Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What's wrong with NASCAR?

There's got to be something wrong with the National Association of Stock Car Racing, right? Is it indeed the perfect American sport or is it just perfectly flawed like America?

Really, what's wrong with me that I'm sitting here in my driveway handing out halloween candy while my wife teaches bible study inside and I'm writing about NASCAR and what's right or wrong with it? Probably free time allotment; I've got too much right now and not enough later.

Is anything wrong with NASCAR? Aside from lack of capitalization control, things like this: Lars Anderson's NASCAR Power Rankings.

This isn't backlash from hockey-guy, because he's mad that his sport, which he believes trumps NASCAR physically, emotionally, and intellectually for both the player and fan, is so poorly watched while NASCAR is printed on everything from Cheerios to underwear to flash drives. This is open, honest thinking from wannabe-economist-guy who, like every good economist, can attribute value (or attempts such) to invaluable or incalculable items.

That's why I love polls--especially sports polls. Of course the only thing that matters is where the teams finish at the end of the season, but prognosticators of all sorts like to predict the finish. That's why we have polls, power polls, power rankings, rankings, standings, sittings, and similarly useless data. (Sittings, of course, unreal and would be useless even if real).

But with Lars, I must draw the line; this is just too far. First, what is a guy named Lars doing pretending to be a NASCAR fan, let alone expert? I'd more likely believe Dr Laura Schlessinger's NASCAR review than Lars I'm-from-the-midwest-one-generation-removed-from-Norway Anderson. If it were Mikey, Jimmy, Billy, Tommy, or Danny Anderson telling me what they thought about pit crew efficiency and which team had the best shot at next weekend's 600, I'd believe it without question. But not Lars.

Put aside the obvious need of pseudonym and we come up with a more obvious flaw in Lars' rankings. NASCAR already has honest rankings. They're compiled after every race because every driver competes with every other driver in the same conditions almost every week. Scientists would go crazy for this data and economists would quit their jobs if all circumstances were so often and easily controlled. Not only is this useful data so easily obtainable and comparable, but NASCAR has, on top of that, its own series rankings systems already, making Lars useless!

Not that Lars is useless, of course, and his rankings are interesting prognostication. I like that. So why is all this so bad? Have I simply got too much free time, or am I mad? Maybe, but here is the catch: Lars gets paid by Sports Illustrated to post this tripe on their front page! A multi-billion dollar industry is making money by brandishing rehashed information as news by a correspondent whose name indicates his inadequacy. Maybe that's not so bad, though. Maybe I can write a column predicting last week's weather. Or I can freelance with the New York Times to create a best-seller power ranking. Or maybe I could go to tv; anybody have a number for Fox news? They must need a NASCAR anchor.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Josiah Bounderby of Coketown would be proud

he, having been part of both classes, pulling himself out of the gutter and transforming himself into the upper class leader of the working man's town, would appreciate this new revelation by one of London's premier evolutionary theorists. Or maybe Bounderby would have been disappointed, himself a truthless denial that man can transcend social class, to see the lie that he believed so whimsically dismissed.

I say whimsically, because I have read the BBC story. Go ahead, read it for yourself of follow along here the Wellsian story (I should think they will appreciate it, if it indeed does not violate copyright). I'll try to retell.

Oliver Curry, of the London School of Economics Department of Philosophy and Natural History, has jokingly (surely?) suggested that we will see a genetic split among humans in the next few thousand years. Interesting indeed, is his social application of his darwinism scholarship, that the human race will divide along class lines into distinct sub-species within, possibly, 10,000 years.

The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the "underclass" humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures. Indeed and interesting idea, which sparks a certain image I just can't put my finger on...

Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect. People would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams. This sounds somewhat familiar, and I know I've read it somewhere...

The logical outcome would be two sub-species, "gracile" and "robust" humans similar to the Eloi and Morlocks foretold by HG Wells in his 1895 novel The Time Machine. Aha!! That's it! Err, wait.?. Can you just take a 111 year publication and contrive its theme as your own theory?

Well, maybe you can. If you're tall, dark, handsome, and smart enough I guess. I'm just too short and stupid to understand how this is reportable news. Or, were it news, how it would be useful. Certainly, predictions with theories of prevention (or any sort of course guidance) have use. And sometimes its good to know what will happen even if you can't prevent its occurrence. But is this prediction of any real scientific or societal value (notwithstanding the arguments that might be made that technological advances may take away the class gap, or the prevalence of the middle class)?

I don't know, but at least it's not my tax money. Maybe tonight I'll go home and do some research of my own, tax free of course. Hmmm... what will it be? I guess I'm just too dim-witted to make up my mind; I'll have to go to the bookshelf to decide. I hope the book I want to research isn't on the top shelf.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Needless to say...

So I'm watching the Saints-Buccaneers football game (still am) and the announcer is making a statement about Reggie Bush and finishes with needless to say...

I would think the statement needless to say is, indeed, needless to say. Or more correctly the statement following is needless, needless to say. I think I've got that right, but then maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe I'm speechless.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

They start young, don't they?

Shoplifters. That's what the lady at the checkout counter at Walgreen's said. I didn't really respond to that; I, like she probably, was amusing myself trying to recreate the events that just transpired. As I walked up to the counter, to purchase a snack for myself and a co-worker who had not had lunch, I noticed a little boy about 4 running out behind his mother asking a question. I think she was pushing a cart with a younger child in the seat but didn't really notice because I was intereseted in the boy who wasking asking what about this momma?

He apparently had pulled a bag of life-savers off the shelf and was asking her if he could have them. This was a bit rushed, and hard to notice since I was checking out. The lady behind the counter didn't notice at all and I considered mentioning that the boy seemed to take the candy out of the store before I realized that this would be a lost cause.

It seemed reasonable to me that her two most likely
responses would be unconcern or freakish overconcern. Shoplifting, I'm sure, occurs frequently at Walgreen's with the mix of young shoppers, kids, and the weird store layout. In fact the latter is why I hate shopping at all such drugstores. Why do drugstore managers feel the need to put all the crap you couldn't possibly want at the very front of the store to bombard your senses as you enter. It makes me react strongly in distaste. But as I waited for her to process me I wondered what portion of shoplifting occurs honestly. How many thieves are unknowing 4-year-olds simply acquiring what they desire? This thought wasn't long before being interrupted by a bag of life savers being thrown throughthe still-open sliding door.

I'm not sure whether I could hear the mother say something before the toss, but distinctly overheard her afterward commanding him to pick that up! It may have been put that up! or put that back!, I don't know, but the boy entered again, quickly picking up the bag from the floor between the detector posts (the detector which I believe is intended to detect theft) and put the bag into cart near the front. [This is the same store where a woman last week bitterly complained that she would have purchased more had there been any carts available when she arrived. The carts were all in the small parking lot and she just couldn't walk all around the store without a cart. Walgreen's lost a lot of money that day she declared shortly after refusing to purchase an item because it was indeed not in the circular.]

So now we are both distracted, myself and the lady at the counter. She was a bit amused, not having seen much of this take place or at the least not caring what took place. I mentioned foolishly that I thought I had seen the boy leaving with the bag but decided not to mention the event, to which she responded they start young, don't they? I smiled to myself, amused, and took the bag out of the cart and placed it back onto the crappy shelf, half-expecting to be doing this again soon.