Archive for May, 2011

Tornadoes Historically

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2011 by a4synapse

Here is the NOAA’s roundup of tornadic activity over the last 60+ years. Maps, graphs: everything you need to decide how scary this might be. Make sure to scroll down to the end where the map shows the intensity and track of each recorded storm.

This ain’t good TV

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 by a4synapse

Sunday evening TV is its own worst enemy lately. I started watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Killing’.  Both had enthusiastic critical responses.  I was not familiar with the source material of either, so I was wide open.

So it’s been six or so episodes for each and I’m evaluating.  I’ve got to say that ‘Game of Thrones’ is just ‘blech’. I don’t like the direction, don’t like the acting and really hate the characters.  This week they killed a man by pouring molten gold over his head while his sister looked on.  Another man died in a trial by combat scenario by falling to his death through a hole in the floor, which was built for precisely that purpose.  I’m not seeing a lot of character development, or subtlety and I don’t care what happens in this universe.  It’s overblown, turgid and vicious and pointless.  And it’s been renewed for another year.

‘The Killing’ is completely different.  Seattle is rainy and at least here, they care if someone dies.  The main characters are troubled people.  The lack of affect, the lack of any apparent empathy for anyone else is just – it’s the same as watching atoms bounce around in a matrix.  These people are horrible to each other, consistently and relentlessly.  The only real affection I’ve seen is the lead detective’s mother’s affection for her daughter and grandson.  Even her fiance is having a hissy fit because she hasn’t shown up in sunny California. So he’s freezing her out and she’s not reacting.  It’s like watching zombies.

When people are not being zombies, they’re feeling sorry for themselves, epically. The lead detective’s son is just a mope and she says nothing to him, not even when he does something really awful.

Right now, they’re spending a lot of time on the red herring and talking about terrorism and social justice.  It’s not going anywhere except to show people at their worst.  I know who I think is the culprit, and I want to find out who is the murderer, but I’m going to have a hard time watching this for another 4 weeks.

After the Preakness

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2011 by a4synapse

Order of Finish

1. Shackleford – I thought the shorter distance would work for him and it did. Didn’t bet him and didn’t think he would win. He showed a lot of grit and he’s a real racehorse.

3. Animal Kingdom – bet on him to win and if the race had been 1/16th longer, I think he would have.

3. Astrology – Thought he was a good horse and he came in third.

4. Dialed In – He did well, but wasn’t able to catch the leaders.

5. Dance City – Didn’t think Dance City was good enough.

6. Mucho Macho Man – Hoped for him to get up for second; never expected him to win, but expected a better finish than 6th. Hope they give him a rest and some time to grow up.

7. King Congie – should run on grass

8. Mr. Commons – still think he’s a good horse; expect good things from him, probably in California.

9. Isn’t He Perfect –

10. Concealed Identity –

11. Norman Asbjornson – still love the horse, give him a rest and bring him to Saratoga.

12. Sway Away –

13. Midnight Interlude – Baffert will do something interesting with him.

14. Flashpoint

Preakness Day 12:43P

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2011 by a4synapse

After considerable cogitation:

Animal Kingdom to win

Mr. Commons to place

Mucho Macho Man to place

I think AK is on a roll and in very good hands. I don’t think the pace (which should be fast) will affect him much.

Mr. Commons because of those three very fast 7 furlong works and John Shirreffs. He would not cross the country with this colt unless he expected to win.

Mucho Macho Man (I think) will get his legs together, but I think he’s second-best. Expect more from him later in the season.

Love Flashpoint but not at this distance.

Like Midnight Interlude, but Baffert has stated that AK is the best horse in the race.

Like Shackleford and 1/16 less works for him, but not today.

Love Dialed-In, but I think he doesn’t have the bottom.

Sway Away and Dance City aren’t good enough.

King Congie should run on grass.

Isn’t He Perfect is not.

Love Norman Asbjornson but not today.  Looking for more at Saratoga.

Concealed Identity? Who is he?

Astrology: respect his NY second but I think he’ll be short.

First Hummingbird of the Season!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2011 by a4synapse

Spotted a male at the feeder just now. They are such amazing little birds. Then I had to shoo the cat away. He knows the rule: MICE ONLY. He has taken to watching video on the laptop with me. As soon as he hears a voice, he comes around to see what’s on. He tries to bite the moving birds (either peregrine falcons or redtails).

Equispace here has a really neat chart of how the Derby was run. Please note that Animal Kingdom ran the last 4 furlongs in 47-1/5, which is second only to Secretariat. I think the final time was 2:02 & 2/5, which is fairly average. Secretariat’s record was 1:59 & 2/5, which if you think a second is five lengths, would have put him 15 lengths in front of Animal Kingdom.

This very cool chart shows the position of each horse at each call and produces a good visual of running styles. It also gives a sobering picture of where Comma to the Top might have suffered his injury.

