Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Classic Video: This one is for you, Mr. Win It

There is a story from a few years back that, for whatever reason (read: laziness), none of us has bothered to post here. It involves a certain friend of ours, and it occurred on my birthday. Without getting too far into details of that night (until one of us writes the whole story), this friend -- whom I have occasionally referred to as Lumpy -- had a few too many drinks and wound up yelling at a whole lot of people. Most of it was gibberish, but Lumpy was particularly fond of a certain phrase.

Without further ado, this one's for you, Lumpy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Puppies


Do you like dogs? I like dogs. But even if you don't like dogs, do you dislike puppies? Come on, who hates puppies? (Aside from that douchepimple DirecTV.)

Anyway, the most mesmerizing thing I've seen on the Web lately is this.

If you're feeling down, watch it. If you're feeling great, watch it. In a beautiful example of the brilliance of simplicity, all this is, is a live stream of a bunch of puppies on a blanket in what looks like some Rubbermaid storage container. Ahhhhhh...

Friday, October 24, 2008

People Who Are Oblivious to Stuff

I had a conversation today with a teacher from my school. She's young and relatively new to the school and we met for the first time today. She's an English teacher.

Me: Yeah, I really like Ms. [Whomever] in the English Dept. She's very cool.
Her: Oh, well too bad because she just got married.
Me: That's OK, my wife doesn't really like me to date.
Her: You're married? How old are you?
Me: I'm 30.
Her: Oh...That's not too old.

At which point I cracked up and my buddy cracked up, too. Except this girl didn't seem to understand why what she had just said was really funny. I think she thought she was genuinely comforting me and I should feel OK since I wasn't really that old.

Normally that statement would be something that I would bring up again and again to mock the person, except she didn't even get it. It wasn't even worth it. But it was really funny.

Peace Out, Shea

The idea of Shea Stadium is nice, but in reality it's just a shithole. So here's a picture of Shea taken yesterday.



Here's the article that accompanies the photo. The seats are gone and the outfield wall is gone and the bullpen (if only). All that's really left is the shell. And can you believe they sold 10,000 of the 16,000 pairs of seats they're selling?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Responding to smear emails about Obama


Earlier today, a close friend forwarded me an email she received from a (sort of) friend. You may have heard about the numerous smear emails circulating about Barack Obama. Until today, no one I know had received one (or, at least, they knew well enough not to forward it to me).

(This particular email is posted in its original form here, if you'd like to take a look.)

This friend asked me what I thought about it. Well, I got a bit upset. I have prepared a written response, and I'd like to hear your thoughts. I haven't sent it yet, so any constructive criticism or new ideas on how to respond are welcome. Here it is:


Hello,

I would like to address the email I happened to read earlier under the subject "Confused who to vote for? Read this."

Below, I have pasted the entire piece with what you might call a running commentary. My thoughts are (in red) to separate them from the original piece. If your email client doesn't translate the red, then you can use the parentheses as a guide.

I think it's important when one receives an email like this to call it out for what it is: utter nonsense. I have no idea who originally created it, though I highly doubt that 'Marlene' (whose name appears at the end) or 'Gary and Jan' are real people anyone who has recently received this actually knows personally. If I'm wrong, please put me in contact with them.

The reason Marlene, Gary and Jan's names are included is to create the false sense that they are concerned friends simply passing along information. "Just read it and make your own decisions," they say. Sounds innocent, right? It is most definitely not.

I know that nonsense like this email is out there, and I could really care less as long as it's confined to ignorant people passing ignorant emails around to each other. But when it reaches people I know and care about, I feel a strong urge to react harshly.

Plainly, this email is full of lies masquerading as "just asking questions". It is intended to reach less-informed voters who might only believe such trash because it is mailed by a friend, someone you might believe. (As opposed to one of those emails from a so-called Nigerian prince asking for your bank account information so he can transfer millions of dollars to you.) That someone you know sent it is the only thing that might give it a small measure of believability. Any rational, objective reader can identify it as nonsense immediately.

This particular email is blatantly designed to tap into people's fears of Muslims and fears of Obama, however irrational they might be.

This is a deceitful, malicious thing to do, and if someone cares about you and respects you as a reasonably intelligent person, they would not send this your way.

If someone doesn't like Obama, that's fine. That's up to the individual. But when someone decides to inflict his/her ignorance on other people -- their friends -- it deserves, even demands, a strong response. It is irresponsible, dishonest, and insulting.

