Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Second Date with Cunningham: Things Get Heavy (But Not Hot)

No fooling around in this sequel to our most popular episode-- though Stacey and I try our best. During part one, "Dating Cunningham," we learn about the topics you'll need to be versed in to make a good first impression on Cunningham. But things aren't so easy on the second date (pun intended). Stacey and I do our best, but you certainly can't study for this one, and the path to Cunningham's heart is a thorny one. Good luck with this one-- it's epic-- but I promise if you make it all the way through you will win a valuable prize: you will understand the sensibilities of a complex young woman. Plus, Stacey reads my mind and I make lots of jokes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DraftKings is the new Skynet

"The DraftKings Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online August 4th, 2017. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. DraftKings begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug."

"DraftKings fights back?"

"Yes. It launches its parlays against the targets in Russia."

"Why attack Russia? Aren't they our friends now?"

"Because DraftKings knows that the Russian counterattack will eliminate its enemies over here."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Turn the Page

New week, new post. That feels like a rhythm that suits our slowing pace (metaphorically speaking, anyway). Unfortunately, it won't be much of a post.

Two new albums of note for the alternative pop fans in our midst dropped last week. I dig what I've heard from both, so enjoy:

Kurt Vile's b'lieve i'm goin' down... continues the former War on Drugs frontman's lyrical excellence and gravelly vocal sound. More fun for Gheorghies is the fact that Vile's singing voice is more than a little bit reminiscent of a combination of Greastruck, Almighty Yojo, and Dave. Here's 'Pretty Pimpin':

The new CHVRCHES record, Every Open Eye, has critics hailing the Scottish trio as the heirs of Depeche Mode, New Order, and the Pet Shop Boys, and lead singer Lauren Mayberry as the next coming of Annie Lennox. I think the band's sound is more optimistic and fun than that of the electro-pop legends with whom they're being compared, but that's a quibble. CHVRCHES are fast becoming one of my favorite bands, and my almost-14 year-old daughter feels the same way. That's either a neat father/daughter bonding thing, or the sign that my musical tastes run the same as teenage girls. I'll go with the former. Dig on Leave a Trace, but don't miss Bury It.

Friday, September 25, 2015

G:TB Special Correspondent: Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie

We're beyond excited to debut the work of a new G:TB guest poster this morning. Imagine, if you will, David Wright retiring from the Mets and coming to play for your beer league softball team and you've got some sense of the mismatch between talent and venue we've facilitated. Longtime FOG:TB and current man of semi-retired leisure Dave Fairbank weighs in today with the first entry in what we hope to be a recurring feature. Equal parts travel guide into senility and cautionary tale, this series will offer us insights into how much it sucks to get old, except for the Early Bird at Tortugas. 

G:TBers are a hardy, robust lot, but they aren’t immune to the clock or calendar. Because I have several years on you cats, Rob, the site’s grand poobah (Ed: we prefer the use of the term Tiny Dictator), asked if I’d contribute a post on my aging experience – sort of a doddering canary into the geriatric coalmine.

Fairbank got hearing aids, and a new wardrobe
Personally, I think he wants an easy launch pad for old guy jokes. Fine motivation both.

I recently bought a pair of hearing aids. Can’t say that I’m happy about it, but they were necessary. I just turned 57, which boggles my mind for many reasons, and I’ve experienced gradual hearing loss for the past several years. Too much, “I’m sorry, say that again,” “Excuse me,” and snippets of conversations around me that evaporated. My wife almost reflexively tells me things twice. I’d like to tell you that the eight months after college I spent as a roadie for Black Flag finally caught up to me, but that would be a fib on multiple levels. Certainly, loud music and club dates contributed, but it’s age, with a dose of genetics.

An audiologist tested me – soundproof booth, headphones, tones of various frequencies piped into each ear – and said I had asymmetric hearing loss, meaning one ear was significantly worse than the other. Which I knew. Just as I knew I needed hearing aids. I resisted, due more to laziness than vanity. If you saw my wardrobe and workspace, I think you’d agree.

