The best reason to go to your parents' house for the holidays is...

BOARD GAMES. And at the Knight household we go old school, pulling out ones from the 80's when board game invention was at its height.

Here's the inventory of games played so far (in order of most fun to slightly less most fun):

This game is probably less known than the origins of carrot cake. Wrongfully overshadowed by the blast-off fame of Jenga, the object of Bandu is to stack up the assorted objects and be the last tower standing. But where the difference comes in is that every object is awkwardly shaped making this not only the thinking man's Jenga, but one of the best drinking games of all time.

We're going back to the basics. Clue is the origin of all things awesome and you could not have grown up in the U.S. without having Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlet a part of your vocabulary. We brought out the who-done-it game in a recent family trip to the Oregon coast and then my brother and his wife surprised us by bringing the updated version home for the holidays. It is nice to know that not much has changed since the game was first released in 1948 other than a few murder weapons (a trophy?) and rooms (the final guessing room has changed from a stairway to a pool).

The suggested age of this deduction game is 4-12 and rightfully so. I have fond memories of asking "Does your person wear glasses?" and then proudly flipping down all those classless losers who weren't important enough to be picked at random from a pile of cards. But unfortunately at 26 this game has become a bit less challenging where after two rounds of guesses a winner is clearly defined. Nostalgia wins over game play.

Because yelling "banana hammock" at the top of your lungs is rarely socially acceptable.


Today I Consider Myself To Be...

A tribute to AAG:


What to do with GM?

I don't own a car, but lately I find myself very concerned over the fate of the American auto industry.  Over the past week, I have been trying to decide which side of this debate I should support, but I still can't make up my mind.  It seems that there are compelling reasons for both cases: to let the auto makers file for bankruptcy and begin their own restructuring or to shore them up temporarily with a government bailout.  Obviously, people far smarter and better-informed than me have been weighing in on this discussion in recent days.  In some of the national newspapers, Michael Levine and Mitt Romney have made the case to leave the market alone and let nature take its course. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Sachs and Robert Samuelson have argued for an immediate bailout tied to stringent conditions of reform for the industry.  

Right now, I think I am leaning toward the latter solution.  It seems better to be proactive and forego arguments of principle and ideology in a time of crises, but I can also see the potential benefits of waiting until these firms are in Chapter 11 to guarantee loans.  Any thoughts?


Talk Show Fail?

Without Question

Et tu Questlove?

Captain Jack Sparrow Strikes Again

We all have that friend who wants to grow up to be a pirate someday.  Well, maybe you don't, but I do, and the good news for him is that this path still seems to be a viable career option.  On Saturday, pirates off the coast of Kenya pulled in their biggest ever haul of booty.  In some ways it is astounding that actual piracy still exists in our modern world, but with potential returns like these it makes sense.  As ridiculous as my mental image of a swashbuckling Johnny Depp swooping onto a Saudi oil tanker may be, this line of work might appeal to those of us struggling to find traditional employment due to the economic downturn.


Entourage Season 44

If you are following the current political narratives making the rounds on the 24 hour news channels, then you are aware that we've elected our first "celebrity" President who then went out and chose "Ari Gold's" brother as his Chief of Staff (coincidence?). And is it just me or does Robert Gibbs looks like "E" 20 years from now?.

Anyways, if there are any further parallels to Entourage (although I hear that Rahm Emmanuel has more in common with Josh Lyman off of "The West Wing"), here's to hoping that the Obama Presidency achieves "Aquaman" or even "Queen's Boulevard" level success, as opposed to the complete catastrophe that was "Medellin"... I don't think anyone wants to relive that experience from Season 4.

If you can't afford Adobe Photoshop but you want to emulate the terrible photoshop skills displayed above, then you should check out GIMP. It's free and extremely easy to use, though somewhat harder to master.


Quiz Time

In the first ever international factoid quiz from the fine people here at Onestop, I'd like to pose the following trivia question: What ingenious plan did the president of the Maldives recently moot to insure against global warming?

First of all, you get one point if you even care where the Maldives is located. That's right. Easy money just for being interested.

You can have two points if you can successfully find this island nation on a world map.

And you get three points if you knew the answer to the question.

This plan is so unorthodox that it just might work. But the trivial nature of the quiz notwithstanding, this scenario really does highlight some of the legitimate dangers of global warming: namely, potential resource scarcity and sudden migration of large populations. These are problems that the world cannot just throw money at after the fact. An ounce of prevention and all that...