Without further adieu, here's the email you read (with my commentary):


This letter is from a friend of ours who we believe wrote this with great concern. Both Jan and I think it is important to send this on so anyone that is open to ideas and wants what is best for our country can have good information to use when making up their mind regarding who to vote for. This is not a political slant, but a REAL person doing research on an individual who would be in charge of our country. Just read it and make your own decisions.

Gary & Jan

(Well, I've never met Gary and Jan, but with an endorsement like that, how could they possibly be lying, right?)

To All My Friends, this is very important, please take the time to read it.

This election has me very worried. (Me too.) So many things to consider. (The financial crisis. Terrorism. Health care.) About a year ago I would have voted for Obama. I have changed my mind three times since than. I watch all the news channels, jumping from one to another. I must say this drives my husband crazy. (That helps me connect with you. Oh those men and their remote controls!) But, I feel if you view MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, you might get some middle ground to work with. About six months ago, I started thinking 'where did the money come from for Obama'. I have four daughters who went to College, and we were middle class, and money was tight. We, including my girls, worked hard and there were lots of student loans. (Right, student loans. That's how a lot of people can afford to pay for college, right? I wonder if this will come into play later. Hmm...)

I started looking into Obama's life.

Around 1979 Obama started college at Occidental in California. (Interestingly, he went to Occidental on a full scholarship, according to this Los Angeles Times story. Another good way to pay for college, right? More from this LA Times story in a bit.) He is very open about his two years at Occidental, he tried all kinds of drugs and was wasting his time but, even though he had a brilliant mind, did not apply himself to his studies. (Yes, Obama has been very candid about his drug use, particularly in his memoir, Dreams From My Father. But here are some other things said about him during his time at Occidental, from the LA Times article:

Eric Newhall, a professor of American studies and American literature at Occidental, said Obama played with flair as a fiercely competitive guard in faculty-student pickup basketball games.

"I remember him clearly as better as an offensive player than a defense player," he said. Now Newhall likes to lightheartedly brag that he "scored a good number of baskets against the senator of Illinois. I would love to say I scored against the president."

On a more serious note, Newhall said Obama already showed glimpses of social conscience and what his supporters describe as his charisma. "Clearly the guy had a presence," he said.

"He came off as a serious, articulate, intelligent young guy," Newhall recalled. "I didn't say, 'Here is presidential timber,' but I said to myself, 'I like our student body because they are going out to do interesting things.' "

Basketball, social conscience, intelligence. So maybe there was more than just the drugs and wasting time? But hey, college kids, what a bunch of rascals.)

'Barry' -- that was the name he used all his life -- (And a good, American-sounding name, too!) during this time had two roommates, Muhammad Hasan Chandoo and Wahid Hamid, both from Pakistan. (Pakistan? Seems weird to randomly throw that in there, but okay. And they were roommates? According to this article, they were friends, sure. I can't find anything [besides repeated mentions of this particular e-mail] to suggest they were roommates. But they were Pakistanis, no disputing that clearly vital fact. Pakistan is a mostly Muslim country, too, did you know?) During the summer of 1981, after his second year in college, he made a 'round the world' trip. Stopping to see his mother in Indonesia (Indonesia, by the way, is "the world's largest Muslim country." I wonder if that matters here? Probably not, since he was visiting his mother. That's nice, isn't it? What a nice young man.), next Hyderabad in India, three weeks in Karachi, Pakistan (Pakistan again!) where he stayed with his (non-)roommate's family, then off to Africa to visit his father's family. (Visits his mother, then visits his father's family? Sounds suspicious.) My question - Where did he get the money for this trip? Nether I, nor any one of my children would have had money for a trip like this when they where in college. (That's a good point. He would have had to, I dunno, get a part time job maybe, like the author said her daughters did. Maybe Obama's family had some money saved up, I dunno. Maybe his mom bought his ticket. I guess I could randomly speculate on this all day without providing one of those, What do you call them?, facts. Yeah, facts. Wait, what about those Muslim Pakistani friends he had? That's got to be it. Have I mentioned that they were Muslims? I'm beginning to wonder if there's a Muslim theme going on here.) When he came back he started school at Columbia University in New York. It is at this time he wants everyone to call him Barack - not Barry. (What a jerk. "Barry" is a way cooler name than Barack. What kind of name is that? Muslim? Who knows.) Do you know what the tuition is at Columbia? (Nope. Perhaps you could do some research and provide the answer. No? Okay. Moving on...) It's not cheap to say the least! (I'll bet!) Where did he get money for tuition? Student Loans? Maybe.(As we established earlier, student loans are a perfectly reasonable way to pay for college. Didn't the writer of this article do the exact same thing?) After Columbia, he went to Chicago to work as a Community Organizer for $12,000 a year. Why Chicago? Why not New York? He was already living in New York.(What a weirdo. Have have you ever heard of someone who moved somewhere different after graduating? I mean, if you went to, say, Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, you'd naturally want to stay there upon graduating, right? Oberlin, like all other college towns, has and always will be a booming epicenter for career-building.)

