. He might have picked up another yardage category had a halfback pass play not broken down.

We haven’t had a running back like this since Chuck Foreman was wearing number 44 for the Purple. While not the exact same type of back, Moore’s got some of the same assets that made Foreman so dangerous. He’s got soft hands and knows how to run after the catch. But he’s not simply a screen-catching RB like Michael Bennett or Robert Smith before him. Mewelde can get upfield before catching the ball.

He runs well between the tackles, finding seams and breaking tackles. And he protects the ball. He does need to work on his pass blocking and at times, he still runs like a rookie by outrunning his blocking. But still, most of the time he has the patience of a veteran to let a play unfold.

It’s a hell of a luxury to have a fourth round, fourth string back with that type of production. Michael Bennett has been quoted saying, jokingly, the reporters are almost too quick to point out, that he’d better get back in there or he might lose his job. Bennett may be more right than he’d care to admit. Though healthy, he has lost his job for at least one week: Moore will start on Sunday against the Titans.