NFL Week 17

The final week of the season is by far the most frustrating to me. I stay far away from any game where starters might be rested or teams might be tanking for draft position, unless I'm super-confident. Do you feel comfortable with picks in the last week? A few I would go with:

Chicago at Detroit -3
San Francisco at St. Louis -7
Baltimore at Oakland -10
Cincinnati at NY Jets +10 (I'm pretty sure the Bengals are still jockeying for their exact playoff position?)

Music Tuesdays (feat. Smile Like You Mean It)

For the record, Smile Like You Mean It is not a band, it is a blog run by Caitlin McCabe - or as we call her, C-Mac. After going toe-to-toe in last week's cool commercial throwndown (how dare you pick against us, Grace :), we'll keep it collaborative with some music picks like we've done before.

DJ Earworm - United State of Pop 2009 (Blame it on the Pop)

Our friend luseelooo linked me to the below mashup, with which I immediately fell in love. We all already know from our discussion of Music Tuesdays at Smile Like You Mean It that I'm a fan of EDM, and while it may not have surfaced here at FIWK, I'm a huge fan of Glee, so it makes sense that I'd be a fan of DJ Earworm. I challenge you to listen to this mashup of Billboard's Top-25 of 2009 and not bob your head; you can't do it.

Weekend Comedy 12/28

This was taken directly from the commercials that Scott threw down earlier this week... make sure you watch his "auto tune the ads" link, it's fantastic also

NBA Salary Woes: The Maynor Trade

Yesterday the NBA's Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder completed a trade that sent guard Eric Maynor and forward Matt Harpring from the Jazz to the Thunder in return for the rights to a German forward who will never play in the NBA. The only reason the Thunder included anything at all is because NBA rules say teams have to trade something tangible. The real benefit that the Jazz received from the Thunder? As John Hollinger's article explains, the Jazz will save more than $10 million dollars by dumping two dead-weight contracts on the Thunder, who are far below the luxury tax threshold.

Commercial Throwdown - American Express vs Virgin Atlantic

Caitlin of Smile Like You Mean It is championing this commercial from Virgin Atlantic:

You are now free to vote for ours, which is superior. Just like our last throwdown was superior.

Neither is as mind-blowing as the HTC 'You' commercials but ours amused me as much as the Jack in the Box prison commercial, albeit with a different humor style.

Side note: this song, Bach's Prelude to Cello Suite no.1, is amazing and also featured in one of the best moments from the West Wing

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 12/22

Two weeks ago, I noted that I thought that Alex Smith could (and would) be a strong starting QB in the NFL over the next half-decade. That said, I was extremely frustrated with his performance this weekend (42.3 passer rating) due to what appeared to be horrible decisions - not throws. However, Mr. Maiocco has calmed me down with his article in the Press Democrat yesterday - an article focused on consistency.

It's widely known that the Niners haven't exactly the best run organization this decade, so we'll look to one of the best for guidance after the jump.

Scotland's Hebrides

In the same vein as my Western Australia wanderlust, I present to you a kickass series of National Geographic photos of Scotland's Hebrides islands. I haven't been to the upper highlands or the islands around Scotland, but this looks amazing. Even a basic Google Image search for 'Hebrides Scotland' turns up amazing photos. What's the most photogenic scenery you've been to, and how does this compare?

NFL Week 15 Picks

The picks this week are weird. Three games are off the board (at least where I'm looking) owing to either injuries or "will the team rest its key guys" questions. A lot of other games are also in doubt because of resting the starters concerns. Here's what I would pick this week:

New Orleans -7 vs. Dallas
Baltimore -10.5 vs. Chicago
Oakland +14 at Denver
NY Giants -3 at Washington

And I have the following question: is Cleveland (+1.5) at Kansas City the worst game of the year? Or is that reserved for the Kansas City - Oakland game in a week?

