July 19, 2014
Guys, Staten Island is going to stink for a while

Or at least it’s going to smell like some kind of petroleum today, which may or may not be better than the usual smell of garbage…

From: Notify NYC
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 11:21 AM
Subject: Notify NYC - Notification

Notification issued on 7/19/14 at 11:18 AM. The United States Coast Guard reports that a ship in Arthur Kill off the coast of Staten Island is offloading various fuel products. As a result, there may be an odor in Staten Island and Brooklyn. Please report natural gas emergencies to 9-1-1.

July 11, 2014
Suck it, Holland!

Americans need not be bothered with the World Cup. For the most part, they haven’t been.* After all, they are playing soccer. It’s painfully arbitrary, mostly boring, almost certainly fixed, and absolutely going to result in most of those players getting CTE from all the head trauma. But there was one exciting development in the tournament: Holland lost.

Remember the Dutch, who back during the C04N Olympics badmouthed the United States for poor performance in speed skating? It was this guy who basically said Americans were fat and stupid for not spending morning, noon and night practicing on the short track.

Needless to say, this cemented the Dutch as Team USA’s biggest international sporting rival this side of the Soviet Union. Plus, they wear those hideous orange jerseys despite the fact that country’s flag consists of the three greatest colors for flag manufacture: red, white and blue. Not even Uruguay would pull a lame stunt like that.

Well, good old Holland ventured out from the ice rink and lost 0-0 to Argentina yesterday. (The 0-0 loss is apparently a thing in the soccer.) Even though America won’t be winning the World Cup, everyone’s a winner because the Netherlands won’t either!

* Despite the cheery press-releases bandied about by rights holders, the television audience for the soccer has been unremarkable. Sure, ESPN’s ratings are the best they have ever been for soccer. But that’s basically the same as the kale industry saying demand for their product has never been greater. (They are saying this!) It doesn’t mean everyone is now eating kale, despite what the Times may think, just that something that used to be extremely small is now less so.

As for soccer, ESPN’s audiences for games not featuring Team USA have averaged a little less than 4 million viewers. That’s less than even NBC’s primetime lineup. The games that did include Team USA peaked at 18 million viewers (vs Portugal) and the elimination game against Belgium drew 16.6 million. This is a smaller audience than all 16 Sunday Night Football games during the regular season. It’s basically the same number CBS gets for NCIS:Los Angeles. So, let’s not go nuts here.

July 2, 2014
More evidence that Queens is lame

The Mets aren’t the only thing wrong with Queens. The borough which is, unfortunately, home to both of New York’s airports, has plenty of problems other than the most mediocre ballclub $100 million can buy. Anyone who’s tried to get from 46th Street and 54th Drive to 50th Avenue and 39th Place (this is a distance of about 500 yards) can tell you the streets out there make absolutely no sense.

Just take a look at this stretch, northeast of Long Island City:

Imagine for a second that you just hopped of the G train at 21st Street. (First, ask your self why?) You find yourself on 47th Road, directly between 11th Street to the west and 21st Street to the east. Make sense so far? Consult the map above to follow along.

Now you’re walking north. You might think the next street you encounter after 47th Road might be… 46th Road? No way, Jose. The correct answer is 47th Avenue, naturally. That’s followed by 46th Road, 46th Avenue, 45th Road and 45th Avenue. Think you’ve discovered a pattern? Not so fast! Next comes 44th Drive, hot shot. Then you get to 44th Road. Nice job, Queens.

Look for this to be a future recurring feature!

June 30, 2014
Here are several ways you can look like a moron

July 4th is rapidly approaching. If you happen to upon the LIRR or NJT — or just go anywhere near Penn Station — over the next couple of days, you are almost certainly going to see someone wearing the shirt sported below by Channing Tatum in the recent film 22 Jump Street:

You, the educated reader, may be thinking “that’s just absurd, no one would seriously wear that.” But don’t forget, you would say the same thing about someone drinking Bud Light Lime-A-Rita. That’s still a thing some people do! And the crossover here is no doubt exactly 100%.

You might be surprised to learn that the market for such things is actually quite varied and competitive. For instance, the shirt shown above can be had for a reasonable $16.95 here. But that’s certainly not your only option. If you prefer to add some punctuation, there’s this offering:

If you thought $28 — no joke! — was a steep price to pay for exclamation marks, keep in mind you’re also sacrificing a needed apostrophe. (It’s also available in neon green, neon pink, neon orange and neon purple!) And for no apparent reason at all, the same people offer a version with sleeves:

Does this basically defeat the purpose? Absolutely! So just in case, another vendor offers this handy alternative that features some arrows to help others get the joke:

No one will miss the subtlety now! This comes in handy particularly after the crowd has had a few too many Lime-A-Ritas.