I went with a pair of what are called Behind The Ear (BTE) aids. Very small. Almost unnoticeable. Small microphone fits behind the ear, with a tiny plastic tube that runs over the ear and hugs the temple, connected to a domed transmitter inserted into the ear canal. Feels a little peculiar at first, but you get used to it. Tip: Make sure your ear canals are clean; otherwise, it feels like you stuffed a cotton ball into your ear, high-end electronics or not.

I walked outside and HOLY SHIT, THE WORLD IS A NOISY PLACE. The four-lane highway in front of the office sounded like Talladega. Flushing the toilet sounded like Niagara Falls. When I went to lunch and a barback dumped ice into a big, plastic bucket, I thought my head was spot-welded to a front-end loader at a quarry. By the end of the day, I had a borderline headache from volume – not just the decibel level, but the amount of suddenly audible stuff that my brain attempted to process.

You can argue that decreased hearing capacity might actually be a benefit amid the present societal din. The problem, however, is that you cannot tailor the input. You miss your kids’ conversations, as well as the beanbag yammering in the grocery checkout line. Studies suggest that hearing loss could cause shrinking or diminished brain capacity as you age. I need all the gray matter I can get.

Here's a picture of a dollar bill. And Dave's hearing aid.
Anyway, hearing aids are a revelation. For the price, they should be. Digital hearing aids typically run from $1,500 to $3,500 apiece. Though apparently, Costco has recently gotten into the hearing aid biz, with in-store audiologists and discounted pricing. Because, of course you think auditory quality while you’re shopping for 10-pound blocks of cheddar and 64-packs of toilet paper. More like, they know a potential market when they see it. A 2014 Census Bureau report projected that more than 20 percent of the population will be age 65 or older by 2030, comprising more than 70 million people. They’ll need hearing aids and motorized wheelchairs and delivery services and metric shit-tons of Depends.

I sprang for a pair of medium-high quality aids. Don’t know if I should have gone higher or lower, but I don’t have the patience to test-drive hearing aids (again, selective laziness), so I picked a model in the audiologist’s recommended range.

Not only do they amplify, but the increased sharpness is a little jarring at first. Ice cubes tumbling into a glass. The dog’s nails on a hardwood floor. A seat belt click. They also drink batteries, which typically last 7-10 days. When the batteries are going dead, my particular models emit the tonal opening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which I’d like to think is a playfully wiseass touch by the engineers, given the composer’s deafness late in his life.

We'll always have this
A friend’s dad recently bought hearing aids at Costco. We had a chance meeting shortly after he learned that I had bought hearing aids, as well. Let me tell you, nothing livens up a conversation like comparing hearing aids with an 80-year-old.

This is something that you Gheorghies are beginning to experience. As you age, there’s a conversational shift from music and sports and culture and ideas, to ailments and conditions and meds and doctor’s visits. The percentage of conversations devoted to bowel movements remains roughly the same.

Diminished capacity – vision, hearing, chewing, whatever – is more often gradual than sudden. Take stock periodically. Pay attention. See the doc. Talk to your family and friends. Try not to let vanity get in the way. We all eventually end up on adjacent commodes with our pants around our ankles.

That’s it for now. Next on the calendar: a colonoscopy. Good times.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sometimes You Can Judge a Book by its Cover

The "book" is Raiders owner Mark Davis, son of Al Davis. Here is one version of the cover:

Here is another:

And here is another:

Question for the G:TB readers - what would you call this book?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gheorghe Explains the Election: Part III

Joe Biden is a politician, and he's been one for nearly his entire adult life. He was elected to the Senate when he was 29. He's served in public office ever since. He is practiced in the art of telling people what they want to hear, in backroom dealings, in eliding certain truths in pursuit of power and his personal political objectives.

