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?

Energy Innovation: The Smart Grid

A major factor to consider with renewable energy is that they tend to be located in specific geographic regions in the US. As laid out in this BW article on improving the grid, solar has the strongest concentration in the southwestern deserts while wind has the strongest concentration in the northern plains. Of course, spending $3.4 billion of federal money on the grid in order to create an open playing field for all types of energy sources threatens the business model of existing suppliers.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 10/27

I'm ashamed to say I didn't watch the game this weekend, so my comments about Crab's first game along side VD will all be 2nd-hand. However, I will try to make it up to you with a semi stream-of-consciousness link montage.

NBA Preview by Bill Simmons

With his NBA Preview, two part column, Bill Simmons has set the stage for the coming NBA season. ESPN has also posted its NBA Power Rankings for the year, listing the Lakers #1 as is customary for the defending champ. Season tipoff is tomorrow, so it's time for us on FIWK to talk some NBA also.

BusinessWeek on China's Economy

In a long and interesting article, BusinessWeek covers the present and the future of China's economy. As I was reading it I kept thinking back to our World Is Flat discussion and its global implications.

NFL Week 7 Picks

After getting blasted by underdog covers last week, I am going back to the well to make some week 7 picks. Here's what I like:

CHIEFS (+4.5) over Chargers
Patriots (-14.5) over Bucs
Colts (-13) over RAMS
Packers (-7) over BROWNS

Who do you like this week?

America's Favorite Candies

I almost flipped my lid when I saw this BusinessWeek list of America's 25 Favorite Candies because GUM IS NOT CANDY!!1! Despite what Scott says in praise of gum it is not even in the same stratosphere as the superdelicious chocolate and candy treats on this list. You can't even digest gum! There were some other oddball selections as well... Twizzlers? Wtf, America?

I watched the UFL last night

I sat down to watch TV for an hour or so and my choices were a college football game between two teams I don't care about (Florida St-North Carolina), NASCAR, and ESPNEWS... so I started flipping through channels and found the UFL playing on Vs. I came in at halftime with FL leading CA 17-0 and FL promptly went down the field and kicked a field goal to lead 20-0. Not a great game, but I was watching to

Ave: High Speed Trains Done Right

Today BusinessWeek (my old standby) has an article up about the high speed Ave trains that cross Spain's plains. I took a Madrid to Sevilla trip when I was in Spain and it was a great experience. The Aves might be a good template for a US high speed train, which Obama has set aside $13 billion in stimulus money for.

I like Kaiser Permanente

So over the weekend I got a mark on my leg. It was about one inch in diameter, with a small white pustule in the center. I thought it may have been an ingrown hair or bite, and those around confirmed it was a spider bite. Yesterday

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 10/20

This Sunday represents Michael Crabtree's homecoming (hence the Texas Tech picture below). I said this a few weeks back, but it truly is amazing how quickly things can change over the course of a few weeks. Matt Maiocco reported yesterday that Josh Morgan remained on campus over the bye week to help Crabtree "learn the position"; essentially, Morgan is teaching his position to his replacement - never a good situation, but truly shows Morgan's character.

This Just In - Ryan Howard is a Beast

By hitting a 2-run jack in the 1st, Howard's lengthened his playoffs RBI-streak to 8 games. He's pretty good.

Abracadabra, What can I Grabbya?

Everyone loves getting 2 tacos for a buck - in fact, my friends and I often gamble in Jack-tacos. However, do you love Jack's tacos as much as this guy loves giving them to you?

What others can you come up with?

Elephant Seal: The Slippery Slope

Our friend at The Elephant Seal has a nice column today about slippery slopes and replay in baseball which I find interesting both as separate topics and combined.

Two of my photos from Paris

You can see Rodin's The Thinker below the Eiffel Tower. There is a Statue of Liberty, not far from the Eiffel Tower, on the Seine.

Tour Eiffel is tall enough to dominate the Paris skyline and be seen from many vantage points in Paris.

