Da Blog: Still, evidently, a vast wasteland

Back in February I listed a number of things I wished to do with Da Blog over the next month or two, none of which actually panned out. Many of those ideas and several others besides remain backed up for me to attempt to do in the coming months. With the release of the Mueller Report it hasn’t been timelier for me to work on my series on fixing the Constitution since the election, but until earlier this week I spent more of my time working on notes for a project that may or may not turn into another book or some other project that gets put up somewhere, notes I originally intended to work on after my Constitution series but which I find easier to engage with. It’s easier to immerse myself in a fantasy world than the real world that seems to be circling the abyss.

At this point I likely won’t pick up Steven Universe again until July, partly because I’m facing a monetary crunch with renewals for my website hosting and domain name coming up this month, partly because I got sick earlier this week which made that crunch worse as I loaded up on medicine and other things. There’s a slight chance the site will go down briefly in about two weeks, but I doubt it and I’m trying to spend the rest of the month in more of a savings mode. The site already went down earlier in the month after something broke without me changing anything, and that coupled with how the issue got resolved made me a little antsy about signing up with A2 again, but I don’t think there’s anything too serious that would lead me to abandon the status quo.

Read moreDa Blog: Still, evidently, a vast wasteland

Still in a bit of a holding pattern

Not much has changed since the post I had last month. I think I’m basically letting myself have an unannounced vacation, having burned out on my attempt to continue my series of political posts. You can probably see a pattern to this if you look back on the history of Da Blog, especially over the last few years, where I’ll have long stretches, especially over the spring and summer, where I spend all my time on totally frivolous projects.

Every time this happens I feel incredibly guilty about it and about not spending time on the projects I actually consider “productive”, and then I keep working on the frivolous stuff because that’s where my mind is, allowing myself to fall into a complete rut for months on end. But every month I spend on stuff like that is a month I’m not working on stuff that can go on Da Blog or the rest of the web site or that can be released to the world at large, and I’m losing momentum in terms of establishing a name for myself in the wider world, and it feels like this is happening more and more recently (though that may be related to my not having school, living with my dad, and not feeling pressure to get a real job). To be honest, I feel that’s a reason why the book isn’t as timely as I’d hoped or quite up to how I’d envisioned it when I started. I shouldn’t be feeling old at just short of 29, but from what I’ve read I’ve already passed the age where the brain hits its peak and stops growing. Have I locked in my poor work habits for all time, and put myself in a situation where they’re enabled? Is there even a way to keep me focused on “productive” projects that I would be receptive to?

This isn’t really because of the election and the ongoing Age of Trump, aside from that being the impetus for my political series, but it doesn’t help. Part of the problem is that ever since the election, I can’t help but think we’re witnessing the slow-motion end of the world and self-destruction of civilization; if Trump doesn’t start a nuclear war because someone insulted him on Twitter, the forces behind his election and other populist movements around the globe will cause civilization to come to a halt, with or without all-out war, and if they don’t do it on their own global warming will do it for them. (That middle option might be the best-case scenario if it results in a drastic drop in emissions, but that wouldn’t be enough to prevent catastrophic changes.) Against this backdrop, as I said earlier, writing about anything else, certainly anything that attempts to shape what the future might be (and thus presumes its existence), seems frivolous; even the political series, which I had hoped to complete before the election, seems pointless. What good is anything in the face of humanity’s apparent and potentially inescapable self-destruction? It’s a recipe for paralysis and apathy; even trying to write recommendations for how to fix the problem seems like casting stones to the wind at this point, doomed to go down in history as a record of what should have been done rather than an impetus to actually do it while there was still time to make a difference (which feels like the story of my life since launching Da Blog). I do have a few ideas for projects I can try to make meaning out of even in this context, even aside from the political series, but they’d take a long time to get going and I haven’t been working on any of them.

So yeah, this is one of those periods where I descend into a tailspin of depression over my inability to get actual work done and end up getting even less work done as a result. I don’t know when I’m going to climb out of it or what I’ll come out of it with. Hopefully at least next month I’ll have more than an exercise in self-pity.

A Last-Ditch Case for Moving the Raiders, Not the Rams or Chargers, to Los Angeles

It’s looking increasingly like Los Angeles’ long national NFL-less nightmare is coming to an end. A week ago, the Chargers, Raiders, and Rams all filed paperwork to move their respective teams to the Los Angeles area. The Los Angeles Times reports momentum is building behind a proposal to have the Chargers and Rams share a stadium in Inglewood backed by Rams owner E. Stan Kroenke. Chargers owner Dean Spanos is sticking by his own proposal for a stadium in Carson shared with the Raiders, but there seems to be a lot more momentum behind the Inglewood project among the league’s other owners.