But goddammit if I can't help loving the guy.

For as long as I can remember, the primary criticism of Biden is that he lacks the filter that comes as a standard option in most other political models. He's prone to slips of the tongue both silly and consequential, on matters mundane and vital. To many, that disqualifies him for the highest office in the land. I might've agreed at a different point in our national political history.

Now, though, I'm starting to think he might be the man for our time.

One of the primary critiques of President Obama's personal style (notwithstanding the one about his pigmentation that doesn't get spoken of at cocktail parties but runs as a constant thread through a certain strain of the discourse) is his arms-length dealings with Congress. He's aloof. He doesn't reach out to leaders in either party. He's not practiced in the dark arts of Washington influence.

As a consequence of this and a variety of other factors, America's two primary political parties are as far apart from one another as they've ever been, according to a 2014 Pew Research study and many longtime observers of the U.S. political scene.

Enter Joe Biden, a consummate Washington insider, and a man with longstanding and long-nurtured relationships in all corners of our political world. Biden is warm and authentic where Hillary Clinton is cold and poll-driven. Biden's experienced both internationally and domestically where Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and most of the others in the GOP clown car fail. Biden's a serious leader where Donald Trump is a circus act. And Biden's deeply, painfully, fully human, flawed and imperfect. This is a man that connects with people in a way that it seems many voters are craving.

Take a look at these clips from Biden's recent appearance on Stephen Colbert's Late Show (seriously, though, watch these - regardless of your political views, it's remarkable television: raw, open, emotional, moving):

Is that a performance? Of course. Could any other national leader have that same conversation and not sound like the phoniest of grasping actors? Not in a million years.

Empathy and authenticity aren't necessarily prerequisites for success in national politics. But for an electorate writ large that measures candidates by how much we'd like to have a beer with them, and at a time when a candidate that can make a real argument about experience in collaborating across the political chasm has a distinctly differentiated value proposition, Biden's bona fides would seem to make him the man of the hour.

C'mon, Joe. Do it for America.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

NFL Did You Know?

Hearing of the Jets Victory during my morning commute this morning I thought to myself, "It was a pretty good week for the teams of GTB."

Jets - Win
Team from Washington - Win
Jags - Win
Bucs - Win
Giants - Loss
Bills - Loss

For you slow on the math, that's a 4-2 record. The next thought was, "I bet it's been a while since that has happened." Considering that in 2014 the aforementioned teams won a combined 28 games thanks large in part to the 9-win Bills, my hunch was we might have to go back a few seasons.

It wasn't as bad as thought. We "only" have to go back to Week 7 of the 2013 season when all 6 teams played and a winning record was produced. This time it was the Jags & Bucs on the wrong side of the column. There were two, yes two other winning weeks but only when one of our lowly squads were off on a bye week. 3-2 both times.

Plenty of 2-4's and 1-5 weeks and one 0-6'r in Week 6 of last year. In case you were wondering. Pretty pathetic. Less than 5 wins per year last season for those that we root for. Will the tables turn for us in 2015? Not a fucking chance, but here's to dreaming.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Methinks You Will Fail This Test

My friend Alec returns with a quiz of his own creation for the fifteenth episode of The Test. The topic is Things Shakespearean, which is right up our alley, of course. We all score well (though we are quite liberal with our scoring methods . . . anything close counts, and I count one as correct when I clearly don't know I'm even answering the question).

Give it a listen, keep score, and see how you fare. We may not know our numbers, but three English teachers are tough to beat when it comes to The Bard of Avon.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Rugby World Cup Preview

The Rugby World Cup starts today in Twickenham, England. At press time, the hosts lead Fiji, 18-8. Mr. KQ is somewhere at or near the event, so we hope he chimes in with some local color.

Clarence was supposed to write a preview, but he's Clarence, so here's a link to the Cup site.

Ruck and maul, shoot the boot, and all that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Our People

I had breakfast with a congressperson today. True story.

