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    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Why can't Utah get any BCS love?

    USC, stop sleeping with ESPN's Mark May (and the pollsters)
    In 2004 an undefeated Utah got shut out of the National Championship game and went on to beat Pittsburgh in the Mountain West Conference's (MWC) first BCS bowl game. In the era before BCS, Utah may have shared the national championship by virtue of going undefeated. Instead, they got a $4.5 million pat on the back, and Urban Meyer ran to the swamps of Florida.

    This year, the Utes are in an even better position, yet still seem to be the poor kid looking in to the party through the window because the doors are all locked. The MWC has taken care of business this year, going 9-5 against BCS foes, with Utah going 2-0. It's also produced 3 high caliber teams (Utah, TCU, BYU) that may all end the season with 10 or more wins and ranked in the top 20 in the nation.

    Here's the stats of the MWC against BCS conferences this year:

    2008 MWC record vs. BCS = 9-5 (5-1home, 0-1neutral, 4-3away)
    MWC vs other conferences:
    MWC vs Pac10 = Wash, UCLA, Stan, Ariz, Ariz St, Cal, Ore St = 6-1
    MWC vs Big10 = Michigan, ND = 1-1
    MWC vs Big East = NONE
    MWC vs ACC = NONE
    MWC vs Big12 = CU, A&M, OU, ISU = 1-3
    MWC vs SEC = Tenn = 1-0

    The BCS computers have Utah ranked #4 with 0.8500 points, lagging only behind Texas Tech (0.9800), Alabama (0.9600), and Texas (0.9300). However, the human pollsters have Utah ranked 7th and 8th, behind Florida, Oklahoma, and USC.

    Yet all three of these teams have a loss, and USC's loss came to an Oregon State team that Utah beat the very next week. In a head to head matchup of results it seems clear that Utah should at least be ahead of USC. I mean, look above, the MWC went 6-1 against the Pac-10 this year, so not only did Utah do better against common opponents, but it navigated a stronger conference field than USC did.

    So, I posed this question to Stewart Mandel, with Sports Illustrated:

    Stewart, what, if anything, needs to happen for Utah to have a shot at the title game? If they go 12-0, they'll have ran the table in a conference that went 9-5 against BCS foes, and beaten the team (Ore. St.) that beat USC. The computers rank them #4 in the BCS standings now, but the pollsters hold them back. If OU beat Texas Tech, then loses in the Big 12 title game, and Alabama stumbles somewhere along the way, and Utah destroys BYU, can Utah get pollster love and make the top 2??

    I don't know if he'll answer my question, but this is my plea: Oregon State, please win out. Utah, kill my alma mater. Tech, lose to Oklahoma. Oklahoma, lose to Missouri. Alabama, just lose, please. Florida, stop sleeping with pollsters. USC, stop sleeping with ESPN's Mark May (and the pollsters).

    If these things happen, then maybe, just maybe, Utah can get a little love.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    I love (miss) X96

    So, leaving Utah, there have been (surprisingly, for me) many things that I have missed. I've actually missed the snow, devotionals, hydroplaning in my car on ice, late nights at Walmart, freezing bleachers for BYU football games, enlightening classes, J Dawgs, mountain biking, and great people.

    But perhaps the thing I miss most of Utah is X96. It's easily in the top 2 radio stations I've EVER heard. I never realized how much its morning show, "Radio From Hell," was a part of my day until I moved back to Houston from medical school and didn't have it. I spent many mornings streaming it online while studying biochemistry. Even today, as I finished up my work at the hospital, and went to study pediatrics, I had that irresistible urge to listen to Kerry, Bill, and Gina. iTunes now has a podcast of it, and calls it,

    "Radio From Hell is the longest running radio program in the Salt Lake City-area market, and is consistently one of the top-rated programs in the area. ... Rolling Stone cited KXRK as one of the top-five rock and roll stations in the U.S."

    Yesterday I was doubly blessed, because while feeding my hunger for X96, Corey O'Brien, the DJ from 2pm to 7pm MST, released ten codes to download the new Nickleback album, Dark Horse, for free. What do you know? I got one! Bonus! When I get home, I'll listen to the new album and let you know how it is.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Combo Breaker

    There is sun peaking through the clouds. There is a silver lining in the tapestry of presidential politics. As the presidential race progressed, many people rightly questioned Barack Obama's pedigree, and his history.

    After all, this man will be president of our country. He is known to have dealings with ACORN, a local activist organization that has decidedly un-capitalistic dreams. Yet, to be truthful, the extent of his dealings and depth of his personal connection are misrepresented by both sides, obscuring true fact for the rest of us. It's probably somewhere in between what Democrats and Republicans assert.

    He also ran on a promise to expand federal housing subsidies, but in Chicago, his federal-private partnership garnered only 11 of 100 points on a federal inspection.

    Lest he be outdone by such stellar managing, he made it clear that his lack of managerial experience was not a problem before applying to be the manager of the most wealthy and diverse entity the world has ever known. He has the supreme experience of being a "community organizer," where he stood before others at local civic centers and railed on the establishment, preaching change. When he effected none, he kept going up the political ladder preaching that same message of change while leaving his previous position without any.

    But let's not let our president-elect's dubious relationships or lack of genuine leadership experience stop us from supporting his socialist policies as he tries to effect change to this nation!

    No! Here, more than ever, we need to put aside our reservations -- genuine though they may be -- and realize that America has done a great and heretofore unthinkable thing. America has chosen an African-American president because it genuinely feels that he is the best candidate for the job.

    Imagine what they'd say, if you went back in time, and told a slave on a plantation in 1858 in Georgia that one day a black man would be president of this country. Imagine what you'd hear in respose to your declaration of Obama's win outside a voting line in the 1870s, where black voters were being harassed by klansmen and turned away by an obsurdly high poll-tax. Envision the scene if you walked into a restaurant through the front, "whites only" door in Alabama in the 1950s and addressed a crowd where the blacks all sat in the back, having come through the back door, and announced this.

    Granted he is half-black, and some, including your's truly, thinks he showed poor form by divorcing himself from his white side - the side he identified with his whole life until Harvard - and transformed himself into a "black man" for political expediency.

    That said, he has still broken a large racial barrier, and done it on a message of hope and change that has unified the country more than anything over the last 8 years. We all, whether we voted for him or not, should do our best to make him a successful president because it will further strengthen destruction of that horrible and artificial wall of race in politics, serve as an impetus to help minority men and women strive to attain high goals (since, yes, somebody has actually done it!), and frankly bring America back to a path of solidarity that will serve it well at home and in the international community. Too much hatred lately.

    Now, if only we can do this without enacting broad-based socialist "reforms"!

    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Does your vote count?

    The most ubiquitous reason for not voting that I hear from friends, acquaintances, and CNN, is that "my vote doesn't count." It comes from Republicans and Democrats (and Libertarians) alike. Living in Texas, my fellow Democrats (yes, I am a registered Democrat) complain that Texas will always be red, so there's no point.

    First, looking at it along party lines neuters the point anyways. Yes, Eugene Volokh just recently made a very cogent argument for voting straight party tickets, but I would counter that if you can educate yourself on the candidates, you should vote individually instead of straight party because people are complex entities and rarely stand with the party platform on every issue. This is incredibly prevalent today, as Republicans are a hodgepodge of Libertarians who cast their vote with a major party and conservative christians.

    Instead, you should look at the elections race by race. Then your vote always matters.

    Second, this feeling of voting impotence is so widespread that it feeds on itself and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just look at Florida in 2000. Clearly, had Democrat voters not thought this, and stayed home, Gore would have taken Florida and the white house.

    This year, because of the euphoria of Obama -- Obamaphoria, so to speak -- numerous democrats DID go out to the polls. The result? Let's look at Harris County, my county and one of the largest counties in the country.

    5 of 6 races were separated by less than 6%
    Historically, Harris county has been strongly "Red." Republicans make up most of the west of the county, in suburbs outside the Houston metropolitan area. The east part of the county is downtown Houston and some blue-collar small cities in the metroplex. It's much more Blue, but never achieves very good voter turnout -- hence the overall Red nature of the county.