NFL Week 6 Picks

There are a lot of good lines this week, and some flat out good games. I also have hit the point of evaluating certain teams based on trustworthiness, which I'll save for a later article. Here are the lines that intrigue me:

Cleveland at Pittsburgh -14
Kansas City at Washington -6.5
Philly at Oakland +14
Buffalo at NY Jets -9.5
Chicago at Atlanta -3.5

Here are the good matchups:

NY Giants at New Orleans -3
Baltimore at Minnesota -3
Denver at San Diego

Gum Flavors are Getting Stale

I love gum for two reasons:
  1. It keeps my ADD in check for a good 2 hours - no really, it does! - which not much else can do.
  2. I love all the different flavors you can find, as evidenced by this rather random Wikipedia page
With that 2nd point in mind, I've been dying to find out what random flavors of gum people want. For me, I'd love to try a stick of coffee gum, or blow a chocolate chip cookie dough gumball. What say ye?

Santa Monica Public Library

This here is in praise of the Santa Monica Public Library.

The Hot Property Blog

I was recently turned on to the Hot Property Blog over at Business Week which I have enjoyed reading. It takes the general BW tone of "bland informational posts" but is a nice primer for general real estate trends. I do wish it would rely more on expertise, because rather than ask Could Home Prices See a Double-Dip? they could easily do the research and present a well-formulated opinion (consensus of people I've talked to anecdotally: yes we could see a double-dip). Also their feature on practically free houses in the US was an interesting read. They are on my regular reading list now.

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 10/13

Disclaimer: this week's version will be skewed by the clusterfuck that was the Niners performance this past weekend.


No - that's not Michal Crabtree signing his contract, but  I imagine him walking into the conference room with a hat similar to the one worn above.

Scientific American: Should Thursday Be the New Friday?

Over the summer Scientific American made its case for the work week consisting of four ten-hour days - or, from the perspective of employees, the weekly three-day weekend. I vote yes to this. Then again at my work I have ten hour days regularly anyway, so I think my company would lose more time than it would gain from 4-day initiative. How would this affect your work?

Twitpay for your newspaper

We have discussed the concept of Twitpay before, and Scott noted the possibilities of creating a platform for making quick and easy payments even from phones.

An easy, comprehensive service like Twitpay makes more and more sense the more I think about it. For example, take Mark Cuban's "Note to Newspapers" ideas and consider that in order to pay the LA Times or whoever you could use your existing Twitpay (or PayPal) account and just zap them the $0.50 for the in-depth article you want to read, or the $1.99 for today's paper online, or even the $50 for your yearly subscription, or whatever the amount comes to. The main point of Cuban's that I completely agree with is that people use Amazon all the time because it's super easy - they have one-click payments, remember all your info, keep your queue, make recommendations, etc. The ease-of-use features that make Amazon great drive more sales than obtuse systems for payment, shipping, and all that.

I was also surprised to see that iTunes leads online marketplaces in number of active users with 100 million, compared to Amazon's 94 million and PayPal's 75 million. Do you think that if a service like Twitpay or PayPal became a more comprehensive platform for easy online transactions, it would grow its market share versus that of iTunes or Amazon? Or do you think those two existing marketplaces will instead grow their services into arenas like the one Cuban talks about?

Business Week: Best Young Entrepreneur Finalists

Business Week has put up its twenty five finalists for Best Young Entrepreneurs under the age of 25. These are the kind of business owners you'd see on Young Entrepreneur Blog or on Jun Loayza's blog. There are some cool people in here with some interesting businesses. Anyone stand out to you?

From, Random Thoughts from People Our Age

This link was forwarded by a friend, and I have nothing to add: Random Thoughts from People Our Age. From I loved every one of them

NFL Week 5 Picks

Simmons put his picks at the end of a startingly long mailbag. After making my Yahoo picks I noticed that almost every game this week is basically one favorite versus one underdog (sometimes severe underdog). It's a lopsided week. Here are the games that stood out to me:

Vikings vs. RAMS +10
GIANTS vs. Raiders +15
NINERS vs. Falcons +2.5
Jets vs. DOLPHINS +1.5

Who ya got?

Health Care - What the F*ck?

What in the hell is going on with health care. Congress can't pass a bill and in the meantime insurers are charging 7% more next year?? What kind of sense does that make?

