Sunday, September 09, 2007

greatest college football start ever?

I was reflecting on this year's college football season to date, and I don't think I could ask for much more joy than I've already had. I don't know that I've been this pleased with the start of any sports season. If I have I sure can't remember when it was. In only the first two weeks of the season, the following have already happened:

* An overrated Big 10 team (Michigan) has been humiliated at home -- twice.
* Notre Dame, my favorite team to hate, has been crushed twice by a combined score of 64-13.
* Miami, my (close) second favorite team to hate, has been embarassed in one of its worst losses ever.
* LSU has given me some reason to look down on the pitiful ACC fans (and excessive amount of rabid Hokies alumni) in my office by slaughtering supposed conference big dog Virginia Tech.

On top of that, nothing really bad has happened yet. Arkansas didn't have to open the season by getting annihilated by USC this year. The SEC has held its own against the rest of the lesser conferences in football. There hasn't been a single really depressing game yet this season. I guess if there's one bad thing it's that Michigan and Notre Dame get to play a "somebody's gotta win" game next week, so one of those two hilarious skids will have to end. But still, that's small stuff compared to the great beatdowns each has already suffered.

Seriously, I think this is the greatest inaugural two weekends of any college football season in my lifetime.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

maryland: where the punishment always fits the crime

My stupidity has once again caught up with me. I was driving home from a bar in town Thursday evening after spending happy hour there with some co-workers (which has become a pasttime of sorts on recent Thursdays) and was pulled over by a state trooper. Now the side story here is, I suspect that's a total bunch of crap in the first place because it's well-known that those punks like to lurk around bars and shadow the people coming out of them for signs of intoxicated drivers. One co-worker who was pulled over maybe a year ago even had his license suspended under what can only be called shady evidence at best. I guess such profiling is fair and there's no law against it, but I wish they'd spend their time doing more useful and/or less annoying stuff. But hey, if your whole purpose on the job is to make money for your employer by issuing citations, it only makes sense to go for DUI's since they're the jackpot of traffic violations. I won't get started on the whole money vs. safety thing; just accept that traffic laws exist and are enforced primarily to generate revenue, with public safety being a distant secondary motivation for said laws if it can even be counted. Which I'd argue often isn't the case. But anyway, I digress.

Getting back to the situation at hand, I knew I'd forgotten to renew the registration tags on my car, so I figured 100-to-1 that was the problem.* Sure enough, the trooper asked if I knew my tags had expired. I said yes and that I had even tried to renew them the day before. (In hindsight this was an incredibly dumb thing to say, as he probably thought I was making crap up to try to get out of a ticket; I should have just left it at "yes.") He pointed out that they'd been expired since April, which I mentioned I'd only realized a few weeks ago. (Again, should have just scrapped the truth for the moment and kept my answer as short as possible.) As if suspecting something was up, he asked if my tags or license had been suspended. Slipping slightly into smart@$$ mode at this point, I responded "not that I'm aware of" and thankfully had enough good sense to keep the "but I'd appreciate it if you could check that for me" part to myself.

Anyway, he does his thing and comes back with a citation. Figures, he probably thinks I dreamed up the best lies I could to get out of it and so there's no chance of me getting off at this point. Which I didn't really mind because I figured the fine would be high but semi-reasonable, like $70 or $100 or so. Not that I'm saying any of this crap is all that reasonable in the first place, but hey, this socialist state is wacked so one's hopes for the results of an encounter with state government are significantly lower than they might be elsewhere. So I figured it'd be a small deal in the long run, until I was informed that the fine for driving with expired tags was TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY DOLLARS.

Holy crap. Needless to say, that far exceeds my previous lifetime sum of money extorted from me via senseless traffic laws -- which is all of them as far as I can tell. The other thing is, the ticket doesn't say anywhere on it what the range of fines is or even give a reference that one can look up to find such info. And I'm sure you'll be shocked to know that the half-day I spent calling around to various useless county and state offices and trying to find a fine schedule of sorts on the internet yielded nothing but several wasted hours. I'm convinced that this info does not actually exist. And even if it did, since when did government follow it's own rules anyway? This ain't the eighteenth century anymore.

To complicate matters further, my driver's license, and thus my MVA records, have my old address listed. I think there's some useless requirement out there to keep that stuff up to date too and of course there will be some fine associated with it, and for all I know that one could be several thousand dollars. So I guess rather than fight this or appear in court -- the hearing notice will be sent to my old address and the post office doesn't forward MVA mail, so that's probably not even an option anyway -- and put myself at the mercy of a system that has been excessively cruel and unforgiving to this point, my best move seems to be to just pay the idiot tax that's been imposed and hope to remain beyond the reaches of government as much as possible from now on.