    In this election, besides the vote for President of the USA, there were 42 contested elections in Harris county with 2-3 challengers. I'm ignoring uncontested races or races with 4+ challengers, as the odds of receiving a majority vote is infinitely small.

    Harris county went to Obama 51% to 49%.
    Out of the other 42 contested elections, 34 of 42 (81% or 5 of every 6) were decided by margins 53% to 47% or closer. 7 elections were statistically 50/50, separated by mere votes, in a county where each race often garners 600k to 800k total votes. 18 races were 51%/49%, 4 were 52/48, and 4 were 53/47 (and 1 was 54/46).

    Plus, all these elections were for the local leaders that impact the daily lives of voters -- arguably making these races far more important. They determined who'd try their cases in civil or criminal court, who'd determine what roads are built or repaved, and how to best lead the police force keeping the populace safe. That impacts more people on an immediate, temporal level, than whether Obama pulls troops out of Iraq in April 2009 or 2010.

    So, your vote really does count. Remember this, and take pride in standing in line, clicking those boxes, and submitting your ballot. Yours could be the vote that puts one candidate over the edge.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Long Live Comrade Obama!

    Clearly the American people have spoken. Most, nearly 80% purportedly, made up their minds over two months ago. Most in my county, nearly 60% I last heard, voted straight party tickets -- leading to a historically Republican county going 51% to 49% for Obama.

    Obama obviously ran the best campaign, so it's no surprise he won. McCain was incredibly and inexplicably inept at streamlining his campaign's points, becoming assessable to the people, and changing direction when the hot topic moved from Foreign Affairs to the Economy.

    Secondly, McCain was a very poor debater. Numerous times he had opportunities to pin Obama on vague remarks and wrong assertions. Whether done on purpose or not, McCain clearly never took advantage of these moments and hence never took advantage of the debates.

    I can and will go into the interesting points of this election at a later date, but now I want to say,

    "Long Live Comrade Obama!"

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    Presidential Debate 1 Aftermath 1

    Well, the first presidential debate is over, and frankly, it stunk. Hence, I picked my butt up off the couch and took my wife out to sushi. Caught the rest of it on the late night re-runs. Glad I didn't waste my time.

    In support of something political but a lot more enlightening than either the stumbling-bumbling McCain or flowery-but-without-substance Obama gave us last night, here's a link to a Wolf Blitzer interview of Lynn Forester de Rothschild.

    She is a high ranking woman in the Democratic Party who was on their platform committee until recently resigning due to her open support of John McCain for president.

    "Democrat Wolf in impartial journalist's clothing" Blitzer is beside himself to hear that someone could actually, logically, support a Republican. Must-watch TV.

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Who am I?

    I finally have a free hour away from the hospital, and I just watched the latest episode of D.Gray-man. That got me thinking about how to waste time -- and nothing's better than trying to figure out what character I am.

    So, I found out what D.Gray-man character I am, and then went on to see what character I would be from other anime shows I've watched.

    Caveat: Most of these online quizzes suck. Sometimes there was more than one for a show, and I took the character that I "matched" with the most.

    What D.Gray-man Character Are You?
    What D.Gray-man Character Are You?
    Hosted By theOtaku.com: Anime and Fandom

    What Samurai Champloo Character Are You?
    What Samurai Champloo Character Are You?
    Hosted By theOtaku.com: Anime and Fandom

    I am ichigo!

    Which Death Note Character Are You?

    Light YagamiPersonality Test Results

    People see you as serious, stern, and intelligent. You want to win at everything. You hope to cleanse the world of all evil and eventually rule the new world as it's God! You are justice!

    Saturday, July 26, 2008

    Follow the Leader

    Over the last month I have been incognito -- stuck inside a hospital learning how to cut people and stitch them up (and perhaps save a life or two). However, this has not been an unimportant month.

    Last October, for the first time in history, Vietnam was elected to the United Nation's Security Council. This council has 15 members -- 5 permanent members (USA, China, Britain, France, Russia) and 10 rotating members.

    The 15-member Security Council is action central at the United Nations, with the power to adopt binding resolutions, impose sanctions and send peacekeeping missions around the world.

    The presidency of this council rotates monthly, and Vietnam has served as president for this month. With less than a week remaining in July, what has happened? Has Vietnam been a good president?

    Over the Course of July, violence has increased in Afghanistan, including the most deadly attack in three years. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan does have UN involvement. Where is it?

    Hostages were freed in Columbia ... oh wait, the UN didn't have anything to do with that, and it looks like Columbia and the USA may have bent a few international laws along the way.

    I will update this as I find information. Feel free to chime in with thoughts.

    Friday, June 27, 2008

    "I am a Mole." & "Do you read?" Revisited

    Sacrifice your life for the grade. Sacrifice your family for the future.
    Light. Blinding light. My eyes squint, teary; blurred images -- silhouettes -- shift along a field of white. Months of living below ground in the dark are over, and I poke my head out of the hole. A mole above ground ... for a weekend.

    In order to practice medicine in the United States you must pass three licensing exams. The first one, dubbed "Step 1," is taken after your first two years of medical school. This is because the first two years are predominantly class-based basic sciences, and the Step 1 tests student aptitude on these core subjects.

    Due to quirks in the US system, the Step 1 exam has become the primary arbitrator of what residency you get, which in turn decides what specialty of medicine you practice for your life.

    It's pretty important.

    At UT-Houston, second-year classes are year-long, in part because studying for finals helps double as studying for the Step 1. This is when the moles dive DEEP.

    My wife and son left for Utah mid-March, and spent a month there with family so I could study unobstructed at home. At the beginning of April I forwent all fun activities. It was total business. From sunup to sundown, studying was the game. My family returned as block exams rolled around, and I took my studying to school. After that came finals. After finals came five weeks of studying strictly for the Step 1.

    Every day I'd wake up about 6am, get ready and hit the books by 7am. A friend, Marie, picked me up at 8am, and we studied at the library until 3pm. I had a review class from 3pm until 7:30pm M-F, and after getting home, ate dinner and studied some more until midnight. On the weekends it was the same, except no class in the evening.

    Day after day went by. After reading the article that engendered "Do you read?" I started keeping track of the time I spent with my family. Typically, I warmed a bottle for my son when I got up in the morning, and spent 15 minutes feeding him about 7am. Although I saw my wife when I got home about 8pm, I really didn't spend time talking with her. Any "meaningful" time came about 11pm to 1am. Typically for about 1 hour, before I hit the hay.

    That is the high pressure life of a second year medical student. Sacrifice your life for the grade. Sacrifice your family for the future. If you don't get two standard deviations above the mean, you can't choose what you do for the rest of your life. Imagine that...wanting to be an engineer, but someone else telling you that you'll be an electrical engineer versus a chemical engineer. That's the state of medicine today.

    But now the exam is over. I have poked my head above ground. My wife and I spent four days in Corpus Christi to recuperate. Too bad on Monday I start working 120 hours a week during my General Surgery rotation. Here we go again...

    Thursday, June 26, 2008

    Yo, Washington DC! Uphold the Second Amendment!

    [Edited 26 July 2008 -- Absolute % of murders were transposed. Now corrected. The corrected error actually strengthened my argument. Sorry for the inconvenience.]

    That, in effect, was what the Supreme Court said today when it ruled 5-4 that Washington D.C.'s sweeping gun ban was unconstitutional.

    Two points interested me:

    1. Chicago, IL was one of a few cities that have enacted gun bans similarly tough and filed amicus briefs on behalf of the defendant (Washington D.C.). Barack Obama comes from said city, and has made no qualms about his desire to limit gun ownership if he is president.

    2. The writer makes the statement

    City attorneys urged the high court to intervene [overturn appellate court ruling], warning, "The District of Columbia -- a densely populated urban locality where the violence caused by handguns is well-documented -- will be unable to enforce a law that its elected officials have sensibly concluded saves lives."

    There were 143 gun-related murders in Washington last year, compared with 135 in 1976, when the handgun ban was enacted."
    An astute commenter asked,

    What I want to know is what point is being made by saying this statistic?

