Monday, October 15, 2012

The Packers Fixed Everything And Will Now Proceed To Win The Super Bowl. (What I Watch When I Watch About Football)

Possibly as early as this week, the NFL will announce that the Packers have won this year's Super Bowl; while the game is not scheduled to be played until February 2013, Aaron Rodgers' dominance of the Houston Texans was so complete and so earth-shattering that Felix Baumgarten can only shake his head in awe of the real stunning performance that took place Sunday.

Also: did you know Aaron Rodgers won the MVP last year? Because if you didn't, Cris Collinsworth took the time to mention that only 100,000,000,000,000 times in the first two quarters of the SNF game last night.

SNF, which is an acronym I hate because it translates to Sniff or Snuff was the game I chose to watch this week, and I have to be honest, I was watching it because I was actively contemplating jumping on the Texans' bandwagon. 

I was going to watch the Bills/Cardinals game, because I am rooting for the Bills and will still watch their games for as long as they matter -- the stopwatch is counting down but at 3-3 the Bills find themselves in a four-way tie for first place in the AFC East, thanks not just to a thrilling (?) overtime victory in the desert but also thanks to Russell Wilson's domination of the New England Patriots and Tim Tebow's domination of whoever it was the Jets played.

NOTE: I am assuming that the Bills' overtime victory was thrilling, because that game was not televised.  Even the overtime was not televised.  I was standing in my kitchen, preparing to completely screw up a "Jell-O No Bake Lemon Meringue Dessert" that Sweetie had asked me to make for dinner, and Twitter told me that the Bills' game had gone into overtime.

"Come on," I said to Mr F, who had been designated my helper for the No-Bake dessert because he was in a crummy mood because he wanted to go swimming but couldn't because his head is still broken, "We're going to watch the Bills Overtime Game," my rule being that I will only watch one football game per week but I figured, making up a corollary on the spot, that if a game goes into overtime I can watch that, too, because if the game I chose to watch went into overtime, I'd watch that, wouldn't I?

But the Bills Overtime Victory wasn't on TV: It wasn't on CBS, which was showing 60 Minutes, a show that apparently still exists despite not mattering at all to anyone, and it wasn't on FOX because FOX was airing an expose in which they finally admitted that even if Mitt Romney ended every single tax credit he could cut taxes by at best 4%, and that would involve cutting things like the mortgage interest tax deduction, which would first raise my taxes by nearly 2% before getting them cut by 4%.

Only I'm obviously lying, because (A) nobody cares about the math behind tax cuts anyway, and (B) FOX was showing the end of the Minnesota/Redskins game where with two minutes left, the Redskins were leading by 12 points.

You could debate whether or not FOX should have cut away to show the end of the Bills/Cardinals (assuming they could) or whether CBS should've pre-empted 60 Minutes (a/k/a Old People Talking About Stuff) to wait for the field goal that would end the game, but that would be irrelevant because in any event, there was one athletic/scientific event that was beyond debating as to its significance, it's excitement, and its representation of the thrill that can be given by humanity reaching its peak.  I'm talking, of course, about Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking free fall from 124,000 feet up.

That fall, which I learned about on Twitter, too, because I hadn't heard it was going to be televised, lasted 3 hours or so, 90% of that time being the trip up and the rest being Felix spinning and falling his way to Earth at speeds in excess of 800 miles per hour.

To get an idea how fast 800 miles per hour feels, imagine that you are walking. 

Now, imagine that you are walking at 800 miles per hour.  Amazing, isn't it? 

Now, imagine that instead of walking, you are in space and you jump and then you fall down to Earth only instead of jumping and falling to an Earth that comprises your entire field of vision -- I've gone skydiving before and from the highest up I've ever been the Earth still made up 60-70% of what I could see, the sky being the rest -- imagine instead that the Earth only makes up, sat 40% of your field of vision:

THAT is a wonderful thing: A man went up into space and then stepped out and fell back to Earth and he survived and when I read about it on Twitter I went online and read about it more and I felt sad that I'd missed this thing happening live because I couldn't imagine devoting three hours of my life to a football game when I could have devoted three hours of my life to a man slipping the surly bonds of Earth only to find that the surly bonds of Earth pull him back at 800+ miles per hour.

It would be impossible, I think, to minimize what Felix Baumgartner did yesterday.

Which isn't to say some people didn't try.

What do you suppose Neil deGrasse Tyson, Science Hater, meant to accomplish by that tweet?  Anyone who is truly interested in science, as opposed to, say, promoting themselves, would have wanted to encourage people to imagine everything that went into creating the balloons, the capsule, and the suit that allowed Felix Baumgartner, BRAVEST MAN ALIVE TODAY, to jump out of space and back to Earth.

