Oakland is on the verge of a monumentally epic collapse and it’s all because they picked the wrong mascot

Today’s excuse for blogging (as opposed to working) is a first: in a few hours, the Seattle Mariners will play in game #162 of the MLB regular season with a chance to wind up, when all is said and done, with a shot at making the playoffs. The Mariners have not made the playoffs since 2001, and have not made the World Series since ever, so — though their chances may be slim — I’m having some difficulty paying attention to, say, Property.

But this post isn’t about the Mariners, because the position in which the team finds itself has so little to do with the Mariners. You see, the Mariners have Marinered — but fortunately for them, the Oakland Athletics have Marinered even worse. Without their help, the Mariners would not be one game out with a game to play in 2014.

The magnitude of Oakland’s collapse is well-rehearsed, and I have no intention of repeating it here. Suffice to say that the team held a 10 (or so) game lead in the AL West at the trade deadline, made a series of moves that was widely applauded at the time, and now sits 11 games out of first place — just 1 ahead of Seattle. According to CoolStandings, an Athletics failure to make the playoffs would mark the second-worst collapse of all time, behind only the 1995 California Angels (the team that Refused to Win).

While many point to the trade deadline as the turning point in Oakland’s season, I think it makes a lot more sense to talk about a different date that came less than a week later: August 5, 2014. Sort of curious, since the team actually won that game with an extra-inning walk-off single and then won three of their next four, but I am absolutely certain that 8/5 was the date that portended the team’s doom. Why’s that? Because this:

Continue reading Oakland is on the verge of a monumentally epic collapse and it’s all because they picked the wrong mascot

5 ways ISIS is actively reducing its carbon footprint

The ever-insightful Clickhole chimed in last week with a piece titled 5 Ways ISIS Can Reduce Its Carbon Footprint. All you need to know about the piece is right there in the headline, but — if you insist — here is a condensed list of the supplied suggestions:

  1. Purchase carbon offsets
  2. Reduce number of security checkpoints
  3. Avoid setting oil wells on fire
  4. Eat locally
  5. Take public transportation

The exercise was transparently ridiculous — as if anything with the word “Islamic” in the title needs any help going green. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are 5 things the Islamic State is already doing to help reduce the threat of climate change, in no particular order:

Continue reading 5 ways ISIS is actively reducing its carbon footprint

Paper Treiger now available for sale at bargain-basement pricing

WordPress search tools are subpar, so when I needed to locate something I’d previously written in order to complete the previous post, I turned to the Google.

In the process, I came across a “webstatsdomain” analysis of papertreiger.wordpress.com I would like to share with any prospective buyers of this site:

Continue reading Paper Treiger now available for sale at bargain-basement pricing

Anonymous Daily Show staffer is up to his or her old tricks

Back in July, I noted that an anonymous Daily Show staffer was working behind the scenes to undermine Jon Stewart’s most facile points. In that post, I highlighted the seemingly-unintentional inclusion of an NBC screenshot that revealed the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped by Hamas operatives in the West Bank had been killed, which provided certain context Stewart had failed to provide in a widely-shared clip slamming Israel for its activities in Gaza. It was one of this blog’s most popular posts of all time.

Well, I have no doubt that drawing from the same well will help me catch lightning in a bottle a second time. So here’s a breaking story for you: that anonymous Daily Show staffer is back (assuming s/he ever left)!

Continue reading Anonymous Daily Show staffer is up to his or her old tricks

Solving a Colbert mystery: Why did Stephen sign off with a vomit green portrait of Viggo Mortensen when he had the real thing in studio?

Jon Stewart has the Moment of Zen, but Stephen Colbert ends his show differently every night. That gives him the opportunity for a little more flexibility.

Sometimes, he’ll end the show with the help of a guest, as when Jason Segel visited last week:

Colbert Segel

So last night’s viewers might rightly be wondering why in the world Colbert interviewed Viggo Mortensen but — rather than asking him to stick around for sign-off, Jason Segel-style — signed off using a miniature vomit green-colored portrait of the Lord of the Rings actor instead:

Continue reading Solving a Colbert mystery: Why did Stephen sign off with a vomit green portrait of Viggo Mortensen when he had the real thing in studio?

Colbert committed a pretty embarrassing Middle East faux pas

On Tuesday night’s show, in a segment titled The Kinda-Sorta War and the U.S.’s Mysterious Allies, Stephen Colbert turned his attention to Barack Obama’s kinda-sorta war on ISIS, and the mysterious Arab allies his government insists are ready to carry out airstrikes in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. There was just one problem — check out the graphic he used to illustrate the unidentified Arab partners and see if you can spot it:

Continue reading Colbert committed a pretty embarrassing Middle East faux pas

If you understand why the U.N. peacekeepers were released in Syria, you understand the conflict

Forty-five United Nations peacekeepers from Fiji were released by Syrian rebel group Nusra Front. They were taken hostage when the Al Qaeda-linked organization seized control of the Quneitra crossing on August 28th.

According to the BBC, in exchange for releasing the peacekeepers, Nusra Front had “demanded to be taken off the UN’s list of designated terrorist organisations, wanted humanitarian aid be delivered to parts of Syria, and sought compensation for three fighters killed in a gunfight with Undof forces in the Golan Heights.”

None of these demands were fulfilled. So why did the rebel group release the peacekeepers sua sponte?

Continue reading If you understand why the U.N. peacekeepers were released in Syria, you understand the conflict

The more things change, the harder it is to remember things were ever different

Via Newser, a heartwarming 9/11-related story:

Every year on 9/11, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe has tweeted out an image of a tattered wedding photo that a friend of hers found at Ground Zero, in the hopes that this time, the right person would see it. And now, after 13 years of trying, the right person has. On Friday, the Lesley University professor’s search suddenly went viral, drawing attention from the Boston-area blog site Universal Hub, the amateur sleuths at Reddit, and several news sites. More than 68,000 people retweeted the photo, the New York Daily News reports, and before long it had come to the attention of the photo’s owner, a Colorado man named Fred Mahe.

A likely story — but just one problem: If Keefe really has been tweeting the image every year since 2001 (2002?), why isn’t she a billionaire like the people who founded Twitter in 2006?

Gotcha.

Jon Stewart wants you to rethink how you think about Dick Cheney

I’ve previously questioned the frequency with which Jon Stewart gratuitously invokes Star Wars on The Daily Show, but I’ve never before felt the need to question how they fit into some overarching narrative. Which is why I found it so striking when, last week, he made a Dick joke that looked like this:

Continue reading Jon Stewart wants you to rethink how you think about Dick Cheney

How not to talk about what happened between Israel and Gaza

There are a lot of perfectly legitimate things to say about what happened this summer between Hamas and Israel. This brief post is in no way meant as a guide to the issue — rather, it is a perfunctory identification of the absolute silliest single way to go about holding such a discussion.

Now, given the focus of this post, I do feel the need to preface: I don’t always read the comments — but when I do, I come to deeply regret it.

A recent article on Huffington Post was somewhat of an exception to that rule. The article in question was titled, “Ceasefires in Which Violations Never Cease” — but don’t click yet — and looked really long and predictable, so I didn’t even bother reading it. Instead, I found myself inexplicably scrolling down to the comments section, just to see how the real battle was going.

I stopped reading after about three comments — not because I could no longer take it, but because I felt compelled to share what I found with you all. Focus on the second comment below — what Ethan Shapiro  had to say is largely beside the point:

Continue reading How not to talk about what happened between Israel and Gaza