As an added bonus, if you read the answer linked above, you get to see a rare instance of almost complete digression within the usually all too focused writing of the Economist. My favorite off-topic line:

"And Barack Obama, committed to uniting America, could defuse the nation’s culture wars by purchasing an alternative homeland for those of his countrymen who want more use of the death penalty, less gun control and no gay marriage. A slice of Saudia Arabia’s empty quarter would do nicely: there’s plenty of space and the new occupants would have lots in common with the locals."

"Quit snorkelin' in the grass and playin' mumbly peg!"

Coach Dan Green, the legendary track and cross country coach at The Woodlands High School, has announced he is calling it a career at the close of this season. As outlined in this article, Green has been at the school for 33 years and managed to put together a decent resume of 14 state championships, 26 regional championships, and 31 district championships. If you add track on top of that, the man has captured over 50 district titles, which is astounding.

While Green will be fondly remembered at The Woodlands for his noted accomplishments, the young men who ran for Coach Green will certainly remember him for other reasons. You see, Green is no ordinary coach. While sleepy headed teenagers would roll out of bed and still be wiping the sleep out of their eyes at the outset of their runs in the morning, Green is singing, making gorilla noises, and generally causing everybody to glance at each other as if to say, "what is wrong with this guy?" The camaraderie created through running for Coach Green continues on far past high school. In June, I ran a marathon with an old track friend in San Diego. We spent the first twenty miles of the race firing Green stories back and forth, and became so entrenched in this that we lost track of how fast we were running (the answer...too fast. The race did not end well).

As a sample of what you might have missed by not running for Green, I will give you a sample of the top five quotes I can recall from my time. Old Man, thanks for your years of hard work and ability to make boys into men.

1). "You need to quit waiting for the Easter Bunny to bring your a** some cotton candy and get up and run!!!" -Green to me after a poor showing in part of a workout. Nobody is certain on if the Easter Bunny actually brings cotton candy.

2). "You boys need to quit snorkeling in the grass and playing mumbly peg!" -Green, apparently using his synonym for what is called "grabass." Nobody is clear on what it means to "snorkel in the grass."

3) "You might just want to put a skirt on and run for the girls team. Hell, you might be worth a damn!" -said to a teammate after a poor workout

4) "Boys, it's all about mind over matter. We don't mind, and you don't matter." - said during the thick of just about every workout.

5) (Singing) "I know a girl name boney maroney. She's as skinny as a stick of macaroni" (this of course is followed by a gorilla yell). -sang usually during the toughest part of a workout while half of the team is laying lifeless on the track, while the other half is losing their breakfast.

World Diabetes Day

Today - Nov. 14th - is World Diabetes Day.

Those who are closest to me, or hell anybody who is around me for more than 5 minutes, knows that I have what Wilford Brimley calls "The Diabet-is." Today around the world people are wearing blue, lighting blue candles, sending virtual candles, lighting their houses in blue, not being blue, and marching to raise awareness for this huge but largely misunderstood disease.

So to impress your friends at parties, here are a few quick facts:

  • 23.6 million people in the US (7.8% of the population) have diabetes
  • Almost 1/3 of people who have it do not even know they have it and are undiagnosed
  • Since 1987 the death rate due to diabetes has increased 45% while the death rates due to heart disease, stroke and cancer have declined
  • If current trends continue, 1 out of 3 Americans and 1 in 2 minorities born in 2000 will develop diabetes

But anyone who really knows me also knows that I do not want to be a downer about this and will take any opportunity to tout how diabetics are superior to other, feeble humans, so would like to note that:
  • Diabetics are known to have larger brains, shot put bowling balls, eat small airplanes and win CLUE with a single guess.

So be educated and be aware of how diabetes is affecting millions in the US, and get on board to help cure this growing epidemic.

Now. For what you really came here for... Keep reading to watch a trailer for the new Jean-Claude Van Damme movie...



Awesome Break: JCVD

Ready for an awesome break? I know you are...


Paulson Changes Course, Again

Yesterday, Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, announced that the US government is no longer planning to buy toxic assets from trouble financial institutions, and instead, the money allocated to the TARP will only be used for the re-capitalization of various firms.  This move basically amounts to a decision only to treat symptoms of the disease rather than to cure the underlying ailment.  The market realized this and reacted on Wednesday.  Although equities rebounded today, problems will persist into the future.  The key issue here is that regulators need to take an approach that recognizes both short-term and long-term risks, which is what they were doing until Wednesday's announcement.  

