Friday, November 18, 2005

The Game
I'll be up in New Haven tomorrow for The Game, the annual football game between Yale and Harvard. (For more on why it's referred to as The Game—unlike, for example, Stanford and Cal's "Big Game," which clearly needs the adjective—and on why it's so important to the heritage of modern football, read this). And I'd like to give you a few thoughts on the subject.

When I was a Freshman, Yale had won the previous 3 Games, with strong hopes for winning four in a row. When I was a senior, Yale had lost the previous 3 Games, and had little hope of breaking the streak. Sure enough, Harvard trounced us.

This column in today's Yale Daily News attempts to describe the emotions that come with such crushing (and repeated) defeats. The key point:

It hit me that it wasn't just that we lost a football game. It was more than that. Our social reputation and essential identity were on the line.

Over the years we have worked diligently to create the image of Yale as "the cool Ivy." Sure, Harvard may hold a monopoly on the popular consciousness as the premiere institution of higher learning in America. But who cares, we're kick-ass. We stuffed Harvard kids in lockers on our way to AP English. We hate to be associated with those nerds from Cambridge. They were the shunned outsiders in high school, but no, not us. We were the 'cool smart kids'; our social mobility was unparalleled, allowing us to migrate seamlessly from the jocks to the preps to the Plastics. No matter how delusional this might be, our sacred identity is nonetheless under siege.
This has been said elsewhere, in similar fashion.

In episode 4F05 of The Simpsons, Mr. Burns and Smithers attend The Game in New Haven. The following exchange ensues (note: at the time this episode aired, a large proportion of the writers were Harvard graduates):
Burns: Honestly, Smithers, I don't know why Harvard even bothers to show up. They barely even won.
Smithers: Their cheating was even more rampant than last year, sir.
Burns: Well, I say let Harvard have its football and academics. Yale will always be first in gentlemanly club life. Why, every friend I have, I've made right here.(transcript here)
And we've proven it. Last year, The Game was in Cambridge, and, as I said, we got destroyed (35-3). But we had our own fun.

From the Yale Daily News:
The "Harvard Pep Squad" ran up and down the aisles of Harvard Stadium at The Game Nov. 20. They had megaphones in hand and their faces were painted as they encouraged the crowd to hold up the 1,800 red and white pieces of construction paper they had handed out. It would read "Go Harvard," they said.

But the 20 "Pep Squad" members were actually Yale students. And when the Harvard students, faculty and alumni held up their pieces of paper -- over and over again [every time Harvard scored] -- they spelled out "We Suck" in giant block letters the whole stadium could read.
More details are available here.

I've described this in the past as the nature of the beast. Both Harvard and Yale look for a well-rounded student body, but they do so in different ways. Harvard looks for individuals who are the best at something. They want the best students, the best violinists, the best athletes, the best entrepreneurs, etc., and by getting a few of each, they have an overall rounded body. The problem is that they get an unintended result. Think back to your high school days. Think about the kid who was number one in your class. Now, imagine ALL of the kids who were number one in their class being thrown into the same environment. What you end up with is an entire undergraduate student body primarily comprised of socially-inept over-acheivers—not a very fun environment.

Yale, on the other hand, tends to look at people who are similarly outliers on the bell curve. But the admissions department would rather have people who are outliers in several areas—maybe not the best, but in the top few in a variety of departments. As a result, you end up with the people who are more likely 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th in their high school class because they're too busy to devote all energies into one arena. And these people are fun.

So Harvard has tended recently to beat us pretty handily in The Game. At the same time, you can hear the constant complaints of Yale students every time it's played at Harvard, due to the lack of a social scene the night before and the night after—and the sheer amazement of Harvard students at all of the fun to be had when it's played in New Haven. They really are two different worlds—and I say let Harvard have its football and academics; I'd still go to Yale any day of the week.