Mr Period and Friends

The topic of our favorite accoutrements came up recently over at C-Mac's blog, leading to a reflection of my all-time favorite shirt. I would like to share the subject of that shirt with you. He is Mr. Period from Penny Arcade. He appears occasionally to help gamers with their grammar and to clarify social misunderstandings, when not counseling confused numerologists. He is also the subject of this badass garment.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 12/15

I guess we found "Frank the Tank". I told you he was fun to watch - he's an absolute beast when it comes to breaking tackles, and has an awesome explosion when it comes to cuts in the open field. Both can be seen in his Week 14 Highlights.

On a post-related note, anyone care/able to explain to me the "Crabtree Shuffle" seen after the jump?

NFL Week 14

Man, did we drop the ball, but now we're going to get back on track up on the horse. I actually picked the Browns +10 last night, but didn't say it here, so I won't count it. Indy (-7) vs. Broncos looks good. Minnesota (-6.5) vs. Cincinnati could be interesting. Jacksonville (-2.5) vs. Miami could be close with playoff implications and the battle for AFC supremacy in Florida. I don't know who to pick in the NYG (-1) vs. Philly. If SF had won last week and Arizona had lost, then this week's matchup would be REALLY interesting, but now it's not. How do you feel about that Scott? It wasn't until I checked the NFL TV Distribution Map at that I realized there are 10 early games on Sunday and only 3 afternoon games...does that seem strange to anyone else? The sports bar is going to be almost empty when I go watch the Chargers.

Famous Bruins Draft

Ok. we're going to keep this draft idea going... we'll just switch up the topics each time. Fors this draft we're going with famous UCLA Bruins. The only rule up for debate is whether this should only include students, because John Wooden actually went to Purdue. First up, Scott, then MP, then Aaron, then Royce... standard snake style draft and all.

Random Thoughts Thursday

Inspired by Aaron's random thoughts, the assorted links blogs by Matthew Yglesias and Marginal Revolution, and Ezra Klein's "tab dump" posts, here some links I've been reading but don't have a strong angle to craft whole blogs around:

- I enjoyed this transcript of William Faulkner's great acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature while looking for a transcript of Obama's acceptance speech

- the public intoxication blog's fondness for the scale of 1 to 10 makes me want to use the scale in more daily situations... how much did you enjoy these random links, on a scale of 1 to 10?

- the site It Starts With Us is interesting (if sappy) for its concept, and I agree generally with this article describing why your attitude matters - because you influence others by proxy, and vice versa

- National Geographic has a photo gallery of the Best US Drives; a quiz about Jamaica; and a wintertime photo tour of the US

- the list of men who look like old lesbians that Scott linked to... seriously, it slays me

- Bill Simmons' discussion in his BS Report on 12/7 with Dave Jacoby that they had a fantasy draft of "celebrities most likely to be unfaithful in the next 12 months" a la Tiger... I move for FIWK to conduct more such random fantasy drafts

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 12/9

Arghhhhh. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. Grrr......... What happened to Frank Gore?

Listing the ways why this List of Lists rocks...

So, while wandering through one of the blogs on my list (look! another list!) of "blogs through which I wander" (cause, you know, it couldn't be my list of "blogs I wander through" due to that whole preposition deal...), I came across their "Top 20 Internet Lists of 2009".

To better illustrate why I am in love with this list, I will, of course, provide a list:

Don't Tread

MP shared this rap about soccer with me, and I am passing it along:

I Am Tiger Woods...But Who Am I?

Who is Tiger Woods, really? Is it a question that any of us - anyone at all - can answer with any certainty?

I don't mean for this to turn into a People-style expose on all that has happened in TigerWorld of late. Rather, this will be my take on the bizarre and meticulous crafting of Tiger's image and persona.