By now you’re probably thinking “Wow, these are all great, but what if I want to be sure everyone knows what frat I was in back at Arizona State?” Don’t worry, the good people at somethinggreek.com are one step ahead of you:

Done and done. Now the next time you’re down the shore, you’ll fit right in. Just remember to pick up your Bud Light 30-pack before you get on the train.

June 21, 2014

Here’s what Tony Kornheiser thinks about soccer.

Like most reasonable Americans, Tony Kornheiser doesn’t really care about the soccer that’s happening this month. The ESPN personality and Washington-area radio host had this to say on his radio program last week in response to the Team USA soccer coach’s comments about his team not being able to win in Brazil.

May 13, 2014
Reject trivia: the best first-round picks

Four times more people watched the first round of the NFL draft last Thursday than who watched the NBA playoffs the same night. The NBA playoffs that featured Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs! That’s how big a deal the draft is.

Unless you are a fan of the Redskins, who’s pick belonged to the Rams, you probably watched anxiously awaiting your team’s selection(s), while Jon Gruden became increasingly more excited just to be there. (And if you’re a fan of the world champion Seahawks, you watched all night until your team traded the 32nd pick.)

Just how successful are teams at picking the best players? Here’s a fairly unscientific look at first-round draft selections going back to 1980. Of course, there’s no one stat to say how good the players are, since many are offensive linemen who don’t really generate stats. One way to quantify this is with games played. The table below shows the most productive drafts based on games played per first-round pick:


* Ravens only
^ includes Baltimore Colts
+ includes Houston Oilers
# includes L.A. Rams
~ includes L.A. Raiders

Through the 2013-14 season, 1,013 first-round picks have played 101,612, or an average of 100.31 games per pick. Most of these teams have had stretches of being rather good over the past three decades.

And these are the bottom teams since 1980:


% includes St. Louis Cardinals
@ Texans only
** includes current and former Browns

You might be surprised to see Denver so low. There’s an important quirk to these draft results: players are listed by the teams who picked them. So John Elway, who played 15 seasons for the Broncos, is correctly identified as having been drafted by the Colts.

And then there are the Browns, exactly where you would expect to find them.

May 12, 2014
If you must go to 96th St., consider a hardhat

The MTA has a word of caution to those traveling on the Upper East Side:

——————————————————————-
From: Subway-Bus@alerts.mta.info
Date: Mon, May 12, 2014 at 9:56 PM
Subject: MANH, 6 Trains, Falling Concrete

n/b 6 trains are bypassing 96 St, due to falling concrete at 96 St. Allow additional travel time.

So good luck with that.

April 24, 2014
ESPN thinks everyone in the NFL will be pretty good this year

ESPN makes it obvious how much it loves the National Football League Whether it’s the dozens of hours of weekly programming during the offseason or the dozens of former players, reporters and other talking heads appearing on said programming, the network goes all-in. So it should come as no surprise those talking heads are all optimistic about several teams’ chances for the coming season.

Turns out they are optimistic about every team, save for the Browns and the Raiders. Shortly after the league’s schedule was released — primetime special! — ESPN’s NFL Nation blog posted predictions from the site’s team-based reporters for each of their respective clubs. Just Cleveland and Oakland were picked to finish worse than 7-9. Thirty teams were picked to be playoff contenders. (Yes, sometimes 7-9 will win a division.)

Just one problem here: it’s not possible. If E = mc^2 still applies, there need to be an equal number of wins and losses across the league. Aggregating ESPN’s predictions gives the NFC 150 wins against 106 losses. This would be reasonable, except they have the AFC down for 140 wins and 116 losses. Just like little league, everyone’s a winner!

In fairness, the editor clearly states he asked the writers to form their predictions independent of the others. It’s specifically stated that there is no effort being made to balance the ledger. But these forecasts are so out of whack that it’s clear the group has been drinking a bit too much Kool-Aid.

2014 NFC predictions from ESPN:

Dallas — 8-8
Giants — 9-7
Philadelphia — 9-7
Washington — 7-9
Arizona — 12-4
Santa Clara — 12-4
St. Louis — 8-8
Seattle — 12-4
Chicago — 10-6
Detroit — 8-8
Green Bay — 10-6
Minnesota — 8-8
Atlanta — 9-7
Carolina — 8-8
New Orleans — 11-5
Tampa Bay — 9-7
Conference Total: 150-106

2014 AFC predictions from ESPN:

Buffalo — 7-9
Miami — 8-8
New England — 11-5
Jets — 8-8
Denver — 12-4
Kansas City — 8-8
Oakland — 5-11
San Diego — 10-6
Baltimore — 10-6
Cincinnati — 10-6
Cleveland — 6-10
Pittsburgh — 10-6
Houston — 8-8
Indianapolis — 12-4
Jacksonville — 7-9
Tennessee — 8-8
Conference Total: 140-116

Give these people credit for picking 44 wins for the NFC west. That group produced a 42-22 record last season, and Russell Wilson is only going to get better with Windows 8.2. The only thing off about the ESPN forecast is not including at least one tie between the Rams and 49ers.