Anyone truly interested in science, as opposed to simply being a boor, would have taken the opportunity to link to or talk about articles that showed how they created the suit and why certain protections were necessary, maybe mentioning how if Felix's suit tore even a little, it could cause his blood to boil away into gases, killing him horribly and not-quite-instantaneously.  Anyone truly interested in science as opposed to say, himself and what a big stupid jerk he is, would have mentioned that only being 124,000 feet above the Earth carries with it certain risks as you fall, risks like spinning:

The highest risk during descent is a flat spin, where Baumgartner would lose control of his free fall and begin to spin laterally, his head and feet rotating around his center.

A flat spin draws blood into the jumper's head and feet. At a speed exceeding 600 miles (970 kilometers) an hour, a flat spin could spin a jumper at 180 to 250 rotations a minute, creating a situation of extreme negative G's—the gravitational force that, in much milder form, creates that feeling of weightlessness as a roller coaster crests a hill.

Depending on the speed, a flat spin would could cause anything from headache, shortness of breath, and vision failure to mental confusion, unconsciousness, and burst eyeballs—when pressures exceeding -4 G's build up in the skull, blood and spinal fluid are forced outward, and their main escape routes are through the ocular cavities.
 (Source.) Someone truly interested in science -- someone who wasn't, say, afraid that Felix might take valuable media time away from himself -- might have used Sunday's heroically interesting feat to urge people to take seriously our need to continue to explore, create, challenge -- and used that to springboard people into science.

But not Neil deGrasse Tyson.

I'm just saying.

I didn't get to watch the end of the Bills/Cards, settling for wrecking the No-Bake Dessert and finding out the Bills had kicked their way into the Fourway Tie, and later on I settled in to watch the Houston Texans and the Green Bay Packers, a preview of the Super Bowl I predicted, the game only slightly-tape-delayed because we put the boys to bed early because I was tired and I'd read Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes about 35 times that day.

SPOILER ALERT: Pete the Cat loves his white shoes, but they don't stay white for long.  He steps in stuff that turns them red, and blue, and brown, and then white again but they're wet, then, and the moral of the story is that you should just keep on walking along and singing your song no matter what you step in, because it's all good.

The moral of the story of last night's Texans/Packers game was, as quoted to us by Cris Collinsworth (who would like you to know that Aaron Rodgers was the NFL MVP last year) was that while outside the sky was falling, inside everyone was doing just fine, or so Aaron Rodgers (who Cris Collinsworth would like you to know was the MVP last year) supposedly told Cris Collinsworth, doing so when Aaron Rodgers wasn't busy being the MVP last year.

Aaron Rodgers, despite being reported to not believing the sky is falling

 also took issue with Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels saying that Rodgers made last year look easy;during the telecast, we were told that Aaron Rodgers (who was the MVP last year, did you know? Because Cris Collinsworth wants you to know that) had told Cris Collinsworth that it wasn't easy, that it's not easy having a 122 quarterback rating and scoring at will and that it's not fair that this year's Packers are being judged by the standard set by last year's Packers because it's not easy, you know?

NOTE: I believe that when someone says you make it look easy, they are giving you a compliment: they are saying "That thing that is very hard? You make it look easy," and that means that they are saying you are very good at what you do, so taking issue with someone telling you you make it look easy is kind of a jerk move, if you ask me.  But you didn't.  Ask me, I mean.  I volunteered my opinion.

The early part of the game, which is the only part of the game I really watched because I fell asleep in the third quarter, was marked by Al and Cris being as bored as I was with the way the early part of the game was going: They mostly spent their time remarking on how the old Astrodome, next door, was, in fact, next door, and was old.  Also, it looks like acne: Al said that the Astrodome looked like a pimple next to Reliant Stadium.

(Has anyone ever noticed how Al seems to simply take everything Cris says and repeat it in a slightly different variant? Cris had just remarked on how the Astrodome looks small compared to Reliant, and Al had to go and add that it looks like a pimple, after which there was an awkward pause.)

(Al also had the worst-ever analogy in my memory: talking about how Aaron Rodgers [who was the... say it with me...] wasn't doing so hot this year (at least before he fixed everything and won the Super Bowl pre-emptively last night) and Al commented that it's like an actor who wins Best Actor one year and you just want to say to him Why aren't you doing that again? only I don't think it's like that at all

Aaron Rodgers is trying to win Best Actor again -- going with Al's analogy here -- but he is doing so with the same cast of characters and the same general storyline and the same villains, mostly, with only a few changes from last movie's/year's plot, so it's reasonable to say "Why were you so good last year and now you are not so good?"

But an actor, unless he or she simply remakes the same movie -- or a sequel -- is in an entirely new feature, with a new plot and new director and new castmates and all.  Even sequels don't simply re-do 90% of the plot from last year, unless the sequel is a Police Academy movie.