    There were 143 gun-related murders in Washington last year, compared with 135 in 1976, when the handgun ban was enacted

    Okay, so they had roughly the same number of murders 32 years ago before the ban as they did with it last year. Of course lets leave out the part about population change, culture change, increased drug usage, higher poverety (sic). This statisic (sic) doesn't say anything for or against guns, it's just a pointless statistic.
    My sentiments at first also. However, after reading the comment, I wondered if his and my assumptions were true.

    I won't tackle every variable, but I think the crux of the statistic quoted is population and murders.

    Contrary to my belief, the population of Washington D.C. has actually decreased since the 1960s. In 1976, the population was 702,000 (according to these data). 188 total murders and of those, 135 gun-related murders (according to CNN). That's 1 gun-related murder per 5200 people. In 2006, D.C.'s population was about 581,530 and 169 total murders (143 gun-related last year). That's 1 per 4067 people.

    So, by banning guns in 1976, gun-related murders increased from 0.0192% of the population to 0.0246% -- an absolute risk increase of 0.0054%. A small increase in murders for banning guns? For denying people a constitutional right?

    Wait! Wait, you say. Total murders dropped. Isn't that a good thing? Possibly, except that 72% of murders in 1976 were gun-related and that rose to 85% last year.

    In between 1976 and last year, murder rates actually ballooned (to a high of 481 in 1991) and then fell to current levels all while the population steadily declined.

    My question is thus: If banning guns is so effective, why did gun-related murders rise during the succeeding 30 years? Why did the percentage of murders that were gun-related increase? Why did murders rise from 188 in 1976 to 481 in 1991 before falling to the current level? What happened in 1991 to reverse the trend?

    I think the Supreme Court made the right decision today. Now let's find out what D.C. really did to cut down on crime.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Do you read?

    Today L. Gordon Crovitz, in his article, "The Digital Future of Books," for the Wall Street Journal, said,

    "The not-so-positive case is that, at least so far, we're not giving up on books for the same words on screens – we're giving up on words. Pick your data point: A recent National Endowment for the Arts report, "To Read or Not to Read," found that 15- to 24-year-olds spend an average of seven minutes reading on weekdays; people between 35 and 44 spend 12 minutes; and people 65 and older spend close to an hour." (emphasis added)

    They obviously didn't poll medical students. Right now I average 14 or 15 hours reading a day. I average 5 minutes of seeing my son (while he's awake) and 30 minutes of meaningful conversation with my wife (while she's awake).

    How much do you read?

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Congratulations Heifer International

    Well, it's been a long time coming, but finals got in the way. Sorry.

    Money's collected. Donation's been made.

    Congratulations again to Sara and Heifer International -- The inaugural winner of The Bleeding Ear's "Play For A Cause" March Madness pool.

    This year proved a great success. The tournament had some amazing games, our pool had some ups (MoJo) and downs (StudentsForAFreeTibet ... i.e. me). All in all, it was a lot of fun and a worthy cause was helped.

    Through some generous gift matching, the $50 raised by our pool will actually be two $50 contributions! So, our actual donation raised for Heifer International is $100. Congratulations to all who played.

    Here's the final results for posterity:

    Many of my readers, friends, and family have expressed a desire to play next year. I expect a much larger pool, and greater gift for charity next year. What better way to watch March Madness?

    ***Business: Cards commemorating the donation will arrive in about a week, and receipts for tax purposes (it's a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) will arrive in two weeks. I called in the order instead of processing it online so that individual receipts could be mailed and those who want to deduct their donation may do so.***

    As always, TBE is more than open to ideas on how to improve this pool for next year.

    Once Again, congrats to Sara from Raising My Ebenezer and Heifer International!

    Monday, April 28, 2008

    My Church in the News

    Today many people from the congregation ("ward" as Mormons call it) I grew up attending were interviewed about the polygamous sect in North Texas. Unfortunately, many people today still believe many misconceptions about Mormons, including that we have many wives. FALSE! Trust me, one is enough!

    I don't always understand why these misconceptions persist, since polygamy in my church ended over 100 years ago -- I think it's similar to assuming that everyone from England still dressed like they do in "Pride and Prejudice" and shipped convicts off to Australia. With the past president of our church, Gordon B. Hinckley, appearing regularly on Larry King Live, and two prominent Mormon politicians (Mitt Romney and Harry Reid), you'd think people would have ample opportunity to be educated out of their flat-earth beliefs.

    Some of it stems from overtly harmful and false remarks made by evangelical preachers to lead their flocks astray, but I firmly believe that's the exception (small exception) not the rule. Mostly, I think people hear it through the grapevine, and don't care enough to invalidate the absurdity of it all.

    Nevertheless, with the circus in North Texas regarding the polygamous sect, my church has once again started clarifying the misconceptions and for that I'm glad. Any opportunity to build good will and educate people is a blessing. It's a short video from a local Houston television station, but I think the point is good for everyone.

    I was going to embed the video here, but channel 39 has poor code, and it wouldn't load. I tried for too long, getting Youtube to work easily, but never this video. So, you'll have to click the link and see it for yourself in it's native webpage.

    I know many of my close friends at medical school have had lots of questions for me over the last month, so don't be shy to ask any in the comments section. I will respond, albeit possibly slow since I'm in the middle of finals.

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    I am a Mole

    There's a lot people don't know about medical school. I once tried to blog specifically about it, but two blogs and school took way to much time, and it had to go. I've determined I should post more about my experiences here.

    Medical students are moles. Yes, many of us are hairy and most of us have four appendages.

    Moles live below the surface of the earth. They have full lairs and networks of tunnels connecting one hole to another. They can pop their head up in one yard, only to dive down again and surface far away in another yard.

    Medical school forces even the most intelligent student to study. People tell you medical school is hard, but you never really get it until you're in the fire. Here at my school, we have exams every six to eight weeks. This produces a predictable pattern.

    The first week after an exam you can see medical students all over town. They go clubbing, out to movies, and date. They may even spend time with family. If married, a spouse may remember that he/she is married when the medical student walks in all of a sudden.

    "Oh you. Yeah, a couple years back, we did that thingie with the tuxedo and the white dress and church...you remember don't you?"

    The second week medical students get back to the grind. They start attending classes again, catch up on lectures missed by streaming them online, and go out only during the evenings or on weekends (and usually to do planned activities). This routine extends through weeks three and four, if you're on the six-week schedule, or three through five if you have the eight week version (I'm the latter).

    On the eight week course, things start to get serious in week six. Exams are coming up, and the medical student spends most of the day studying. You can find him or her at school or the library late into the evening. If lucky, you might pull him/her away for a couple hours on the weekend for a big event.

    The seventh week is when the mole fully enters his chambers. The exams are palpable, and stress is everywhere. Men lose hair and women go gray just standing near medical students. If you ask how they're doing, you're liable to get a stare saying "what do you think?" and a verbal "you know ... surviving..." Medical students this week don't exist. They move like wraiths through the house; you notice they're around only because books and piles of papers are moved and food is conspicuously missing from the fridge.

    The eighth week is exam week at my school. One exam a day. Medical students are ineligible to give blood during this week, as they have no blood -- pure coffee courses through their veins. For those whom caffeinated beverages aren't enough, there's caffeinated gum and amphetamines. This week medical students are nowhere to be found -- they get home long after you've gone to bed and arise before you wake up. You notice the sheets are rumpled, but that's about it. If you do run into one during the day, they'll probably mumble something about Tinel's sign, metacarpophalangeal joints, or lupus (the answer's always lupus).

    Friday night, after the last test, the mole pokes his head out of his hole again, and realizes there is life outside of medical school. Time to party; we've got more exams in eight weeks.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    TBE Play For A Cause Final Results

    March Madness is over, and so is the first annual "Play For A Cause" pool here at The Bleeding Ear.

    Congratulations Heifer International (SI)!

    Sara, from Raising My Ebenezer, beat out yours truly and everyone else to win the inaugural prize. She rode to victory on strong first and second rounds and Memphis in the finals. MoJo took second place, after living at the bottom of the ranks all tournament long. MoJo struck out in the middle rounds, but rode Kansas to the title, proving how important it is to get the later rounds correct.

    I have not received the money from many players yet. Please let me know when I can receive the money so I can make the donation. MoJo and National Ovarian Cancer Alliance -- I know where you live! Please send it my way, or I'll be knocking on your door!

