Monday, December 29, 2008

End of Year Conspiracies

I have recently uncovered some conspiracies. They are all true. I have the evidence. I swear.

1. Pepsi is owned by Colombian drug lords. They were going to buy Coca-Cola instead, but thought it too obvious.

2. The Bush family selected their last name so they could remember the area to aim for when having sex. Apparently, some of their ancestors were "challenged."

3. Barbie left Ken for a simple reason: she already got his rib and he has no balls. Why wouldn't she?

4. 2000 Flushes was created by women to expose men with a lower sense of humor. Yellow and blue make green make dumb pissing guy laugh.

5. Barack Obama's real name is Benedict Arnold, but he "ethnicized it" in order to pull votes and keep people from asking questions about his past. Not sure that worked...

6. A woman's anus is right next to her vagina in order to prove how disgusting men are. And how much they like being disgusting. Love it, in fact. Oh, yeah.

7. Global Warming started out as a secret government project intent on preventing an encroaching ice age. Only they fucked up, and like a typical government screw up, decided to guilt the populace into taking the blame for it.

8. Circumcision was made popular because Abraham's wife decided she didn't like getting foreskin stuck in her teeth.

9. NASA's decision to send a chimp into space first was actually an attempt to convince the Soviet Union that the Space Race wasn't worth the effort. They were trying to imply that "hey, a chimp can do it; what's the big deal?" It failed miserably.

10. The real man behind the JFK assassination was

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fair-Weather NFL Fan, I Am

No. You've got the wrong idea. I am always, 100% of the time, a San Diego Chargers fan. As long as they're on the air wherever I'm at, or if I'm in San Diego, I will watch the San Diego Chargers play... and I will root like a madman with rabies for them.

Since I started paying close attention to the Chargers around 1986 or 1987, I've endured an 8-1 season turning into an 8-7 season (1987), four straight losing seasons from 1988 to 1991, eight straight .500 or worse seasons from 1996 to 2003 (only two of which were 8-8 finishes), and the inability to win a first playoff game in 2004 and 2006.

But I've always remained a fan.

As far as the rest of the NFL, however, I've recently noticed something: if the Chargers are doing poorly, I don't give a small shit about the rest of the league. If the Chargers are doing well (or, as now, are fighting for a playoff spot), I'll watch damn near every NFL game I have access to.

So, yes, I admit it: I'm a fair-weather NFL fan... but an all-weather Chargers fan.

NFL Musings

I just watched Drew Brees tie Rich Gannon's NFL record for the most 300-yard passing games in a season (10), become only the second quarterback in NFL history to pass for 5000 yards, and fall 16 or 17 yards short of breaking Dan Marino's NFL record of the most passing yards in a single season.

While I can dig Philip Rivers, I really wish Drew Brees was still a Charger.

Tonight the Chargers (7-8) play the Denver Broncos (8-7). If the Chargers win, they'll win the AFC West and are in the playoffs. If they lose, well, it'll be another disappointing season... and Norv Turner will have to go.

Here's hoping for the best.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Bad Day

He could feel the blood soaking his trousers, but he couldn't tell where the bullet went through. Since he was one apt to blacking out when confirming an injury, he didn't really want to know, either. He wasn't always that way, or so he thought, but a recent incident involving washing dishes and an argument with his girlfriend had revealed otherwise. In a fit of anger, he'd jabbed a knife repeatedly into the metal sink, only to discover that he'd sliced a finger open. The memory of encroaching tunnel-vision and dizziness was still fresh in his mind.

Forcing his thoughts back into the present, he tried to ignore the pain as he released an empty magazine from his carbine and locked in another. He pushed the bolt catch, expecting the accompanying jolt and clack, but it never came. A quick inspection of the chamber revealed a buffer assembly stuck in the butt-stock, a result, no doubt, of the fall he took.

This was not going to be a good day.

As he struggled to his feet, he was only vaguely aware that his would-be assailant lay mere feet away, dying from a well-placed gut-shot which was more the result of blind luck than aim. Not that it mattered one way or the other. The bullet had done its job, regardless of how it happened.

Consciously keeping his eyes off of the wound, he concentrated on walking as quickly as possible to another defensible position. Never again would he take so simple an action as walking for granted. His leg hurt and his left foot, already the victim of several previous injuries, was getting cold.

Irony set in for a moment, as he realized that he was walking in order to survive. Meanwhile, half-way around the world in New York, or perhaps Los Angeles, his girlfriend was walking for money. He let himself slip into a dreamworld, imagining her as she strolled a catwalk or a commercial set, modeling some yuppie singer's latest line of lingerie.

Why, oh why, didn't he go with her? In retrospect, checking in with his handler to see if anything needed to be done while his girlfriend was away seemed like a bad idea.

And like all bad ideas, it quickly led to a bad day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lightning Strikes Twice and Other Charger Musings

Last weekend, before the Chargers took the field, they were 5-8 and watching a door close on their season. Their AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos, were 8-5 and looking to win the division.

Then, lightning struck. The Chargers won an impossible victory (read "Lightning Split," below) and the Broncos lost to the Carolina Panthers.

This weekend, before the Chargers took the field, they were 6-8 and shoving their foot in that door. The Denver Broncos were 8-6, and wondering where the draft was coming from.

And lightning struck twice. The Chargers creamed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Broncos lost a heartbreaker to the Buffalo Bills.

Now, the Chargers are 7-8, the Broncos 8-7, and the two teams meet for the regular season finale next Sunday night. Should the Chargers win, knotting their records up at 8-8, they receive the tie-breaker for having a better division record and proceed to the playoffs.

Not exactly how it was supposed to happen, but I'll take it. The Chargers will, too, I'm sure.

Charger Musings

Nate Kaeding kicked a 57-yard field goal in their victory against the Buccaneers: a Chargers record.

Philip Rivers threw four touchdown passes, putting him one away from tying the Chargers record for TD passes in a season, currently held by the great Dan Fouts.

For the first time since 2001, a Chargers wide receiver (Vincent Jackson) has over 1000 yards receiving. Of course, that's still short of my personal 1140-yard benchmark.

LaDainian Tomlinson became just the third player in the history of the NFL to rush for 1000 yards in each of his first eight seasons.

Antonio Gates became the fastest tight end to 50 touchdowns in NFL history. It took him 92 games... the next fastest tight end took 100 games.

Norv Turner still should go bye-bye, and A.J. Smith's ego still needs to be put in its place.

Go Chargers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things I Don't Want for Christmas

Christmas wish-lists are everywhere these days. No longer just the realm of a child or significant other writing a cute little note to parents or lover, these things have been usurped by the likes of Amazon.com and its ilk. Not only that, Christmas wish-lists (at least in my experience) prove to be largely unsuccessful.

I mean, how many of us are still waiting for that fucking pony? Or super-deluxe limited edition Optimus Prime? Yeah, I thought so. I guess this also subtly means that Christmas wish-list recipients are disingenuous bastards.

So, here's a Christmas un-wish-list of things I absolutely do not want for the upcoming holidays:

1. Socks or underwear - hey, asshole, I'm perfectly capable of getting these myself. Not to mention they're cheap, which means you're cheap, and I hate cheap... particularly when it comes to presents. "It's the thought that counts" is utter bullshit. And what does that mean, anyway? You were thinking of smelly feet and sweaty crotch? Yuck. Get away from me.

2. A self-help book, or any religious or spiritually-themed book. Sorry, dude (or dudette... yes, I just used "dude" and "dudette"), but your annoying attempt at believing that your beliefs can solve all of the problems that you perceive I have just annoyed me that much more. Again, get away from me.

3. A Celine Dion CD - yes, even I'll admit that she puts out the occasional brilliance, but she's so naively stupid, the mere thought of her can make me sick. And it's likely to be a $5 Celine Christmas album, which brings up the cheap thing again. Dick.

4. Random gift cards - the press is right, gift cards can be superbly ridiculous gifts, particularly if you give me one for Bed, Bath, & Beyond, or give a girl one for Best Buy. Gift cards already suggest you started shopping for us a bit too late, so at least get us something that we'll want to use. And, oh by the way, cash is great, too. Snarky editorials are wrong about that one. I'll definitely accept cash with a smile. Which brings me to...

5. Christmas cards. This is the 21st century, not the Renaissance. Christmas cards are no longer a valid excuse for your painstaking acknowledgement that you remember I exist. That's what mass e-mails are for. Don't send me a Christmas card unless it constitutes a visit to the bank on Boxing Day.

6. A pony - that's right, a pony. Back when mom and dad paid for everything, this would've been cool, but since I'm now responsible for my expenses, buying me something so expensive to maintain is likely to warrant you receiving a special delivery of horse shit in the near future. And this goes for any animal that I haven't expressely suggested that I want.

7. Small kitchen appliances - um, if I needed a toaster, or a microwave, or a George Foreman, I'd go get one myself. Unless I'm a college kid moving away for the first time, stay out of my kitchen.

8. DVDs from the cheap bin. Chances are, if the movie is any good, I already have the damned thing. And let's not forget you're being cheap again.

9. Collectibles of things I collect. Yes, this one might seem a bit weird, but something that non-collectors apparently don't quite grasp is that most collectors are very, very picky of the things they hoard. Trust me, unless you acquired something during an overseas trip, we've already had an opportunity to acquire whatever it is you think you're being clever by buying for us. And there's a reason we didn't acquire it. So there's absolutely no reason you should... unless you really like seeing false smiles and experiencing false gratitude.

