Barry Bonds Should Retire After 755

Posted on August 7th, 2007 in Celebrities,Sports by EngineerBoy

Update 8/7/2007 – Barry Bonds hits #756 to become the all-time home-run leader.

Well, the anticlimax has arrived – Barry Bonds hit #756 tonight. I think Sports Illustrated summed it up perfectly with this visual on their front-page:

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Barry Bonds has achieved an undeniably impressive milestone and proven that he is indeed a great home run hitter. It’s sad that his legacy (and baseball’s legacy) will be tainted by his involvement in the steroids scandal.

Original article appears below.

Here is the simple solution to the controversy surrounding Barry Bonds’ pursuit of Hank Aaron’s all-time home-run record in Major League Baseball:

Barry finally snaps his slump and hits number 755 to tie Aaron’s record.
Barry Bonds circles the bases, doffs his cap, waves to the crowd, smiles, and immediately retires from baseball.

Think about that for a moment. Love him or hate him, you know that if Bonds becomes the all-time home run leader in baseball it will be a bad thing for the sport. His “achievement” will cast a pall over baseball until A-Rod breaks his record. Does anyone want that? In this age of declining interest in baseball the last thing the sport needs is to have its most illustrious record held by a dickwad cheater like Bonds.

But, if he hits number 755 to tie and then walks off the field for the last time, he will immediately be embraced by everyone on all sides of the argument, including people who normally could not care less. It would be the classiest of classy gestures – getting number 755 to show that he *could* do it, but then voluntarily stopping short of being the sole, all-time home run leader.

And, quite frankly, as reprehensible as I find his (alleged) use of steroids, there’s no denying that any artificial help he got was merely to enhance his undeniable, god-given natural ability to hit the ball. Drugs don’t perfect a swing or refine an eye – Barry Bonds did that himself. Unfortunately he chose to juice himself up to make himself even better. But I think it would be fair for him to share the record with Hammering Hank Aaron.

Given the competitive nature that drives people to the levels of excellence requires for pro sports, I doubt this will happen. On top of that, given what I know about Barry Bonds’ ego and class, there’s an almost zero chance of it happening.

However, a man can dream. Can dream of Barry Bonds having enough class to not only stop the runaway train wreck that is his chase for the record, but to launch baseball back into being the classy, revered sport that America deserves.

Review of CedarCide for Mosquito Control

Posted on August 3rd, 2007 in Product Reviews,Technology by EngineerBoy

We recently moved from a patio home in the big city (Houston) to a cottage in a small, country town (Brenham). In Houston we didn’t really have any outdoor living space as we shared a common courtyard with neighbors, but here in Brenham we purposely bought a house that could provide a nice outdoor lifestyle. We purchased in the fall of last year and since then we’ve made improvements to the backyard, such as putting up an 8′ privacy fence and driveway gate, giving us a private, shady retreat to enjoy.

However, this being the southern half of Texas, the coming of spring and summer meant that the mosquitos ended up taking over and driving us back inside most mornings and evenings. Also, since we have two permanent dogs, and one temp dog that we’re babysitting, our backyard has a certain amount of…how to say this delicately…um…organic….err…excretions? Natural…fertilizer? Canine compost? Okay, dog poop. And with dog poop come flies. We’re excrutiatingly uninterested in policing the poop, and we feed our dogs a very high grade of dog food, so the volume isn’t huge, particuarly for the size of our dogs (80lbs, 80lbs, and 25lbs). Nevertheless, the flies were also annoying and gross, but fortunately not the biting kind.

So we started on a project of figuring out the best way to take back control of our backyard. I won’t say that money was no object, but we weren’t going to penny-pinch and were willing to spend into the low four figures for a good solution. We first looked at the wide variety of mosquito traps out there, such as the Mosquito Magnet, SkeeterVac, Mega-Catch, etc. What we found was that while the underlying concept behind these devices appears to be sound (catching mosquitoes with CO2 and other lures), the implementations were horribly unreliable and the results were spotty.

These devices almost all work by luring the mosquitos in with some set of attractants, such as CO2, lurex, octenol, lights, and/or heat, then using a fan to suction the little buggers into a holding net where they remain stuck until they die. Also, it seems that most of the mosquitos in your yard actually live in your yard, meaning if you can trap and kill the ones in your yard, you break the cycle of population and then only have to deal with ones that stray in from the surrounding area.