Madden style fantasy draft

Ok, we're going to do a Madden style, new franchise, four team fantasy draft. The four of us are going to draft every position, both offense and defense, one at a time, snake style draft. You have to explain your pick and maybe eventually I'll organize all the picks somewhere. Now this is a new franchise so age and salaries matter. We'll use a $127 Million salary cap. For each pick give the name, position, age, and salary (the cap #). Then explain your pick. You also need to come up with a team name. Yes, each of these teams will be loaded (kind of like 4 Pro-Bowl teams instead of two). Royce is up first, then MP, then Aaron, then Scott.


This is by Amy Hoeck. Here are some of her other works of art. I ask for your opinions.

I like that it is a unique idea. I like her ability to capture photographic details, such as light reflecting off the ketchup or the cellophane wrappers (on one of her other paintings). I want to spread the word among our vast readership.

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 6

The focus of this chapter, titled "Piecework," is on doctors' pay and its inevitable connection to the health insurance industry. Gawande develops his thoughts on health insurance further in his New Yorker article on health care costs which was published this summer. Doctors' pay is also informed to some degree by the malpractice lawsuits they face, the subject of the previous chapter.

Random thoughts because I feel guilty about not adding in a while.

So I am sitting in BJ's watching the Chargers, enjoying a Piranha Pale Ale, and have decided to add many random thoughts since last Wednesday.

I love micro-breweries. BJ's Piranha Pale Ale today, Rock Bottom's Pale Ale on Friday. I always enjoy them.

Sitting in a random sports bar, watching your favorite team, but it's not the local team, it's always nice to sit down next to someone cheering for your team as well.

I LOVE pickup football games. I prefer tackle, but I'll take touch or flag. I can throw pretty well, but in a pickup game, as the QB, it's more important to make sure everyone on your team has some good catches and/or TDs they can remember.

It makes me happy to see the bruises on my arms and legs from a tackle football game.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 11/24

This just in! Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The Niners dropped their tampering charges against the Jets related to Crabtree. Wow - that was hard to predict; the only surprise about the story is that it came so late. Perhaps the Niners simply wanted to avoid looking like the initial filing wasn't completely empty by not dropping the charge immediately after signing Crabtree last month.

In related news, Crabtree scored his first TD this past weekend - a beautifully thrown pass from Smith, followed by a legitimate, "I've been in the league a while" play by Crabtree. My thoughts on this, and more, after the jump.

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 5

Titled "What Doctors Owe," the fifth chapter of Better continues the discussion of doing right and focuses on malpractice lawsuits.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch (on Friday) - 11/17 (or 20)

FYI - I was getting my arse kicked in Vegas on Tuesday, which hopefully explains why this is late...

I get a feeling that last Thursday's "win" was what Coach has been looking for this past year.


The defense shows up in all the important instances.

The offense "manages the game": Gore goes for 100 and a TD as Smith doesn't lose the game for us.

Creative Blogs that Impress Me

I just want to share a series of cool blogs I read regularly that really impress me with their creativity. Generally speaking, I am most impressed by people who do things well that I can't do well myself (I call this the Dwight K. Schrute Tipping Rule, in honor of a great line from The Office). The following three blogs are creative in ways I am not.

A Life in Translation, run by Jamie Varon, has a joyous layout and style. It covers Jamie's life in Italy and her writing style is creative and fun; the blog is also full of great photos.

Une Femme Curieuse is, as far as I can tell, a lifestyle blog simply run by a creative person. The layout is very cool and the subject matter generally touches on interesting subjects, similar to Smile Like You Mean It.

I consider Your Ill-Fitting Overcoat the poet of the bunch. I am regularly blown away by the writing on the site, and the photos, language, and subject matter stoke my imagination on a regular basis. Plus you get recipes thrown in the mix, which is nice.

You have any suggested blogs to add to my favorites?

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 4

The fourth chapter of Atul Gawande's Better moves the book into its second section, titled "Doing Right." This is one of three core challenges Gawande laid out in the book's introduction and which we briefly touched upon in one of our earlier discussions. The chapter is titled "Naked" and concerns the exam room etiquette that doctors and patients expect from one another and often uncomfortably tiptoe around.