10. Combination birthday/Christmas gifts. Yes, I'm one of those unfortunate souls who was born on a date that falls rather close to Christmas. Please don't remind me of your cheapness and unwillingness to shop for me twice by getting me two cheap gifts, pretending they are one moderately expensive gift, and writing "Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas" on the wrapping. That just makes me want to light your hair on fire.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lightning Split

Wow.

The San Diego Chargers just beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 22-21.

Wow.

Did I mention the Chiefs were ahead 21-10 with only 73 seconds left in the game?

Um, yeah... I don't care who you are, that should constitute a "wow" from anybody.

I must admit, by the time the Chiefs went up 21-3 in the third quarter, I quit paying very close attention to the game. I'm a ridiculously avid Chargers fan, and I couldn't stomach another heart-breaking loss... particularly a loss that would officially eliminate the Chargers from playoff contention (they're not likely to make it anyway, but when something negative becomes "official" from "probably," one still tends to feel that weakness in one's stomach).

But, somehow, some way, the Chargers pulled it off.

With 73 seconds left in the game, Philip Rivers threw a four-yard touchdown pass to underrated WR wonder Malcom Floyd. Naturally, the Chargers failed on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Still, the Chargers were then only down 21-16, and lined up for an onside kick. Which, naturally, was caught by a Kansas City Chief.

Only, wow, the Chargers managed to knock the ball loose and, wow, recovered it.

And then, wow, drove down the field and, wow, Philip Rivers connected with Vincent Jackson on a 10-yard pass for a touchdown. Naturally, the Chargers failed on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Still, wow, Chargers up, 22-21.

But then things turned typical and the Chiefs drove down the field, almost into field goal range. Naturally, a Charger (rookie CB Antoine Cason), caused a defensive delay-of-game penalty and gave the Chiefs another five yards, plus another two seconds on the game clock, with which to attempt a 50-yard field goal.

And the Chiefs missed.

Holy shit and wow.

Now all that needs to happen is for the Denver Broncos to lose to the Carolina Panthers.

Two wows in one day might be too much to ask for, but I've got my fingers crossed.

Go Chargers!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Merry Holidays and Happy Christmas

It's December, and the "wholly-oppressive" holiday of Christmas is once again upon us. No, really. Christmas is oppressive. Just ask the Jews, Muslims, and (insert label for Kwanzaa-celebrants here) how advertisements for "Christmas presents" and "Christmas trees" are slaps-in-faces of their proverbial religions.

Um, yeah...

It is true that Christmas, in its "pure" (and I hate to use that term) form is primarily a Christian holiday, but it is equally true that Christmas, in its progressive American form, was well on its way to becoming a simple non-secular way of celebrating one's family and friends in the twilight of yet another year gone by.

In fact, I'd have been willing to bet that in another few decades, Christmas in America would pretty much damn near entirely been celebrated as, what I'd like to term, an "agnostic holiday."

But then, as often does when an ACLU-type attitude goes horribly wrong, those "free religious practitioners" of other similarly-timed religious holidays decided to politicize the matter, devolving the holiday into what seems to be a vehement Christian defense of Jesus' purported birthday (which, hate to break it to you, it is most certainly not Jesus' birthday).

No, I'm not criticizing religion. Hell, I'm not even criticizing the ACLU. What I am criticizing are people's attitudes that "my beliefs are more important than your beliefs" to the point where they are essentially saying, "I don't care if I am an American; I'm a different, and better, type of American than you."

And I fucking hate that.

I wrote a similar piece two years ago, and instead of wasting time on a retread, you can go read it here.

But, the thesis remains the same. Christmas, for a while, was much more an "American" holiday than it was a Christian holiday. And, as an American (albeit an agnostic one), I completely preferred it that way. I never took any offense to someone wishing me a Merry Christmas, just like I never took any offense to someone wishing me a Happy Hanukkah (or Chanukah... depending on whether you prefer Anglicization or not). In fact, I thought it was totally cool that people just sort of got into the spirit, and left the religo-specific labels for their own living rooms.

But, no, "political correctness" had to fuck things up and foment yet another fundamental divide between people for no other reason than to foment another fundamental divide.

It's Christmas, people... a time to get along, be happy, and support one another, regardless of personal beliefs. Not only that, it's American Christmas, which many (if not most) were associating with Jesus less and less every year.

And it's a sad irony that "Christmas opponents" are reversing that trend.

We've all seen what fundamentalism can do to the world. With a few glaring and horrifying exceptions, America has largely been a moderate country, with moderate cultures and moderate beliefs. And, for most of the past 236 years, it's paid off rather well.

So why are we bringing fundamentalist "fuck the other guy" attitudes into our giving season?

Idiots.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

For Quality Television, Save a Life

I really wanted to avoid writing another piece about television, I really did, but a quality show is in serious danger of not making it past the end of spring, so I feel compelled.

The show is called Life, and anyone who knows me knows that I feel that Life is one of the best shows on the small screen. In fact, it irks me that it has such a small audience, because that leads me to believe American viewers are idiots.

Sorry. I understand that's not exactly the best way to convince people to watch a show they're not currently watching, but I can't fucking help it.

So, starting over: watch Life because it's one of the best shows on television.

For those unfamiliar (and most of you probably are), the show follows LAPD robbery/homicide detective Charlie Crews, played by the excellent Damian Lewis (you might remember him as Major Winters from Band of Brothers). A stand-up cop, he was framed for the murders of his friend and his friend's wife and sent to Pelican Bay on a life sentence. As the evidence was mounted against him, both his police partner and his wife turned against him, and he found himself taking solace in studying philosophy while he struggled with life in prison.

But then, something crazy happened. An ultra-hot lawyer, Constance Griffiths, took up his cause. 12 years went by, new evidence was presented, and Crews was released. Part of the deal with the city for wrongful imprisonment included a multi-million dollar settlement and, surprisingly, his old job back in the LAPD. Let me take a moment to mention that Griffiths is in love with Crews, but is married to another man, while Crews is still in love with his (now) ex-wife... who is remarried... and feeling a tad guilty.

So he gets to work. While he solves crime with is new partner, the gorgeous Dani Reese, he uses his spare time to find out who framed him. And such is the point of the show.

Ultimately, he discovers a rather large faction of LAPD-insiders was involved in his framing, including Dani Reese's father and, perhaps, his Lieutenant (played by the wonderful Robin Weigert... but now replaced, post-WGA strike, by the out-of-place Donal Logue... who admittedly sucks).

Crews deals with his new-found freedom by spending freely on bad-ass cars and a mansion (but no furniture), buying an orchard (because of some Zen-influenced worldview), and bedding as many drop-dead sexy women as he can find.

And all the while caring about nothing other than finding out who got him put away.

There are many compelling subplots to the show. Crews' accountant is a man he met in prison, serving time for white collar crimes. Crews' partner, Reese, is a recovering alcoholic. And then there's the little girl (now grown up) who was the daughter of the people Crews was convicted of killing.

All in all, the show has everything. Sex, violence, twists, turns... wrapped up in what's easily the most compelling current overall plot on network TV.

Yes, it's a serialized show, which means you need to start from the beginning in order to truly understand what's going on, but it's only in its second season, and you can pick up the first season on DVD from Amazon.com for less than $20.

So why the fuck aren't you watching?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Tightrope

Operationally, everything was still fine. Most of the physical pieces were still in play, and the world was still around. At least so far.

It was when the plan was scrutinized that everything revealed itself to be fucked up beyond all recognition. The logistics were gone. The supplier, and the supply line with her, disappeared into the urban jungle with a simple note containing an apologetic explanation and a veiled threat. This, naturally, meant the strategy would have to be altered. But by whom?

He was, by this point, extremely tired and had little fight left in him. His ability to give a shit had been dulled by needless tangents and unnecessary reinforcement actions. He was far from home, surrounded mostly by enemies and strangers, and longed for a familial touch.

The problem there was that his family no longer knew who he was or even what he did. Worse, the reverse was true. Decades apart will do that.

Giving up was a viable option. He had never surrendered before. Not once in his life. But, as the saying goes, there is a first time for everything. Continuing on was still an option, albeit one seemingly too far out of reach. In addition to finding a new source of supplies, a new strategy would have to be conceived; new tactics would have to be researched and practiced. But he was running out of time.

Quite similar to the famous examples of Rommel and Patton, he had, simply, outrun the rest of his supply line. He was so far forward of the staging area, and so deep undercover, that even if he had snapped his fingers no one would respond, for they wouldn't know who he was or what he was doing there.

Hell, even he didn't know what he was doing there. Partially forced, and partially inclined, he wound up in a place he swore never to return to. Partially because he was the best at what he did, and partially because no one else was available.

It was a game of fate. A tightrope. One he had walked for far too long. And he was tired.

In humans, balance is the sixth sense. Originating in the inner ear, it is enhanced by vision. Without vision, it would be impossible for a man on a tightrope to balance himself. A blind man might be able to stay upright for a few moments, but would undoubtedly fall. Perhaps he would fall at an angle that would allow him to grab the robe, or even entangle himself in it. But, more likely, he would simply fall to his death.

He checked his weapons, just in case. He ensured his personal equipment still functioned and were in good order. As in all things, what comes next is never truly known, and it is wise to prepare as best as one can. Should he continue the operation? Should he turn tail and run? Or should he simply lick his wounds and hope for the best? Many options presented themselves, and he preferred none of them.