    The winning cause is Heifer International. It is a charity that uses donations to buy animals, trees, and honeybees to support sustainable growth projects in developing countries around the world. It acts very similar to other microenterprise organizations -- conducting projects around the globe that give people tools (in this case animals/bees) to make money via selling milk, herding cattle, plowing fields, collecting honey, etc.

    Heifer International has many projects throughout the world, and it is Sara's prize to choose where she'd like the money donated. My suggestion -- after looking yesterday -- might be to donate to the East Africa Dairy Development Project because the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match our donation. However, any project's good, and it's Sara's call.

    Thank you to everyone who played this year. We've raised $50 for a worth cause, and I have already heard from people who want to play next year. I think this experiment was a great success, and I'm totally open to suggestions for improving it.

    Once again, congratulations Sara and Heifer International!

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    My Elite Eight Experience

    In honor of Memphis making the Championship game, here's a little bit from Memphis v. Texas.

    The day before the Elite Eight in Houston, my neighbor, John, called me.

    "Hey, what're you doing tomorrow?

    I dunno. Why?

    My work got me tickets to the Texas game tomorrow. Wanna go?"

    After thinking about it, I called him back.

    "Thanks for the ticket. What time's the game?"

    Not only did I get a ticket, but I got a ticket on the seventh row. This was a great thing, because the arena was cavernous. The University of Houston and Rice University worked together to host the Elite Eight at Reliant Arena in Houston. The problem is, Reliant was built for football, and basketball is played in a much smaller area.

    The result was a built court in the middle of the stadium, that allowed lots of people to see the game, but really took away any kind of home court advantage Texas may have had. The ceiling was so high, and the whole place so spacious, that even I, on the seventh row, felt my cheers were going up, not out towards the court.

    At first, I thought this might be a mistake from Houston, but after paying attention to other games, I think this is standard at these large games in the tournament. I just don't understand why they didn't use the Toyota Center -- it was built for basketball and would hold a lot of people. Perhaps it was booked?

    That said, it was great to see a game up so close. I could shake hands with the Memphis players as they walked out of the tunnel. Although I've been around basketball players before, it's always a wakeup call when you stand next to one and realize again that he isn't really the two inches tall you see on tv, and oh yeah -- that super short guard is actually over six feet.

    John's coworkers were all great guys, some brought their families, and in general we all enjoyed ourselves even though Texas got shellacked. I do believe that one of the referees was swallowing his whistle a little too much, and giving Memphis a little too much leeway on the offensive boards, but even if that had been normalized, Texas killed themselves the first half, and Memphis shot the lights out -- they were definitely the better team.

    So, here's some pics I took at the game. The atmosphere was electric, and it's definitely an experience I recommend.

    Quote of the Day

    "The face of sin today often wears the [Halloween] mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived; behind that facade is heartache, unhappiness, and pain."
    -- Pres. Thomas S. Monson, Examples of Righteousness, 5 April 2008
    *words in brackets [] were in the oration but not the transcript*

    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    Magic 8 Review 4 (Final Four)

    How quickly things change. Within the space of one evening, I went from having a good chance to win it all in both pools I entered, to having absolutely ZERO shot at any more points -- zilch, nada, số không.

    However, unfortunately, I was entirely correct about the basketball state of affairs. Earlier, I said this:

    The Final Four ... number 1's. Booooorrrrringggggg. Hopefully, it will make for good basketball. That's what everyone on TV and in the papers keep saying.

    "Oh, the first time in 25 years all four #1 seeds make the final four! What great games we'll have!"

    I'm sorry if I don't believe. I want to believe, but they were saying the same things with the Elite Eight, and what happened? The ONLY good game was the one with the double digit seed -- #10 Davidson botches their last possession and loses by two to Kansas.

    All other supposedly close games ended up with margins of 19 (UCLA), 18 (Memphis), and 10 (UNC).

    Well, I was right and they were wrong. This gives me solace since I was totally wrong on who would actually be playing FOR the national championship, but I did pick those teams far before news peoples said this. If I had to guess after the Elite Eight, i would have chosen Memphis v UNC, and I would have been 50% correct.

    That, however, would be only half of Mr. Grant Wahl. Yet again, he is 100% correct that one of his Magic 8 (picked in JANUARY) will win the whole thing. Quite amazing in my book. Especially because he had the likes of Georgetown, Indiana, and Xavier on there.

    Here's looking at them:


    1. Georgetown -- WRONG. One 7' Goliath felled by Davidson (couldn't bring myself to change my quote ... I liked it).

    2. Indiana -- WRONG. They pretended all season long.

    3. Kansas -- CORRECT. Kansas beat UNC by 18 but only beat Davidson by 2 - and b/c of a botched last play. What does this tell us? Could Davidson have been the FOURTH best team in the tournament?

    4. Louisville -- WRONG. If I had been a selector, I would have made Louisville a #2 in the same region of Stanford. The Cardinals against the Cardinal -- who would win?

    5. Memphis -- CORRECT. When I read that only Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated picked Memphis to beat UCLA -- yes, 4 of 5 writers picked UCLA to not only beat Memphis, but win the whole thing -- I about fell out of my chair. Did they watch the same tourney I did? Did they see the utterly suspect UCLA team when playing a physical, athletic team like Texas A&M (and Memphis)? Did they not watch Memphis destroy a very good Texas team playing in Houston? Yet they get paid for this...

    6. Tennessee -- WRONG. Good song by Arrested Development.

    7. UCLA -- WRONG. I can't tell you how hard I rooted for them to lose, knowing it would screw my bracket. Goodbye Backstreet Boy.

    8. Xavier -- WRONG. How come, if you had someone like Professor Xavier with your namesake, you didn't call on his powers to help you win it all? I would have.

    Predicting the Pool

    As the 2008 March Madness winds down (or develops into a maelstrom, depending on your outlook), so too does the first annual TBE Play For A Cause Pool. I think it has been a qualified success.

    The only part that hasn't worked great is the money (and that is key!). People didn't use the Paypal link I set up, so I need to collect the $10 check from everyone (and I know where you all live!). Hopefully, next time, with more time to prepare, Paypal will work better, BUT, I am definitely open to suggestions on how to securely collect money from people living all over the world.

    That said, the competition has been as fierce as the tournament it mirrors. Almost everyone has had a lead at the end of some day in the tourney. Here's looking at the eight possible remaining results:

    UNC def. Memphis -- Students For A Free Tibet (1210pts)
    UNC def. UCLA -- Students For A Free Tibet (1330pts)

    Kansas def. Memphis -- Heifer International (SI) (1070pts)
    Kansas def. UCLA -- National Ovarian Cancer Alliance (1060pts)

    Memphis def. UNC -- Heifer International (SI) (1350pts)
    Memphis def. Kansas -- Heifer International (SI) (1230pts)

    UCLA def. UNC -- Students For A Free Tibet (1170pts)
    UCLA def. Kansas -- National Ovarian Cancer Alliance (1220pts)

    So, get rooting for your brackets. The outcome is still definitely up in the air!

    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    New Recent Comments JSON Widget

    Since upgrading to TBE 3.0, The Bleeding Ear has sported a Recent Comments widget in the sidebar. I hope you find it useful, or at least not annoying.

    A couple days ago, my comments feed was down. Currently, my Recent Comments widget is just a feed widget, pulling the comments feed from blogger and using the native support to show date and author.

    Well, because the feed went down, I started to look into what other people had done for comment widgets, and I realized that blogger puts the feeds out via JSON now. Well, I didn't know heads from tails about JSON, except that it can be used in javascript (something else I know little about), but I read that it would make the comments widget more customizable.

    So, I found the url for the JSON comments feed, and pulled it so I could read through it. Then, with the help of a javascript from Tips For New Bloggers, I set about creating a new widget. That javascript wasn't good enough, so I found a script at Beautiful Beta that addressed my date problems. A quick mishmash of both scripts, plus some style changes, and voila!

