Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Well, I tried to do a 40 x 100 yd on the 2:00 in the pool.

The good news: I made it.

Bad news: it was a challenge; my shoulders were tight afterward.

How I did it: first 10 was {25 3g (three strokes then glide, 25 free, 25 fist, 25 free}
I was 1:52-1:55 for each of these
Next 10: {25 catch up, 75 free} These were 1:45-1:48 each.
Next 10: 100 free. These were 1:42-1:45 each.
Next 10: {25 stroke, 75 free}. These were 1:53-1:56 each. The "stoke" was back, side, side except for the last which was fly.

I got them all in 80 minutes and made every interval. But, when I was ready for the Big Shoulders 5K swim, I could do 3-4 of these kind of workouts every week. So I have some work to do. Here are the results when I last did it (2001).

Hip: so-so today; well enough for me to give it a go at the 24 hour walk this weekend. I am not expecting much; 75+ miles will be a big victory. It is supposed to rain some (what else is new).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

NCAA football: who overachieved? Underachieved?

I like Terry Bowden's football columns. In his latest one, he summarized the latest NFL draft:

What he did was go through the draft, see where the drafted players came from and what round. If, say, a Florida State player was selected in round 1, Florida State got 7 points. A Notre Dame player selected in round 7 would give ND 1 point, an Ohio State player selected in round 2 gave Ohio State 6 points; a TCU player slected in round 6 gave TCU 2 points, and so on.

After all was said in done, the final tally looked like this:

So, let's take a look at the top 10 teams in college football based on the NFL draft:

Team AP rank Record Draft picks Power points
1. Ohio St. #4 10-2 9 53
2. USC #2 12-1 11 52
3. Miami, Fla. #17 9-3 9 46
4. Florida St. #23 8-5 8 43
5t. N.C. State NR 7-5 6 29
5t. Texas #1 13-0 6 29
7. LSU #6 11-2 7 28
8. Virginia Tech #7 11-2 9 26
9t. Georgia #10 10-3 7 24
9t. Oklahoma #22 8-4 5 24

Note the following: (this is Mr. Bowden's analysis):

Now, we can make some interesting observations about the most talented teams in college football and what that means – or should mean.

First of all, when you look at the championship game between USC and Texas and you compare the NFL talent on both sides of the ball, the Trojans should have been able to win that game. They had 11 players drafted by the NFL compared to six for Texas, and more importantly they outscored Texas 52 to 29 in power points. Throw in the fact that they have not one but two Heisman Trophy winners in their backfield, and Mack Brown and his Longhorns deserve even more credit.

Ohio State, USC, Texas, LSU, Virginia Tech and Georgia all had the kind of years that you would expect with the veteran talent that they had. They all had top-10 finishes in the NFL draft and top-10 finishes in the final AP college football poll.

However, what happened to Miami, Florida State and Oklahoma? It appears that each of these teams greatly underachieved last year. I have heard people say that FSU and Miami aren't getting the great players like they used to, but this obviously isn't true. Regardless, most fans will agree that all three powerhouses had disappointing years.

Then there is the enigma that is North Carolina State. The Wolfpack had the fifth-best year in the NFL draft and didn't even end the season in the AP top 25. I have studied the draft for the past several years, and let me say that it is quite unusual for NC State to be in the NFL draft top 10. If you look at every other team that made it you will see that they are all perennially top-10 football teams, and year in and year out have the most players drafted in the NFL.

So as good as Chuck Amato is at recruiting, and yes, the old defensive line coach did have three defensive linemen drafted in the first round, I don't think this will be an every-year occurrence for the Wolfpack. If State is going to continue to have such great days in the draft, it needs to win more than seven games.

Other interesting observations from the NFL draft:

  • Penn State and Alabama finished in the AP top 10 and just barely failed to make the NFL draft top 10, finishing No. 12 and No. 11, respectively.

  • Notre Dame finished the season ranked No. 9 but failed to make the top 25 in the draft, with only three players drafted. Charlie Weis has proved he can coach 'em up, now he has to prove he can recruit 'em up.

  • Is there any doubt Rich Rodriquez of West by God' Virginia did the best job of coaching in the country last year? He went 11-1, beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and had only one player taken in the NFL draft (in the sixth round).

  • Not to alarm anyone, but shouldn't it concern someone that Michigan had no players drafted on the first day of the NFL draft and Ohio State had five taken in the first round?

    Incidentally, which Michigan team did have the best day in the NFL draft? That would be Western Michigan with two second-round picks and 12 power points.

  • Man, have things changed in the talent department at Washington. Only one Husky player was drafted, in the fifth round. I bet Rick Neuheisel would not have let that happen if he was still there. Did I say bet? Never mind.