So completely unsure of what to do as he stood on that tightrope, he did the only thing that came to mind.

He closed his eyes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Name's Bauer... Jack Bauer

24: Redemption premiered last night after quite a long period of hype by the folks at Fox. And, boy, did it suck terrorist balls.

Cliché after cliché after cliché, combined with Kiefer Sutherland's "man, I'm really tired of doing this" style of acting and rampant, pervasive product placement, all led to the worst incarnation of the 24 franchise... ever.

Seriously, I think I learned more about Hyundai, Sprint, and Cisco then I did about the heinous plot of an African warlord attempting to overthrow his government.

I also learned that the US Army still flies single-engine Hueys overseas. And that 14 children will inauspiciously fail to step on strategically placed bouncing land mines, but when one of those children loses something in said minefield and returns to retrieve it, the ex-special forces soldier escorting him will notice the mine, push the child out of the way, and equally inauspiciously wind up stepping on the very same mine.

Lame.

But not as lame as the "payoff moment" when the same child who caused the landmine problem places his hand on Jack's shoulder.

I'm guessing "emotional connection" isn't taught in screenwriting classes anymore.

The franchise, it seems, is showing its wrinkles. To be fair, 24: Redemption was an unprecedented one-off, and the upcoming season itself looks very promising, but one thing is for sure: it's time for Kiefer to go. Jack Bauer needs to give way to new blood or just give way in general.

Whatever is done, just make sure Ricky Schroeder doesn't take the reins.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bite the Dust and Push Some Daisies

Well, it's been officially announced: Pushing Daisies will not be renewed due to poor ratings.

America, seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Pushing Daisies is, hands down, the best hour-long family show on network television. It's superbly written, consistently hilarious, beautifully conceived, expertly produced, and aesthetically wonderful. To put it more simply: it's fucking awesome.

I really don't get how you people (yes, you people) don't latch on to outstanding programs, but somehow watch crap Knight Rider enough to keep it on the air. And don't get me wrong, I love KITT, but this new version has got to go.

This will mark the third year in a row one of my "can't miss" shows gets whacked early. Last year was the fantastic Journeyman; the year before was the drastically underrated The Black Donnelly's. And while The Black Donnelly's managed an ending (despite it not being aired) worthy of a series finale, Journeyman left us with questions we will never see answered, and it's reported that Pushing Daisies will do the same.

I guess the problem with Pushing Daisies is that it was intelligent and unique. I'm sure if it were another entry in the CSI or Law & Order franchises, you monkeys would've been watching.

Lame.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Michael Crichton: A World of Words

Michael Crichton died on November 4. Perhaps you heard, but perhaps you didn't. Even though American history was made on that day, it's a bit sad to have a man as accomplished as Michael Crichton pass away with barely a blurb on the television news.

My experience with Crichton began, like many others, with Jurassic Park. Two of my 9th-grade classmates read it and couldn't stop talking about it, and when the film came out the following year, I couldn't help myself... I just had to see what the hoopla was about.

As great and wonderful as that movie was, the book blew me the fuck away.

And so, naturally, I continued my trek through Crichton's imagination. I bought every book he had written under his real name, and, starting with The Andromeda Strain, read them in order all the way through Rising Sun (or at least I think so... it's possible I read Rising Sun next, given that movie also hitting the silver screen).

Of his first eight "Michael Crichton" books (for he would write several under three different pseudonyms), The Great Train Robbery and Eaters of the Dead were my favorite, although picking a favorite out of those eight is next to impossible. The brilliance of Congo and Sphere is only diminished by less-than-stellar film versions, but the books themselves are must-reads.

These books kept my own imagination in good company throughout high school and my early years in the military. The technical detail, combined with not-so-far-fetched plots and loving (and hating) characters, bred in me a sense of purpose in writing. While I can't definitively attribute to Mr. Crichton my desire to keep fiction as accurate as possible, I can safely say that his works certainly nurtured that desire.

The Lost World was the last book of his I read, and, to be honest, I didn't much care for it. It was clear that, by then, he had (as so many other popular writers) "sold out" in favor of pending Hollywood book deals. I've always meant to check out Airframe, but after a horrifying film version of Timeline, I must admit that I'm a little reluctant to do so.

Still, the man who would go on to create E.R. knew his business, and it's a testament to any writer to keep up such a high standard of writing for as long as Crichton did. Of the first eight books of his that I read, each holds a special place in my literary heart, and one day, perhaps, I will see if his later works will fit there, as well.

American literature lost a giant. And far too early.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Ten Cannots

In 1916, William Boetcker, a Presbyterian reverend, wrote what would later become known as "The Ten Cannots." This list is today usually miscredited to Abraham Lincoln, partly because they seem like something he would have said or written, and partly because they first appeared on a leaflet that had a Lincoln quote on it.

Anyway, my father first introduced these to me years ago and recently felt the need to reread them to me.

These "cannots" are wise, true, and inarguable.

For posterity's sake, here they are:

  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  3. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
  4. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  5. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.
  6. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
  7. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
  9. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
  10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.
- William J.H. Boetcker, 1916

Monday, November 17, 2008

Norv Turner and the Hypocrisy of Chargers Management

The Chargers made history today: they lost the first 11-10 scoring game ever in the annals of the NFL. 11-10? Needless to say, the defense under Ron Rivera played superbly, even recording multiple sacks for the first time in far-too long.

But that vaunted San Diego offense decided not to show up. I am utterly convinced now that Norv Turner must, without question, be kicked to the curb.

For the first time since Dan Fouts flew Air Coryell, the Charger offense is absolutely stacked with frequent fliers.

There is LaDainian Tomlinson, who, despite an injury, remains an All-Pro running back. There is absolutely no reason he should be in danger of not reaching the 1140-yard benchmark. But, at the rate San Diego is pounding the ball, Tomlinson will be lucky to reach 1000 yards rushing. Yes, Michael Turner and Lorenzo Neal are gone and are sorely missed, but the dynamic Darren Sproles and the "more than a blocker" Mike Tolbert should theoretically offer enough upside to alleviate the loss of Turner and Neal.

There is Antonio Gates, arguably the best tight end in football since, well, Kellen Winslow.

There is, for the first time in decades, more than one competent wide receiver. Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, and even Legedu Naanee. Simply put, Rivers can throw anywhere with confidence.

Oh, yeah, and then there's Rivers. Competent, and possibly great, though prone to stupid interceptions when attempting to channel his inner Favre.

Regardless, the offense should rock. And Norv Turner is supposedly an offensive genius, no? Sure, I'll admit that he is, but a head coach he is not. Marty Schottenheimer was better for this team. He provided discipline. Norv couldn't discipline a morgue.

And poor Marty. Unjustly fired (albeit likely on purpose) for taking a team that was absolute garbage and fielding them into an elite unit. And all he wanted to do was hire his brother as defensive coordinator. Given what we saw with Ted Cottrell, can anybody honestly say that would've been worse?

But, no, A.J. Smith, in all his supposed wisdom, didn't want another Schottenheimer to deal with. Two Schottenheimers would have threatened his dictatorial desires he has for the team. Turner, Smith knew, is a pushover.

So, wait? Nepotism is the reason Marty is no longer in San Diego? Is this the same team owned by Alex Spanos? The same team whose President/CEO is Alex's son, Dean Spanos? Whose "Executive Officer" is A.G. Spanos? Whose Executive VP is Michael Spanos? Whose Director of College Scouting is John Spanos?

Yeah, sure looks like they take a hard line against nepotism, doesn't it?

Worse, Marty's original quarterbacks coach was Brian Schottenheimer, under whom Drew Brees enjoyed his resurgence. Accident? Maybe, but the New York Jets thought enough of Brian to give him a job as offensive coordinator.

A.J. Smith's "genius" is in question. The Chargers front office is full of hypocrites.

They need to fess up and admit their mistakes before it's too late. Unless, of course, this is all part of the plan to move the Chargers back to Los Angeles.

Idiots.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Military Development: The Lost Art

The procurement and development budget Department of Defense is under fire; this is no secret. The incoming administration wants to increase that amount of fire; this is also no secret. Experts are expecting several projects, such as the F-22, the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS), and most of the Navy's new surface combatant programs to be cut heavily or, worse, canceled outright.

This would be, in my opinion, as stupid as stupid gets.

To be fair, however, DoD brought this on itself as much as any external force of pressure. Since the heyday of World War II, DoD's ability to procure and develop systems, while remaining impressive, has endured a severe loss of quality and effectiveness. Simply put: we don't do it like we used to.

More and more of DoD's design and development happens out-of-house. That is, not under the direct control of the Department of Defense. While this is very much an American capitalist ideal, it is not necessarily the best way to run things. In fact, the DoD should almost inarguably be the one department of our government that is 100% self-sufficient. Defense should not rely on anyone other than the defenders. That being stated, external input should always be welcomed.

There is also the American propensity to want to make "leaps and bounds" in technology before implementing improvements. In other words, we like waiting for the next big thing, rather than enduring the purchases of several stages of "little things." Economists might tell you this is the reason the Japanese overtook us in electronics and automobiles, and they would be right. This attitude of "bigger, better, now" is also what's hurting our military. And, again, we can point to the heyday of World War II.

