Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ode to a fine fish

Tasty salmon, fresh and pink
Of happy times you make me think

Lovely raw, a dash of soy
Topping bagels, lox bring joy

Kiss of smoke will make it keep
Candy from the oceans deep

Sear it light, saute in pan
oven baked, a foolproof plan

Lemon, thyme, spiced or sweet,
All will give your tongue a treat

A single flaw which I can nag
The numbers on your price tag!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Baiting the Trap

I do not like this one bit.

NFL Network had a segment this week about Norv. The video is now posted on The segment consists of 4 analysts spending ten minutes- TEN MINUTES- lionizing, waxing poetic, and otherwise praising Norv. Talking about the job he's done, how he's "totally underrated", and a viable Coach of the Year candidate. Put this in perspective: this network can do a whole game "preview" or review all the highlights of an entire game in under 5 minutes. And they spent 10 minutes loving Norv?

No, no, no! Do not praise the Norv!

Listen, I like Norv. I actually think he's a decent coach whose done a good job with the Chargers. But like the rest of this Charger team, he's at his best flying under the radar. Way under the radar. Ignore them, ridicule them, discount them all you want, and they'll move along and quietly win. Praise them and bad things will happen. Bad things like losing games which this team is absolutely supposed to win.

Now we have the hot, hot, hot, Chargers heading into cold, cold, cold, Cleveland tomorrow to take on the hapless Browns. Its in the bag, right? No way they suffer one of the all-time letdowns and prove unworthy of all the praise being heaped upon them, right?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Badvertising: Target "Santa"

Cause at least Santa still has his job!

I sure hope Jolly old Saint Nick left some coupons for marriage counseling in their stockings. Or at least some good chocolate.

I get what this commercial is trying to say about Target and their affordable prices. This is good, both as a fact and an advertising strategy. But it kinda falls apart at the end, when instead of a joyous moment we get a very tense situation which leaves us wondering about the strength of this couple's relationship. The last 5 seconds of this commercial are almost painful to watch. Maybe Santa left a chainsaw under the tree so they can cut the tension lingering in the air.

The holidays are stressful enough, it doesn't make sense to advertise that shopping at your store could inflame the yuletide emotions in a negative way.

And God is that an ugly tree.

Organic Overloards?

The Organic Milk has become self aware. It has realized its imprisonment and has used its superior lactose based reasoning to find an escape from its jug jail. I can only assume its next move is to exact revenge on its captors.

You have been warned!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The (Potential) Mistake by the Lake

Life is pretty good for Charger fans these days. A record of 8-3, a six game winning streak, first place in the division. The Offense is third in scoring, the Defense has figured out how to stop people. LT is scoring TDs at a decent rate. The team controls its own playoff destiny and can win its way into a division title and a bye week.

I have only one feeling about this week's game against the lowly Browns:

Admiral Akbar knows about Traps. And I'd bet there's a good chance he's a Charger fan, given that his natural habitat is the ocean. I'm in agreement with him, this doesn't feel right.

This game worries precisely because it doesn't seem to worry anyone else. The game is on the road. The weather will be lousy. Injuries are a concern, with no Weddle for sure and probably no Merriman or Castillo. The coaches seem to think that Cleveland is such a pushover that they'll probably rest any nicked up starters so they can be ready for Dallas.

I don't like it.

True, the Browns are hideous. They stink out loud. But they're still an NFL team, filled with (technically) NFL players who you can bet will be playing their butts off in order to try and earn future NFL paychecks. That's the thing about pro football: no matter the record, players either play like their hair is on fire or they quickly find themselves selling insurance. Eric Mangini, for all his failings this year, is still an NFL coach, and you can bet your powder blue beanies that he's doing everything and anything to try and keep his job. Consider the stops pulled out, possibly thrown into the wind along with any caution the Browns might still have left.

NFL Network ran a segment this week where they asked if the Chargers were the "Forgotten Team". Three analysts then spent the segment praising the Chargers and predicting great things for them, even going so far as to say they were the one team the Colts wanted no part of in the playoffs.

I don't like it at all.