Anyway, the highlight for me of the first half was realizing that my kicker on my fantasy football team was for some reason inactive; I found out today that the kicker, who was listed as J. Brown or something on's fantasy sight, isn't even in the league, so what's the deal with that, Roger Goodell?  I am using your site to play my fantasy football, and when I do my weekly drop this kicker, pick up that one because I am trying to pretend that I'm Daniel Snyder, and because also why should NFL teams get all the fun of firing a kicker for no reason, I can't even trust that the kicker I'm picking up is in the league?

As a coworker told me this morning: "You can probably go get Brett Favre, too," and now I kind of want to do that.

The other highlight of the game for me was the sign a fan held up that made it on TV after J.J. Watt sacked Aaron Rodgers, who was the MVP last year according to Cris Collinsworth.  The fan held up a sign that said:


and I was impressed by how clever that sign was, and immediately then went on to imagine what would have happened if Watts hadn't made a great play involving Rodgers?  What if Watts had just had a pedestrian game?  How often would that fan get to use that sign? Would she take it home and put it in her closet, ruefully shaking her head and thinking "Should've gone with a Foster The People reference.  Maybe something about Pumped Up Kicks."


I also watched episode 2 of Season One of Once Upon A Time this week, and although I enjoyed it, I found it kind of annoying to have to work through the part of the series where the people are all still saying "I am not sure that what you are telling me is real."  The main character, who I'm told was on House, and who wears a lot of tight tank-top shirts and therefore is to be approved of:

keeps being told that everyone in StoryBrooke, Maine is an imprisoned fairy tale character, including herself, only she was never imprisoned because she was sent to our world through a wardrobe made from the stump of a tree, and the main character (whose name I don't know, even though I've watched two episodes so far) is having a hard time believing this; apparently, it is easier to believe that your 10-year-old son tracked you down in New York all on his own and that there is a malevolent mayor of a small town who has you framed for stealing a psychologist's files and locked up than it is to believe that your mom is Snow White, but even though that seems like it's probably true, I would like to see a movie or book where people instantly believe what they are told:

Fairy Godmother: I am your fairy godmother.  You are actually a 1,000,000 year old genie who has been trapped in this form and imprisoned here by an evil warlock who rules a solar system made of diamonds.  Now that you know the truth, you can use your powers to free yourself and begin your quest.

Genie: It is ABOUT FREAKING TIME.  Do you have any idea how boring my life was?

Fairy Godmother: Aren't you worried that this is all a dream? Or that you're crazy?  This could all be imaginary.

Genie:  So what?  If it's real, great! I don't have to get up and take inventory at the doughnut factory tomorrow.  And if it's not real, then I can't possibly get in trouble for missing work because I'll get up in time and realize it was all a dream.  And if I'm crazy? Well, nothing I can do about that, right? Let's get going on this.  Do I get a dragon to ride, or what?

Nothing else much happened in Episode 2; there was a fairly-cool but fairly short fight between the Evil Queen and Maleficient, and some random evil-people laughing about the failure of the Dark Curse and all; it was good but not great -- but good enough to get me to come back for Episode 3 next week.

Oh, and we watched Prometheus on Saturday night, and that, too, was good, but not great -- although it was closer to great than Episode 2 of Once Upon A Time.  I liked it enough that my only quibble didn't bother me too much, my quibble being they sure decided everything was evil pretty quick and on thin evidence.

Prometheus, unlike Once Upon A Time, featured people who had no trouble believing.  Cave paintings show the same star cluster over and over? Build a ship at a cost of a trillion dollars to go there and see what's up.  Got a whole moon to study to find out what those clues mean? Hey, here's a structure you just happened upon.  Don't want to wear those helmets?  The air's breathable, let's go!

Those were all minor points.  The larger believability points were more problematic: A "scientist" who specializes in cave paintings but also had the ability to perform alien autopsies on giant heads suggests reanimating said head despite the fact that she has studied it for all of three minutes, and then is surprised that the head explodes even though she had no idea what the chemistry of the head was or how old it was, really, is just an example of the kinds of problems that expedition had.  There was also the geologist who felt free to excuse himself from studying the rocks they were walking through and left to go home, and the biologist who did not stay to study the life forms they'd discovered but joined the geologist, leaving the study of the lifeforms to an archaeologist (the head-exploder) and her husband, plus a robot.

All that I could ignore, but what I had trouble with was the leap of faith (?) made when the storm comes up and the scientific party retreats to Prometheus: they study the head, and it explodes, possibly because alien fossils ought not to be filled with electricity just on a whim, and then the lead scientist gets sick, possibly because he took off his helmet and just started breathing alien air -- anyone who has ever drunk the municipal water in a strange city will know what I'm talking about there -- and from those two events and nothing else, the Archaeologist and Charlize Theron determine that everything in the pyramid is evil and must be destroyed, and although they are right, it still wasn't very scientific, was it?