Bill Simmons is popular

The New York Times has a Media & Advertising columnist writing about Bill Simmons, probably because his "Book of Basketball" was #1 on the New York Times non-fiction Best Sellers list last week. One things he tried to do was get a discussion with readers, so I tried to create a new email address for FIWK readers (quick betting line: O/U 7.5 readers* not counting the four of us?) to contact us directly without having to add a comment.

But FIWK@gmail doesn't work because Gmail requires at least 6 characters and F*ckIfWeKnow doesn't work because Gmail doesn't allow special characters (*). Ideas? Do we even need a separate email address?

*I'm counting readers as people who have come directly to our site to see if we have put up a new post.

HowStuffWorks Dominates Us

I read regularly. I love their blogs. I listen to their Stuff You Should Know podcast weekly. The site is awesome, it's packed with interesting stuff. It covers a spectrum of topics. I am always learning something. The research is solid and frequently leads me to other interesting sites or articles. In short, it does a lot of the stuff that FIWK tries to do - but a whole lot better than us.

Have you ever visited HSW and, if so, how do you feel about they way they present information? Too much stuff all shotgun blasted at the reader at once, or an interesting selection of articles for you to parse at your leisure?

Best Places to Raise Your Kids

I love everything about the "Best Places to Raise Your Kids" list on BW right now. I love reading about these suburbs and towns, I love the real estate angle, I love that they picked a place in each of the 50 states, I love the unintentional comedy of placing superimposed pictures of people doing unrelated activities over scenic shots of the towns, I even love the failed attempts at choosing some of those scenic shots. Just look at the first example in Tallahassee - they couldn't have found a better pic of Dothan that doesn't include a knocked-over Yield streetsign and an overgrown stucco wall? Really? Why are the mother and child in Montana wearing snow gear and shades to visit the town hall in summer? It remains unclear.

No, it does not bother me that I am apparently a shill for Business Week. And yes, I am curious why none of BW's best cities to live in appear on this list - a message that cities are not good places to raise children?

The Morality of Incentives

In keeping with my niche of "Business Week reactions" (as Scott called me out on), I found this BW article on the morality of incentives fascinating. The general idea is that introducing money into the equation takes morality out of the equation. A bit counterintuitive, and this assumption is backed up by some studies I am not familiar with, but I find the concept and the suggested fix intriguing.

Do you buy the argument that the current incentive system is harming morality in business? If so, and you were a shareholder of a bank, would you be in favor of completely removing incentives from the executive positions?

Favorite Cultural Aphorisms from Sports

You know what I'm talking about: a saying from the world sports which aptly describes a common situation in society at large. It can be a theme or an idea or a situation-specific descriptor. Anything at all.

What are your favorites? Some of mine:
- swinging for the fences
- he outkicked coverage
- a pancake block
- a buzzer-beater
- we have this on the goal line
- the full court press
- the point guard for a project

BusinessWeek: How to Cut Health Care Costs

BusinessWeek's cover article this week is titled "Why Wait for Health Care Reform?" and features the article 10 Ways to Cut Health Care Costs Right Now as well as an accompanying slideshow of ways hospitals can reduce their expenses.

Many of their suggestions are similar to suggestions Atul Gawande made in his New Yorker article over the summer. I would argue that the BW cost cutting plans don't go deep enough - for instance, how can insurers or the gov't mandate "fewer tests" without the medical profession altering the culture in which the decisions to order those tests get made? Gawande makes a strong case that this mentality is deep-seated and growing in the medical profession. Another question I have is that, if insurers have the power to do this now and BW is correct that it would help them, regardless of insurance reform, then why are costs still going up? Why are none of these fixes being considered? Why the inertia preventing improvement? The answers remain unclear.