By 'chance' he met Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, born in Aleppo Syria,
(Syria? You know who lives there? Muslims. Lots of them, and it's totally necessary and appropriate to include this tidbit here.) and a real estate developer in Chicago. Rezko has been convicted of fraud and bribery this year. Rezko, was named 'Entrepreneur of the Decade' by the Arab-American Business and Professional Association'. ("Arab?" Aren't most Arabs, like, Muslims? This is getting interesting.) About two years later, Obama entered Harvard Law School. Do you have any idea what tuition is for Harvard Law School? (Again, nope. I bet it's a lot, since it's HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, only the most prominent and most respected law school in the country. I wish it were free, too. But that's just me.) Where did he get the money for Law School? More student loans? (I'm confused. I thought student loans were a legitimate way to pay for college. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe anyone who's taken out a student loan to pay for college is some kind of jerk. OR A MUSLIM?! I hadn't thought so before, but this article is really making me think.) After Law school, he went back to Chicago. Rezko (that Syrian!) offered him a job, which he turned down. But, he did take a job with Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland. Guess what? They represented 'Rezar' which is Rezko's firm. (Maybe an important thing to note here would be this, according the the Chicago Sun-Times: "When Barack Obama took a job at a small Chicago law firm in 1993, the first name on the door of the firm was Allison S. Davis. Five years later, having left his Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland firm, Davis invested in Antoin "Tony'' Rezko's final government-subsidized, low-income housing project, state records show, in a deal handled by Davis' former law firm." That seems like an important detail, that the "Davis" in that firm worked with Rezko five years later, when Obama was no longer with the firm.) Rezko was one of Obama's first major financial contributors when he ran for office in Chicago. In 2003, Rezko threw an early fundraiser for Obama which Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendelland claims was instrumental in providing Obama with 'seed money' for his U.S. Senate race.

In 2005, Obama purchased a new home in Kenwoood District of Chicago for $1.65 million -- less than asking price. With ALL those Student Loans - Where did he get the money for the property? (You may remember that book I mentioned before, Dreams From My Father. Well, believe it or not, a lot of people watched Obama give the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. It was a pretty good speech. You might even say it launched his national career. Anyway, after that speech, a lot of people bought his book. As has been widely reported, that income allowed the Obamas to pay off their student loans, with a bunch left over. Here, look.) On the same day Rezko's wife, Rita, purchased the adjoining empty lot for full price. The London Times reported that Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-("Iraqi?" Muslim again!) born Billionaire loaned Rezko $3.5 million three weeks before Obama's new home was purchased. Obama met Nadhmi Auchi many times with Rezko. (Obama meeting with a Syrian and an Iraqi? Again, I'm detecting something. Something about Muslims. They keep coming up, have you noticed too? Why won't the author clearly point this out? Anyone reading this article has to be wondering, right? I wish the author would just make it clear. This "subtlety" is lost on me. It's like when Hamlet asks, "To be or not to be?" Why couldn't he just say "Should I kill myself or not?" That would be way easier to understand.)

Now, we have Obama running for President. Valerie Jarrett, was Michele Obama's boss. She is now Obama's chief advisor and he does not make any major decisions without talking to her first. Where was Jarrett born? (Idaho?) Ready for this? Shiraz, Iran! ("Iran?!?!") Do we see a pattern here? (I think so! What is it? Just tell me already, I hate surprise endings!) Or am I going crazy? (Argh! Am I? It seems so obvious...what on earth could it be?)