Meanwhile all kinds of studies are coming out talking about wasted money in health care and the different ways that costs can be trimmed and service can be better. We have previously talked about ways that costs can skyrocket and we previously questioned what Congress' plan was to reduce costs, or if such a plan even exists. It now seems important that we have one.

If Democrats are actively trying to pass health care reform, why are costs going up? Are insurers actively trying to antagonize the public? Is it a giant middle finger to Congress? Are they trying to get as much cash as they can before legislation hits? Am I even asking the right questions? None of this makes any sense.

I'm so confused. I need somebody to make sense of all this - where is Ja?

Tuesday Morning Crabtree Watch - 10/6

Again, head here for part 1, and here for part 2.

Boy, what a difference a week makes; after last week, I would've bet Aaron's first born son on Crabtree not suiting up with the Niners this season. After some shenanigans (see pic below) this week? I'm pushing this to a 50/50 bet.

30 For 30

Bill Simmons has mentioned this project many times, and I won't be in the country for the first two (don't worry, I'm recording them), but I am very excited about ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries and I hope you are able to discuss them, or at least watch them, in my absence.

Weekend Comedy Post 10/3

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Pittsburgh Irates
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Western Australia

In the vein of cool places we'd like to go, I think there's something really appealing about Western Australia. Not just Perth, but the whole scope of the undeveloped natural land there. Something about it reminds me of the American West when it was still developing - a kind of frontier land. It seems like a place where you could have adventures like this LA Times travel writer and get lost from the world. Plus there is a city there called Monkey Mia, which tickles me. Does the allure of unspoiled nature entice you?

Is Google Still the Best?

I really enjoyed today's Business Week article titled Can Google Stay on Top of the Web? It raised a lot of interesting points and talked about the current strengths and strategies of its main competitors in the sphere of dominating the way people interact with internet content. It is a six-page read and it focuses primarily on Google working to improve its search functions.

NFL Week 4 Picks

Another week in the NFL means another week of Bill Simmons NFL picks and us getting to analyze the good games. He also includes his power rankings this week - I disagree that New Orleans is a contender already, they've hardly played anyone. Anyway, after our success last week we are on a roll with the lines. What games stand out to you this week? Mine are:

Redskins (-7.5) over Bucs
Giants (-9.0) over Chiefs
Saints (-7.0) over Jets

Who you got?

Would you want the Olympics in your home town?

The location for the 2016 Olympics will be decided tomorrow. A number of Chicagoans are openly against Chicago winning the bid:

1) The Chicago Tribune had a poll in August that showed
only 47% support Chicago's bid

2) Gene Wojciechowski openly argued against in an article today

3) Some are even actively promoting Rio's bid which is something I am full agreement with.

My question to you is this: would you want your home town to win an Olympic bid?

North Dakota: Very Small

About a month ago Business Week posted an article titled What's North Dakota Doing Right? After reading and considering the article, I have suggested an alternative headline in this blog title.

Turns out Bismarck only has 60,000 people and homes cost an average of $160,000. It's freaking freezing there and it's got 90% farmland, "making it the most rural state in the nation" according to BW. Well, then. May I suggest that if your entire state has fewer people than Fresno (650k) it is not so tough to manage your budget. The recession never affected ND and its 3.6% unemployment because the economy's boom hardly affected the state beforehand - its GDP of $29.4 billion is roughly equivalent to Turkmenistan.

And now to close with a scene from the West Wing:

Donna: Eliminating the term north from North Dakota is an important state issue and the President feels it should be resolved on a state level. While the President is sympathetic towards the cause and understands the large economics ramifications of this name change, he feels the issue is not yet ripe for national attention. The President wishes you well on your endeavors and thanks you for your support.

Man:Uh, Miss Moss? Are you aware that studies clearly show the word 'north' leaves the impression that this state is cold, snowy and flat, significantly depressing tourism and business startup.

Donna: With due respect, sir, your average temperature is 7 degrees. Your average snowfall: 42 inches, and a name change isn't going to take care of that.

Woman: We enjoy roughly the same climate as South Dakota. We took in 73.7 million in tourism revenue last year. They took in 1.2 billion. They have the word south.

Donna: Also Mount Rushmore.