The Transformation of Adam West

Back in the day Adam West played Batman on TV. At some point he transformed his trademark role from being known as the caped crusader to being known as the Mayor of Quahog on Family Guy. I assume most young people know him better for the latter role than the former. He's taken on the persona of an incredibly self-referential comedy figure on the show who has taken on a life of his own. So how did he go from this to this:

NFL Week 10 Picks

In lieu of linking to the increasily unreliable Bill Simmons and his MIA picks column, here is a link to Rick Reilly's most recent column which cracked me up.

Here are the picks I like this week:
New Orleans -13.5 at St. Louis
Tampa Bay +10 at Miami
Denver -3.5 at Washington
Green Bay +3 vs. Dallas

Who ya got?

The Metaphysics of Pop Culture

Pop Culture is a bizarre phenomenon - part science, part art, part WTF?!

People & fads come and go, and popular is usually in the eye of the beholder - or whoever is choosing the latest cover for US Weekly. I've always had a strange fascination with the deeper movements in, around, and behind Pop Culture: the metaphysics of Pop Culture, if you will.

It all started with a simple enough question: Do the characters on Friends watch Seinfeld?

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 3

To continue the chapter-by-chapter discussion of Better by Atul Gawande, here's a quick overview of Chapter 3: Casualties of War. It covers the efforts of battlefield surgeons in Iraq and Afghanistan to save as many wounded in the wars as possible.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 11/10

"The Crabtree Curse"?

Better by Atul Gawande: Chapter 2

It has been over 2 months since my chapter 1 recap of Atul Gawande's Better. I've delivered very little after chapter 1 and Gawande's bio discusssion a while back. Despite my lack of activity, I have been progressing and feel the book is important enough to continue discussing.

Chapter 2 is titled "Mop-Up" and covers the World Health Organization's efforts to minimize the spread of a polio outbreak in India a few years ago.

HTC "You" phone commercial

I think this commercial does an awesome job of visual storytelling

NFL Week 9

I know, LT isn't what he used to be, but this is the first Google Image when you search 'chargers vs. giants.'

Simmons wrote about his book signing tour along with his Week 9 picks. Mikael and I witnessed him pull out his Blackberry to take a photo of the Grizzlies fans. Another guy came by later wearing a Pau Gasol black Memphis jersey, but did not get his picture taken.

Simmons poor showings the last two weeks have mirrored my own setbacks, even though I often make my picks before Simmons releases his column. This week, I'm going with
San Diego +4.5
Baltimore -3
San Francisco -4
Green Bay -9.5
Denver +3

And shit, that matches Simmons exactly... I'm screwed.

The Greatest of All Time - Unitas vs Einstein vs The Beatles

It started with a simple enough question - Who would you list as the top 5 QBs of all time? Seemed like a reasonable list of guys like Marino, Montana, Favre, Manning, et al until Aaron threw in an older name: Johnny Unitas. Wha? And then I had to get all meta-debate on us... Isn't the question at the crux of any "best of all time" debate really how much credit to give to the pioneers of a given field, and how much do you credit the record-setting achievements of those whose work is made possible by their forebears?

It applies across any field

Is Penelope Trunk calling us out?

Looking through some of her posts that I missed, I found this one, titled: Blogs without topics are a waste of time. As a blogger, this hit me right to my core. It felt like the first time I realized I was not going to grow up to play professional baseball. (I think I was 12 at the time.)
Although, I really don't like to consider myself a blogger, and I usually conisder this blog a form of entertainment, rather than a productive endeavor. So maybe I'm happier this way? Or maybe I'm just deluding myself.

Home Workspace Ideas

Our friend C-Mac at Smile Like You Mean It wrote a very interesting blog about creating a home workspace for your personal business needs. I like a lot of her suggestions.

I like UCLA and drinks.

The first one was taken a few years ago. The second was taken a few weeks ago. Both were taken by Jessica.

Rebuilding the Berlin Wall?

The Economist's daily chart today truly shocked me. I've inserted it below, but it can also be found here.