Which is good! The notion that half the AFC West would be playing in the same stadium always seemed kind of harebrained to me; that works in the NBA where the only division and conference divisions are geographical, but it smacks of absurdity in the NFL, where New York, the Baltimore-Washington corridor, and most two-team states are evenly balanced between AFC and NFC. It would also cause a television nightmare forcing a large number of crossflexes and/or primetime games to allow LA to see both teams (though they are the only two Pacific-time teams in the division, so Denver and Kansas City could play early when hosting one of them). I’m not convinced LA can actually support two teams, but if it is the second team was pretty much always going to be the Rams.

I also understand why the Chargers and not the Raiders are the AFC team with momentum behind a move to LA. All three markets have turned against the publicly-funded stadium charade and have done little to nothing to help any of the teams secure a new stadium in their home market, and don’t seem to have much support even among fans; in all likelihood, at least one of the teams was going to have to go back to a still-unsettled stadium situation. The Chargers have long seemed further apart with San Diego on a new stadium than the Raiders have with Oakland, and the Raiders have long been the black sheep of the league thanks to their rowdy fans; even LA politicians don’t seem to want the Raiders to return to LA.

But it’s at least conceivable that the NFL might still have a future in San Diego or certainly St. Louis. I’m not sure the NFL has a future in Oakland. The Times suggests that any deal that kept the Raiders in Oakland would include streamlining the process for them to move somewhere else, namely San Diego, St. Louis, or the 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. If it were the Chargers forced to stay put, St. Louis would be their only option. Only the Raiders can make the Bay Area a two-team market; for any other team, it’s not worth it. If a team is going to leave a market for another market, only for a team from a third market, already under consideration for moving to the second market, to fill the void in the first market, what was the point? Why not move the third market’s team to the second market to begin with?

Moreover, the Raiders’ problems seem deeper than those of the Chargers or Rams. The Raiders probably need a change of stadium more than any other team; they’re the last team to share their stadium with a baseball team, and that stadium is a literal sewage dump. Qualcomm Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome have their own problems, but by comparison with the Raiders, they smack of just another couple of owners upset that their stadiums don’t allow them to wine and dine the 1% enough. Even beyond the stadium situation, the Raiders seem to be slowly divorcing themselves from the Bay Area. A few years ago, a brawl between fans at a preseason game between the Raiders and 49ers resulted in the termination of the Raiders-49ers preseason series. Without a geographic rivalry preseason game, there’s barely any point to sharing a market.

While Angelenos themselves seem to want the Rams to return more than any other team, the Raiders certainly place second in terms of teams with roots in the area; the Chargers may have been based in LA their first few years in the AFL, but today’s Angelenos have no connection to them despite the best efforts of the Spanos family, while Ice Cube made an entire documentary a few years ago about the degree to which the Raiders became part of the identity of the city during their relatively brief time there. More than the importance of the Raiders to LA’s identity, though, is the importance of LA to the Raiders’ identity. As much as the suit-and-tie executives running the other teams or calling the shots in LA politics may not like the Raiders’ image, it’s one of the few remaining marks of authenticity in an increasingly corporatized league, and the Raiders would not be the Raiders outside Oakland or Los Angeles. The Raiders’ identity is wrapped up in their working-class roots and West Coast, California attitude; moving them to San Diego or St. Louis just because those cities are free would betray that (San Diego is enough of a vacation spot to undermine its other virtues), and moving them to Levi’s Stadium with its wall of luxury boxes also would mark the corporatization of the team, even if it happened against the Davis family’s wishes. (Besides the fact it would likely mean teams called “San Francisco” and “Oakland” would be playing in a stadium located in neither city, an outcome nearly as absurd as two AFC West teams in the same stadium.)

To be clear, I would, all things considered, be fine with the Chargers and Rams moving to LA, certainly compared to an all-AFC move, but I do think it would likely result in one of the teams angling to leave within a decade. But please, NFL owners, don’t let your quest to take advantage of the loyalty of NFL fans to appeal to corporate suits at all costs and desire to still have a “relocation magnet” city (which the deteriorating situations with these teams suggests is becoming a less potent tactic anyway) blind you to the facts on the ground. For once, let common sense reign. If you move two teams to LA, please, at least give serious consideration to restoring the status quo ante 1995.

Cord-Cutting is On the Rise, But Is It Too Late to Save Broadcasting?