April 23, 2014
This Columbia English professor doesn’t seem to like English

The New York Times generally produces writing that rises above most of the slop you will find today. Give them credit for adding those periods to acronyms, referring to people as Mr. Johnson, and, although they call Burma something other than Burma, Times journalists put out prose that’s perfectly palatable to a college educated, adult audience.

It’s not the Times’ fault, for instance, that the 23-year-old tasked with re-interpreting their journalism into list & slideshow form for BuzzFeed doesn’t know how to navigate the language, and instead “makes it her own.” Recall, this is the generation that assumes the default form of speaking is figurative; why else would they feel the need to randomly and repeatedly interject “literally” into otherwise perfectly unambiguous statements?

The kids these days have no idea what a preposition is, let alone where it belongs in a sentence. If someone born after the Reagan presidency is speaking, chances are each individual thought is preceded by “like” for no good reason. Surely the good people at Google are working hard to build this (inane) logic into voice recognition software via a complex algorithm. (Should “Like, OK Google” work the same as the standard “OK Google” command? Will “like” needlessly appear before every verb or just most? And what to make of sentences in which the speaker actually uses the word “like” the way it was intended?) Meanwhile, the human population in America is stuck listening and reading as the language becomes further bastardized.

Alas, some idiot in the Columbia English department* seems to think this is actually a good idea. John McWhorter, an associate professor, wrote a piece a few weeks back for the Times suggesting that adding “like” to conversation willy-nilly really makes the speaker sound more measured and intelligent. No joke! (Read the full piece here.)

Yes, sophistication — even in the likes of, well, “like,” used so prolifically by people under a certain age. We associate it with ingrained hesitation, a fear of venturing a definite statement. Yet the hesitation can be seen less as a matter of confidence than one of consideration.

“Like” often functions to acknowledge objection while underlining one’s own point. To say, “This is, like, the only way to make it work,” is to implicitly recognize that this news may be unwelcome to the hearer, and to soften the blow by offering one’s suggestion discreetly swathed in a garb of hypotheticalness.

Slow down there, chief. First of all, hypotheticalness is not a word. Secondly, and more importantly, this is a rationalization, not a justification. Don’t give these people so much credit. They are not making a judgment to be considerate, they are just being obnoxious because they can and don’t know any better.
What’s actually happening is that casual American speech is, in its “like” fetish, more polite than it was before. Sooner than we know it, the people using “like” this way will be on walkers, and all will be right with the world.
In the words of William F. Buckley, society needs more people standing athwart history yelling stop. Or as the kids would say, “like, totally telling guys to, like, literally stop, you know?” Please.

The item, in print and online, also included this illustration:

If anyone ever says that to you, please feel free to punch him or her in the face.

McWhorter sums up his misguided argument thusly:

We may not speak with the butter-toned exchanges of the characters on “Downton Abbey,” but in substance our speech is in many ways more civilized. We are taught to celebrate the idea that Inuit languages reveal a unique relationship to snow, or that the Russian language’s separate words for dark and light blue mean that a Russian sees blueberries and robin’s eggs as more vibrantly different in color than the rest of us do. Isn’t it welcome, then, that good old-fashioned American is saying something cool about us for once?
Today’s “American” is telling the world that, unlike the generations that came before, we have absolutely no clue how to assemble an English sentence. And we are going to be as obnoxious about it as possible.

* Wouldn’t you agree the English department at Columbia is held in the same regard at that institution as the Math department would be at MIT, or the Theater Arts department at NYU? Tells you all you need to know about Columbia.

April 14, 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 New York Mets!

Look, nobody is penciling in October baseball in Queens this season. But don’t feel bad, Mets fans. While you might not be leading your division — like the 27x world champs are — your plucky squad has shown some pep of late.

So with a big home series coming up against the team’s premier division rival, you might think tickets would be in demand at Citi Field. You’d be wrong. See, while those bloodthirsty capitalists in the Bronx (and pretty much every other team) would charge extra for a “premium” opponent (such is the NL east that something like this is being used to describe Atlanta) coming in for a weekend set, the Mets are doing the exact opposite. Step right up and greet the Mets for less than $4! Here’s an email today from the team:

First of all, by the time you pay the fees, these tickets are actually more like $8 (a 229% increase!) but still cheaper than beer at the ballpark. They also have field level box seats for only $19.50. That’s a pretty good deal to see Freddy Freeman and not be in Atlanta.

More importantly, this deal is being billed as an anniversary celebration of Shea Stadium. Really? It would be one thing if Shea Stadium a) still existed and b) wasn’t universally terrible. But they tore the place down in 2008! How do you have an anniversary for what’s now a parking lot?

This really does encapsulate everything there is to know about the New York Mets. Not only are you going to the game for $3.50, but they’re also giving you an ugly T-shirt or a tote bag!

Bring your kiddies, bring your wife, indeed!

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