While the banking system is still in desperate need of liquidity, there will come a time when these bad loans need to be taken off the books.  Otherwise, the long-term solvency of many firms will remain in doubt, and banks realize this danger: the gradual decline in LIBOR rates over the past 23 days has reversed itself as institutions realized that they may now need to raise greater amounts of capital in order to insure against yet another round of write-downs now that the implicit floor on these assets has been removed.  Paulson's original plan was by no means perfect, but it was beginning to work.  It was also starting to reassure lenders because they had slowly regained confidence that they could continue making loans without threatening their capital-asset ratios.  This unexpected announcement has engendered another round of uncertainty that will likely have continued negative effects in credit markets.  Clearly, we have not seen the end of this downturn, but in order to reverse it we need to see steady and clear signals from government leaders.  Sudden changes in course will only increase confusion and economic pain.     


$50 vs $500 Oil

With news coming out today that US oil consumption is expected to decline more than at any time since 1980, I can't help but expect the price of oil to drop to around $45 - 50 over the next few months (it closed around $56 today). That is great news for many Americans who are struggling to make ends meet or who have just lost their jobs. Then I read articles like this one by Matt Simmons, Co-founder of Simmons and Co, and suddenly I can't help but hope that the Obama administration is willing to invest in alternative energy, despite the sudden low cost of oil.

It is probably worth noting that this is the same man who predicted oil would top $100 back in 2005 when it was at the low price of $58 per barrel. Now he sees recent declines in oil prices as nothing more than a mask for the real underlying problems. Here's his latest prediction:

Now he sees it climbing to $200, $300, or higher. "There really is no roof on oil prices at this point," he says.
While demand growth in the United States has slowed recently due to higher prices, the EIA projects that China and India will more than pick up the slack. And the IEA recently warned that high prices won't slow demand growth in emerging economies. If demand wants to go north of 100 million barrels a day and supply can't break 90 million (or drops below 80 million, as Simmons believes will happen within five years), it will be a price squeeze felt around the world. The peak-oil crowd will be able to declare victory - but nobody will be celebrating.
Obviously market conditions have worsened significantly since September when this article was written (when oil was ~$120), Mr. Simmons' reasoning that growth would be slowed due to high prices should be changed to include the global recession. However he and many other energy experts seem to think that oil will reach new highs once we've exited this tumultuous time. So in other words, once the markets have recovered from the credit crisis, we may see oil prices hit $200+ / barrell.

The good news is that the Chevy Volt hits dealerships near you in 2010.

The Job Market 2009

This video hits a little too close to home:

Financial Doom.....Made Easy!!!!!

Michael Lewis has made a career out of penning books that explore deep into cultures which have their finer details shrouded in mystery.

In The Blind Side, Lewis explores the recruitment of left tackle Michael Oher to Ole Miss (currently plays there and will be a high NFL draft pick). The odd thing about his recruitment is that some prominent Ole Miss boosters took this kid in after he was kicked to the curb by his family. The heart of the book expresses the difficulty in outsiders believing that Oher was welcomed into the booster's home in an act of altruism, or due to dreams of one day being able to sway him to play football at Ole Miss.

In Moneyball, Lewis explores the process in which Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, is able to use statistics that he calls Sabermetrics to field a consistent playoff contender despite having near the lowest payroll year in and year out.

However, Lewis' opus is likely Liar's Poker, a look inside the subculture of Wall Street in the 1980's that previously had not left the walls of 85 Broad St. (GS) or 1585 Broadway (MS). This masterfully written article is somewhat of an update to that book, as well as a look at how America's financial institutions have fallen like houses of cards throughout the course of this year. It might take you a half hour, but I can assure you it will be the most well written piece you will read all month.



Sarah Palin Has Entered the Tyson Zone

Did you hear the one about Sarah Palin not knowing that Africa is a continent? What about the one that Trig is really Bristol's child? Or the one about her being pregnant again?

OK the second one was a rumor in the liberal blogosphere and I made that last one up, but if you believed any of the above statements it's because Sarah Palin has officially entered the “Tyson Zone” (a phrase describing the point at which the public will believe any information about a person as the gospel truth, coined by Bill Simmons about the time when you'd believe absolutely everything written about Mike Tyson).