    So, I hope you like the new widget. Tell me what you think. If you want the code, I have it for you below (but all credit should go to the two blogs I referenced above):

    <ul><script style="text/javascript">
    function showrecentcomments(json) {
    for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++) {
    var entry = json.feed.entry[i];
    var ctlink;
    var commentdate = entry.published.$t;
    var cdyear = commentdate.substring(0,4);
    var cdmonth = commentdate.substring(5,7);
    var cdday = commentdate.substring(8,10);
    var monthnames = new Array();
    monthnames[1] = "Jan";
    monthnames[2] = "Feb";
    monthnames[3] = "Mar";
    monthnames[4] = "Apr";
    monthnames[5] = "May";
    monthnames[6] = "Jun";
    monthnames[7] = "Jul";
    monthnames[8] = "Aug";
    monthnames[9] = "Sep";
    monthnames[10] = "Oct";
    monthnames[11] = "Nov";
    monthnames[12] = "Dec";

    if (i == json.feed.entry.length) break;
    for (var k = 0; k < entry.link.length; k++) {
    if (entry.link[k].rel == 'alternate') {
    ctlink = entry.link[k].href;
    ctlink = ctlink.replace("#", "#comment-");
    var ptlink = ctlink.split("#");
    ptlink = ptlink[0];
    var txtlink = ptlink.split("/");
    txtlink = txtlink[5];
    txtlink = txtlink.split(".html");
    txtlink = txtlink[0];
    var pttitle = txtlink.replace(/-/g," ");
    pttitle = pttitle.link(ptlink);
    if ("content" in entry) {
    var comment = entry.content.$t;}
    if ("summary" in entry) {
    var comment = entry.summary.$t;}
    else var comment = "";
    var re = /<\S[^>]*>/g;
    comment = comment.replace(re, "");

    if (comment.length < 50) {
    document.write('<div style="font-size:90%;background-color: #E8EEFA;border: #C3D9FF 1px dashed;margin-right:5px">' + monthnames[parseInt(cdmonth,10)] + ' ' + cdday);
    document.write(' - ' + entry.author[0].name.$t + ' commented on');
    document.write(' ' + pttitle + ':</div>');
    comment = comment.substring(0, 50);
    var quoteEnd = comment.lastIndexOf(" ");
    comment = comment.substring(0, quoteEnd);
    document.write('<div style="font-size:90%;background-color: #E8EEFA;border: #C3D9FF 1px dashed;margin-right:5px">' + monthnames[parseInt(cdmonth,10)] + ' ' + cdday);
    document.write(' - ' + entry.author[0].name.$t + ' commented on');
    document.write(' ' + pttitle + ':</div>');
    document.write(comment + '...<a href="' + ctlink + '">(more)</a>');
    <script src="http://thebleedingear.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default?alt=json-in-script&callback=showrecentcomments">
    <noscript>You need to enable JavaScript to read this.</noscript>

    [+/-] Click here for code

    April Fool's Day

    April Fool's Day is perhaps my second favorite day of the year (anyone who knows #1 gets a prize).

    Why, you ask? Well, a couple reasons.

    First, it's my birthday, but nobody ever believes me. I remember one year, in high school, sitting at lunch with some friends of mine. High school lunch was awesome, because we had those incredibly long tables with the little stools attached, so we all just sat in big rows and stared at each other while we ate. Of course, this year I was hanging out with the swimmers, because I was friends with a family of three sisters who were on the swim team -- one was in choir with me, another in some AP classes, and the third in my Computer Science class.

    So, of course I tell everyone it's my birthday, and everyone starts laughing except the sister in my AP classes, whom I'll call "R." She says, "well happy birthday!" Immediately everyone starts making fun of her -- the typical, "ha ha! You got fooled!" stuff. "How could you fall for that on April Fool's Day."

    After she had been severely beaten down by the others at the table, I smiled wryly and pulled out my driver's license, proving the truthfulness of my assertion. It was quite the site to see "R" dish back times 10, everything she had just received.

    The second reason I like April Fool's Day is that Google does a great job of playing tricks. People that don't play tricks on April Fool's Day are boring. Dumb. It's like saying "bah humbug!" on Christmas. There's a reason why people who laugh a lot live longer ... but I digress.

    So, today, I log into Blogger and see Blogger Buzz's post about Google Weblogs. Of course I know it's fake. In fact, it's not as believable as Gmail's time change one, but it's still good. I start to click the links to see if there's more to their joke, and I got a Youtube video. It's awesome. Definitely the best joke yet from Google. You MUST go there. However, don't say I didn't warn you.

    Monday, March 31, 2008

    Magic 8 Review 3

    The Final Four ... number 1's. Booooorrrrringggggg. Hopefully, it will make for good basketball. That's what everyone on TV and in the papers keep saying.

    "Oh, the first time in 25 years all four #1 seeds make the final four! What great games we'll have!"

    I'm sorry if I don't believe. I want to believe, but they were saying the same things with the Elite Eight, and what happened? The ONLY good game was the one with the double digit seed -- #10 Davidson botches their last possession and loses by two to Kansas.

    All other supposedly close games ended up with margins of 19 (UCLA), 18 (Memphis), and 10 (UNC).

    Let's review Grant Wahl's Magic 8, now that the Final Four are set.


    1. Georgetown -- WRONG. One 7' Goliath felled by Davidson.

    2. Indiana -- WRONG. Dead and gone like their coach.

    3. Kansas -- CORRECT. Kansas played well, and I'm still losing by 10 points in my just-for-fun pool (I hope they lose to UNC, or my bracket's shot), but let's be honest -- if the Final Four are the four best teams in the tournament, then Davidson was #5.

    4. Louisville -- WRONG. No white suit for Pitino, and no answer for Tyler Hansbrough.

    5. Memphis -- CORRECT. I went to the Memphis vs. Texas game (more on that another day), and nobody talks about the baseline ref with the buzz cut that swallowed his whistle the whole first half. There's a reason why Memphis had their way on the offensive end, and it wasn't Texas' D. Now, Texas did everything it could to lose the game on it's own offensive end, yes, but the difference in calls between the baseline ref and the other two referees still makes me wonder -- a properly called game and Texas loses by 7 or 10? Probably. Respectable.

    6. Tennessee -- WRONG. Will Bruce Pearl leave for Indiana?

    7. UCLA -- CORRECT. They spanked Xavier worse than I thought possible. I pondered my hatred today, and I think I may hate UCLA because of Kevin Love's stupid Backstreet Boys beard.

    8. Xavier -- WRONG. The basketball gods emphatically denied my pleas, and saved my bracket. Bummer.

    There was a 4% chance that a Magic 8 team would win it all. It's amazing what can happen when the field is halved. Here's the regions:

    East -- UNC (0%)
    Midwest -- Kansas (100%)
    South -- Memphis (100%)
    West -- UCLA (100%)

    Given my prehistoric mathematical abilities, I'd say the odds of a Magic 8 team winning the championship is now (100% + 50%) x 50% = 75%.

    Friday, March 28, 2008

    Magic 8 Review 2

    The Sweet 16 is over, and so are the dreams of 8 more teams.

    After showing you Grant Wahl's Magic 8, I thought it'd be nice to relook after the Sweet 16 was over.


    1. Georgetown -- WRONG. After seeing Davidson defeat them, I felt assured that my seeding of Davidson #5 and Georgetown #4 was correct. After seeing Davidson smash #1 Wisconsin tonight, I fear I was very, very, wrong. How will #3 Davidson fair against #1 Kansas??

    2. Indiana -- WRONG. Dead and gone like their coach.

    3. Kansas -- CORRECT. In my just-for-fun pool I'm losing by 10 points to a Jayhawk. I hope Davidson slays another Goliath.

    4. Louisville -- CORRECT. After Tennessee I would have thought they're a lock for the Final Four ... except they have to play Psycho T and the Tarheels. That'll be tough, but doable, and screw my bracket if it happens. Maybe Pitino should break out his white suit again.

    5. Memphis -- CORRECT. They absolutely embarrassed Michigan State, but don't read into it too much. Michigan State should be Mercurial State the way their basketball skills are so labile. Texas also destroyed a Stanford team expected to keep it much closer. Memphis will get it's licks, but Texas will keep on ticking.

    6. Tennessee -- WRONG. The Malady did them in, along with sloppy guard play, and suddenly I'm not my mother's favorite son (I convinced her to take Tennessee over UNC to represent the East in the Final Four). Sorry mom.

