Your NFL loser update: week 5, 2016.

October 9th, 2016

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:


At this point in 2015, there was only one team left in contention for the Owen Sixteen trophy. At this point in 2014, there were only two teams left standing (and one had a bye that week.)

Do the Browns have a shot? Ask me again in week eight.

Obit watch: October 3, 2016.

October 3rd, 2016

Sir Neville Marriner, noted conductor.

Oscar Brand, folkie. I actually do own one of his albums: Presidential Campaign Songs: 1789 – 1996 is kind of fun, if you have a sense of history.

This is one that I also thought was kind of “amusing” (to the extent an obit can be “amusing”): Carroll Wainwright Jr. He was kind of a sensation in 1934.

Wainwright’s mother divorced his father and remarried (“hours later”, according to the NYT) in 1932. In 1934, the family went to Bermuda for the winter.

“Tousle-headed Carroll Jr. didn’t like Bermuda,” the 1935 newspaper article declared. “He had visions of Christmas in America, of sledding at East Hampton, and of a Christmas tree at his grandmother’s Park Avenue home.”

So, one fine late November day, the young Wainwright stowed away on the S.S. Queen of Bermuda, only to emerge when the ship was out to sea and he got hungry.

What he had not bargained for was the effect his disappearance would have on his mother and stepfather. The terrible fate of the Lindbergh baby, kidnapped and murdered just two years before, was still fresh in the public mind, and the couple, fearing Carroll had been abducted for ransom, called in the Bermuda police.
The police were stymied until someone thought to radio the ship. The captain radioed back that Carroll was aboard, safe and sound.

The ship arrived safely in New York, and Wainwright’s grandmother paid his full (first class) fare. I kind of wonder what her reaction was to a) having an eight-year-old show up unexpectedly at her door, and b) having to come out of pocket for his fare. But reading between the lines, it feels like there may have been more going on than a desire for sledding and Christmas trees: Wainwright’s mother died in 1937 of what the paper describes as “alcohol-related liver disease”.

He did not return to Bermuda. In the coming years he would divide his time between the Malcolm Gordon School, a boarding school in Garrison, N.Y., and the home of an uncle, Loudon Wainwright (grandfather of the singer and songwriter Loudon Wainwright III), in Hewlett, on Long Island.

And this is a nice note to end on:

An enthusiastic outdoorsman, Mr. Wainwright was for decades a keen traveler throughout the United States and far beyond. To the end of his life, he paid his own passage.

Your NFL loser update: week 4, 2016.

October 3rd, 2016

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:


At some point, I’m thinking I should post an analysis of the loser update. I want to say that I have fairly ready access to about ten years worth of data: I’d like to do an actual breakdown of, on average, how many teams remain standing at each point in the season.

I’ve also been thinking, based on a comment from Lawrence, about doing a breakdown of time between winning national championship and getting fired for college coaches, but that may require more work.

Where there’s smoke….

September 30th, 2016

…there may be flaming tax-fattened hyenas. And also, Monty Hall.

I intended to write about Dawnna Dukes and her sudden retirement announcement (too close to election day for her to be taken off the ballot, so we’ll probably end up with a special election next year). Lawrence, however, beat me to it.

But there’s a new development since Lawrence wrote his post.

According to the Statesman, quoting “a courthouse source”, Ms. Dukes and District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg are playing “Let’s Make a Deal”.

Prosecutors were prepared to ask a grand jury to indict the veteran Austin lawmaker before Dukes announced Monday that she will retire in January, said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation. A lawyer for Dukes reached out to the district attorney’s office and is negotiating with prosecutors, who have delayed taking the case to a grand jury, the source said. No deal has been struck yet.

The DA isn’t commenting on any deal, but she does say Rep. Dukes’ retirement “will affect how we act but it’s not determinative,”

Her retirement announcement came the week after the Texas Rangers delivered their criminal investigation of Dukes to the district attorney’s office. Prosecutors were confident they could obtain indictments related to two issues, the source said: Dukes’ directing her legislative staff to work on non-governmental projects and do personal errands, and Dukes’ misusing her campaign account.

By the way:

Dukes’ state pension will be about $74,000 a year.


September 30th, 2016

The Chicago Cubs have been eliminated from postseason contention.

Oh, wait. Did I say the Chicago Cubs? I’m sorry. I intended to say “the New York Yankees”. My bad.

Obit watch: The Carnegie Deli. I’m sad for the people who will be losing their jobs, but:

She went through a bitter divorce from ex-husband “Sandy” Levine, who carried on a long-term affair with a former waitress and allegedly stole Carnegie’s pastrami and cheesecake recipes. The recipes were allegedly then used in the girlfriend’s family’s restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand.

Now I want to spend one night in Bangkok and try her pastrami and cheesecake

Two years ago, the restaurant was ordered by a federal court to fork over $2.6 million in back wages to employees who were cheated out of proper pay — which Marian blamed on her ex-husband, whom she accused of embezzlement.

Isn’t it interesting how everything is the ex-husband’s fault?

Then, in April 2015, the city shut the Carnegie Deli down for nine months over an illegal gas hookup — which Marian also blamed on Sandy.

Quel frommage! Seriously, it seems like it would be kind of hard to stay in business in New York City when you have to stay closed for nine months. Even if you also own the building. The one with the janky gas hookup.

Here. Have some sad.

September 29th, 2016

I’m feeling down in the dumps to begin with, but I’ve been intending to make note of this story anyway.