On May 10, 2008 The Times reported (What "Times?" New York? LA? London? The Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times?) Robert Malley, advisor to Obama, was 'sacked' after the press found out he was having regular contacts with 'Hamas', which controls Gaza and is connected with Iran.(Oh man. Hamas + Gaza + Iran = MuslimMuslimMuslim.) This past week (What week?), buried in the back part of the papers (What papers?), Iraqi newspapers (Oh, "Iraqi" papers. It all fits!) reported that during Obama's visit to Iraq, he asked their leaders to do nothing about the war until after he is elected, and he will 'Take care of things'. (I just looked that up. Couldn't find proof of this anywhere. Clearly, someone's covering things up. Must be those Muslims or something.)

Oh, and by the way, remember the college roommates that where born in Pakistan? (Not roommates, actually, remember?) They are in charge of all those 'small' Internet campaign contributions for Obama. (No, they aren't. There is literally zero evidence of this. If you'd like to examine Obama's fund-raising, there are plenty of credible places, none of which assert that his former non-roommates are in charge of anything. Here's a good place to start. Again, these are "facts," so by all means be wary of trusting them.) Where is that money coming from? (Nice boldface. That leads me to believe you will answer this question.) The poor and middle class in this country?(A lot of it, yeah. Check that link above.) Or could it be from the Middle East? (A-HA! You know who lives in the Middle East? MUSLIMS! MUSLIMS live there! I think I finally get it now. There's no possible way Barack Obama could have achieved what he has so far by being smart and driven and talented. It's the Muslim thing. Yeah. Wow. It's almost like someone is suggesting that Obama is a Muslim.)

And the final bit of news. On September 7, 2008, The Washington Times posted a verbal slip that was made on 'This Week' with George Stephanapoulos. Obama on talking about his religion said, 'My Muslim faith'. When questioned, 'he made a mistake'. Some mistake! (That seals it. He's a Muslim. And not just any Muslim: a secret Muslim-Arab-terrorist-out-to-destroy-America, right? I know that sounds over the top, but there's always that one thing that every court of law in the world holds in higher regard than anything: the Verbal Slip.)

All of the above information I got on line. If you would like to check it - Wikipedia, encyclopedia, Barack Obama; Tony Rezko; Valerie Jarrett: Daily Times - Obama visited Pakistan in 1981; The Washington Times - September 7, 2008; The Times May 10, 2008. (I like this little pseudo-bibliography. First off, "Wikipedia, encyclopedia" is nice. Almost makes it seem like Wikipedia is a real encyclopedia, but farbeit from this author to fudge things. Also, as any fifth-grader knows, there's something in research called a "primary source." This includes newspaper articles, books, or interviews, among others – the idea being that a primary source is a reliable and trustworthy source of information which can be checked for confirmation. Wikipedia, on the other hand, cannot be used as a primary source by anyone anywhere in any grade, though that appears to be this article's leading source. Imagine that: even a fifth-grader wouldn't be able to pass nonsense like this off. The other "sources"? Something called "Daily Times", the Washington Times (legitimate, though not exactly an Obama-friendly paper), and "The Times," whose ambiguity I remarked on earlier.)

Now the BIG question - If I found out all this information on my own, Why haven't all of our 'intelligent' members of the press been reporting this? (Actually, Barack Obama's life and achievements and relationships have been pored over by the media as intensively as possible over the last 20 months or so. There's this new thing called "Google" which can be a big help if you need information.)

A phrase that keeps ringing in my ear - 'Beware of the enemy from within'!!! (If it keeps ringing, it's probably some secret Muslim torture technique.)



Marlene (Such a nice, American-sounding, non-Muslim name! She must be trustworthy.)


In conclusion, I'd like to thank Marlene for writing this, and especially Gary and Jan for passing it along. It's not every day that I get an email that finally shows me what those dastardly Muslims are really up to. If I had to put actual thought into who I wanted to be President, I'll bet I could watch the news or read the papers or maybe even venture out onto that information superhighway known as the Internet. But thanks to the hard work of Marlene, Gary and Jan, I don't have to. I can just take their word for it! Barack Obama? I knew there was something funny about him.



For further information, please look at the websites below. Emails like the one above have been circulating for the last year. Fortunately, some websites address the lies. And if you get any more emails like this one, please be responsible and look things up. Do not believe anything that is not firmly backed up by facts and evidence. Those who write these things and those who spread them are counting on your ignorance or your unwillingness to follow up on their claims.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/obama.asp#money

fightthesmears.com

My new favorite picture

"We just tag-teamed Dana Plato!"