You see, in the 1930s, 40s, and even the 50s, weapons systems obsolesced insanely quickly. Some within a year of being fielded. While most of us find that an incomprehensible concept, we would only have to look at modern computer development to find a contemporary example of such a phenomenon. While the WWII-era system of procurement and development was by no means cheap, it was wholly effective, and set the stage for our rapid advancement through the 1970s, the last great era for design and development until now.

Yes, systems were purchased and then "thrown away" quickly. But those throw-aways had benefit. They provided us with ample material to recycle, an excess of quality training tools, and, in their most important roles, served as test-beds for countless technological innovations (some major, some minor). We no longer have that capability today.

And why not? Well, bureacracy and politics. Every politician and general or admiral wants to be able to put their "stamp" on a particular system. Which means every politician and general or admiral naturally avoids the "small scale" innovations that could keep our procurement process cheap, yet continuously evolving in the field, and not just in the lab.

Take, for instance, the new rail gun system the Navy wants to field by 2025. The truth of the matter is that the Navy could field one tomorrow. But they would have to combine an old technology with a new one, and relegate their ultimate goal of "a new gun on a new ship" to a secondary goal.

The current rail guns can feasibly be mounted on a battleship. No, they're not as powerful as the Navy wants, but they're as powerful or more powerful than most of the other gun systems found in the world today. And we could test them in the field.

Instead, the Navy seems content with lab-testing a rail gun, waiting 10-years until the system is small and efficient enough to be mounted on a destroyer (of probably a new build or design), and then send it out into the world... without the data we could be accumulating by putting one of these bad boys on a battleship.

Mark my words: implementing the so-called "final design" of these rail guns will become far, far more expensive than currently expected because of our indirect policy of waiting. Just look at the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Bloated design and development; horrendously overbudget. Look at the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Bloated design and development; horrendously overbudget. Hell, our Air Force can't even procure a new mid-air refueler with any semblance of an efficient process. And, yet, in World War II, we had weapons systems go from idea, to drawing board, to construction, to deployment in less than a year.

But we don't like looking to the past, and we certainly don't like making small, seemingly insignificant improvements. It takes too long. The end result seems less important. Nobody can try to take all of the credit. And Al Gore invented the Internet.

Seriously, we have weapons systems still in use today that were in service 30, or even 40, years ago. And why? Because those weapons systems are constantly upgraded at a consistent pace. But nobody notices. Even the services themselves seem less interested in fixing up older systems. It's not "sexy." The new shit is.

Well, sexier don't mean better.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Letters for LMT

Version 2 - Lisa Sandwich

Dear Lisa,

Here is a letter for you. The letter is "B." For bitch.

Sincerely,
Jeff

Dear Lisa,

Here is a letter for you. The letter is "L." For liar.

Sincerely,
Jeff

Dear Lisa,

Here is a letter for you. The letter is "T." For thief.

Sincerely,
Jeff

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Irreverent Musings

Syllogism for the day: People suck. You are people. Therefore, you suck.

Instead of cutting its losses, NBC is going to "reboot" the "reimagined" Knight Rider. The cast is too big, they says. The plots are too big, they says. I says they should've used a fucking Firebird.

Monday night's episode of Heroes completely destroyed the show. As in: made every episode that came before it utterly pointless. So, Noah Bennet knew Syler's identity the entire time, eh? So, Claire's real mother was almost an agent and was present at the train wreck, eh? So, Nathan's powers emerged before the eclipse, eh? So, Syler and Elle were an "item," eh? So... ah, fuck it.

The World Series suffered its lowest television ratings ever... by more than 1.5 points. Quick solution: shorten the season and expand the fucking playoffs.

The NFL is considering an 18-game season. Bad idea. The relatively short season is why people enjoy it so much... it gives them something to wait for during the off-season. Take notes, MLB and NHL.

Advice for comic book publishers: origin stories for established mysterious characters are bad ideas. Yes, this is also advice for the writers of Heroes.

Latest crappy movie I tried to watch, but was unable to finish: Shoot 'Em Up. Surprising, too, since it starred Monica Bellucci, and until I tried to watch that piece of shit movie, I could've sworn I'd watch paint dry while strangers walked by and pissed on me, just so I could look at Monica Bellucci. I don't know if I should be relieved or distressed to know that this is not the case.

Joss Whedon is an overrated hack. Bite me. No pun intended.

Battlestar Galactica has devolved into self-congratulatory garbage. Just some words for the writers: you're not that good; your show isn't that good. If all the hype were true, you'd be on a real channel, and not one known for keeping the Stargate television franchise around, oh, 11-years too long. Funny... BSG isn't even going to make it to a fifth season. Yeah, you guys fucking rock, all right.

Fox, do us all a favor and just import the original Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Your version is utter trash, and has absolutely nothing to do with the restaurant industry, save for the fact that it's shot in restaurants. If I wanted to see garbage shot in a restaurant, I'll watch Michael shoot Sollozzo and McCluskey.

Please, Warner Brothers, cancel the Justice League movie and never speak a word about it again.

I will never watch NatGeo as long as it's called NatGeo. Nor will I drink SunnyD as long as it's called SunnyD. Fire those marketers... seriously.

It's time for bed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Fall 2008 Television Season: Rants and Reviews, Part III

Okay, barring any really odd late-season pickups, this should be my last entry ranting and reviewing the "Fall 2008 Television Season."

Let's cut to the chase, shall we?

My Own Worst Enemy - despite a garbage premiere, Christian Slater's foray into the world his Young Guns II co-star has recently re-popularized (read: TV secret agents) is surprisingly good, and more than a little compelling. The design aesthetic of yet another super-secret government organization is a bit over-the-top, but the presence of two of my "mental loves" of younger days (read: Mädchen Amick and Saffron Burrows) certainly doesn't hurt.

The Unit - you know a show is hurting when it attempts to "diversify" a demographic unrealistically. Yes, the vaunted boys of "The Unit" now include a girl. The idea isn't bad, in and of itself, but its execution is crap. She's not very believable, and, worse, seems relegated to "Unit secretary," but that's not even the most disturbing part of the new season. I can't say I've seen Army wives quite so involved in their husbands' work, I must admit. A not-good-enough show has been made worse.

Rant and Review Updates:

Heroes - an initial pan, followed by a possible reversal, followed by a renewed pan. This cycle of Heroes is lame... there's just no other way to put it.

Life - this show is definitely kicking ass. Too bad NBC has relegated it to the "we're going to cancel this show" time slot (10 PM, Friday nights). The good news is that it did get picked up. The bad news is that we probably won't see any of those episodes, save on DVD.

Prison Break - remember how I wrote how I hated getting ready to watch this, but enjoyed the actual watching of it? Well, that's changing... it's getting boring, and quickly.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - one week up, one week down; one good sub-plot, one bad sub-plot; one good arc, one bad arc - I really wish this show would make up its mind. Still, I don't see it lasting beyond this season.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's the End of the World As We Know It

... and I feel fine.

So, Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States. Good for him, and good for everyone who voted for him. Did I? In a rare case of revealing my political cards: no. But neither did I vote for McCain. To be honest, I didn't vote... I tried to, but between forgetting where I'm registered (I found multiple voter registration cards), then figuring it out only to realize my truck isn't running, I, well... no excuses.

I wasn't going to vote for President this year, anyway. I did have a vote for my state's governor and senator, but whatever.

Anyway, Obama's going to be sworn in next January. He is going to try to "change" a helluva a lot of things. But, make no mistake, most of those changes don't stand a chance in Hades of happening. In fact, outside of his economic plan, I really doubt we'll see much real change at all. Ironically, it will be his own party that prevents it.

Seriously, hear me out. Right or wrong, Obama will be put under the most powerful microscope ever put on a President simply because he is black. As a result, he will have to run a near-perfect ship. And that means not only keeping the people who voted for him happy, but making as many of the people who didn't at least not unhappy. I do not envy that man and the tightrope he will be walking.

No, I'm not really worried for this country as far as the election goes. Not yet, anyway. Guns will not be outlawed, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will not come to sudden stops, and corporations will still run rampant.

I am, however, worried for this country as far as Obama's military and paramilitary ideas go. He wants to shrink DoD's budget. Bad idea. The way he wants to do it will unavoidably result in a smaller military. Bad idea. And I'm still rather concerned over the comments he made earlier this year regarding a gendarme of the United States. Ridiculously foolish idea.

He may be better for the economy, but he is not better for the security of this country.

But, he won. Fair and square. I anxiously await to see how he does his job, as, I'm sure, you do. Maybe he'll be a great President, maybe he'll suck. I figure he'll be at least fairly competent, but will not enter the history books as one of America's great Presidents such as Washington, Lincoln, and both Roosevelts. He will only enter the history books as being the one to break the race barrier in American politics. And, presidential effectiveness aside, that's a good thing.

Do your job, sir. That's all anyone can ask. Except, of course, for the wholly un-American people who will no doubt claim they want to leave this country now that Obama is President. Funny how those wholly un-American people who claimed they were going to leave under Bush are now shouting out that they're some sort of patriots. Bullshit... real American patriots tough out the times they hate as much as they enjoy the times the love, and that includes tolerating the leaders they don't much care for.

It is definitely the end of the world as we know it, and, yes, I feel just fine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dying Happy, Inc.

Everyone wants to die happy, right? Sure, by "dying happy," people usually mean they want to die having lived a full life, with a strong family and/or most of the goals they set for themselves accomplished.