Oh, and I'm not alone. Today's YDN also reports:
For the first time in recent history, Yale received more early applications than Harvard this fall, with 4,065 students applying under the University's early action program.
It looks to me like the message has gotten out. As long as Yale keeps up its reputation for a better, fuller college experience, this trend will continue—and eventually we'll have the football and academic reputations over Harvard, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blogs for Bauer
I'm probably just solidifying my reputation within the Blogs4Bauer blogroll (see below) for being obsessed with Kim Bauer (played by actress Elisha Cuthbert), but, well, get over it.

It seems that there may be a new member that should be added to the blogroll4bauer—Ms. Cuthbert is now blogging! Apparently, she has joined as a celebrity blogress. Unfortunately, her three posts seem to be all about hockey (not surprising, I suppose, considering the location), and noticeably lacking in hot pictures of herself.

24: Season 5 Countdown: 59 Days! Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting developments in the Blogs4Bauer arena over the coming weeks...

Blogroll for Bauer:
GOP and the City - Lifelike Pundits - Caption This - The Ox Rant - Hector Vex - Conservative UAW Guy - Catscape - Sharpshooters - Sobek

Wtf, mate?
This is just damning. And it's not like the LA Times can claim a tight print deadline, as they had an extra 17 hours over the others.

Let's get Hitched
A must-read for everyone who honestly believes Bush lied to get us into the war comes from (who else?) Christopher Hitchens. In his typical "slam you with the truth until you can't see straight" style, Hitch makes his point with resounding force:

Hans Blix, the see-no-evil expert who had managed to certify Iraq and North Korea as kosher in his time, has said in print that he fully expected a coalition intervention to uncover hidden weaponry.

And this, of course, it actually has done. We did not know and could not know, until after the invasion, of Saddam's plan to buy long-range missiles off the shelf from Pyongyang, or of the centrifuge components buried on the property of his chief scientist, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi. The Duelfer report disclosed large latent facilities that were only waiting for the collapse of sanctions to resume activity. Ah, but that's not what you said you were looking for. Could pedantry be pushed any further?

We can now certify Iraq as disarmed, even if the materials once declared by the Saddam regime and never accounted for have still not been found. Why does this certified disarmament upset people so much? Would they rather have given Saddam the benefit of the doubt? Much more infuriating about the current anti-Chalabi hysteria is this: He turns up in Washington with a large delegation of Iraqi democrats, including a female Shiite ex-Communist, several Sunni dignitaries from the 'hot' provinces, and the legendary Abdul Karim al-Muhammadawi, who led a genuine insurgency among the Marsh Arabs for 18 years. And the American left mounts a gargoyle picket line outside and asks silly and insulting questions inside, about a question that has already been decided. What a travesty this is. Not only do the liberal Democrats apparently want their own congressional votes from 1998 and 2002 back. It sometimes seems that they are actually nostalgic for the same period, when Saddam Hussein was running Iraq, and there were no coalition soldiers to challenge his rule, and when therefore by definition there was peace, and thus things were more or less OK. Their current claim to have been fooled or deceived makes them out, on their own account, to be highly dumb and gullible.
I invite one and all to refute what he says, and to use the comment space below, if you wish.

UPDATE [11/17/2005 - 11:23]: Make sure you read this, too. Another great argument.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I'll never understand it
Niko Bowie writes in the YDN on a topic that actually deserves some consideration.

He argues that there is no right to vote in the United States (according to the Constitution and federal law), and that there should be. He actually makes a pretty convincing case, overall—though I'm not sold yet—which he proceeds to eviscerate through his deceptive reasoning:

Most recently, in the 2004 election, an anonymous Minnesota elector voted for John Edwards, though most Minnesota voters cast their ballots for John Kerry, and Edwards wasn't even running. Such 'faithless' electors are not uncommon. Over the past two centuries, 156 electors have chosen not to vote for their party's designated candidate. (To be fair, 71 of them changed their votes after the original candidate had died.)
OK. So. In the more than 50 elections we've had, there have been 156 electors who voted against their party's nominee. Sounds like a lot. Unfortunately, it's really not.

