Bill Belichick’s teams are just a joy to watch. You can actually observe cleverness, strategy, cunning, brilliance in everything they do. I’ve been watching sports for a few decades now, and I’ve never seen anything like it in any sport, collegiate, minor league, or pro. You just know they’re going to win, even though they’ve won three Super Bowls by a combined lead of less than ten points. The Cowboys more or less dominated in each of their Bowl wins. But that’s just it; just as everything Belichick did in the 2002 game against the heavily-favored Rams was an illusion – lulling the crowd and Martz into a false sense of security while masterminding the biggest upset in Super Bowl history – in this year’s game, despite the closeness of the scores, it still seemed the Pats knew precisely how they were going to win. They happened to be a better team than their opponent this year (unlike in ’02 when the Rams and the Raiders were clearly better at every single position), which didn’t hurt, but it isn’t exactly why they won. They adjust to the opponent like nobody else.
But what about the Eagles? The play-calling and time management in the fourth quarter was disastrous. There was no sense of urgency in the final drive of the game. Inexcusable mismanagement. This is the difference between an Andy Reid and a Belichick. Donovan McNabb had a lackluster evening. He made some astounding throws but also some very poor decisions – how much of this was great Patriots coverage (despite injuries to their best corner and their best safety!) and how much of it was nerves on the part of Donovan? If every throw had been on target, the Patriots still would have found the way to win the game. But look at the first couple plays. The Pats’ defense did exactly the same thing to McNabb that they had done to Peyton Manning three weeks earlier – they each came out of their first offensive drive with a look of confused horror, and I think this set the stage for the whole game. McNabb was nervous and flustered, partially as a result of the Patriots early defense. The Eagles’ running game was virtually nonexistent. The Patriots just seem like monsters on defense, despite key injuries, losses to free agency, and the arm cannon of McNabb. Brady was just his normal unflappable self.
I can do without the fifteen hours of pregame, the two weeks lead up time, the quintessentially lame halftime shows, and the desperate, cloying commercials.
Honorable mention to Terrell Owens for being one of the Eagles’ bright spots, five weeks after breaking his leg and having screws put into his ankle. Unbelievable. You can’t say enough about that effort!! And how about the Boston area? The Red Sox and the Pats. What’s next, the Celtics get hot again?
Alpha Centauri is a great game. I like the way the factions are set up. You have three ideological groups that would be considered right of center – the libertarian, pacifistic capitalists, the religious zealots, and the militaristic Spartans; and four groups left of center – the "one-world government" bureaucratic UN Peacekeepers, the university elite, the greenies, and the borg-like ultra-socialists (known as "The Hive"). They all have brilliant characteristics that differentiate them. I really like playing the capitalists, because although they have some big drawbacks, they also have excellent economic power that enables me to spend money to accomplish things when I need to. Great freedom of choice.
I took my car in for its 30,000 mile service. I had the works done. New brake pads, flushed brake lines and changed brake fluid, flushed the coolant system, oil change, valves, new belts, new battery, new tires and balancing, replacement suspension parts, full alignment, new fuel filter and air filter, new wiper blades, full interior detailing, state inspection, fuel injection/throttle body cleaning and syncing, transmission fluid and cleaning/adjusting transmission parts, power steering fluid, a bunch of lubrication, tightening of some bolts, replacement spark plugs, and a few other things. At 6,000 miles/year or so, I probably have 135 months or more before this car reaches the 100,000 mile point. That’s about the middle of 2016.
I cancelled Netflix. Maybe I’ll start up again later this year. Somewhere along the way, it started feeling a bit like a chore to get those movies watched and back in the mail. I watched some good ones, like Saved, Eternal Sunshine, Comedian, Shreks, Memento, and Ocean’s Eleven. But also some duds.
I got the Spartan Fidelity album as mentioned in my last post. I haven’t really delved into it yet. It’s not Remy Zero, that much is clear. There’s no “rock” music to speak of here. The transition from track 1 to the vocals of track 2 is striking! I’ve never heard sound production quite like the production on this album. More later.
It’s tax season at work. I’m having to answer the most complex of tax questions for the most active, highest-net-worth of customers, but also the most basic, simplistic tax questions for the dumbest, least-capable-of-finding-things-out-for-themselves customers. Do you realize the societal deadweight loss involved in tax preparation and collection? The tax laws get more complex each year – I could easily cite five big examples for tax year 2004 – and the resources blown just trying to find out what each person owes, to decipher ever-more complex tax reporting rules (the 1099R/5498 for 401(k) to rollover IRA thing is fun, as is explaining qualified vs. non-qualified dividends and the holding period, the new classification of preferred stock dividends as “interest,” the intangibles tax, the AMT, etc.), and to try to get a fair shake from the hundreds of obstacles and opportunities presented by various factions of Congress over the years, it’s indefensible.
So how about that new Porsche Boxster S? The magazines are going gaga over it, saying it’s one of the most fun-to-drive cars ever produced and maybe the best Porsche ever made. They talk about its path accuracy as being second to none, state of the art. 2005 and 2006 are incredible model years for cars overall. A stock 500 HP Corvette? Affordable family sedans which put down 425 HP? An engine block made, for the first time ever, of magnesium? (2006 BMW 3-series). Average cars with plenty of power and tight handling? Hybrid cars and SUVs that actually outperform their gas-only counterparts in every performance measure?
Ah, but there’s where the greenies part company. They don’t want to see electric engines tacked on to existing cars to give them 20% better mileage and stronger acceleration. They want everyone to drive around in a subcompact. They see the “performance paradigm” as the enemy. But the fact is that this is a free market, and people are going to buy pickups, SUVs, sports cars, minivans, grand tourers, and midsize or large sedans – going to buy vehicles that match their needs and tastes. The Hybrid Prius is selling very well, but the market is limited until the technology penetrates deeper into other segments – and the Accord, RX330H, Highlander, Focus, etc. are great first tries. Toyota and Honda are each also both said to be working on a hybrid system for a new, true sports car. Anyway, the popularity of today’s new big power, big engined vehicles should be a clue that not everyone is into something that takes 14 seconds to reach 60 mph with the pedal all the way down. Hybrids should be embraced both by those who are purely into performance and by those who are hoping for more efficiency without delusions that the entire country or world will voluntarily buy a subcompact hybrid.
The Saturn, the 3DO, the first PlayStation, even the Jaguar CD, they all had better CD player interfaces than the PS2. It just sucks. No screensaver? No programming? Ghetto. And don’t even get me started on Xbox vs. PS2 in DVD interfaces.
Acne isn’t just a skin problem; it’s a red light. It’s a biological signpost, a signal to the subconscious mind of all females. It reads, “this is not a suitable mate.”
Last week’s Smallville was excellent. Clark caught a car in mid-air. His girlfriend was murdered. His best friend learned about his power for the first time. Great TV.