To hear some people talk, 2015 may be shaping up to be a turning point for the sports TV landscape and that of TV in general, where cord-cutting may be hitting a tipping point and substantially impacting ESPN’s business. It started with the advent of Sling TV allowing people to get ESPN without a traditional cable subscription, and has continued with the launch of HBO NOW and other over-the-top services. Then ESPN let several high-profile personalities go in the name of cost-cutting, including Bill Simmons and Colin Cowherd. More to the point, after years of sports events moving seemingly inexorably to cable, some of them are finally starting to move the other way. ESPN losing several lower-tier rights to entities that will place them on broadcast networks is more about ESPN trying to save money and Fox and NBC not quite being as willing to go all-in on the cable network front as ESPN has been than anything else, though there is surely some symbolic value in the British Open, which moved to ESPN exclusively shortly before the BCS deal, returning to broadcast on NBC and Golf Channel. What may send a bigger message is ESPN itself announcing that their upcoming NFL Wild Card game will be simulcast on ABC, as well as moving the ESPY awards to ABC (though I can’t help but wonder if they knew about Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance attracting a lot of non-sports fans when they made the latter move). All this is taking place on a backdrop of ESPN losing over three million households just in the year from July to July.

It’s tempting to say this marks the bursting of the sports TV bubble and the start of broadcast reclaiming its former dominance in the television, or at least sports television, landscape. Certainly it looks like the smart thing for the Big Ten to do in its upcoming rights renegotiations is to adopt a fairly broadcast-heavy strategy, and between that and ESPN’s penny-pinching I’d be very surprised if ESPN claimed the entirety of the Big Ten rights. (Given the potential synergy with the Big Ten Network, I’d be shocked if Fox was completely shut out of the Big Ten rights.) But the decline of ESPN’s subscriber base and the erosion of their subscriber-fee advantage is only half the story. It won’t mean much if broadcasting doesn’t survive long enough to take advantage of it – and if broadcasters aren’t able or willing to take advantage of it. It won’t mean much if broadcasters remain unaware of or resistant to their potential in the video landscape of the future, or if market and regulatory concerns prevent them from realizing that potential.

We’re now five months away from the broadcast incentive auctions scheduled for late March. Many stations may elect to go off the air out of the belief that they can get more money surrendering their spectrum to wireless companies than by staying on the air, in part because of the perceived limited potential of broadcast given the programming available to them and the market forces favoring cable networks. In some places, large station group owners may elect to consolidate multiple stations they own onto a single signal, with some having already done so and either selling the shell of the vacated station to groups with not much to do with it but cash it out at auction or simply outright returning the licence to the FCC. Pretty much any station that’s not an affiliate of a Big Four network is liable to put up their stations at auction, because they’re not programming anything that’s worth people’s attention at the moment. Those stations that survive could end up terminally crippled by a variable band-plan that could subject many stations to interference from wireless carriers and a landscape that could make it impossible for new stations to start up if anyone decides some of the stations that shut down or consolidated shouldn’t have.

As I’ve laid out many times before, cord-cutting should be a boon to broadcasters even as it disrupts the cable business, or at least it should hinder broadcasters much less than cable operators. But it’s not happening fast enough to change the fact that cable networks’ access to subscription fees give them a massive advantage over broadcast networks and stations, compounded by regulatory restrictions on content cable networks aren’t subject to, and retransmission consent, broadcast’s means of trying to correct this imbalance, only gives them as much reason to fear cord-cutting as the cable networks, to the point of threatening to abandon over-the-air broadcasting entirely if Aereo was allowed to cripple their retransmission consent leverage, and doing little to overcome the industry’s other challenges. (Even when some do attempt to lay out the benefits of continued cord-cutting for broadcast, retransmission consent still plays a key role.) Cord-cutting’s benefit to broadcasting has been limited by a poorly-implemented digital transition that made it far too difficult for far too many Americans to pick up their signal and a digital standard that wasn’t future-proof enough to allow broadcasters to reach mobile devices without using the Internet as an intermediary or using an optional, poorly-supported kludge, with the result that far too few Americans know, and fewer care, about the plight of broadcasting or its importance. The broadcast industry has been hard at work on a next-generation digital television standard with the potential to fix some of these technological shortcomings, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be ready in time for the incentive auction, that it’ll actually do enough to solve these problems, or that it’ll overcome the larger market and regulatory forces holding back the industry and hindering support for the standard. The FCC might fix some of the outdated and backwards ownership rules holding broadcast back, but not only would solving the biggest problems require Congressional action, they don’t even plan on finishing the ongoing ownership review until June, after the auction, betraying how much interest they have in the continued survival of the broadcast industry.