But what about the actual death part? Why not "die happy?" And, no, I'm not talking about hearing harps playing, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, or reliving the moment you lost your virginity.

Well, actually...

Why doesn't someone invent a machine that gives a person an instant orgasm when they experience, say, a heart attack or other mortal shock? Think about it. You're 85, out for a jog since you're trying to "stay young," and suddenly your left arm feels heavy. You're in your jogging shorts, so you don't have your cell phone, and nobody else is around or paying you any mind. And then you collapse.

Now, normally, you'd just lay there, dying in agony as you wait in vain for someone to help, but with the H-DOI (Happy Death Orgasm Initiator), you instead experience the all-encompassing orgasm you've never experienced before in your life. Instant hard-on, instant wet, followed by an instant ejaculation and the sensation of riding a rocket to the moon. G-spot's got nothing on this. You just died with a smile on your face.

Wouldn't that rock? Can you imagine a person opting for an H-DOI instead of a pacemaker? Or an H-DOI instead of an organ transplant? Ah, the possibilities.

So, I put out a challenge to all of you bio-engineers and medical scientists: create the H-DOI, and let humanity all die with a smile on its face.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Post-Halloween Musings

Bleh... I'm going to muse for a bit.

The Chargers are 3-5. The only reason they're not 3-6 is because they just had a bye week. That disaster in London against the Saints was just that: a disaster. Although I'm happy for Drew Brees. I'm sure there's a statement about just desserts somewhere in there. Anyway, here's hoping that firing Ted Cottrell does the trick.

People are already threatening Barack Obama's life. Seriously, people, shut the fuck up. If he were a white liberal, nobody would be so vocal. But, he's not. He's black. If he wins, let him do his job. If he doesn't win, let him do his job. Criticize him all you want, but don't threaten his life. There's a place for that; it's called the fundamentalist Middle East. You don't like Obama, go live over there. Until then, it's his right to be a bleeding-heart liberal. Wannabe Barack assassins are fucking pricks. Not to mention idiots... and hypocrites.

By the way, I will never vote for a ticket that has Sarah Palin on it. Sorry, I just won't. I don't care if she's Clint Eastwood's running mate. I just can't do it. Nope. Just can't.

Of course, that might not matter, since I can't find my fucking voter registration card. No, wait... I just found an old one. Fuck me, I can't even remember where I'm registered to vote. I guess that's what one gets for living like a gypsy.

Is it just me, or has trick-or-treating gone the way of the dodo?

How does a wonderful show about an obscure method of time traveling, Journeyman, not survive network cuts when a not as wonderful (but still good) show about an obscure "time traveler," Life on Mars, gets greenlit? Weird.

Must see movies: Eastern Promises, Superbad, and the classic Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

English should be the preeminent language of the United States, but should not be the legal official language. We are far too diverse a country (and always have been, for all you immigrant-phobes) to limit ourselves to one language. In our short history, we've annexed areas in which Spanish, French, Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, and Carolinian have all been natively or otherwise widely spoken. And that's not even getting into the various American Indian languages and dialects.

Professional athletes working in leagues that have had government-approved antitrust exemptions (such as the National Football League and Major League Baseball) should be held to the same employment considerations as government employees. In other words, the first time one of the players pisses hot for a federally illegal substance (not necessary a league illegal substance), they should be banned from the league as long as that league reaps the benefits of those antitrust exemptions. Same goes for athletes who are felons. Athletes working in leagues not benefiting from antitrust legislation would not be subjected to these standards, unless those leagues adopt those standards themselves.

Speaking of banning, MTV should be banned from developing any more reality TV shows. Okay, not really, but at least quit producing such torrid garbage.

I feel embarrassed for any society which produces a show of the likes of TMZ.

Science is better than religion. Show me one war started by a disagreement over scientific research. That's not stating that religion is bad, but intolerant religion is ridiculously stupid.

Did the dinosaurs believe in God, gods, or the afterlife?

World War II created the modern world. Yes, that's right. We, and everything we know, were borne of war.

I miss my old pets: Flash, Yuki, Mike, Taro, "kitty," Lancelot, Galahad, Guinevere, Gawain, Tristan, Merlin, Vivianne, Arthur, Isolde... and even Percival, Agravain, Cricket and Rabbit, the Sagremor Sisters, and any others I failed to remember in my late-night stupor.

All right... that's enough musing for now. 'Til next time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Two-War Military

We are, without doubt, on the cusp of yet another "brave, new world." The global environment seems to be changing at a faster pace than with the post-World War II independence movements. New safe harbors are popping up, as are new dangerous waters. And, as we approach the adolescent years of the 21st Century, an old superpower is once again flexing its arms, and an ancient superpower is waking from its centuries-long slumber.

On top of all that, terrorism has taken on a new life. No longer dedicated regional acts of violence, terrorism has walked on the world's stage as a superpower unto itself. And American needs to be prepared.

The old saying goes that, "to secure peace is to prepare for war," and it remains as accurate today as it was when it was coined. American needs to be ready to fight wars on two fronts. Only these are not the fronts of western and eastern, or Pacific and Atlantic. These are the fronts of conventional and unconventional warfare.

America has oft made the mistake of downsizing her military when things "seemed safe," usually after the conclusion of a large or protracted war. And, every single time she's done that, she's had to remobilize. Every single time. Bar none.

I assure you, that pattern will not change.

The danger here is that we might make the mistake of downsizing while currently engaged in combat zones. Yes, one can argue that downsizing now would be an effective way of forcing ourselves out of the conflicts we are in, but, regardless of politics, that would be a serious mistake.

Terrorism isn't going anywhere. Trust me, it's not. As long as people somewhere, anywhere, disagree with other people, terrorism and guerrilla warfare will exist. Somewhat thankfully, our government and our military realize this, and our armed forces are transitioning themselves to fight such wars (what the Pentagon painstakingly refers to as "long wars"). This is fine, for we need that capability.

However, we're placing too much emphasis on the so-called "long wars." And we're doing so at the expense of our ability to fight conventional ones.

Russia is clearly staring NATO in the face, waiting for NATO to blink. China is clearly preparing itself to do the very same thing. And what's our response? To downsize.

Already, the Navy has canceled its admittedly ambitious 21st Century destroyer program, and the Army is cutting funding for its Future Combat Systems. Of the FCS, the portions of it that aren't getting the axe are primarily geared for, you guessed it, "long war" operations.

Most people don't seem to realize exactly how small our military has become. Yes, for a number of years, it was probably too big, but no longer. In the 1980s, the military was nearly 600 ships and over 30 combat divisions (including reserve forces). Today, the Navy stands at just over 200 combat ships, and 18 combat divisions (10 active, 8 national guard). Simply put, we don't have enough manpower to do anything.

Both the Russian and Chinese navies are growing, with each indicating that they are constructing new aircraft carriers to support blue water operations. Already, both the Russian and Chinese armies outnumber ours by an alarmingly disproportionate amount. And we're not talking combined, mind you. Including organized reserves, each outnumbers us on their own.

The solution is obvious, though expensive. Cut the fat out of the programs that have obvious fat, but don't further shrink America's military. In fact, grow it. This can be partially funded by doing away with the independent Air Force as well as taking the Marine Corps away from the Navy. The rest can be funded by slicing the fat from those programs that need it.

We need "long war" capability. That is clear. But we also need conventional capability, for at least as long as Russia and China remain possible enemies. For those critics who feel China poses little threat, please inform me exactly why they're expanding their military at a rate rivaled in the past 100 years by only the mobilization efforts of World War II.

Let's not be stupid, here. Let's secure peace.

Unfortunately, to do that, we must prepare for war.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wish Her

Emotionally speaking, it had been a long, arduous summer preceded by a long, arduous winter. Career moves and lack of moves, temporary changes in scenery, stagnant education and writing progress, and even the multiple flea infestations from their multiple animals. Worse, both of their professions kept them apart most weekdays. He, a struggling artist whose business acumen didn't make him feel better; rather, it reminded him of more lucrative and less undesirable prospects. She, a rising star in both the art and corporate worlds whose lack of perceived stability didn't excite her; rather, it reminded her of a childhood lost.

To put it simply, everything was draining.

Weekends, however, were a different story. Sure, they'd both bring their trials and tribulations to the dinner table, which often was merely an order out of steak or pizza eaten nonchalantly on a torn couch in front of the television, but the perks were worth it. He could smell her, and she could imagine her very own Bruce Lee or John Lennon in person. She rarely wore perfume, but the natural scent of her skin combined with the arousing scent of whatever soap she used never failed to turn him on. He rarely exercised or exhibited any musicality, but his fairly frequent diversions into pretending to do a karate chop or compose a song for her never failed to make her smile, and perhaps laugh.

He missed her smile. It was the very first thing that drew him to her. It lit up a room like a fucking bonfire... or an atomic bomb. He wished she was there to share it with him. He wished a lot of things.

He wished she was there to watch their favorite television programs, usually some hell-bent drama centered on off-kilter male authority figures who showed little regard for the authority of others, but were damn good at their jobs. He wished she was there, and his increasingly full DVR drive reminded him of his longing almost constantly.

He wished she was there to cuddle and coddle their pets, a menagerie of misbehaving dogs and ridiculously apathetic cats who never ceased to amaze or befuddle either one of them. He wished she was there so he could show her the new and interesting ways their lazy cat, Sagremor, found to use his master's body as a pillow.