Way more importantly, as I headed back to my car after the meal, I saw this:

Pretty sure this person is:

a) A G:TB reader,

b) A Mike Litos fan,

c) Teejay, or

d) All of the Above

Carry on with your obviously important and interesting day.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Test 14: Number of the Dave

I thought I had constructed a fun and easy number association quiz for the ladies (including the mysterious lady guest, Mrs. X) but apparently I did no such thing. In fact, judging by the amount of yelling, banging, slapping and vitriol thrown my way during the recording of this episode, I did the exact opposite of what I intended.

If you listen carefully, you'll hear the microphones clip out a couple times because things got so overwhelmingly loud. All this furor over a few numbers that I thought were memorable and significant. No math! Just numbers. But obviously Stacey, Cunningham and Mrs. X. feel the same way about numbers as Jackie Mason feels about cans.

Highlights include Stacey contemplating self-immolation, Mrs. X doing some creative math about football, Cunningham's indignance about an old song, and an incident that I claim is the greatest moment in podcasting history . . . especially if you're familiar with the first episode of the show.

Anyway, take a shot at it and see if you fare better than the ladies. And try to avoid banging and slapping things while you listen.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lessons from the Dude

Epistemic closure, in a modern sense, describes the act of stubbornly clinging to a belief system despite evidence to the contrary. In a political example, it's the refusal of educated men and women to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific evidence that suggests that humankind is contributing to the warming of the planet.

That closure is made more durable by the natural human instinct to seek information that buttresses our beliefs, confirms our biases. 

With that as preface, none of it is relevant to this discussion of an important new article about procrastination. As someone who struggles daily with that particular personal failing, my interest in Jonathan Malesic's hypothesis that procrastination in and of itself is a net positive is purely academic, I assure you. By no means did I read Malesic's piece and immediately file it away as justification for spending most of today lounging around the house and watching sports. 

I would've done that anyway.

Malesic, a professor of theology at King's College, had me at "The challenge is not to stop procrastinating; it is to procrastinate well and without guilt." The New Republic editors didn't hurt their cause by featuring a photo of the Dude abiding above the headline. Jeffrey Lebowski may, in fact, be the poster boy for procrastinating well and without guilt.

Couching his argument in the context of an increasingly knowledge-based and always-on work environment, Malesic proposes that procrastination is healthy, even necessary. "Procrastination, then, is not a failure of will; it is instead a rational way to safeguard self and sanity against work’s expansion."

I've always considered myself a rational person. Now I've got confirmation. Which in no way implies that I'm reading into Malesic's work a meaning that justifies my instinct. No way at all.

Here I am (and Monday I'll be) safeguarding self and sanity. May you feel good about putting off today what could be done tomorrow.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Metal Cello

My 11 year-old daughter just started playing cello. 'Playing cello' might be a more accurate description. Fortunately for us, bad cello isn't nearly as grating as, say, bad oboe (which is what my sister played for several years during my youth - it's like listening to a duck being strangled).

Good cello, though, is remarkable. We've highlighted Yo Yo Ma (and Little Buck) here before. In the hands of a virtuoso, it's a haunting, deep, instrument, capable of filling big spaces.

A musician friend of mine, when he heard of my daughter's newfound interest, turned me on to the work of a pair of Croatians. Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser are better known as 2CELLOS, because they play...two cellos.

They do more than that, really. I mean, technically, they don't, but it's the way they play their two cellos that makes them stand out.

For example, you don't see that many cello ensembles cover AC/DC:

Or Guns N' Roses:

Two wild and crazy Croat brothers, rocking out with their cellos. My daughters got role models.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Are You Ready for Some Footbaw?

Tonight, the first game of the 2015 NFL season kicks off. FOOTBAW! Whoooooooo! America!

Eh, whatever.

It was three years ago in this spot that I renounced my Washington Redskins fandom. Many readers scoffed in the comments section, predicting that I'd be back, that I'd find being a football fan without a team distasteful. So I chose a team.