There have been 51 elections in the more than 200 years since the Republic decided to distinguish between votes for President and Vice President. If we could multiply that by the number of electors in each election, we get the total number of electors that have cast votes in all presidential elections combined. Unfortunately, the latter multiplier has not been static.

There are currently 538 electors in each presidential election, thanks to the sum of the seats in the House of Representatives (435), the seats in the Senate (100) and a few random electors assigned elsewhere (D.C., etc.). If we assumed that all elections had this number, though, we would be overapproximating the number of electors—instead, we'll need to add the historic number of electors. By looking at this site, we can get a total number of electoral votes for each presidential election year since 1804.

Feel free to check my math, but I found that there have been 20,882 total electoral votes cast. The 156 electors who were "faithless" equal less than 1% (.74%) of that total. If you take advantage of Bowie's admission, and use the lesser 85 who voted faithlessly when their appointed candidate was still alive, that number falls to .4% of the total.

And yet Bowie feels the need to say that the casting of faithless electoral votes is "not uncommon." Clearly, it is uncommon. So why did he feel the need to deceive? Why, when the rest of his argument makes so much sense, did he need to take you down this misleading path?

Then again, maybe it's a good thing, as it takes away from this later, glaring sentence:
After the 2000 election, I do not think you need to hear the political costs of the disenfranchisement of ex-felons.
I'd love to hear him expand on that—after he defines "ex-felon" for me, of course, as it seems to me that, once you committ a felony, you are forever a felon. But setting that aside, what is the penalty of preventing felons from voting? What was the politial consequence that he refers to?

What do you want to bet he's referring to the fact that W. got elected?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Get the word out
I'm glad to see the President finally standing up to the hypocrisy of revisionists who claim that Bush lied about Iraq intelligence, or that he manipulated it to accomplish his goals—when in fact they were right there with him, and often even ahead of him.

Well, Michelle Malkin is equally pleased, and suggests another way that the Bush administration might turn this against the Dems: Google.

She says:

[...] the administration could prove beyond doubt that it didn't lie its way into war just by promoting a simple Google search. Take a look at this graphic.


You can either go to Google and plug in the search string in that graphic, or you can just click on the graphic. Google will take you back in time to 1998, the last time prior to the invasion that the US and Saddam Hussein had a major confrontation. The Google search string Clinton Iraq 1998 will bring up 3.5 million hits about that conflict, during which pretty much every prominent Democrat expressed his or her belief that Saddam had or was developing WMD and was a threat because of it.

No one believed then or since that any US action including Operation Desert Fox in December 1998 completely destroyed Saddam's WMD programs. So if the Democrats believed in those weapons back then, why are they claiming to have been fooled by Bush into believing in them in 2002 and 2003? Well, it's obviously politics at work--the leftwing base of the Democrat party has pulled even its national security hawks to the left, where conspiracy theories rule. And the biggest conspiracy theory that the left loves concerns the war, and how Bush LIED us into it.
Do what the woman says, and tell your friends.

FINAL Election Update (IV)
I just received official word from the Town Clerk's office—there was no change in the recount whatsoever. I am officially a member-elect of the Fairfield RTM, to be sworn in Monday the 21 and attend a planning meeting Monday the 28 of November.

As my friend in the Town Clerk's office just said over the phone: the good news is that I won a seat on the RTM; the bad news is that now I'm on the RTM.

Election Update III
The recount of the standard ballots was this morning at 9:00, with absentees occuring later in the day. After the standard recount, nothing has changed.

I'll post again once I know the absentee totals.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Election Update II
According to current information, the registrars will begin the recount at my elementary school (the polling location for my district) at 9 AM tomorrow. I will be there to observe, and will post an update as soon as I know the outcome.

Hang in there...