Oh, the wave of '80s nostalgia that shot through me when I saw this. I cherish the (significant) time I spent as a 10-year-old watching Michael Knight and Arnold. (*wipes tear from eye*)

Now, if anyone can find a picture of Hannibal Smith chillin' with Mrs. Garrett in front of the A-Team van, that'd really be something.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What the Eff, Ref?

This really happened in a game this past weekend. The University of South Carolina was playing LSU when the ref ran up and nailed the USC quarterback. (Sorry this video sucks)



Then after the game the SEC said that the ref was in the proper position. This is just the weirdest thing I've ever seen.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ka-POW-ell

Is it too late to change my vote?



If you can, watch the entire thing (it's about seven minutes long). This is the most measured, comprehensive, intelligent, and balanced assessment of the last six weeks of the presidential campaign that I have seen. This should be required viewing for everyone in America.

I guess it helps that he picks our guy at the end.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Return of Lil' O'Reilly

God bless this little fucker!

(Oh, and while you're here, please feel free to join in our latest pun war.)

See more funny videos at Funny or Die


(And in case you missed the first one, here ya go!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Barack-O-Lantern

Is our guy getting just a little too popular?




Not according to the "Orange-staters" at YesWeCarve.com

I guess they are just really pump-ed up for the election.

Sorry, sorry. That was terrible. Maybe I should start having someone ghost-write on the blog for me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Urge to kill rising

Recently you may have seen some pretty ridiculous behavior on display at a few Sarah Palin rallies. So in case you need a reminder as to just how astonishing what Barack Obama has achieved so far is in, first, winning the Democratic presidential nomination and, now, leading the general election by a sizable margin with just under four weeks to go, take a look at this little bit of proof that even God gets diarrhea.



These are the mongoloids that stain this country. Watching this makes me want to puke. On them. On their inbred children. On their pets. On their dying grandmothers. On their precious Bibles (which they obviously don’t read too closely or follow too accurately). On anything they care about. I don’t want to waste my time trying to “help” or “work with” or “persuade” them. I would rather see them suffering pain. Physical, emotional, psychological, whatever, all of the above.

I often try to tell myself that people like this are in the minority. Most people aren’t so openly, proudly, in-your-face ignorant. Most of us, ultimately, care about the same things, so let’s focus on that. Blah blah blah fuck that shit. Watching shaved apes like these makes me pray for a news report about some terrible series of tornadoes ripping through Ohio, because I’m hoping that in the destruction, one of these assholes’ houses gets leveled and their dog dies under a fallen tree branch and their littlest kid doesn’t quite make it to the storm shelter. (I also recall this, which I know isn't Ohio, but is nonetheless reminiscent.)

And then I calm down. The adrenaline recedes. I remember that, Yes, I am definitely better than they are.

Again, it’s amazing what Barack has done. In a country littered with failed abortions like these, having him as president would be the biggest, loudest, strongest fist up the ass these sisterfuckers could ever receive.

Okay. I’m done venting.

So, how are you?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tie Goes to the Moron

I came away from last night's vice-presidential debate convinced of two things: Sarah Palin is not qualified to be the President of the United States (and, by extension, therefore not qualified to be Vice President), and John McCain seems to have developed horrendous judgment when it comes to really important matters like naming your potential successor.

Now in the debate itself, the expectations for Palin's performance had been set so outrageously low, that popular media is grudgingly handing out tepid applause to her performance. And conservative writers are downright relieved: she wasn't asked to name any Supreme Court cases she disagrees with or newspapers that she likes to read, and escaped the evening without any Palinesque gaffes that were becoming the norm for her in the past few weeks.

But what did she really accomplish last night other than repeat a few well-worn cliches about mavericks and tax cuts, and contradict herself about regulating Wall Street while getting government out of the way of business? She styles herself as a Jane Sixpack and a hockey mom, but when did that become a desirable quality in a potential leader of the free world. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote this morning that:
The presidency and the vice presidency once was the preserve of white men in
suits. As the historian Ellen Fitzpatrick pointed out on PBS Thursday night, if,
in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro had spoken in the relentlessly folksy tones that
Palin used, she would have been hounded out of politics as fundamentally
unserious. But that was before casual Fridays, boxers or briefs and
T-shirt-clad Silicon Valley executives. Today, Palin can hit those
colloquial notes again and again, and it is not automatically disqualifying.