    7. UCLA -- CORRECT. Poor Western Kentucky. I hate UCLA, but not their cheerleaders. Having lived in Southern California twice in my life, I can say honestly, the Beach Boys got it right when they said, "I wish they all could be California girls."

    8. Xavier -- CORRECT. My hope continues...if Davidson can spank Wisconsin by almost 20, Xavier can defeat both UCLA and the referees in one game, right? My prayers ascend to Heaven for thee, Xavier, that thy warriors may be strong, win handily, and carry off thine enemy's handmaids into the Final Four.

    So, did the odds change?

    Before this round, there was a 2% chance that a Magic 8 team would win it all.
    Since I don't know Vegas odds for these matchups, we see:

    East -- 50%
    Midwest -- 50%
    South -- 50%
    West -- 100%

    are the chances straight up of a Magic 8 team making the Final Four. So, there's now about a 4.7% chance that one wins it all.

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Magic 8 Review

    Now that the first week of March Madness is over, and tonight the second week starts, it is time to look back on the Magic 8 and see what's happened.

    Every year Grant Wahl, sportswriter for Sports Illustrated, comes out at the beginning of January with his "Magic 8" -- the 8 teams from which the national champion will eventually come.

    Now, these are not necessarily the most talented eight teams, or the teams with the best records, and he's picking them almost a full three months before the NCAA tournament. Pretty impressive that every year since 2000 except 2003, he's accurately predicted the national champion.

    So, on January 16, 2008, Wahl selected these teams as his "Magic 8":

    1. Georgetown -- WRONG. the "class of the Big East" got an overrated #2 seed. It's easy to be swooned by Roy Hibbert, but let's be honest, they won close games all year with glaring weaknesses. I saw one look at the bracket, and knew well underrated Davidson would send them packing. #2 vs. #10 was more like #4 vs. #5.

    2. Indiana -- WRONG. Hard to blame anyone on this one. I knew Sampson would get canned when all the stories hit the presses, but I never thought they'd fall apart like they did. Indiana wasn't even close to the same team after Sampson that it was before.

    3. Kansas -- CORRECT. They're still around, and looking more and more like the team to beat. Perhaps I should have taken them to win it all. Unfortunately for them, #5 Davidson or #1 Wisconsin will meet them in the Elite Eight. Neither will go down without a fight.

    4. Louisville -- CORRECT. I didn't believe this pick when he wrote it -- given that BYU had beaten Louisville and taken UNC down to the wire. I just didn't think they were amazing. When the bracket came out, I thought they were done for; having to play through Tennessee and UNC to reach the Final Four. But I was wrong. Louisville's playing killer ball, and that's bad for my bracket. Very bad.

    5. Memphis -- CORRECT. But I doubt they'll be correct much longer. This isn't hatin' Memphis. They're good. Real good. But I saw them lose to Tennessee and they never fixed that weakness -- free throw shooting at the end of games. Unfortunately for them, they get Texas in Houston, and this shootout at the OK Corral will end with dead Tigers everywhere.

    6. Tennessee -- CORRECT. Something about them just doesn't look right these days. Some writers say it's the point guard play, and maybe it is, but I think they have The Malady. The Malady is this deadly airborne disease that starts to infect teams about March, and may become epidemic. It's characterized by symptoms of lackadaisical play, and absence of that killer instinct necessary to win a two week long tournament. You see it with BYU every year in the first round, and Texas A&M showed it for the last five minutes of their game against UCLA (before being robbed). Tennessee had it against Butler, but got lucky and survived. They won't against Louisville, and there goes the other half of my ESPN brackets.

    7. UCLA -- CORRECT. For some reason they have a charm around them. How many games have they won because of wrong calls this season? 4? Including the last game against Texas A&M? Everyone seems to think they have the easiest road to the final four (go Western Kentucky!), and that may be true given the money they've OBVIOUSLY slipped under the tables to refs, but I almost put Xavier down on my bracket. They're like Wisconsin -- good enough to be a #1, but not flashy enough to ever get it.

    8. Xavier -- CORRECT. Well speak of the Devil! Xavier has the mix of teamwork and experience that should get a lot more credit during March Madness than it has. Will they beat West Virginia? It will be hard, but I think so. Will they beat UCLA and the referees in the Elite Eight? That's a tall order. One or the other, I'd say yes, but both? Two against one just isn't fair in this fight. UCLA's charmed life goes on.

    So, in my imperfect mathematical ways, how's he doing?

    Well, out of the original eight, six made the Sweet 16. Not bad. 75% remaining.

    Odds by region of reaching the Final Four:
    East -- 75%
    South -- 25%
    Midwest -- 25%
    West -- 50%

    But since not all teams are created equally, let's look at Vegas Watch's predictions:

    Instead of the East having a flat 75% chance of one Magic 8 team reaching the final four, we can add up their percentages and see that there's actually a 90.6% chance.

    So, the revised regions are:

    East -- 90.6%
    Midwest -- 61.9%
    South -- 37%
    West -- 79.5%

    So, there's a 90.6 x 61.9 x 50 = 28% chance that an East/Midwest Magic 8 reaches the finals, and a 37 x 79.5 x 50 = 14.7% chance that a South/West Magic 8 reaches the final. Therefore, there's a 2% chance that a Magic 8 wins it all.

    I'm hoping for a Wisconsin v. Xavier final.

    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    NCAA Tourney Thoughts

    Texas A&M got jobbed. If you look at the close up replay of that last shot, it was no block. The UCLA defender clearly swiped both arms. That said, you could feel it slipping away for the last 5 min of the game, as A&M just seemed to lose that killer instinct and start playing not to lose.

    This marks the second year in a row that my BYU Cougars have lost to the #9 seed (Xavier in '07) who has then gone on to almost beat the #1 seed (Xavier lost in overtime to Ohio St.). I guess that gives some vindication that we at least got a good opponent. Just once, I'd like BYU to get a #7 or #10 seed, rather than an #8. At least then you get the #2 in the second game.

    Standings for the pool shifted greatly today. That surprised me. "MoJo" jumped into the middle of the pack, while "Heifer International (ESPN)" dropped way out of first place. After mulling it over, the culprit is ESPN's scoring. It gives 10pts per game the first round game for 320 total points, and 20 points per second round game, for 320 total points. Essentialy what that means is that picking poorly the first round hurts you less than picking poorly later on. Since only 8 games were played today, picking one incorrectly was worth 2 of last rounds via points, but is even more precarious because you'll only have 4 games next round.

    So if you pick poorly but spread them out in your bracket, that's better than missing everything in one region, where you automatically doom yourself to losing points in the later rounds because neither of your picks made the next game.

    That said, since tomorrow another 160 points are up for grabs, anything's possible.

    Friday, March 21, 2008

    Lightbox Fix

    Recently I upgraded from Lightbox 2.03.3 to 2.04. Lightbox is a little more work on my end when posting, but makes the pictures a little more snazzy on yours. I hope you like it.

    However, it came to my attention that Internet Explorer (the bane of all the earth) would give an error message when people tried to view my page.

    Well, that wouldn't do, since I have all of 5 readers (thank you!) and I don't want to lose them. Some lucky troubleshooting, and the culprit was found -- Lightbox!

    For some reason, I could load specific post pages, but not the main page. No other webpage was affected. That meant it was specific to my webpage, and specific to my general rules. I remembered that the only two things of note I had done recently to my blog was add a Paypal button and upgrade Lightbox. So, I got rid of the Paypal button and nothing happened. I got rid of Lightbox, and "bam!" everything worked. I reinstalled Lightbox 2.03.3 and things seem to be working fine in both IE and Firefox.

    So, please let me know if you're having issues viewing my webpage or images.

    And here's a friendly word of advice: Go Firefox.

    The World's Conscience

    "If freedom-loving people throughout the world do not speak out against China's oppression in China and Tibet, we have lost all moral authority to speak on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world, ... The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world." (Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker, March 21, 2008)

    via CNN.com

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    TBE Play For A Cause

    Ok, so the tourney has started. Not everything went as planned. My idea of having a pool that donated money instead of taking it, has come to fruition, but not everyone got into the ESPN group on time.

    That's four people in the pool. Not much, but not bad for a last second idea. And the winner will get $40.