  • The state of Mississippi has some of the best football players in the country. However, only two players were drafted from the three state universities, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss. Where are Billy Brewer and Jackie Sherrill when you need them?

  • Finally, special recognition goes out to Division I-AA Hofstra, which had two players drafted into the NFL.
  • Interesting, no? (well, interesting if you follow college football). This is why I picked Ohio State to cover the spread against Notre Dame; their only two losses were to no. 1 and no. 3, and I thought that they had much better players, even though Weis did an outstanding job of coaching.

    Why do I say that? After all, Ty Willingham went 10-3 in his first year against a stronger schedule: Weiss went 9-3 and played 4 bowl teams during the regular season, namely Michigan, USC, Brigham Young and Navy. Willingham went 10-3 and played 7 bowl teams, USC, Boston College, Florida State, Pittsburg, Michigan, Air Force, Purdue and Maryland.

    Here is why:

    After Willingham's first year, Notre Dame had 7 players drafted: 1 in round 1, 3 in round 5 and 3 in round 6, for a total of 22 power points (by Bowden's method). By the standards of this year, they would have tied Penn State for no. 12 in the power draft standings. Therefore, based on talent alone, one would have expected Notre Dame to have played well.

    swimming, rationalization and colmes

    First things first: yoga went well this morning and I was able to hold bujapidasana for several seconds (though my exit was far from graceful).

    And no, I don't look nearly as good as the person demonstating the pose here.

    But I did bet my butt off of the ground!

    Later, I put in 22oo yds in the pool, including a challenging (for me) set of 10 x (25 fly, 75 free) on the 2:00. I was 1:40, 1:39, then 1:41-1:43 for the next 7 and 1:44 for the last one. I know; a complete joke by swimmer standards but not that bad for me.

    I've been thinking about the Alan Colmes book that I read as well as the Al Franken book Lying Liars that I've read several times. Franken dismisses Colmes as the "Washington Generals" of the Hannity and Colmes show on Fox News Network.

    Franken is far from the only one who holds such views:

    Colmes Alone
    Alan Colmes is hated by conservatives and mocked by liberals. Will his new book change anyone's mind?

    Alan Colmes knows that progressives don't like his style. But FOX's lone liberal talk-show host is just asking for a little respect.

    He's proud, in fact, of his reputation as the laid-back half of Hannity & Colmes on FOX News. His on-air persona, he says, is consistent with the style of "a true liberal, someone who considers both sides."

    There is, however, one way to raise Colmes' ire: Ask him if he feels like the token liberal on a conservative-dominated network.

    "The only way to make the case that FOX is not fair and balanced is to not give me my due," he said halfway through a recent phone interview about his new book, Red, White and Liberal, his voice rising for the first time. "I'm half the show and I get exactly half the time. To suggest that I'm less potent is just absurd."

    Love him or hate him, liberals need to face the fact that Alan Colmes may well be the most prominent liberal pundit in America today. He shares a full hour with conservative partner Sean Hannity on FOX News every night, and enjoys ratings that best Larry King Live (which airs in the same time slot on CNN) and even the venerable Crossfire. Colmes also spends three hours on the radio every evening as host of FOX News Live. No other liberal commentator can match the sheer volume of Colmes' daily exposure.

    Nor has any other suffered quite as much derision at the hands of his ideological fellow travelers. Eric Boehlert of Salon once called Colmes "unbelievably toothless." Al Franken described him as "the lone Washington General" on FOX -- a reference to the opponents of the Harlem Globetrotters, who were expected to lose every game on purpose -- in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. The progressive media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) wrote that, compared with Hannity, Colmes is "a rather less telegenic former stand-up comic and radio host whose views are slightly left-of-center but who, as a personality, is completely off the radar screen of liberal politics."

    Colmes may never be able to shake this unflattering image completely, but with his new book, he proves he can throw a meaner left hook than his critics might have expected. Among the recent glut of angry left-wing books, Red, White and Liberal is the only one that attempts to actually build a case for progressive politics (as opposed to merely building a case against George W. Bush). But that doesn't mean there's no criticism of the current administration. The book makes persuasive arguments against the Iraq War, Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Bush tax cuts and the war on drugs. And while Colmes doesn't go as far as, say, Ann Coulter in accusing the other side of treason, he does devote a chapter to a theme more appropriate for a nice-guy liberal: "Conservatives are Downright Mean."

    That chapter is supported in part by a sampling of the nasty e-mail poor Alan Colmes seems to be subjected to on a daily basis. Hannity & Colmes viewers write in to say they wish he had been on the late Sen. Paul Wellstone's (D-Minn.) plane and to call him "the most hated man in America," "a yellow bellied communist" and, quite frequently, "gay."