The Day After

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2011 by a4synapse


The two Louisiana horses ran second and third (Nehro, Mucho Macho Man). The third Louisiana horse, Pants on Fire ran 9th, and it turns out that he bled pretty badly and will be rested and rehabilitated until July or August (they’re saying the Haskell).

Dialed In ate dirt for the whole trip and never fired, finishing eighth. I’m disappointed but I think he’ll be a factor later in the season. They’re going to take him to Baltimore.

Brilliant Speed finished up the track, as did Midnight Interlude. They will race again another day.

Shackleford finished fourth, after running his heart out. I will look for better things as I think he is still growing and improving. I like his trainer, Dale Romans.

Santiva, Soldat, Stay Thirsty and Decisive Moment did not distinguish themselves, or have an excuse.

Twinspired, Twice the Appeal, Derby Kitten and Watch Me Go did not run well at all and I don’t think they belong in this company.

Master of Hounds finished fifth. Hard to tell with this one. They’ll take him back to Europe.

Comma to the Top and ArchArchArch suffered injuries (thankfully not life or career-threatening).

Animal Kingdom ran his last quarter in 24. That was the most impressive part of his run. John Velazquez did a fabulous job on the best horse and managed not to get him beat. John knew he had the winner on the clubhouse turn when AK was running so relaxed, and when the button was pushed as they turned into the stretch, he ran away and hid from the rest of the field and was never touched by the whip (he was even eased a bit). There was no problem switching from synthetic to dirt. I cashed a nice ‘place’ ticket, and I’m always grateful to cash a ticket.

I suppose I wish I’d had him to win. I thought Dialed In would run around this field, and that one of the four longshots would run behind him. I was pretty sure that Arch3X would be unable to do anything with the post #1, even though I think he’s a quality colt and look forward to his complete recovery.

I never thought the Lousiana horses would show well, but they ran second and third. Good for them. Now that I’ve gotten a better look at Mucho Macho Man, I think he’ll become a dominant horse later this year when he starts to grow into his legs.

As for the coverage; Versus was a welcome addition and I especially liked their trainer interviews with Laffit Pincay, III and Randy Moss. Bob Neumaier and Mike Battaglia were also entertaining, and Mike Battaglia picked the winner. I hated the stuff they did with celebrities and women and their hats. It’s fun for some, but some of the interviewees (with the exception of Bobby Flay) were very silly people.

The NBC coverage was pretty good. They didn’t do too much sappy stuff. The camera coverage on the race was a bit dodgy. It looks as though they had five or six cameras; the switch from one to the next was visually jarring and it took a second or two to reorient and pick up the field again. I couldn’t figure out the logic of when they made the jump. That’s a big problem.

Kentucky Derby Day – 3:30 PM

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2011 by a4synapse

It’s now 3:30 PM on Derby Day.

I bet as follows:

Win: Dialed In (can’t help it, I think he has the stuff)

Place: Animal Kingdom, Midnight Interlude, Brilliant Speed, and Shackleford

All very long shots. I think this Derby will be taken by a horse who is on the improve and his jockey will be the critical factor. So: John Velasquez, Victor Espinoza, Joel Rosario, and Jesus Castanon.  Castanon has the least experience and that is probably a disqualifying.  I’ve heard that Shackleford is training lights-out.

So, we’ll see…


Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2011 by a4synapse

First/Foremost: It would be a spectacularly bad idea to release any photographs of Bin Laden’s corpse.

Second: The biggest prize from this raid was the information on the hard drives seized. It should contain leads on all of the tentacles of money which drives (or drove) the network, and probably has information which will lead to the physical location of Al-Zawahireh and his ilk.

I was struck by the unexpectedly gracious behavior of Richard Cheney in giving credit where it was due.

Someone should make it crystal clear that ‘hard interrogation techniques’ were not responsible for developing the earliest information which led to this achievement.

I would be very glad if more sensible people would confront this myth more aggressively.

A Different Sort of Accountability

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2011 by a4synapse

There are a lot of people who say a lot of things by way of predicting the future. Some of them have high-falutin’ reputations.

Some students at Hamilton College compared predictions with actual results here. They used a simple rating system and at the end, it was clear who was a reliable predictor, and who was the blowhard.

Even when the students eliminated political predictions and looked only at predictions for the economy and social issues, they found that liberals still do better than conservatives at prediction. After Krugman, the most accurate pundits were Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – all Democrats and/or liberals.

Those scoring lowest – “The Ugly” – with negative tallies were conservative columnist Cal Thomas; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC); U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI); U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a McCain supporter and Democrat-turned-Independent from Connecticut; Sam Donaldson of ABC; and conservative columnist George Will.


Finally, those prognosticators with a law degree were more likely to be wrong.

So… if you’re a liberal, non-lawyer prognosticator, you’re probably more accurate in predicting future events. If you’re a conservative lawyer-type, you’re more likely to be wrong.

I think we already knew this, at least vaguely. I just think it’s interesting that liberals were better able to predict outcomes. To me, that means they’re more aware, better able to analyze data and trends and probably less interested in having outcomes match up with ideology. These are all good things.