    So far, the organizations that our being represented are:

    Students for a Free Tibet
    National Ovarian Cancer Alliance
    Heifer International

    I will update this with the other organizations as I find them out.

    Notice: Also, because of the mixup in posting brackets (some posted on FanNation and others on ESPN and one that ESPN didn't accept because of server backlog...) I am making it clear that I am using my bracket on ESPN, because that was my original intention, even though as of right now it is doing worse than my FanNation bracket. I must be fair. Also, in case the scoring is different between the two sites, we will use the ESPN scoring also. I don't foresee that being an issue.

    Good luck!

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    A Rockin' Bracket

    Now that March Madness is upon us, and all my loyal readers are going to sign up for my TBE Play for a Cause pool, so we can help people less fortunate, why not take a five minute break and fill out and head to 94WYSP Philly's Rock Station.

    They have joined March Madness by creating the ultimate Rock Band playoff. Who do you like? Pearl Jam? Led Zepplin? Maybe it's a dark horse, like Staind?

    FYI, the Jennifer Reed region is so stacked, U2 got a 5 seed. Yes, that's right, a 5 seed. Nirvana got a 2 seed in the Spike region.

    They'll play two songs from each band at the times shown on their website, and then people text message who they vote for. Winner moves on. Prizes include a 42" HDTV.

    So, in the immortal words of Jack Black, "Rock on!!"

    College Gets Rick Rolled

    If you've never been Rick Rolled, you might not find this as funny as I did.

    I laughed straight through the whole video. The guy dressed in the trenchcoat is awesome.

    If you don't know what I'm talking about, click this link for an explanation.

    Youtube video of College Bball game.

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Emmy-worthy Reporting

    Today on CNN, there is a video about a man who ran naked through a supermarket and trashed it. Chris Cekot, from WHTM in Pennsylvania, reports, and the presentation is superb. Typically, I have a low bar of expectations for quality, especially when it's MSM, and ESPECIALLY in local MSM. However, this is High Quality stuff.

    Watch the video and pay attention to the shots. I especially love the chicken breast and hot dog shots.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    Tibet and Bjork

    Where much is given, much is required
    One of the comments in my last post about Tibet basically asked the cogent question, what can little old I do for something like Tibet? With so many causes out there, what do I support, or do I focus on bettering myself?

    Well, the answer is not cut and dry. Obviously, circumstances dictate how you get involved and in what you involve yourself. Let's be honest, Joe Schmo no-name can write letters and give money, or educate others (and should), but his direct effect on the leaders and issues is small. His value often comes in addition to thousands of other Joes who together, make a formidable force.

    Well known people -- athletes, movie stars, politicians -- occupy a different position. Where much is given, much is required. They often can use their popularity to sway public opinion, or their proximity to politicians/national leaders to change public policy.

    Unfortunately, most people in that situation take their money and run. They focus on themselves. They have the luxuries -- the big house, nice cars, fancy clothes -- and give little to charities, and do even less for local or international issues. Those that do should be lauded for their actions and in the hopes that more stars will follow suit.

    Bjork is an international music star. Her genre isn't incredibly popular in the United States, but she is well known world-wide, and recently played a concert in Shanghai. Beijing Wide Open relates the story of how Bjork played one of her well known singles -- Declare Independence -- and then shouted "Tibet! Tibet!" and "Raise your flag!" Go read more about it (it also has a Youtube video of her music video embedded). Now that China is putting Tibet under armed lockdown, and people are reportedly being killed, we need more of this, now.

    Bjork is now one of my favorite artists, and Declare Independence has become one of my favorite songs.

    Here is a video of Bjork hailing Tibet at the end of her performance:

    March Madness TBE Pool

    My two loves are international affairs/politics and sports. Last night I was thinking, maybe I can combine the two? However, this thought requires active participation from more than myself.

    I've been posting recently about Tibet, and Sara asked, rightly, what could we peons do. Here's my idea:

    I will create a 2008 NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament Pool for any and all readers of The Bleeding Ear. However, this pool will require money. Perhaps $10 a person? Ok? Each participant will play for the charity/NGO/world cause of their choice (stated when signing up as the name of their bracket), and the winning cause will get all the money.

    Perhaps I will be the only one playing, and some cause will get $10. But if more people play, we could conceivably give $50, or $100 to a cause (I don't harbor great expectations about the readership of my blog). I think this is a great way to merge a fun time (March Madness) with doing something good for the world, and by joining together, we can give more than any of us could individually.

    I know the tourney starts in 2 or 3 days, so time is of the essence. This is also a rough draft, so I haven't decided where TBE should host the pool, if $10 is a good amount per entrant, or how to properly transfer money.

    Please let me know what you think about my idea, and any suggestions you have for the issues I just related.

    UPDATE 1 (16:27): I've looked into a few things, and I've found that:

    1. I think the easiest way to do brackets, will be to go to Seth Davis Bracket Challenge at Sports Illustrated's FanNation.

    This allows everyone one bracket -- very easy to fill out.

    You will be required to create a FanNation account, and make sure to make your nickname/screenname the cause of choice (because that's also the name of your bracket).

    Then you join the "TBE Play for a Cause" Pool (yet to be made).

    The bonus is that you could also win prizes from SI if you're really good.

    2. I have a Paypal account, and I can set up a Donate button on my blog where people can donate the $10. That would make the money changing secure.

    (This requires a requisite amount of trust in yours truly of course.)

    I do not think this requires you to have a Paypal account, since many sites have donation buttons.

    I would need to call Paypal and/or the causes of choice to make sure there's a way to get the money from Paypal to the cause. Paypal's website says if something has an email address -- even if it doesn't have a Paypal account -- it can get the money.

    3. Let me know your thoughts on these updates. And talk to friends. The more people the merrier (and the more money that would go to a worthy cause).

    Update 2 (19:40): I've done some more research, and the best place for the bracket is ESPN.

    After you donate to Paypal,

    1. Go to ESPN's Tournament Challenge and either sign in or sign up.

    2. Once you have a profile, create a bracket and name it after whatever cause you want to play for.

    3. Click the "My Groups" tab, and search private groups for "TBE Play For a Cause" (already made). Join the group (password: TBE)

    4. Finish filling out your bracket and have fun watching the tourney!

    Update 3 (19:54): Here's the Paypal donation link:

    Update 4 (13:05, 20080321): Paypal donation link rescinded. Tournament started.

    Friday, March 14, 2008


    the United States of America is an impotent man
    Many of you know me personally, and many more know me via this blog, but few -- I think -- know what I feel passionate about. Conversations I have typically revolve around American politics, Vietnam, medical school, or my new son -- those things that most interest those I associate with here in America.

    However, when I'm by myself, I think and debate with my soul about other things. Over the years, I have become increasingly more libertarian, and I can explain why to any who want to listen. Most don't, so I have never elaborated. One of the core stakes on which I rest this philosophical shift, is my belief in the writings of John Locke.

    It was he, the enlightenment writer, who coined the platform that holds up the scaffolding of our country. His writings were the basis for Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. In other words, John Locke justified the existence of the United States of America.

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ... (Declaration of Independence, 1776)

    Since 1950, China has ruled Tibet. It has not been a nice rule. Most everyone who learned about the Trail of Tears in school (America's forced relocation of Cherokee Indians from Georgia to Oklahoma) was saddened by what I think is now universally seen as a horrible move. China's occupation of Tibet has been the same. Thousands of Tibetans left their traditional homeland to live as refugees in Nepal and India, while the Chinese government forcibly relocated thousands of native Chinese into Tibet in order to "dilute" the population still remaining.

    The Trail of Tears, oil on canvas by Robert Lindneux, 1942; in the Woolaroc Museum, Bartlesville, Okla., U.S. The Granger Collection, New York

    Over the last couple days, to commemorate the failed revolution of 1959, Tibetans have been holding peaceful protests inside and outside Tibet, only to be met with police brutality inside, and forced opposition in India.

    Photograph obtained exclusively by FRANCE 24 shows burned cars in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on March 14.