Why not? Why isn't it automatically disqualifying when someone applying for a desperately serious job in a desperately serious time carries herself so un-seriously. Winking at the camera, saying "you betcha," and "darn right" is cute, and according to Mr. Brooks it plays well in the sticks, but when the shit hits the fan, does the advent of casual Fridays really mean that America can afford to elect a vice president who has such a weak grasp of national and international issues? Just because she "comes from Main Street" and "understands working people"?

God forgive me, but give me Dick Cheney any day of the week.

All that said, it's not really Sarah Palin's fault. In fact, to her credit, she has never been anything other than a small town mayor who was in the right place at the right time and ended up governor of a small state (well, small in terms of the number of people she has to govern). Sarah Palin has not changed who she is - folksy, "regular," and very much an arch-conservative ideologue. I can disagree with her, and I can insist she is unqualified (I do, and I do), but whatever.

The real outcry here should not be about Sarah Palin, but about the man who offered her a shot at being President of the United States. John McCain used to be a level-headed, pragmatic politician (even if a bit more conservative than the reputation he earned in 2000). He eschewed wild political ideology, and often was able to build consensus close to the center of the political spectrum. When you are an occasional centrist, it's no surprise you have good relationships on both sides of the aisle. John McCain would have never, ever have selected Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2000 (even if 2008 Palin was available in 2000). But in 2008, he traded in his pragmatic, common-sense credentials for a shot at the big chair. And that is when he lost so many people in the middle. John McCain's one claim to legitimacy - that he rejects the radical left and the radical right - was belied by his selection of Sarah Palin.

That, my friends, is what I think of first and foremost every time I listen to Governor Palin. It's not: "what the hell is wrong with her?", it's: "what the hell is wrong with him?"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Open Bar's man-crush on Nate Silver, plus some stuff about sabermetrics, and yet another sneaky insult of Side Bar

The brain is the biggest erogenous zone.

First off, you may have noticed on the left side of this here blog a lil' website called FiveThirtyEight. If you're following the current election, shame on you if you haven't already RSS'd that sucker. Because if you haven't -- and I'll put this bluntly -- you don't know shit about what's going on.

Second, I've occasionally referenced another lil' site over there called Fire Joe Morgan. That's prolly my favorite site, as it combines awesome baseball writing with funnier jokes than even I can come up with. (You'll also notice, observant reader, that FJM is in both the funny section and the sports section. Yeah, it's bilingual, and it's tops on both lists. Kinda like Salma Hayek. Wait, I don't mean I find Salma Hayek funny and sporty; I was going more for the bilingual thing. And that she's really hot. Maybe she is funny too, I dunno, I've never met her...that I know of.

Anyway, FJM's writers view and analyze baseball in a nontraditional way, rooted heavily in sabermetrics, which sounds nerdy but ultimately makes for a much clearer and accurate analysis of how good baseball players are. At one point on this site, I mocked Side Bar's usage of batting average -- traditionally the primary statistic used to determine how good a hitter is -- because sabermetrics has revealed that batting average, while interesting and somewhat revealing, is way way way overrated and overused by all the announcers we all grew up hearing and all the writers we grew up reading. If you want to know how good a hitter is, before batting average you should be looking at on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Since, after all, not making outs is really good -- OBP -- and a home run is way better than a single -- slugging -- so a stat that ignores such obviousness -- batting average -- shouldn't be held in such high regard, should it?

(And for the record, I wasn't very funny when I mocked Side Bar; it was actually rather snotty and I regret that. We all know how I hate to point out when he says something stupid around here -- cough, cough, Facebook, Sarah Palin, cough. My bust, SB. I should treat your wisdom with more respect. Mea culpa.)

But as our awesome new subheading indicates, we love talking baseball and politics, so believe it or not, I have a point here. As I said before, the guys at FJM were heavily influenced by sabermetrics, and one of the more prominent sabermetricians of the past decade or so is a guy named Nate Silver. Nate invented something called PECOTA, which, essentially, is a complex statistical model that predicts the future performance of baseball players and teams. 

While anyone paying attention could tell right away that someone like Albert Pujols was gonna be the shit because the dude could very clearly hit the crap out of a baseball at a very early point in his career, it's much harder to predict marginal players. Or basically anyone unless it's Pujols-level obvious. PECOTA's genius was to realize that since people have been playing baseball for over a hundred years and there are enormous amounts of data available about every player and team dating way the hell back, it's possible to discover patterns in that data that can help you a great deal in predicting how good your new first baseman is gonna be or how many games your team will probably win. PECOTA has been remarkably accurate in its ability to predict these things. 