But most of all, he wished she was there so he could touch her, hold her, and push her away half-jokingly when she complained he wasn't rubbing her shoulders the way she wanted him to. He wished...

He just wished she was here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dinosaurs and UFOs

Life has existed on Earth for well over 500 million years. For roughly 450 million of those years, that life was dominated by fish, reptiles, amphibians, and for 160 million of those years: dinosaurs.

Think about that for a moment. 450 million years of evolution (or adaptation, or un-intelligent design, whatever) resulted in advanced versions of reptilian hunters and gatherers. And while we can't be sure, it's safe to say that had the dinosaurs continued their reign on Earth, what we would have today is not a world inherited by man, but a world inherited by further-advanced versions of those same reptilian hunters and gatherers.

Which means what? Well, in all likelihood, little or no "intelligent" life as we know it. In other words: no us.

What does this have to do with UFOs?

Everything.

I've stated this before. While I completely believe in the existence of alien life (seriously, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that complex organisms are alive and well on countless other planets in the galaxy, never mind the universe), I'm not entirely convinced the Earth has been visited by aliens flying UFOs from across the galaxy.

And why not?

The dinosaurs.

To me, dinosaurs are the natural evolution of things. Advanced reptiles evolved first because, among other things, they are the "easiest" large life forms to evolve. Mammals were evolving concurrently, sure, but didn't dominate our planet's landscape until something "a little extra" lent a hand along the way. That "a little extra" something was a meteor impact that effectively wiped out the reptilian-based world that the Earth once was. Somehow mammals endured and, when all was said and done, took their turn as king of the Earth's mountain.

Primates came along with their prehensile thumbs and their developing problem-solving abilities and, bingo, here I am typing away on a virtual document in a virtual world so you can read a virtual rant on a screen projecting a virtual page.

What does this have to do with dinosaurs?

Everything.

While I believe that life is out there and is quite abundant, I also believe that life is relatively rare (when discussing the sheer size of the universe). The cosmic variables required for a planet to successfully develop life are far too complicated and far too finicky for life to simply be (as Star Trek would have you believe) in nearly every solar system. In my opinion, this probably means that there are many, many places currently in the universe with what are essentially advanced dinosaurs. Alien civilizations, again in my opinion, are probably extremely few and equally far between.

Now, why would I believe in lots of alien dinosaurs and few alien civilizations?

Because, combined with the small mathematical chance of developing life in the first place, what it took for humanity to develop was another small mathematical chance: the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. Make no mistake, we (humanity) are only here because of that meteor. To put it simply, intelligent life as we know it only exists because an external force wiped out the stupid life, giving us a chance. To put it in another way: our civilization only exists because of two mathematical improbabilities.

So, one in a billion for life to show up in the first place, plus one in a billion for civilized life to show up in the second place. That doesn't equal a whole lot of civilized life in the galaxy.

Do I think there are civilizations among the stars? Oh, certainly, but I think only a handful, if any, are significantly more technologically advanced then we are, and I think that most life on other worlds is comprised basically of alien dinosaurs.

One thing's for certain: no one ethereal entity designed all this stuff.

Monday, October 13, 2008

1140-Yard Benchmark

Let's face it, the 1000-yard benchmark signifying a wide receiver or running back's quality is lame. Oh, sure, way back when the football season was only 14 games, it meant something. It meant even more when the season was only 12 games (before 1961). But today, the benchmark is run-of-the-mill, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a team without someone who reached 1000 yards.

Look at it mathematically: for a player to hit 1000 yards, he has to gain 62.5 yards per game in a 16-game season. Every fan with any working knowledge of American football knows that 62.5 is a pedestrian amount, at best. In a 14-game season, a player would have to gain just over 71.4 yards each game, nearly a 10-yard higher per-game average than is necessary in the contemporary game. Every football player knows 10-yards per game is a nice chunk of change.

To put it in perspective, that just-over-71.4 yards per game would translate into almost 1143 yards per season. Which is why I'm proposing everyone, bloggers and press alike, adopt the "1140-Standard" of judging the NFL's so-called premiere players.

Because 1000 yards today is just too normal.

And, yes, the 3000-yard benchmark for quarterbacks has to go, too.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Fall 2008 Television Season: Rants and Reviews, Part II

The ranting and reviewing continues, though remains incomplete.

More shows and my impressions:

Californication - after an absolutely hysterical first season, our favorite addictive writer is back and true to form. HD format aside, Showtime makes itself worth it just for this series.

Chuck
- what can I say? This show is ridiculous and charming. The opener picked up right where the previous season left off, in story, tone, and quality of writing. NBC's got a home run.

The Family Guy
and American Dad - for whatever reason, The Family Guy just never gets old. No, the reason is obvious: anything and everything is fair game for vulgar ridicule. And I do mean anything and everything. Throw in your gratuitous pop culture references and you've got entertainment even the dumbest people can get. While mysteriously under-appreciated, its sister show, American Dad, keeps up the game The Family Guy started. Sure, it seems to fill more of a niche than The Family Guy, but it's just as good and sometimes better.

House
- television's favorite doctor is back, and as good as ever. The new cast seems comfortable in their characters, Hugh Laurie plays as irritable as usual, and the writing rarely (if ever) slips. There's a reason House is one of my two favorite shows on television.

Life
- the other of my two favorite shows on television. I have to admit, the less-than-stellar season premiere had me worried. The disjointedness of the script, combined with a new police captain (played by the underwhelming Donal Logue) replacing my favorite lieutenant (the wonderful Robin Weigert) and Dani Reese's lame hairstyle, gave me cause for alarm. Thankfully, the second episode returned to form, even if Reese's hair remained.

The Mentalist -
like House and Life, this show centers on a quirkly main protagonist who is surrounded by competent "normal" people. Instead of being an asshole genius doctor or a wounded zen cop, the protagonist of The Mentalist is a former con artists (of sorts) who simply notices everything. Also like House and Life, this show is good. We'll see if it can keep it up.

Pushing Daisies -
a completely ridiculous concept. A man who can bring the dead back to life with a touch, and kill them again with another touch? Oh, and if the first person brought back to life is kept alive for more than a minute, somebody else somewhere dies. Completely. Ridiculous. And the most charming show on television.

The Simpsons
- what can anyone really say about The Simpsons? It's still around after all these years. It's still of reasonably high quality. Sure, it's not still the animated true sitcom it once was, and it's been heavily influenced by The Family Guy as of late, but it's The Simpsons. By now as American as apple pie (despite being animated in Korea).

Rant and Review Update: Heroes - if the last couple of episodes are any indication, Heroes is back on track to be great entertainment. Kudos.

Still to be R&Red are My Own Worst Enemy, The Unit, so expect a Part III (trilogies are cliché, I know) with those shows and more updates.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Tet Offensive: Warnings for Iraq

We lost the Vietnam War. Of this, there is no doubt. But we could have won. Oh, yes, we could have won.

The war, though far from smooth, had by 1968 become manageable in the eyes of the US military. Several semi-permanent bases had been established by the DMZ between North and South Vietnam. One in particular, Khe Sanh, was established close enough to the Laotian border as to serve as a relatively effective striking point to hit the famed Ho Chi Minh trail. Just when things were looking up, the unthinkable happened:

The Tet Offensive.

Despite being, by all rights, a military failure of the North Vietnamese, and successfully repelled by the Americans and their allies, the sheer magnitude of the offensive shocked almost everyone. Millions of Americans watched on TV as Walter Cronkite turned his back on the war, convincing those Americans to do the same. General Westmoreland, until then the commander of American forces in Vietnam, was replaced by General Abrams. What followed was a change in American strategy.

After Tet was subdued, American leadership decided to shift from trying to win the war with American military forces to trying to win the war by training and supplying the South Vietnamese forces to operate independently and defend themselves.

Stop me if this sounds familiar.

The result we all know too well. By 1973, American intervention in the war was effectively over and, in 1975, South Vietnam would fall to the North. Not exactly the end we were hoping for.

While no doubt arguable, there is little doubt in this author's mind that Vietnam could have been won (or, at least, not lost) had the American home front not waned in its support for the war. But the Tet Offensive would provide most Americans with the ultimate image of the war, and that image was a bad one.

Ironically, as mentioned earlier, the Tet Offensive was a success for the American forces. Out of the hundreds of targets attacked by the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong during the offensive, none were successfully occupied for more than a month. Even the American base at Khe Sanh, despite a continuous assault by the North Vietnamese, remained in American hands until General Abrams ordered it destroyed and evacuated after six months of battle. Another little known fact about the supression of the Tet Offensive was that the Viet Cong was essentially destroyed as an effective fighting force. The shift in American policy to passive intervention is what allowed the VC to rise to power once again.

Whether or not the Vietnam War was a just cause is not the issue here. For this thesis, that issue is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that the loss of Vietnam was a direct result of the shift from a malignant American military to a benign one. The shift from fighting for and with the South Vietnamese to simply supporting the South Vietnamese.

Again, sound familiar?

Whether or not the Iraq War is a just cause is not the issue here. What is the issue is what's going to happen after we leave. If done too early, we're doomed to repeat the experience in Vietnam. Politics aside, is that really what we want?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chargers ’08 - Second Year Coach Syndrome

After five games, it's almost no surprise that the San Diego Chargers are 2-3, exactly the same record they had at this point in the season last year. Okay, it is a bit of a surprise, but it can't be unexpected, can it?