By and large, the broadcast industry seems unaware of the real nature of the forces destroying their industry, of the value the technology of broadcast potentially has in the video landscape of the future so long as broadcasters are willing and able to maximize it, and has little interest in attempting to surmount its obstacles, including the ones they’re complicit in, to ensure its continued survival. They seem unaware their most dominant players, the ones that threatened to ditch broadcast in the Aereo affair, do not really have their best interests at heart, placing far more stock in their cable networks and only sticking with broadcast, and the threat it could potentially pose to their cable networks, as long as they can keep collecting retransmission consent and they can’t get away with ditching it without a major PR disaster and Congressional action. Fox just announced it’s renewing the MyNetworkTV “programming service” on its non-Fox network stations for another two years, beyond the incentive auction – even though Fox’s own MyNet station here in LA doesn’t even show MyNet in the very primetime spots that are supposedly MyNet’s reason for existence in the first place. It’s all the more apparent that the real purpose of MyNet is to keep stations from posing any real competitive threat to Fox’s broadcast or cable networks by “filling their primetime needs” with the sort of reruns that are perhaps least necessary to have on linear broadcast television in the age of Netflix.

I don’t know what might happen to get the broadcast industry to wake up and embrace a path that will allow it to survive and thrive in the future. Perhaps it’ll come from outside, with a billionaire sports team owner willing to take a risk on a new (old) distribution paradigm and a new business model for the 21st century. Perhaps it’ll come from within, with a station group large in its own right but with less investment in cable willing to recognize MyNet for what it is and offer the industry a different path using infrastructure it’s been building for the past two years. Or perhaps Congress, overcoming its ongoing dysfunction ever so briefly, will find enough wisdom to rewrite the rules to fit the market conditions of the 2010s, not the 1990s. Or maybe it’ll be something else entirely. But whatever it is, the clock is ticking for it to happen, or else the turning point 2015 is shaping up to be for cord-cutting may prove to be too little, too late for the broadcast industry – and that would mean ESPN would have much less to fear from cord-cutting than you might think.

Peeking my head back in the door…

You may have noticed that my posting frequency has dropped through the floor in recent months. I wish I could say that that’s because I’ve been working on the book I’ve referred to obliquely in the past.

In reality, what’s been happening is that I’ve been wasting a lot of my time on frivolous projects and trying to catch up on the book towards the end of each month. We’ve just submitted a version of the book that falls far short of my expectations to reviewers and pegged a release date of the beginning of December, and only because that’s the absolute latest we were willing to let it go past. About a month and a half ago I started catching back up on Homestuck for the first time in close to two years, which would be sort of productive if I didn’t promptly fall back into frivolous stuff and end up not really being able to write a post on the time that I missed.

I’m hoping to have a more substantial post or two on Monday, and I’ve been advised to pick up my posting frequency in general to gin up more interest in the book, but I’m still not happy with how my 2015 has gone so far, or the effectiveness of this whole “move to LA” experiment.

How Broadcast TV is Like a Bus

[Free-to-air TV is] kind of like the horse, you know, the horse was good until we had the car…The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030.

-Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, speaking in Mexico City on Monday while downplaying the significance of Nielsen rating Netflix and Amazon (something I’m not sure how it would work or that it’s a good idea).

Here was my response:

Well before the car caught on, mass transit systems were already being built in the world’s biggest cities, although most of them used the established rail technology. An early horse-drawn “streetcar” was open as early as 1807, and in the United States in 1832; the first horse-drawn bus line opened in 1824. The first leg of the London Underground opened in 1863; an early precursor to the New York City subway using pneumatic tube technology was built in 1869, a year after an elevated line up the west side of Manhattan opened. By the time World War II hit, even Los Angeles, that car utopia, had one of the great public transportation systems in the world, as Who Framed Roger Rabbit put it.

Then in the postwar period the American dream, as defined as a cheap house in the suburbs supported by the freedom of the car, became the norm for most middle-class (white) Americans. The streetcars that lined America’s streets were replaced with buses that offered more flexibility to change routes, but that also proved their undoing; the perceived potential for bus lines to change at the drop of a hat meant it couldn’t support the transit oriented development that had typified urban development before the war. (That said, despite what Roger Rabbit would have you believe, the demise of the streetcars probably can’t be chalked up to a car industry conspiracy, but to real inherent drawbacks of streetcars as a technology; for that matter, the inability of buses to support development had as much to do with not putting much more investment into them than sticking a pole in the ground as anything else.) Outside of New York, as middle-class whites left the city and turned it into a refuge for the poor, so mass transit came to be seen as little more than a form of welfare for the poor. (This was far less the case outside the United States and Canada.)