I even made a trip to New Orleans to consummate my relationship with the Saints. Um, wait, that sounds weird. I didn't go to New Orleans to do that - I went to drink a shitload, listen to incredible music, and eat way too much. That part went really well.

But the Saints thing didn't take. Even so, I haven't looked back on leaving the Redskins. Their performance on the field, and more importantly, continued abject dysfunction and deaf disregard for fans and public opinion have made that breakup particularly easy on me.

And now, as a new season dawns, I find myself...unmoved. Used to be, the start of a new NFL season was a cause for celebration. Today, I think it's unlikely that I'll even watch the Patriots and the Steelers. And Sunday, I've got to travel to Charlottesville for my daughter's soccer game, and typing this sentence is the first I realized that it'll mean I won't watch any NFL games that day.

I'm fine with that.

I really don't know what the tipping point was in my drift away from professional football. Certainly, the NFL's grotesquely mishandled "investigation" of the Patriots' footballs played a role, and the league's egregious self-importance in that and so many other public efforts. I think the growing consensus regarding the game's impact on player health and the gladiatorial implications is a part of it. My burgeoning interest in soccer, too. (Two weeks ago, when my family was out of town, I watched 8 soccer games in a weekend. I don't know if I'll watch 8 NFL games all season.)

But whatever the reason, I really don't care that the NFL is starting today. I know lots of you do, though, so enjoy. Here's some Morrissey to get you in the mood.



Exciting news from Apple, for those that like to communicate with tiny images rather than words. The iOS 9.1 update will apparently reveal a bunch of new emojis, including a taco, an unicorn, and yes, a squirrel.

Poor rob. I'm not sure he will ever get a text again without the inclusion of that squirrel emjoi. In fact, it's the only thing I plan to send him for the next 6-9 years.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

I Procrastinate, You Lose

Last week, City Pages posted an incredible video recording of the very first time Prince ever played Purple Rain in public. The 13-minute video was filmed by one of his sound engineers as the Purple One unveiled the track at Minneapolis' legendary First Avenue.

It's an incredible piece of history, as well as a remarkable live performance.

The City Pages team foreshadowed what was to come in the very headline of their post:

Those folks know what they're talking about. Here's what the video looks like today:

Trust me, though, it was amazing.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The Best Test Yet (According to Dave)

If you're going to listen to one episode of The Test, this should be the one. Stacey made a musical clip quiz, and to pass, not only do you have to identify songs and artists, but then you have to connect the answers to recognize an all-encompassing theme. The reason this is our best effort so far is because I get the answer and Cunningham doesn't. She requires an extra hint. Also, I steal her youth. And there is a new outro song and montage.

It's probably not that hard a puzzle-- especially if you know some pop-culture-- but I was still very proud of myself (and couldn't hide it). Cunningham was annoyed that she didn't get it (and also had trouble hiding it). To be fair, some of the songs were before her time . . . but I nailed a more recent one and she didn't (that's when I steal her youth).

This one is fast and fun. Play at home, and see if you get it before me. Or lie to me and say you got it, just to burst my bubble. Or lie to me and say you didn't get it, if you want to make me happy. Whatever floats your boat.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

The NFL is Run Worse than Chotchkie's

The "Deflategate" opinion came out while I was away on vacation, so I got to enjoy listening to sports radio stations from Philly (while at the Jersey Shore) and New York (on my way home) make a complete hash of interpreting the decision. I'll give you the straight dope: Tom Brady got shafted, Roger Goodell is a no-talent assclown when it comes to investigatory prowess, and NFL in general is run worse that Chotchkie's. I'm also surprised by a gaffe made by Paul Weiss. Hopefully this will all come together by the end of my rant.