But for every story of success, there were three stories of device failure, with most failures occurring at the start of the second season of use when trying to get the traps to start up again after having been stored away for weeks or months. I wasn’t able to find a single personal account of anyone using one of these devices for more than one season without having issues. Also, the company that originally introduced the product and concept, American Biophysics with their Mosquito Magnet, had gone bankrupt and their acquiring company seemed to be completely disinterested in any type of customer service. This

Superbad (***½)

Posted on August 1st, 2007 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

Before going to see Superbad ask yourself if you are offended by crude sexual humor, crude language, underage drinking, underage sex, underage smoking, male bonding, funky geeks, or penile oeuvres. And if you think you might be, ask yourself this: could put up with them in order to see a movie that will have you snorting your soda out of your nose with laughter?? And also ask yourself if you could put up with them if they are not the point of the film (as they are in the vast majority of “teen sex comedies”) but instead are necessary to the plot, because the plot revolves around two male graduating high-school seniors, and those things define their lives?

And also know that the film actually has a message hidden beneath the teen hijinks plot. Not a message that bludgeons you over the head, but a simple and sweet message about being friends and becoming adults. It’s sometimes hard to see the sweetness through the crudity, but then that’s the paradox of all young men on the verge of adulthood, which this film captures perfectly.

The movie focuses on two lifelong friends who are facing the last few days of high school together. They’ve gotten into different colleges and so are facing the prospect of a drastic and unwanted change in their lives. They also both want to get girlfriends for the summer – one (Seth) so that he’ll be good at sex before he hits college, the other (Evan) because he really likes a particular girl. The focus of their goals is a graduation party where both girl-targets will be in attendance, and each couple has engaged in some awkward-teen flirting during the school day prior to the party that night.

The boys have another friend, Fogell, who is the ultimate total geek. And even though neither Seth nor Evan are particularly suave or smooth, they look like James Bond and Cary Grant when compared to Fogell. But Fogell has a trump card – he has gotten a fake ID. Seth’s target-girl Jules thinks that Seth will be bringing the booze for the party she’s hosting, and the three boys quest to acquire and deliver the alcohol is the crux of the movie.

Their quest is complicated by the fact that Fogell’s fake ID shows his name simply as “McLovin” – no first name. When asked why he picked that name, Fogell states that they let you pick any name when you get down there, and he was stuck between “Muhammad” and “McLovin”. By the end of the film the name “McLovin” has muscled its way into the American patois and I predict will forever be used to refer to geeks, with the implication that they will flower into intelligent, successful, sensitive men (as geeks usually do, take note teen girls). It’s nice to see geeky dorks getting a cool archetype – thus is the genius of

Hello, China, Welcome to the Big Leagues

Posted on August 1st, 2007 in Politics by EngineerBoy

As China emerges onto the world stage as a budding economic and political near-superpower, the United States has a great big welcome waiting for them, kind of like this:

For those of you unfamiliar with the original source image above, that’s what happened to 26-year-old Robin Ventura when he charged the mound after the 46-year-old pitching legend Nolan Ryan plonked him. That photo catches one of six straight uppercuts to the head that the veteran Ryan delivered before somebody saved poor Robin Ventura. Ryan had announced his retirement and I’m sure that young, brave Sir Robin thought he’d teach the old man a lesson before he left. Nope, wasn’t gonna happen, kid. Ryan said he had perfected his headlock technique wrassling steers for branding at his ranch. That gave Ryan the kind of experience, poise, and confidence that the younger Ventura just couldn’t bring to the table.

And right now I think the same thing is happening to young, upstart China, courtesy of wiley veteran The United States of America. And the uppercuts are being delivered as problems with Chinese goods. Tainted toothpaste, toys with lead paint, defective tires, deadly pet food – the list seems endless, and it seems to grow monthly. And I don’t know about you, but all of this talk of substandard and dangerous Chinese goods seemed to have started happening fairly recently. Before that China was happily mass-producing crappy goods to fill all the Wal-Mart shelves in the US, with nary a peep about quality or safety.

But now, suddenly, scandal after scandal over defective and dangerous goods. And today a Chinese toy plant owner/manager committed suicide, presumably due to his humiliation over the recent toy recall. And a few weeks ago China executed the head of their FDA-counterpart for taking payoffs for drug approvals. None of this is building US consumer confidence in Chinese goods.

And, if looked at from a particular perspective, these events could be interpreted as a deliberate anti-marketing campaign. I mean, think about it…Chinese products are harming our children, killing our pets, causing car accidents, and poisoning people who clean their teeth. That describes the major points of most Americans’ daily morning routine. You get up, brush your teeth (and get poisoned), feed your dog (and poison him), have the kids put down their toys (off of which they’ve gnawed poisonous lead paint chips), then (if you’ve managed to survive long enough) drive them to school on your ready-to-fail Chinese tires. I predict the next two Chinese product scandals will be over breakfast cereal and coffee, which would give them 100% failure in the American morning routine.
When I apply the sniff test to all of these incidents, they come up smelling like something other than random occurrences. Somebody, somewhere is making these things happen publicly at this point in time. I doubt it’s the Chinese trying to committ some kind of geopolitical