And this saga hasn't ended yet. I renewed my tags online yesterday (which the trooper told me I could do; too bad that totally obvious idea hadn't occurred to me before) and it gave me a 15-day temporary notice to make my car legal and said the real tags will be mailed to me. Awesome! They'll be mailed to my old address and won't be forwarded. So I'll have to call a laundry list of numbers next week and hope to stumble upon someone who actually knows something -- think my hopes are high on that one? -- and can tell me what has to be done to somehow come up with some tags before the temp notice expires. I would not at all be surprised if they tell me I have to pay the $128 registration fee all over again to get another set of unique tags mailed to my current address.

What the bleep. Socialism sucks, y'all. But in the end I'm the one who left myself open to an encounter with the government. Knowing full well that any interaction with government is always bad for the individual (seriously, that profound observation hadn't occurred to me before this incident but I now realize that's a maxim of life in America) it's on me to keep said interaction to a minimum. Or else I might find myself, you know, subsidizing the incomes of useless state employees whose average IQ is less than that of a cow, as evidenced by cows not seeking to control your life for no good reason. Oh well...get me out of this freaking state already.

UPDATE: Just went and tried to update my address, with the confidence that the process of sending my tags would move so slow that the computers would be updated by the time they're mailed, but alas, a change of address packet will be mailed to my address. So they can't update my address in the system even after I've provided layers of personal info, they must send a paper packet to me and have me send it back before the records can be changed. And even then it'll probably take months for some fat, dumb, lazy civil servant to get around to it. Is any comment really necessary here? Actually, the better question to ask is, is there any land in Montana or Idaho for sale? Still better yet, where's that list of countries with the least harassing authorities? Them be the places to be.

* The sad thing is, I had actually tried to renew them at a local MVA extension office the day before, but the place didn't take credit cards so I couldn't complete the transaction at the time. Next time that happens I'm calling it an omen and doing whatever I can to close the loop.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

best political slam ever?

From Vox's blog:
"I wish Bush would take up drinking again, maybe he would make more sense."
Impressive. Am I the only one who thinks that's the best combination of humor and insult ever on Vox's blog that wasn't authored by Vox? I guess one thing that makes it funny is that it's got a shred or few of truth to it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

hey hogs fans, at least we're not from michigan

What's it like to watch your team open the season ranked #5 in the country by losing to a Division 1-AA schedule filler AT HOME? I dunno, ask a Michigan fan. How about this eye-popper: Appalachian State 34, #5 Michigan 32. Yeah, that's a 1-AA team thumping one of the most storied programs in football in its own house.

To realize the magnitude of that upset, consider this: those 1-AA teams are below even the mid-major 1-A teams that often show up on nonconference schedules, are not bowl eligible, and are considered so overmatched that a win over them doesn't even count toward the required six wins for bowl eligibility. Big schools' practice squads are better than most 1-AA teams. I wasn't aware any schools except Arkansas and a handful of others even had such cupcakes on their schedule.

For example, recall that back in the 2001 season when 9/11 caused a weekend of college football (still early in the season when a lot of BCS-conference teams like Arkansas were still playing nonconference fluff teams) to be cancelled and left teams scrambling to fill byes in later weeks to make up for the lost game, Arkansas couldn't find a weak Division 1-A mid-major opponent whose bye week matched and who was willing to travel to Fayetteville to play. Keep in mind that since the cancelled game was at home there was no chance the powers that be were going to sacrifice a game's worth of revenue by replacing it with a road game. So it added 1-AA Weber State to the schedule. This move infuriated a lot of fans and talking heads because such a meaningless opponent offered little value other than financial, and of greater concern, it meant the Hogs couldn't count that cakewalk toward bowl eligibility and so they'd have to beat one more SEC opponent to get to a bowl. I don't remember if they made a bowl that year, but I remember it was an issue when folks found out about that game being the schedule filler.

Back to the humiliation at hand. This quote from the article needs no further comment: "No Division I-AA team had beaten a team ranked in The Associated Press poll between 1989 and 2006, and it's unlikely that it had ever happened before." So, yeah, no question that's one of the biggest upsets in college football history. I'd compare it to a 16 beating a 1 in March Madness, but I don't even know if that does it justice. I mean, the basketball games are on neutral courts, or at least more neutral than one of the hardest stadiums to come away from with a win in college football.

Wolverines fans, perhaps you should put those national title hopes on hold for a year. Oh, and did I mention that your team SUCKS? I'm sure that somewhere my college roommate and friend John, a.k.a. The Greatest Michigan Hater Alive, is still rolling on the floor in laughter.