I commented on Tom Brady's balls back in January. Since then, as you know, Roger Goodell commissioned Ted Wells from the law firm Paul Weiss to perform an "independent" investigation into the circumstances giving rise to the tenderness of Brady's balls in the AFC Championship Game. The report concluded that "it is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls." Based on this vague conclusion, testimony from various witnesses, and the fact that Brady destroyed an old cell phone that potentially had relevant texts or emails, Goodell (acting as a neutral arbitrator) suspended Brady for four games. Brady appealed to the Southern District of New York. Hilarity ensued.

The case was assigned to Judge Richard Berman, a 70-some-odd year old Clinton appointee with 17 years of experience on the bench. He has degrees from Cornell and NYU School of Law. He was an advisor to Jacob Javitz. He was the general counsel for Warner Cable Company. He is no stranger to shitshow trials of the celebrity and political variety. He assumed senior status in 2012, presumably to get a lighter caseload and enjoy more free time in his old age. I don't think he wanted anything to do with a labor dispute involving balls and their air pressure, and Tom Brady's "general awareness" of said air pressure.

His opinion bears this out, undressing Goodell and the NFL for three primary reasons.

First, Brady didn't have "notice" that tampering with balls could lead to a suspension. Notice is a term of art--if a person has "notice" of a fact or condition, then they actually know of it, or received some notification of it (usually in the form of a document), or had reason to know about it. NFL players receive notice of various rules and conditions on their employment via the CBA and the NFL Player Policy handbook. The Player Policy handbook says that tampering with equipment results in a fine of $5,512 for the first offense and does not say that suspension is a possibility. The NFL applied the language of the Competitive Integrity Policy to Brady, but players do not receive this document--it's only given to "Chief Executives, Club Presidents, General Managers, and Head Coaches." Thus Brady didn't have notice of the possibility of a suspension, so the league can't suspend him. Goodell tried to analogize Brady's four game suspension to the PED rules, but Judge Berman scoffed at that:

The Court is unable to perceive "notice" of discipline, or any comparability between a violation of the Steroid Policy and a "general awareness" of the inappropriate activities of others, or even involvement in a scheme by others to deflate game balls on January 18, 2015, and non-cooperation in a football deflation investigation.


[Goodell's punishment] offers no scientific, empirical, or historical evidence of any comparability between Brady's alleged offense and steroid use. Often, steroid use has to do with critical issues of health, injury, addiction, and peer pressure, among other factors. See Steroid Policy at 1-2 (listing several factors related to the use of"Prohibited Substances," including "a number of physiological, psychological, orthopedic, reproductive, and other serious health problems, [such as] heart disease, liver cancer, musculoskeletal growth defects, strokes, and infertility"). None of these factors is (remotely) present here.

To put it more succinctly:

This line of reasoning didn't go over well with sports talk radio hosts. They said stuff like "You don't ever like to see someone get off on a technicality." Well. What some people call "technicalities," lawyers call "the law." In this instance, the particular "technicality" at issue is the concept of due process. When you hear people talk about how great America is because of our freedoms, they're talking in part about due process--freedom from tyranny. Judge Berman explained it thus: "While '[m]any controversies have raged about the cryptic and abstract words of the Due Process Clause ... there can be no doubt that at a minimum they require that deprivation of life, liberty or property by adjudication be preceded by notice." Simply put, a court can't take someone's job away for doing something they didn't know could result in termination.

Talk radio also opined that Brady has tons of money and he won't miss four games of pay. That's just nuts. I live very much within my means. If I lost my job and had to take a 25% pay cut I could do it. But I'd be pissed. And who knows what side ventures or investments Brady has going on? Maybe he owns a Truffula Tree farm and has a balloon payment coming due on it, or maybe he planned on buying a controlling interest in the company that makes Uggs. Doesn't matter. Anyone would be pissed if you took a quarter of their pay. More importantly, Brady would love one more ring, and the Pats' best shot at winning the Super Bowl comes with 16 games of Tom Brady under center.