    ..."— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. ... (Declaration of Independence, 1776)

    The problem with America today is not that we dabble in the affairs of foreign countries, but that we forget our very soul, written in black and white, and ratified July 4, 1776. Instead of worrying about Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel, we should be in Sudan, Burma, and Tibet. If America supported people according to the words with which we justify our existence, instead of trying to mediate squabbles between Jews and Arabs, perhaps we would not be looked down on in the world. Perhaps we would not be seen as hypocritical. Perhaps we wouldn't have terrorist plots.

    ... "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. (Declaration of Independence, 1776)

    The problem with America today is ... that we forget our very soul
    Instead the United States of America is an impotent man, and those peoples who truly need us, whose situations mirror our own just 232 years ago, struggle against odds, alone.

    I encourage everyone to open your eyes. Stop being consumed with your own lives, your worries about where to eat tonight, or what shirt to buy, or why so-and-so at the office is so annoying. I know it's easy, and I get caught up in it too -- only worried about when is the next medical school test -- but awake! Become aware of the travails of your fellow brothers and sisters. Visit sites like Unseen Dharamsala, which chronicle in pictures the lives of Tibetan refugees, or Beijing Wide Open -- the blog of a Tibetan leader of Students for a Free Tibet.

    Help our generation's George Washington and Thomas Jefferson realize the blessings we take for granted.

    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Which Primary 2

    every political campaign is a year long game of Rochambeau
    Well, the Texas hullabaloo is over, and so are my exams. All that means is I can give you feedback for what went down.

    I picked a primary -- Democrat. Gasp! My parent's give me the look "oh really?"...my grandmother claps for joy (it's FDR's party -- the only true party).

    I had to vote early because of exams. Early voting was at the Fiesta Supermarket. I got there thinking I could get in and out, and head back to studying for pharmacology, but boy, was I wrong. I was greeted with these views (see pics):

    more pics:[2][3][4]

    Clearly, I was in for a treat. It turned out to be a 45 minute wait for a five minute vote. Texans were taking their voting seriously.

    One funny aside -- situational irony -- I grabbed a shot of an American flag over the "Hispanic" and "International" food isles, with Chinese take-out to the right, as we're all waiting to vote. ONLY in America...

    more pics:[2]

    For me, the choice came down to three things. First, Republicans had ballot initiatives to determine their party platform. Did I want a say in that? Second, Clinton and Obama were fighting desperately for Texas while McCain had everything pretty nearly locked up. Should I vote in the contested election? Third, most laws that affect us are local. Do I vote for the 18 contested local Democratic primaries or 16 contested local republican primaries?

    The answer to the three questions were: 1) yes, 2) yes, and 3) 18 is more than 16, so 18 it is. That was 2 to 1 Democrat, and I registered Democrat.

    My vote went to Clinton.

    No surprise there. I did it because,

    1. Clinton has MORE EXECUTIVE experience than Obama, which I think is necessary if you're going to be the most powerful executive in the world.
    2. Clinton was losing to Obama, and I wanted to see her close the gap and bring the contest all the way to the national convention -- which I feel is good for the Democratic party and America as a whole.
    3. Lately, with the things Obama has said, and then the stories that were retracted (NAFTA, etc), I see Obama's message of hope as more and more empty -- like a snake oil salesman.

    a 45 minute wait for a five minute vote
    But in reality, what I've seen is that Clinton has persisted with her "fighting words," and the bobbling-heads of the MSM have jumped all over it.

    "It's very difficult to argue that the level of scrutiny of Barack Obama has been the same as the level of scrutiny of other candidates" says the Washington Post.

    Will this push her to the Democratic nomination? I don't know. She waited too long to start. I have this feeling that she will pull it out, with the Superdelegates, but with the Florida/Michigan fiasco up in the air, nobody in the Democrats really knows anything right now. I do feel that Clinton is the stronger general election candidate, because I think the Republicans will go mean and dirty early and often. Look at the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. Perhaps it was Rove, but I think it's more general. The Republicans play to win, and they will train all guns on the Democratic nominee. Clinton, I feel, can withstand that barrage (and dish some of her own) better than Obama would. But we'll see.

    Ultimately, what it comes down to is that every political campaign is a year long game of Rochambeau. He who stands up longest wins.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    Which Primary?

    Life was easy before I turned 12. I only had one primary to go to. I moved up from Sunbeams to CTRs to Valiants to Blazers ...

    ... but now I have TWO primaries to choose from, and I don't know where to go.

    Image from Wikipedia.

    I took some time off from studying Reproductive Biology and dropped by the League of Women Voters, one of the most awesome non-partisan groups out there. I always read their flier before elections, because they get all the candidates to respond to questions, and it helps me stack them up side-by-side. Except this year Mike Huckabee "didn't qualify." Dunno what that means...

    And then I went to Harris Votes to get my sample ballot, so I don't waste time deciding on a candidate running in another district. If every county doesn't have something like this, they should, because between the two links above, it is SO easy to be a good democratic citizen of the USA.

    However, all of my footwork found that the Democrats have 18 contested positions this primary, and the Republicans have 16 contested positions and 3 ballot items that will be party platform issues.

    So now, after all this hand-wrangling over the next president of the USA, it's not at all about that anymore. Heck, everyone knows it's the local laws and leaders that affect us the most. So, do I join the Democratic party, or the Republican party?

    Which primary do I go to?

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Them Fightin' Words

    I'm not a Clinton supporter, but let's face it, Obama is a snake oil salesman

    Finally, something's happening. The gloves are off. Clinton should have done this three weeks ago, early into Obama's run of 11 straight state popular vote victories.

    (CNN) -- A visibly angry Sen. Hillary Clinton lashed out Saturday at Sen. Barack Obama over campaign literature that she said he knows is "blatantly false," while Obama called her outburst "tactical."

    Clinton jabbed the air with her hands as she told a crowd in Cincinnati, Ohio, that two Obama mailings spread lies about her positions on universal health care and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    "Shame on you, Barack Obama," she said.

    ...With Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland nodding in agreement behind her, Clinton accused Obama of emulating the tactics of Karl Rove, President Bush's former political director who is reviled by Democrats.

    Obama "is continuing to send false and discredited mailings with information that is not true to the voters of Ohio," Clinton said.
    Now, I'm not a Clinton supporter, but let's face it, Obama is a snake oil salesman.

    He comes to town and he spouts change. He talks of hope. People love his charisma, so they forget that he has ZERO experience. He spins it by saying he's not from inside the beltway. People forget that he has ZERO experience outside the beltway too. He pulls fast ones on us -- saying he doesn't support outright bans on selling guns, but wants a law that would outlaw selling guns within five miles of any school or park (if you look, you'll quickly realize, that's tantamount to banning guns in almost every state but Montana). He makes you yearn for the good old days of 1963 (although we forget that those "good old days" included a populace overcoming its second war in as many decades, an entrance into a Vietnamese conflict bound for disaster, and the start of incredible growth of illicit drug use and std's). Yeah, I guess those were the good old days.

    Clinton, until now, has been content to be his lapdog. She fawns at him during debates. He reciprocates. You'd think the two were dating. Now it's clear that people are buying what he's selling. People want hope. They're willing to forget that the strongest executive in the world could be run by someone who has NO executive experience, because they want to believe America is -- they are -- still great.

    Clinton, until now, has been content to be his lapdog ... You'd think the two were dating
    The only way to stop a snake oil salesman is to expose him for what he is -- a fraud. You have to catch him in lies, show his product to be nothing more than lemonade (understand my last post now?). When a candidate's whole platform is based on hope and change, he must be credible for that to work. Clinton is now finally attacking that chink in his armor. She holds the moral high ground after that stunning blow at the end of a losing debate, when she talked about her faith, and soldiers, and trials. Now, if she can show Obama isn't as clean as he says, she has her victories.

    But she can't stop now. She should have done this three weeks ago. Now she must be angry, vindictive, the woman scorned. We have all seen her cry, and wax philosophical, now we must see what happens when a mother sees her baby hurt. We must see her go for the jugular. The next debate needs to be vicious, it needs to be fiery. Each word needs to be a blade to dig into the man of hope. She needs all her staff to find other examples of "untruths," and she needs to turn this love fest into a credibility war. Turn it ugly, and she has a chance. If she doesn't, it's over. They'll head into the National Convention separated by about 150 delegates and they'll be wrangling over super delegates' votes, and nobody will come out the better.