A fairly well-known recent example was the 2007 Chicago White Sox. Just two years removed from winning the World Series, PECOTA nonetheless predicted the White Sox to finish with a pathetic record of 72-90. Many people unfamiliar with PECOTA who heard this prediction laughed. But lo and behold, the 2007 Chicago White Sox finished 72-90. PECOTA was exactly right.

Nate Silver's model took into account the various ages of the players on the White Sox, their recent performances, the players they had lost and gained, and compared it to all of baseball's history, trusting that the patterns baseball had established over the last hundred years or so would hold. And they did. 

It wasn't PECOTA's intent to give a big fucking middle finger to the conventional wisdom espoused by baseball "writers" like Mike Lupica and Jay Mariotti. It just happens to be that if you can properly analyze empirical data, that often leads to you to more accurate conclusions than "going with your gut" or any other such subjective "analysis." 

This PECOTA-style sort of analysis, as anyone who has read Moneyball knows, is slowly overtaking the old ways in baseball. Teams like the Oakland A's in the late '90s/early 2000s and, more recently, the Boston Red Sox have reached new levels of success by valuing things like OBP and slugging in player evaluation, rather than the old standbys like batting average and RBI's. While other folks such as Bill James and Rob Neyer, for example, have long been at the forefront of this revolution in baseball analysis, Nate Silver's PECOTA deserves its place as a monumental achievement in that field.

And fortunately for us political junkies, Nate has turned his attention to politics. FiveThirtyEight takes the same sort of heavily data-based approach to predicting elections. I've been following the site since around March or so, when Hillary Clinton won the Texas and Ohio primaries over Barack Obama. Six weeks later, she took Pennsylvania. This was when Hillary appeared to be peaking. 

At the time, though I knew from folks like Chuck Todd that the delegate numbers told the true story -- that Hillary couldn't possibly catch Barack -- I was getting a little worried. After that night in Pennsylvania, there were two weeks until the North Carolina and Indiana primaries. If Hillary could somehow capture those, who knows? Maybe she might be able to win this thing.

If you were reading the papers and watching cable news at the time, you might remember hearing a lot of people saying that Hillary would probably win Indiana by 5 or 6 points. And since North Carolina had always been considered a lopsided Obama state, if Hillary could pull even within 7 or 8 -- as many predicted she would -- that could seriously turn things around for her.

So there you had it: The conventional wisdom was that Hillary would win Indiana easily, by 5 or 6 at least, and cut Barack's once-enormous 15-20 point lead down to 7 or 8 in North Carolina. It was gonna be a huge night for Hillary, cementing her "comeback kid" persona following her Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania wins.

But there was one site that said, in the words of Lee Corso, Not so fast, my friend.

Nate Silver made the absurd prediction that Barack would win North Carolina by 17 points and lose Indiana by a mere 2.

I remember reading those predictions that night and having two thoughts: 1. That's ridiculous; everyone else is saying something completely different; and 2. PECOTA is awesome, so maybe -- just maybe -- Nate could be onto something.

As it turned out, he was remarkably accurate. Obama won North Carolina by 14 points. He lost Indiana by 2. He got Indiana exactly right. He was far closer on North Carolina than anyone else. It was oddly reminiscient of his 2007 Chicago White Sox call. Once again, it seemed, in-depth data-based analysis had won out over the conventional wisdom. Just as reading Moneyball and Nate's stuff over at Baseball Prospectus had drastically changed my way of interpreting baseball, it now seemed like I had to look at political polling and demographics in a brand new way. A better way.

Since then, I've followed FiveThirtyEight daily. Nate's analysis goes beyond simple numbers-crunching; he also happens to be a great writer. His posts often use humor to illuminate the more mundane statistical stuff. If people on the Obama and McCain campaigns don't read this site as often or more than I do, then that's political malpractice.

Just as I used to believe that if you could hit .300, you were therefore a great hitter, I used to listen to political analysts who told me that -- regardless of demographics or recent polling data -- they knew what was gonna happen. Not anymore. 

And, in conclusion, here's a perfect look at the marriage of baseball stats and political data, and how Nate Silver understands and explains those things better than just about anyone. And as a bonus, it's filmed at Shea Stadium (R.I.P.). 

(Full disclosure: This is a 20-minute interview with Dan Rather and Nate Silver. So, ah, you may want to take lunch.)