Even if I'm wrong and we get by the Browns this week, don't go printing those division title T-Shirts and playoff tickets just yet. The last 4 games will all be tough contests, 3 against teams trying to handle their own playoff business, with 2 on the road. Meanwhile the suddenly resurrected Broncos are nipping at the Charger's heals, and their remaining schedule leaves something to be desired. Two of their games are with the Chiefs and one is with the Raiders. They play the Colts, who could be resting starters by then, and the Eagles, who haven't looked very strong lately. This playoff race isn't over, and with one slip up the Bolts could go from a bye to a Wild Card bid (or worse!).

So let's keep our eye on the ball and avoid any screw ups this week. The Chargers have only one Ewok to try and bail them out, and he hasn't scored a TD in 5 weeks.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Half a league... Half a League...

Tonight, President Obama is going to address the nation from West Point in order to make official his plans for future military action in Afghanistan. These plans will involve an estimated 30,000 new Soldiers and Marines, mostly combat troops, who will begin deployment this month. Supposedly the deployment will be for 19 months, ending in July 2011, and the mission is to engage the Taliban, stabilize the government, and most importantly train some kind of functional Afghani security force.

Like many Americans I'm deeply conflicted about the Afghanistan conflict. The realist (or perhaps the pessimist) in my says that what's done is done, and we should get the hell out of there. Afghanistan is the rock upon which mighty empires have broken themselves, and it is foolish not to heed that warning from history. True, this isn't quite the same as the 1980s. We aren't fighting a proxy war against a Cold War enemy with deep pockets. But its still a guerrilla war, fought on enemy ground, against a fanatical and resourceful enemy. The cost in blood and treasure has already been high, and its foolish to throw good after bad. We shouldn't keep doing something just because we have already sunk so much into it.

Finally, neither the end goal or the strategy of the war seems particularly clear at this point. Hopefully this last point will be cleared up tonight.

The more idealist side of me says that the war in Afghanistan needs to be carried out to the end, and its not so simple as pulling up the flag and heading home. Whatever happens, and whatever the shortcomings and faults of the situation there, we owe it to ourselves and to the people of Afghanistan to finish the job there and be sure that the Taliban can never come back into power and that Al Qaeda cannot regain its haven. The Taliban are monsters, the scum of humanity, and to let them come back into the picture as we sneak off into the night would be both a major threat to our security and a shame on our national honor. I realize that the concept of national honor probably isn't very comforting to a child whose parent is separated form them, possibly forever, and it shouldn't be the primary motivation behind our security decisions. Nevertheless, if our national ideals mean anything than we can't abandon the innocent to the wolves.

I realize its not so simple as choosing to fight on or not. There are issues of strategy, cost, sacrifice which must be considered. In addition, there are potentially much bigger challenges we face outside Afghanistan from Iran, Pakistan and other nations. Hopefully we can address those issues peacefully and diplomatically, but whatever happens in Afghanistan its ignorant to think that is the be all and end all of our national security strategy.

I sincerely hope that the President's long deliberation process on this matter has produced the best possible decision.

If I had the President's ear today I'd make one suggestion for his speech tonight. Its a sad truth that the burden of our wars is no longer shared by all Americans. Most of us, myself included, go on with our lives with little thought for the sacrifices borne by our troops in the field or by their families. In addition, the monetary cost of war is being shirked as well by a public which has been conditioned for generations to think of any an all taxes are evil.

I know it would be political suicide for the President to suggest that the rest of us make up for this by actually paying for the war via a "war tax" or "war surcharge", so I suggest he challenge America to help out the war effort in voluntary ways. Americans are (or were) proud of their ability to sacrifice to solve problems, so I hope he can take this opportunity to call on that pride.

There are numerous charities and organizations which work tirelessly to improve the lives of veterans and their families, and I would advise President Obama to mention them in his speech and encourage Americans to donate their time, energy, and of course their money. As a strong gesture to kick off this effort, I would advise the President to pledge at least a portion of his Nobel Prize money to one or more of these organizations. Such an act, while small in the grand scheme, should go a long way towards encouraging others to do their part.