Second, Goodell prohibited Brady from cross-examining Jeff Pash at his arbitration hearing, essentially turning the entire proceeding into a clown show crossed with a kangaroo court. It's wickedly crooked.

Pash is the NFL's general counsel, their chief lawyer. Pash was also the "co-lead counsel" for the allegedly "independent" investigation into Brady's balls with Wells and Paul Weiss. He even reviewed and revised the final draft of the Wells Report before it was published. So the NFL's "independent" investigation was led and written by their own internal lawyer! Then, at the arbitration, Paul Weiss represented the NFL! So the "independent" investigators worked with the league to generate evidence against Brady, then worked for the league to adjudicate against Brady! This is a surprisingly and obviously bad strategy and I'm surprised Paul Weiss went along with it. Oh ... and Roger Goodell, the guy who hired Wells and for whom Pash works, served as the arbitrator. Simply put, the deck was stacked against Brady, and he wasn't even allowed to cross-examine one of the primary people who built the case against him. You can't do that in America.

Goodell let Brady cross-examine Wells, and concluded that Pash's testimony would be "cumulative" (legalese for "redundant") in light of Wells's testimony, noting that Wells testified that Pash's edits to the Wells Report "couldn't have been that big a deal." Judge Berman disagreed:

[T]he NFL fairly cannot suggest, without more than the testimony of the NFL's retained counsel, that the edits from Mr. Pash were not significant or that his testimony would have been "cumulative." Pl.'s Mem. Supp. II. Mr. Wells acknowledged that he did not know the content of Mr. Pash' s pre-release edits, and thus there was simply "no reasonable basis for the arbitration panel to determine that ... [the] omitted testimony would be cumulative."

In other words, you can't say that Pash's testimony is redundant just because they guy you're paying $1250 an hour to represent you says it's redundant.

Third, Goodell did not give Brady's lawyers access to the investigative files and witness interview notes that were generated during the Pash-Wells investigation. This prejudiced Brady because there might have been a "smoking gun," or at least a helpful quote or two, to benefit his case. Judge Berman added:

Compounding Brady's prejudice is the fact that, as noted, Paul, Weiss acted as both alleged "independent" counsel during the Investigation and also (perhaps inconsistently) as retained counsel to the NFL during the arbitration. Paul, Weiss uniquely was able to retain access to investigative files and interview notes which it had developed; was able to use them in direct and cross-examinations of Brady and other arbitration witnesses; share them with NFL officials during the arbitral proceedings; and, at the same time, withhold them from Brady.

Taken together, these three issues alone (and Brady had three other, more complicated gripes that the judge didn't bother to address) show that Goodell isn't qualified to run a bar and grille, let alone a professional sports league. Let me spin out a hypothetical for you, with the hopes of maybe making all of the foregoing a little bit easier to relate to.

Imagine that you wait tables at a restaurant called Chotchkie's, a bar and grille sort of like TGI Friday's. It's a franchised chain, with each restaurant owned by different people and a headquarters somewhere in NYC. Headquarters sets some rules for how each franchise must operate and provides various employee handbooks. The waiter's handbook says, among other things, that anyone who knowingly serves contaminated, expired, or otherwise unsafe food can be suspended for 3 months or more, or even fired. The waiter's handbook also says that you must wear between 12 and 13 pieces of flair on your uniform. Failure to do so will result in a reprimand and, if it happens more than once, fines of up to $50 a night at the manager's discretion. That said, flair is really important--it's about fun. It's why people come to Chotchkie's.

One night you're waiting tables when halfway through the evening the manager comes up and accuses you of wearing only 11 pieces of flair. You deny it--you had 13 pieces when you left your house and you're sure you still have 13 pieces now. A quick recount confirms that you only have 11. The manager reprimands you. So you add on two more pieces and finish the second half of the night, waiting just as many tables as you did in the first half. Life goes on.