Michael J. Fahy became a New York City firefighter in 1999, and he climbed the ranks of the department in the years after Sept. 11, when the terrorist attacks and a wave of retirements that followed stirred concern about a drain of experience and institutional memory.

His dad put in 33 years with the NYFD and retired as a battalion chief.

But he [Michael – DB] had also graduated from law school, passed the bar exams in New York and New Jersey and had earned a master’s degree in homeland security from the Naval Postgraduate School. His colleagues said he was focused and analytical, and had a genuine dedication to public service.

Michael Fahy also made it to battalion chief.

But the higher rank did not separate him from the people he commanded. He cooked with them and ate with them in the firehouse. And he responded to scenes with them, just as he did on Tuesday, facing the same dangers they did as he made decisions on how to handle fast-moving, chaotic situations.

“He was quiet, unassuming, but the guys knew, he was the boss when he came in,” Commander Fink said. “He took care of the guys, and the guys took care of him.”

Michael Fahy died on Tuesday. He and his men responded to a report of a residential gas leak: the house exploded and Chief Fahy was hit by pieces of it.

Sometimes there’s just nothing you can say.

Obit watch: September 29, 2016.

September 29th, 2016

Agnes Nixon, soap opera creator. (“One Life to Live”, “All My Children”)

Nobody ever calls me “Sir”…

September 28th, 2016

…unless they follow it with “You’re making a scene.”

Seriously, there’s a story in Austin that provides some food for contemplation. In brief, a crazed child molester tried to grab an eight-year old girl in the bathroom of a public library branch. Luckily, good citizens stepped in and the bad guy is in jail.

Before he tried to grab the eight-year-old, he tried to grab another girl:

An 11-year-old told her father while at the library a man grabbed her, picked her up, and tried to potentially kidnap her. When she yelled “help,” the man let her go. The girl’s father said they were about to leave after hearing about what happened when the suspect approached them again and “grabbed the victim by the wrist and said the girl was coming with him,” continued in the affidavit. The father told the suspect “don’t touch her” and Powell let her go.

The father is now second guessing himself.

“I still didn’t think of him as a serious threat at that point, I thought maybe he was a homeless guy, with mental issues. I didn’t want to cause a big disturbance, I just wanted to get out,” he said.

He did call 911, but it was after they left the library and were on their way home. By the time he called, the bad guy had already tried to grab the second girl.

“Beating a guy who I thought was homeless and had mental issues wouldn’t have made the situation any better. As far telling the librarian, I didn’t think he was a serious threat at that time,” says the father. “I thought he was some weird crazy homeless guy and someone would tell him to leave. Thought it would be the end, but sadly it wasn’t.”

I’m not criticizing the father in this situation at all. I can understand the desire to leave and just not make a scene. And it doesn’t seem like he had complete information at the time; only after they left did his daughter give him the details that triggered his 911 call.

But it does kind of make me think. The emphasis in license to carry training is on de-escalation, and rightly so. Famous quotes (and I forget who deserves credit for them): “Every bullet out of your gun has a $50,000 lawyer’s bill attached”. “Your best defense is a lifelong commitment to avoidance and de-escalation.”

All of this is true. No normal person wants to shoot anyone. A commitment to avoidance and de-escalation is the right (and practical) thing to do.

But we can’t avoid the world.

We talk about scenarios as a way of furthering our situational awareness. “What would I do if that guy came at me with a broken milk carton?” Maybe, just maybe, one thing we should be doing is thinking about when we shouldn’t make a scene – when we should de-escalate – and when making a scene is justified.

Obit watch: September 28, 2016.

September 28th, 2016

For the historical record, Shimon Peres. NYT. WP.

Herschell Gordon Lewis, noted film director (“Blood Feast”, “Two Thousand Maniacs!”). A/V Club.

Breaking news from the blotter.

September 27th, 2016

Suspect number three in the shooting of Judge Kocurek is now in custody.

According to the Statesman report, he was run to ground in New Orleans.

According to federal authorities, Burgin led federal agents on a car chase in Southwest Houston on Sept. 22 that resulted in a crash and a foot chase. Burgin escaped and had been a fugitive ever since.

It seemed to me that the HouChron (at least online: I don’t see the print edition these days) was awfully quiet about the chase, the search, and the $10,000 reward that was offered for this guy.

Onyeri and the others are accused of committing mail fraud, bribery of a public official, wire fraud, document fraud, access device fraud and money laundering from January 2012 to November 2015 in Austin, Houston, the state of Louisiana and surrounding areas.

Impressive resume, even without the “tried to kill a judge” part.

Your NFL loser update: week 3, 2016.

September 27th, 2016

Damn. I knew I was forgetting something. Late start this morning. Sorry

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:

New Orleans

We’re starting to get down to it now. Only four teams left standing. For personal reasons, I hate to think Cleveland has the best shot at the Owen Sixteen trophy, but objectively it is starting to look that way.

I’m a little surprised Easterbrook hasn’t held forth on the football gods waxing wrothful against the Saints, or something like that. But the season is still young.

(And there’s still no word I’ve seen on TMQ this year.)

Fall is here.

September 26th, 2016

There was just a very slight chill in the air when I left work today. I drove all the way to my destination without having to use the air conditioner.

And in another sign that fall has arrived, we have our first major coach firing of the college football season: Les Miles out at LSU, along with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. ESPN.

He was 114-34-0 overall at LSU. But the team was expected to be a national contender this year; they had a strong squad returning from last year. Instead, they started 2-2, losing to Wisconsin in their opening game and Auburn this past week. (Their two wins were against Jacksonville State and Mississippi State.)