Scientist one: That head we blew up sure blew up good.  I didn't expect it to blow up.

Noomi Rapace: Plus, this guy who might be my husband was walking around in a damp, ancient alien cave and now is sick.

Charlize Theron: Nuke this entire planet!  BURN MOON BURN YOU ARE ALL EVIL.

 Aside from that, the movie was very good and I enjoyed it; I just felt like there was some kind of gap there, like there were 20 minutes of bad things happening before all the scientists decided the space moon was evil, which would explain why they felt the space moon was evil.

But here's the other thing: The only people who didn't think the Engineer was going to be evil were, apparently, Old Guy Pearce and David The Robot, and those two were the guys who were actively using the biological weapons they found to kill people or at least try to kill them, so while everyone else on Prometheus decided on the basis of almost no evidence that the moon was evil, Old Guy Pearce and David The Robot decided that the Engineers would like them despite at that point there being an almost overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary.

That happens a lot, people deciding that the evidence matches what they want to believe.  Want to think the moon is evil? Ignore that your husband was licking the space rocks.  Want to believe the Engineer will like you? Ignore that you've realized he's heading for Earth with a cargo hold full of biological weapons.

And want to figure that the Packers have pretty much sewn up the season and will be bringing home another Lombardi trophy?  Ignore everything that's happened this year and focus on last night, as local columnist Tom Oates did in writing about Texans/Packers:

Some may think the Packers were playing with a back-to-the-wall mentality when they took the game to the Texans right from the opening kickoff. But that wasn’t a desperate, panic-stricken Green Bay team out there. It was a team that simply returned to the level of play that had characterized its previous two seasons, executing like a well-oiled machine.
Everyone figured the Packers had that in them, but it didn’t show up until Sunday. The Packers dominated the Texans while looking very much like the team that won the Super Bowl in the 2010-11 season and rampaged though the NFL with a 15-1 record last season.

Yes! They looked very much like the team that went 15-1 in the regular season, and not at all like the team that went 0-1 in the postseason last year, and not anything like the team that is now 3-3 this year, unless they are sort of like the team that dominated the Bears this year, but the Packers are definitely not anything like the team that gave up 10 sacks to the Seahawks only to have the game lost by the replacment refs.

Said Oates:

That never came close to happening. Instead, they took a measured approach and recovered the fine edge and sharp focus that had been missing all season
The other five weeks that came before this was a fluke; last night the Packers proved they are champions after all. Maybe that other stuff was all preseason football!

Evidence is what you make of it, after all, and some things that seem hard to believe for me might be easy to believe for others, depending on how you parse it.  As Bill Barnwell of Grantland has noted, one way to get the result you want is to fine-tune the sample size. You could, for example, minimize a daredevil scientific feat by suggesting that it was only a millimeter's leap, really, or you could decide to fear the Engineers because your husband got sick, ignoring the fact that the Engineers may have been trying to shape an atmosphere that would suit you perfectly, or you could just pick out the period of time during which your sports hero performed well, as USA Today did:

Rodgers, who vowed to pick up his play during his weekly radio show after the Week 5 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, has been solid all season — he's now thrown 13 TDs vs. two INTs over the past three weeks — but this was easily his best effort of the year.
 The past three weeks, mind you, involved a loss to the Colts and a narrow win over the Saints, plus last night's game.  If USA Today had made that statement yesterday afternoon, around the time Neil was putting the ass in deGrasse (amiright?), the status would have been 7 TDs, 2 interceptions -- still good, but not as good.  Count over the first three weeks of the season and Aaron Rodgers had 3 TDs, 2 interceptions.

It's all in how you look at it, right?

Or, to put it another way: Did you know Aaron Rodgers was the MVP last season? 


PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Your review of "Prometheus" is pretty spot on. I mean what kind of idiot scientists are these to just take off their helmets? I mean the one guy's like, "I'm hot, so I'm going to take off my helmet on the alien planet just because it seems breathable." Everyone waits a minute and then says, "Well, he didn't die, so let's all take off our helmets!" WTF? Really?

The "geologist" and "biologist" seemed a lot more like Shaggy and Scooby than real scientists. Where'd they get their degrees from, a box of Scooby Snacks?

So really as I think other reviews noted for scientists they were a lot more like the dumb kids in a haunted house movie.

Anyway, the Texans-Packers one was the only one I saw too because I was out of town most of Sunday. In this world of sports overhype it seems hard for people to remember one game does not a season make.

Just like now that the Tigers are up two games on the Yankees doesn't mean they're guaranteed to win the series.

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