I'm not all that familiar with Eastern Europe, but a few recent articles on the Economist, such as this one, suggest that many Eastern European countries have been more severely hurt by the "Great Recession" than those of the more developed Western Europe. An interesting study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace further notes that this is the case.

With that in mind, I'd love to see results from public opinion polls a few years back to see how those stacked up against the 1991 base year. I'm thinking the 2005 results would show the "glow" brightening.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 11/3

There are no moral victories for Mike Singletary, but there sure as hell are for Scott, and the Niners game this past weekend was about as big a moral victory one can have without actually winning the game (can one consider an actual victory a moral victory as well?). I'm gonna keep this one short. We've played 6 quarters with Alex Smith as our QB, and have looked decent in all of them (better than decent some would say). Crabtree's looked good, and the defense has played very solid (although Clements is out for 6-8 weeks).

I'll ask one question: who wins the NFC West?

Buzz Beast: Sweet Hollywood Crib

In the spirit of Hot Properties, cool places and the cool things posted daily on Buzz Beast, here is an absolutely sick (in a good way) house near Lake Hollywood taken directly from Buzz. I love everything about this house and recommend visiting the link for a large selection of photos.

NFL Week 8

I feel like sports books are doing a much better job now. San Diego -16.5 is the biggest spread so far this season. Five of thirteen games have double digit spreads, and Dallas is favored by 9.5. Here's Bill Simmons picks. Let's get to it, I'll take:
Indianapolis -12
New Orleans -10
(I'd take them regardless of the spread.)
Cleveland +13
Denver +3.5
(And I'm picking them to lose straight up.)
Arizona -10 (Arizona is playing well on both sides of the ball and Carolina is not.)

The first multi-person-dual-game-running-diary

So normally, the NFL makes an effort to not have the two New York teams play at different times to maximize TV ratings in the largest TV market in the US. This Sunday, the Jets were scheduled for the early game and the Giants @ Philadelphia was scheduled for the 4:15ET time slot. However, as Peter King points out, since the Phillies are in the World Series the Eagles game would be ending 30 minutes before the start of the Phillies game, just across the street, putting 130,00 drunk Philadelphians in the same spot going opposite directions. Apparently, the Philadelphia police force wasn't large enough to handle this, the the NFL was nice and moved the Eagles game to the early time slot. What does this mean for you? Now Fox is able to put the Packers-Vikings game (aka, the Brett Favre Indecision Bowl) on nearly every home in America (except for Arizona and the Carolinas). So from 1:00PT we will bringing you live commentary on both the Chargers-Raiders game (full disclosure: two of us grew up in San Diego and are full-fledged Charger homers) on CBS and the Packers-Vikings game on Fox. Here are a few things to consider:

TheFunTheory {dot} com

So I randomly stumbled upon The Fun Theory just now (I think CNN sent me there), and am in love with the concept: let's make "doing better" fun! I hope they've got updates every 10 minutes; otherwise I'll be bored.

Car Design: McLaren MP4-12C

In the spirit of our design blog friends Buzz Beast and Smile Like You Mean It, here is a quick look at the newly announced McLaren MP4-12C supercar.

Malcolm Gladwell - Offensive Play

In light of Roger Goodell speaking before Congress on concussions, I wanted to make sure everyone read Malcolm Gladwell's piece from the New Yorker with great information on concussions and is able to make a connection between football and dogfighting. He includes stories about Kyle Turley, Michael Vick and neuropathology. He provides plenty of data and support that leads to the following quote:

BW: BMW Links Exec Pay to Line Workers

This BusinessWeek article is very light on details, but I find BMW's concept of creating a consistent compensation policy among all levels of its workforce interesting. Personally I think the most logical scenario for any bonus or salary increase is for it to be tied to overall company performance. Hopefully that's what BMW is doing for all its employees - not tied to stock price, mind you, but another, truer measure of the company's health. Do you think other companies might emulate BMW's compensation policy?