To counter act this effect, the “good” folks over at RedState have begun a red-scare of their own known as “Operation Leper” with the sole intent of exposing and tracking any rogue McCain campaign staffers who dare speak ill of the dead Sarah Palin (referred to as “classless cowards” by Michelle Malkin). Apparently the video below is what sparked the controversy:

This whole thing reeks of CYA on the part of McCain staffers, but the unfortunate truth is that if any of it is true, it says more about John McCain than Sarah Palin. Plus, no matter what you believe about Sarah Palin (my thoughts here), it may be worth noting that she is currently the #1 conservative choice for the Presidency in 2012 and that if she is still the governor of Alaska in four years, she will have more likely than not crossed the experience threshold that she (unlike Obama) was unable to cross in the eyes of the public this year.

So with all that in mind, let me be the first to officially ask the question, do you think Sarah Palin will be on the Presidential ticket in 2012?


Where Were You When...?

Just in case you didn't have enough time to grab a copy of your local newspaper yesterday, click on the picture for a site which conveniently compiled all the headlines from newspapers all over the country (downloading the headline from your own local paper is the greener way to remember Obama's victory). Also, here are some of the headlines from around the world.

No matter what your political inclinations are, we all witnessed a truly historic moment on Tuesday. Inevitably we will disagree with each other about where Barack H. Obama's Presidency took our nation, but let's at least take a few moments to appreciate how far we've come as a nation.

How Obama Won

Pretty simple really:


Election Day Shenanigans

Ezra Klein takes a hilarious look at the nerd vote:

McSweeney's uncovers a few rejected Robocalls:

"Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama always Super-Sizes at McDonald's but then orders—get this—a Diet Coke. Who do you think you're kidding, Barack? Cutting calories in one part of your meal doesn't cut the calories for all of it. Just like your tax plan. Washington's spending has gotten obese with earmarks, and one Diet Coke isn't going to fix it. Barack the wealth spender is washing down his Big Macs with some 'pinko' Kool-Aid. Not the leader America needs."

Here's one explanation for why Obama may still be trailing John McCain by such a wide margin in Texas; 23% of us still think he is a Muslim (and by "us" I am of course referring to all Texans).

And finally, no matter who wins tonight Susan Nielson thinks we should all (for the sake of unity) take a minute and privately admit to ourselves that we may have in fact been wrong about our choice for President. Why? Because an Obama Presidency will inevitably fail to live up to all the hype and a McCain victory will almost certainly not be just four more years of George W Bush.

You may disagree with me on this, but I tend to think that there are entirely too many issues used each election cycle to pit us against each other and score political points rather than reflect a candidate's intent or ability to garner support around a specific platform. This is not to say that there aren't legitimate concerns regarding both candidates policies (there are), however I adamantly believe that no matter which side of the proverbial aisle you may find yourself on, today represents one of the greatest expressions of a free society, and is an example of how great, despite all our many flaws, this nation truly is.

Thanks and God Bless.


Guess Who's Getting Married

Saw this engagement announcement in the Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News , and thought I'd pass it along. Pretty good looking couple if you ask me.

“This is not Vietnam, this is [blogging]. There are rules!”

If someone actually wrote down the rules of blogging, I’m sure “Think before you type” would probably be rule #2, right behind “be funny” or “be controversial”. Though I've only been at this since July, you would think that I would have learned the basics of blogging by now and that these rules would act as a quality filter of sorts between the thoughts that enter my brain and what finds its way out onto the net. However you'd be wrong.

It turns out that sometimes rule #2 still eludes me, though I have no doubt that many of you would say I still haven’t learned rule #1 either.

What Happened?

Justin, a fellow blogger, Aggie, and acquaintance, linked to a Rush Limbaugh video clip last week that has stirred up quite an impassioned debate amongst his loyal readership (of which I include myself). In what I can only describe as a rushed (mistake #1) attempt at sarcasm (#2), I stepped in to act as a referee (#3) in a conservative vs. liberal debate about the election via the comment section of the post (#4).

With this many mistakes, I rightly received a bit of blowback (things get interesting near the bottom)...

Lesson Learned

To paraphrase the quote for which this site was named, "we are all blinded by our own inadequacies." Therefore the majority of what finds its way onto this site is nothing more than an attempt at better understanding various issues that are important to me. Part of that process will inevitably lead to a flawed understanding of the truth, which is why I originally wrote that opinions are very overrated (i.e. even mine). Rightly or wrongly, you can almost always expect that an opinion will be forcefully defended against an attack, and are at least somewhat suspect to scrutiny. I am as guilty of this as anybody, which is why occasionally I'll be forced to write about my own flaws here on this site.

To quote Red Auberbach, "The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology." Consider it a lesson learned.


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