Despite Philip Rivers' good start, everyone else is proceeding as usual. Norv Turner once again shows that he is unable to properly prepare a team in the off-season, Ted Cottrell once again reveals that he is far too conservative a defensive coordinator, and LT once again has problems catching swing passes.

Like I said: business as usual. Here's hoping that the rest of the season winds up like last year.

Unfortunately, precedent is against such a thing happening. I call this precedent "Second Year Coach Syndrome" and, no, this does not refer to all second-year coaches. Merely the ones who took over for already successful franchises.

Take a look at the San Diego Padres this year. Two years ago, in manager Bruce Bochy's last year, the Padres were among the best teams in the National League. Last year Bochy left and was replaced by Bud Black. This year? The Padres were easily one of the two worst teams in all of Major League Baseball. Why, you might ask? That's easy: last year's team was still very much Bruce Bochy's, even if he wasn't there to manage physically. To put it theologically, enough of his soul was around to get the Padres to that tragic tie-breaker game.

Still don't believe me? Then just look at the participants of Super Bowl XXXVII. Jon Gruden, in his first year as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, and Bill Callahan, in his first year as the Oakland Raiders head coach, both led their respective team to the big game. Only, in each case, neither team really belonged to that coach.

The Buccaneers of that year were still very much belonged to their previous coach, Tony Dungy, who was inexplicably let go after taking the Buccaneers out of the butt-joke basement of the NFL and into the NFL elite.

Ironically, the Raiders of that year still very much belonged to their previous coach, John Gruden, who, though a perfect fit in Oakland, has been less than perfect in Florida.

While the Buccaneers have remained competent, they have only posted two winning seasons since their Super Bowl appearance and have lost both of their playoff games. The Raiders have won a mere 19 out of 80 games in the five seasons following that Super Bowl.

What does this all mean? Isn't it obvious? The spirt of Marty Schottenheimer, the strangely oft-reviled former head coach of the Chargers who also took a butt-joke team and turned it elite, is likely what propelled the Chargers to the AFC Championship game last year. Not, as general manager A.J. Smith would have you believe, the coaching abilities and game philosophies of Norv Turner (who, by the way, has a paltry 69-87 record as a head coach in the regular season).

I do hope I'm wrong. I really do. But, unless Norv Turner wins a playoff game this season, I'm going to continue to attribute last season's success to Schottenhiemer.

Time will tell.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Grammar War V: He, She... Shit

English, as most of us know, is a strange, erratic language. It almost completely lacks the masculine and feminine distinctions found in most other languages, particularly those of the Romance/Neolatin family. When it comes to singular pronouns, we have "he," we have "she," and we have "it". He, obviously, refers to males. She to females. And it to everything not human.

In this frightening age of political correctness, many parties take issue with the sole use of "he," even when prefaced by disclaimers found in the forewords of several texts. As a result, we often find the unnecessarily uneconomic use of "he or she," "he and she," he and/or she," and the absolutely ghastly "s/he."

Honestly, in my opinion, we need to figure out a solution before many grammarians (including myself) go stark raving mad.

Here are some proposals:

1) They - seriously, it's already colloquially accepted, with only the most involved text-Nazis pointing out the improper use of "they" as a substitute for "he or she." I'm perfectly fine with this, and I don't point it out in edits unless I'm specifically asked to. I use it, you probably use it, and given the proper use of antecedent, it's not going to confuse anybody.

2) The - this one would be hard to swallow, as it's already one of our two most common words used. But the logic is there. He, she, they. Simply drop the y, and we'd have a gender-neutral pronoun that follows the same pattern as the other two.

3) Person - while technically correct, it is, admittedly, a bit awkward. Instead of "if he or she decides to continue," we have "if person decides to continue." Many get around this by using "said person," but that's quite unnecessary. Just for the record, I don't like this option.

4) Phe - another awkward one, but one that also follows the pattern. Based on the word "hermaphrodite," this also offers a certain logic.

5) Shit - no, I'm not joking. Why not legitimize the word? Think about it. Our three singular pronouns are he, she, and it. Look closely. See the logic? Okay, so I am joking, but the relation is quite evident.

6) Xhe - a completely baseless modern "cool" word that uses an underachieving (yet overexposed) letter of English language. On top of that, in speech, it would be pronounced like a Chinese combination of "she" and "jee." And since I made it up, I quite like it and will use it from here on out. Nyah.

Words you probably don't know:

allopatric - occuring in different geographic areas or in isolation

fulvous - of a dull browny yellow

lustrate - to purify ceremonially

Friday, October 3, 2008

What She's Got; What She Hasn't

I don't usually get involved in the extracurricular affairs of my girlfriend, but I am now. One of my girlfriend's friends decided to get into a spat with my lovely companion, and had the absolute gall to ask my girlfriend "What do you got?" as if this other girl was some sort of superior life form.

Well, let's just work our way through this, shall we? What does she got? Here's what:

1) A masters degree. No, two of them. And a bachelors degree. Oh, and an associates degree.

2) Job offers at two of the premiere Hollywood agencies. Because her education and work experience was attractive to high-level managers.

3) A car she paid for with her own money.

4) An earned-income approaching six figures.

5) Real tits.

6) The pride associated with never having given a blowjob for cheap drugs.

So, let's turn the tables. What does the other girl got?

1) High school diploma.

2) Job offers at, er... wait, no, she doesn't work.

3) A car her husband bought her.

4) An income her husband earns.

5) Distractingly bad over-sized fake tits. But at least she doesn't have to worry about drowning. So I guess artificial buoyancy is a plus.

6) The pride associated with never having given a... oh, wait... no, she doesn't.

And that just about sums it up.

Have a nice day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Motion Pictures That Make Me Say Wow

Everyone has a favorite movie, and most of us have several, as we tend to be incapable of consistently heralding a "best" as our moods change from moment to moment and our tastes change from year to year.

We all, however, have the ability to identify movies that make us say "wow." Some of those pictures only do it the first time we see it, while others have the extremely rare ability of eliciting the response with every viewing.

Let me back up a moment.

I am, obviously, writing this quick little rave because I just watched a film that made my jaw drop. No, it wasn't action-packed, and, no, there wasn't a glut of sex (one or two scenes, only one of which might make a Puritan blush). Hell, it wasn't even American. While I will mention that film here, I will not go into detail as I intend on making my girlfriend watch it, and I don't want to give anything away.

Without further ado, the list:

The Matrix - yes, it might be a little passé to admit now, but everyone who saw this film in theaters was blown away, whether by the effects themselves or the accidentally philosophical plot. For me, the second and third entries in the trilogy took the power of the first movie away, but that doesn't change the fact that it once blew my mind.

Irreversible - a French film centering on a rape and the events that led up to it. It has, without doubt, the most disturbing scene I have ever watched in a movie, and probably ever will see in a movie (tall claim, I know). There is also a scene involving a fire extinguisher and man's face that could once make me wince. This one's a whopper.

Road to Perdition - in my opinion: the perfect movie. Why? I don't know... I just really, really like it.

The Lives of Others - this is the German film that I finished watching less than an hour prior to this writing. Again, not going to give anything away just yet (rest assured I will come back to it in the near future), but... wow.

There are more, naturally, but I'm keeping this short. What films can do or have done this to you?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Fall 2008 Television Season: Rants and Reviews, Part I

The new television season is in full swing and, thankfully, running strong thanks to no SAG strike. Hopefully it stays that way.

On to the shows:

Entourage - somehow, this show just keeps getting better and better. Of course, that's probably because it's a show pertaining to Hollywood itself, and the writers no doubt have an infinite number of personal experiences to draw upon. This season Vincent is struggling to clear his name following last season's Medellin debacle. It's fucking great.

Fringe -
this new Fox show from J.J. Abrams started out with a bang. Quite simply, its series premiere was excellent. So excellent, in fact, that Joshua Jackson's bland self didn't even have a chance of ruining it. And then the series kept going. The second episode was horrible, and the third was only marginally better. Something better happen quick, or viewers are going to abandon this exploration of fringe science.

Heroes -
talk about a boring season premiere. The only part of it worth watching was the last five minutes (the Syler twist), but now even that seems old and overdone. Watch as he becomes a mere foil, rather than the arch-villain. And did anyone else notice how the premiere completely made the first season's plot ("save the cheerleader, save the world") irrelevant?

Kitchen Nightmares -
Gordon Ramsay, you rock. But the American version of your beloved BBC's Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares sucks. There's no insight into the restaurant industry... it's just another family-fighting reality show.

Primeval -
this one's on BBC America, probably the best cable channel in the United States. After a great first season, a wanton second series attitude of "bigger and badder" is tearing the show apart. Hopefully they get back to the subtle nature of things. And quick.

Prison Break
- this is an aberration. I despise the moments prior to my actually watching it, because for some reason I feel the show is boring. But I only feel that way when I'm not watching it. When I am watching it, I absolutely love it. They're not breaking out of another prison this season, but the government conspiracy they're trying to crack is actually one that doesn't make you roll your eyes.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - decent first season, even though it suffered from a near-immediate continuity error (a metal Terminator head coming through the time warp). The second season? So far, garbage. Apt, considering the casting of the lead singer of Garbage. She almost single-handedly ruins the show. Another crap episode and this one's off the DVR to do list.