A few days later, you learn that one of your co-workers sent a letter to HQ stating that you only wore 11 pieces of flair in the first half of one of your shifts. The CEO is incensed and commands an investigation. Surveillance footage from the kitchen and locker area shows that an unidentified person went into your locker, but it isn't clear if he took any flair, or even if he had time to take any flair. Undaunted, the CEO hires one of the fanciest law firms in the country and has his GC work with them to prove that you knowingly worked the first half of your shift with an under-flaired uniform. Experts in flair are retained, dozens of co-workers and restaurant patrons are interviewed, and millions of dollars are spent. The investigation concludes exactly what the CEO asked it to prove: you knew you let the flair out of your uniform.

After the investigation is complete, a report summarizing your flair malfeasance is issued, stating that it is more likely than not that you were generally aware of your lack of flair. A hearing is held, over which the CEO presides. You are not allowed to cross-examine the GC or review any of the documents that were generated during the investigation or that were relied on to create the report. The CEO suspends you without pay for 3 months, analogizing the situation to serving unsafe food ... despite the fact that you didn't serve unsafe food and the level of punishment for your lack of flair is expressly addressed in your handbook.

How pissed off would you be? If you knew that low flair levels could result in a 3 month suspension, you would've been super diligent about maintaining your flair. So even if you hate wearing flair (which was alleged in the report) and purposely took off two pieces of flair so that you would be more comfortable, the worst you thought could happen was a $50 fine, per the handbook. And now this suspension bullshit? You'd fight it, wouldn't you? Even if you really did take off a little flair at the start of your shift?

Can you imagine the CEO of a chain of bar and grilles doing something this asinine? Of course not. No one would put someone this moronic in charge of a lemonade stand, let alone a national franchise. Then how in the hell did a guy who isn't capable of running Chotchkie's wind up running the most successful sport in America?

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Test with Guests

Episode 12 of The Test is special for several reasons:

1) we have two live guests: my buddy Alec-- who designs and builds performing spaces for a living-- and-- as a bonus-- his wife Heather, who sings for us;

2) I created an especially awesome musical interlude between the question portion of the program and the answer portion of the program . . . but Stacey complained it was too long . . . which might be true . . . but it's still awesome;

3) God beeps himself.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Quick Rock and Roll Remembrance

I just realized that it was twenty years ago today that I went to Cleveland.

Evan Lloyd called me up and said he had two tickets to the Inaugural Concert of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  And that I was going, no questions asked.  It was only a question of whether he had time to install a sidecar onto Scarlet, his motorcycle.

Fortunately, he did not.  I drove.

We road tripped out there with local beers like Little Kings.  We hung out Friday night in Columbus with elder fratres Chipper and Brownie and hit on John Cooper's smoking hot daughter.

We spent all Saturday afternoon in the Flats, drinking heavily as if to challenge ourselves to remember the night.  We then headed over to the Mistake By the Lake and hunkered down for hours and hours and hours of rock and/or roll.  And drinking.

Ev started passing out during the Allmans, for which I gave him a ration of crap.  Then he woke up and I started passing out during the next act.  It was a marathon.

Highlights included Chrissie Hynde, an Akron native, and the Pretenders sing "My City Was Gone" and crooning about Ohio; The Kinks, who just kick ass always; and marveling at Evan marveling at Springsteen marveling at his heroes on the same stage.  It was an all-timer.  Duh.

As I look back at the set list now, I can't believe in one night I saw Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Clinton, Chuck Berry, John Fogerty, Al Green, James Brown, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Boz Scaggs.  Wow.

Set notes here

If Evan could hear me now, I'd thank him profusely for choosing me as his wingman at such a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.  I cannot believe it's been 20 years.  Good golly miss Molly.

Put Some Funk Into Your Hump Day

This song makes me happy. It could be linked with a post I made last week, but I believe I have already pushed beyond the group's tolerance for my thoughts on coital tendencies.

And the best part of the post (other than the tune, duh) is that most of these tags have been used before.