    Despite all that, Colmes says he retains an open mind about politics. He often goes out of his way to demonstrate respect for conservative guests on his show, and one of his book's chapters is titled "Where Right is Right," a nod to the other side of the political spectrum that it's hard to picture, say, Laura Ingraham or Michael Moore making. Some of the chapter is simply an attack on members of the far left, such as those who favor slavery reparations or maintain that Bush is not really president. In other parts of the chapter, though, Colmes strays toward the center, supporting free trade and tougher control of borders -- even going so far as to cite conservative pundit Michelle Malkin as someone who has done "good work" on the borders issue.

    "I want to give liberals hope and conservatives understanding," he told me about the chapter designed to reach out to the right. "Conservatives need to know how someone on the other side thinks."

    Of course, some take this approach of talking to conservatives -- rather than just shouting at them -- as proof that Colmes isn't much of a liberal. FAIR pointed out that in a 1995 interview with USA Today, Colmes described himself as "quite moderate" -- a quote he now says was meant to convey that he thinks his views would be considered moderate if not for the nation's rightward shift in recent years. "I'm proud to be a liberal," he insists. "I'm firmly on the left."

    Red, White and Liberal largely bears that contention out, right down to an attack on "the myth of the liberal media." Colmes takes the standard left line, pointing out that those who run news companies are much more conservative than reporters. He also cites examples of media bias against Democrats, from Whitewater to the treatment of Al Gore in 2000. But here is where Colmes makes a mistake far more pedestrian than the insufficient ideological zealotry of which he is often accused. And that is the sin of failing to stand up to the folks who write his paychecks.

    In his analysis of media concentration, Colmes lists a number of conglomerates -- Disney, Time Warner, General Electric -- but neglects to mention the substantial reach of a certain Rupert Murdoch-owned company called News Corp. He points out that "it's usually a newspaper's executives who decide what editorial positions to take on key issues," but doesn't extend that analysis to the power a former Republican operative (Roger Ailes) has in running a purportedly "fair and balanced" news network.

    Indeed, Colmes never mentions Ailes by name, though he dismisses his influence in one paragraph, asking rhetorically, "So what if my boss is a Republican?" He then points out that other media titans, such as Michael Eisner and Richard Parsons, give money to the GOP. But Colmes is comparing the head of a news network who used to work as a party consultant to CEOs with dozens of properties who have simply given money to a political party. It's not a strong analogy.

    Colmes' defense of FOX against charges of right-wing bias, which takes up several pages in his chapter on the media, isn't much better. He points to a poll that found that the network's viewers aren't particularly more conservative than those of CNN; he also argues that a truly one-sided network simply wouldn't be successful. It's specious reasoning, though, to claim that audience makeup necessarily implies anything about content. And success on cable is all about targeting a specific audience -- which FOX does with great skill.

    Colmes' attempts to rationalize his employment at FOX may leave readers asking whether he is a faux liberal who only looks progressive on a network of right-wingers. I would argue that's not the case. In fact, while co-host Hannity's book, Let Freedom Ring, is full of arguments that could have come directly from Republican National Committee talking points, Colmes stakes out positions well to the left of many of the Democratic Party's leaders on issues from the Iraq War to drugs to welfare.

    But even if Colmes is an authentic progressive, is he a fair match for Hannity and the other bullying loudmouths of the right? That depends on whether you think a good liberal commentator is "someone who considers both sides."

    Ben Fritz writes for Daily Variety and edits the political rhetoric Web site Spinsanity and the satirical Web site Dateline Hollywood.

    I can't make a judgement; I've seen only a few clips of the show. But I have read the book and liked it. In fact, though I am a Franken fan, I think that the following makes some good points but misses the mark:

    Why does it miss the mark? While I agree that Colmes wrote a good book, there is a difference between being an effective author and an effective talk show host.

    When one reads, one has time to let the message sink in, digest it, and then fact check it. One one goes by facts and logic, Alan Colmes makes a strong case.

    But on a talk show, the one who gets the message across is often not the one who makes the stronger logical case.

    For example, think of the accomplished scientist who is trying to speak accurately and honestly about, say, global warming on a talk show. Often he or she doesn't "appear" to be as convincing as someone else who is spouting half-truths and nonsense, at least not to the general viewer.

    In a talk show setting, style matters!

    Political Compass

    I have a Dixie Chicks CD on and am having some fun blogging. But this week, in fact after this post, I go back to work.

    I took the political test at and the results were as follows:

    Your political compass

    Economic Left/Right: -4.13
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.41



    The funny thing is what it says at the 2004 election quiz (where the various candidates were plotted on this grid): both mainstream candidates were on the upper right hand corner. It says something to the effect that, when it comes to Democratic candidates, they have more in common with their Republican opponents than they do with their base voters.

    I have to believe that.