True Blood -
Hollywood seems irrationally attracted to vampires as of late, but this new HBO series provides just enough of a twist to stay interesting. Still finding its feet, I'm liking where it's heading. Certainly better than that Moonlight crap we had to suffer through last season.


Other shows on my DVR list include House, Dexter, Californication, Chuck, and Life. I haven't gotten to those yet, so those will be ranted and reviewed in part II.

Bring back JLU!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Gypsy Dancer

They were, unequivocally, both crazy. He, with his temper and his absolute refusal to do what someone might call plant roots. She, with her strange, new world mentality and the attitude that she is always two steps behind. A runner, and a chaser. Logically, a match made in Heaven. But, philosophically and in practice, a match made in Hell. Still, somehow, they endured.

His attitude stemmed from his upbringing, as most attitudes do. His father was, somewhat unnaturally, a purposeful journeyman. His mother, a foreign expatriate who came to America out of boredom. Quite obviously, his world perspective was no accident.

Her upbringing was far different. She came from a large, close-knit family. Even though she, too, was raised purposefully as an outcast, she never seemed to notice. It was merely her role in the clan, and that was how she saw it. Leaving her home never even crossed her mind.

Having one never even crossed his.

And then they met.

By pure chance, his vagabond nature had brought him to her. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the smile, of the kind that lights up an entire room, that would forever change his life.

He was tentative in approaching her, and reflexively relied on his training to stalk and to spy on her, wanting to learn everything he could about her before he would speak to her. She was, he found, sad in ways that few ever experience. She blamed it on the people in her life and their actions, both voluntary and involuntary. Friends, family, and lovers were both there for her and had abandoned her. At least that's how she saw things.

To him, she simply didn't realize the disease that was incubating in her heart. The disease that is the desire to wander, to travel, to experience the world that one suspects exists beyond one's own perceptions, but expects to never see.

And so, despite several warnings, personal and professional, he took her with him.

At first she was hesitant. Scared of the sky, the sea, and the places beyond the horizons she grew up staring at. But the disease strengthened, and it became chronic, a permanent fixture of her psyche. She soon loved floating on the wind, experiencing new people and places, and all of the inhibitions her family instilled in her fell by the wayside, perhaps with a hint of guilt.

It was this guilt that prompted her to question where she was going; what she was doing. There was no plan, after all. She merely traveled with her new lover, who was, fundamentally, a stranger to her. A stranger in a strange land, led by a stranger from a strange land.

Her life with him was accompanied by meetings with mysterious people, his so-called friends and family. Behind his back, she would sift through his things and would often learn obscure facts about the histories and cultures of various regions of the world. She questioned where and why he learned what he learned, and knew what he knew. His answer was always the same. He liked to read.

It was a psychological dance. Her desire to know everything about him, and his necessity to keep things a secret. Often he would feed her clues. Hints and clues of who and what he was. But this only served to infuriate her. She wanted to know the truth. Only an angel would show the world to someone without expecting anything in return. But he did not believe in angels.

Ultimately, she adopted his secretive nature in an attempt to learn more about him. She asked questions she should not have asked, to people she should not have questioned. Frustratingly, the answers she received only led to more mystery, and the dance increased in tempo and ferocity.

Growing tired and sick of the mystery, she abandoned her attachment to him. This time, having already abandoned her own roots, it was easy to her. For now she knew what was hidden beyond the horizon.

And he watched. Watched as she moved through his body and away from his secrets. At once, he was happy for her and sad for himself. She had grown past all expectation, and the world was hers for the taking. A world he had meticulously influenced to protect those he loved, especially her.

Yes, she would flourish. And he would continue to watch.

No.

He would follow.

Only now it would be he whom was two steps behind. The silhouette of his gypsy dancing on the horizon, ready for whatever else the world had to offer her.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Justice League Unlimited: A Review and a Prayer

If you haven't noticed yet, there is a serious glut of comic books making their way to the big and small screens. Surprisingly, most of these attempts are excellent, many are simply good, and only a select few are crap.

Of the outstanding ones, we have the first two X-Men films, the first two Spider-Man films, the two new Batman films, Superman Returns, Iron Man, Hellboy, and a few non-superhero adaptations like Road to Perdition and 300.

In the good category, there are the two Fantastic Four entries, The Punisher, both of the Hulk films (albeit arguably), Blade, and others like A History of Violence.

The garbage includes Daredevil and Ghost Rider (both directed by Mark Steven Johnson, which should tell people something), Catwoman (which had nothing to do with the comic book character) and most of the third entries in various trilogies (X-Men, Spider-Man, Blade, etc.).

On TV we get to watch apparently excellent Smallville (I have only seen a couple of episodes), the very good non-comic-based Heroes, and a plethora of cartoons, both good and bad.

Which brings me to the glorious standard of animated superheroes: the DC animated universe (DCAU). In it, we were given the absolutely phenomenal Batman: The Animated Series, the consistent Superman: The Animated Series, a couple of still-good but more obscure cartoons (such as Static Shock), and the pinnacle of superhero cartoons: Justice League Unlimited (which began life as the two-season Justice League).

Other DC entries have been, admittedly, child-oriented crap, and it's no accident that the aforementioned DCAU series was produced by the venerable Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, who have nothing to do with DC's other cartoons.

Marvel cartoons have only come close to the quality offered by the DCAU once, with the 1990s cartoon version of the X-Men.

Unfortunately, and somewhat inexplicably, Warner Brothers and DC pulled the plug on the DCAU, and motion picture comic fans have been feeling the sting ever since.

Justice League Unlimited was, and I can't emphasize this enough, the best superhero cartoon television series of all time. In fact, if one includes the DCAU Batman and Superman series, what we witnessed was the best superhero television-in-general series of all time.

Mature storylines, rife with violence, sexual tension, and geopolitical plots, supported by a who's-who of DC comic book characters, made this the must-see comic adaptation of the past, well, ever.

The characters were developed, dimensional, and depicted both strengths and weaknesses often ignored by other series. Even Superman, the one character most easily turned cardboard, was written with an attitude that made you love him or hate him, depending on what he was in the middle of.

The show explored relationships the comic book universe rarely explored, or even thought of (a hint of a Batman-Wonder Woman love affair was fantastic, even if underdeveloped and short-lived). The black Green Lantern, John Stewart, was taken from his stereotypical roots and given a believable background worthy of a superhero. And the list goes on.

But, alas, the show is no more, having been canceled in 2006. As such, we'll never get to see the Dini-Timm version of the Legion of Superheroes, set up via a backdoor pilot in an episode in the final season of JLU. We'll never get to find out what happened to Lex Luthor and Darkseid, who disappeared together in a blaze of glory in the series' final episode. We'll never know if the JLU was able to save Longshadow from his degenerative state. And we'll never get to see if Green Lantern reveals to Hawkgirl that he met their child in the future.

And that just plain sucks.

In all honesty, Heroes is not as intriguing as JLU was. As a cartoon, JLU wasn't limited by special effects, or by large casts. As a cartoon, it could sneak in pop-culture references without the gratuitous eye-rolling that often acompanies an audience reaction to a live-action series. As a cartoon, well, it could do damn-well whatever it wanted.

DC should bring it back. Given the current muddled state that DC's actual comic book universe is in, JLU was, quite simply, the best and most consistent product they were putting out.

Don't let it fade away.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Presidential Qualifications

Several groups of people often complain that the Constitutional requirement that a person be born a naturalized citizen of the United States is anachronistic and unnecessary. As a result, these groups advocate an Amendment to the Constitution lifting that requirement.

I tend to agree, but I'm also in favor of more requirements for the Office of the President. A lot more, in fact.

No, I'm not convoluted enough to think it'll ever happen, but here's what I'd like to see in a Presidential Qualification Amendment.

1) Lift the naturalized citizen requirement. However, add the requirements that a candidate must (at the time of their inauguration) be a US citizen for no less than 35 consecutive years, and cannot have held a foreign citizenship in the last 21 years.
2) A candidate must have a minimum of 3 years military service (active duty).
3) A candidate must have been in public office at the State or Federal level for a minimum of 4 years.
4) This one's a kicker: a candidate must have earned a PhD (preferably from a public university).

Yeah, these are a bit extreme, but why not? Since they already have to be 35 years old, they have plenty of time to obtain all of those prerequisites. Indeed, the youngest President-elect to date was JFK at 43-years old (Teddy was younger when he took over, but he wasn't elected until he was older).

Since the President holds the position of Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, the military requirement seems natural. Also, since most Presidents historically have met the public office criteria (with the notable exceptions of Washington, Taylor, Grant, Arthur, and Eisenhower - all generals in the Army), that also seems natural.

Sure, the PhD is admittedly a stretch, but wouldn't you want a President who is clearly highly educated?

Also, get rid of term limits. There are natural term limits to the Presidency; it's called an election every four years. If the man (or woman) is doing a good enough job that enough Americans approve and want that person to stay in office forever, then why not?

Getting rid of term limits would also allow former Presidents to serve as VPs, cabinet members, and other positions in the line-of-succession for the Presidency. I admit this would be a rarity (John Q. Adams is the only President I can think of who even bothered with public office after his term as President), but why eliminate the possibility? After all, these people are supposed to be our "best and brightest" (save the jokes, please).

Again, I hold no illusions that this would ever happen, but it would be nice, no?

Irreview, Book Review: The Nutshell Technique

I have, to date, read well over two dozen books on screenwriting and its related mediums (theatre, specifically).  While most - if not all -...