In recent years – really decades at this point – a combination of dissatisfaction with the suburban lifestyle compared to the urban lifestyle and awareness of the destruction of the environment caused by car dependency (not to mention the impact our dependency on oil has on global politics) has resulted in a nascent “urbanist” movement and a transit renaissance, and members of my generation increasingly are shunning the suburban lifestyle their parents sought and clung to so fervently in favor of a return to the city (which some cities are reacting to better than others). Much of this movement has involved the advocation for and construction of new rail systems, be they streetcars, “light rail”, or heavy rail, but for the most part the very people that advocate for revived transit systems still tend to ignore or disdain buses (even the people running the transit agencies that run the buses), even though buses do much more of the (often unglamorous) heavy lifting of moving people across the city than the shiny new rail lines. (That “bus rapid transit” is often supported by people who just want to kill rail plans and don’t actually have a real BRT proposal doesn’t help, especially when much American BRT is barely any better than plain old buses and if you make them sufficiently better, you might as well put in rail.) Meanwhile, many people have suggested that any number of new technologies, be they electric cars, self-driving cars, even more “flexible” “demand-responsive” systems, or “personal rapid transit”, might help reduce our oil consumption or otherwise obviate the need for mass transit, but the ability to transport large numbers of people in a small amount of space is too valuable, especially in dense cities, for the need for transit to ever fully go away.

Some of the similarities to broadcast television should already be obvious. Like transit, for many years, decades even, broadcast TV was the norm – indeed the only form of television there was. Like buses, broadcast television has become increasingly neglected and dismissed as welfare for the poor as two different, more appealing visions, the multitude of channels made possible by cable and the freedom of scheduling made possible by the Internet, have become ascendant. Like buses, broadcast TV is doubly shunned both as a part of the larger category of mass transit/linear television and as a particular kind of linear television; like buses, broadcast TV is disdained even by the people who run it in favor of cable, despite being home to the most popular programming on television (even if cable as a whole is more popular), and like transit, linear television is subject to all sorts of dreamers like Reed Hastings or this guy who see it as wasteful and “inflexible” and think that technology can obviate the need for it and render it obsolete, ignoring its ability to serve large numbers of people in a minimum of space (in this case, spectrum or bandwidth). And like buses, broadcast linear television is ignored by the very people leading my generation’s societal movement against the dominant paradigm of the past, the “cord-cutting” movement against cable, who understate just how much of the unglamorous work of delivering video is done by linear television, and how much they are asking of the Internet. (Remind me to tell you about all the other times the Cordkillers podcast I linked to above has rooted for broadcast television to go away and have its spectrum reappropriated to deliver the Internet. And incidentally, the “back-to-the-city” movement stands to put a lot more people within range of TV stations.)

Broadcast television may be old technology, but mass transit is even older, and it’s still around because it does what it does better than anything else that has or possibly will come along. Linear television isn’t simply a technological stopgap until a better technology comes along; it has its own benefits, as AT&T and Verizon have recognized even as they drive existing broadcasters off the air, and one ignores those benefits, or what broadcasting will look like in the future, at their peril. Media companies may prefer a post-cable future where all video is consumed on the Internet for a variety of reasons, but Reed Hastings might want to be careful what he wishes for, or at least predicts, because if linear television completely goes away and all consumption of content moves to the Internet, the inevitable result will be that ISPs will have that much more incentive and ability to subject Netflix to interconnection blackmail and other violations of the spirit of net neutrality.

An important announcement on plans for Da Blog and my life going forward

Except for around Christmas (including the annual blog-day post), this is the last post I will make on Da Blog from the Seattle area for the foreseeable future.

In my last blog-day post, I mentioned the possibility that my work on Da Blog would be “directly supported and nurtured”; now I can say a bit more about what that was referring to. Over the Labor Day weekend, I will be moving down to live with my dad in Los Angeles. We’ve been talking for several years about this; the plan is for Dad to support me and allow me to work on Da Blog without being distracted by school, a job, the people I live with, or the school I’ve lived across the street from for the past three years, with Dad as my “boss” to keep me focused and try to actually get an audience going and increase exposure to my writings. (While this is going on, the “Da Blog in LA” category will only be used for LA-specific posts I couldn’t have made if I weren’t there, which is to say it probably won’t be used at all.) At one point we talked about us living together for about two years; I don’t know if that’s still the plan, but I have the site’s hosting locked down through June of 2016, and if we still don’t have anything going by then – if we’re at the same place we’ve always been throughout what will then be nine and a half years of Da Blog – it may be time to give up on actually making anything of Da Blog.

Some things have been settled already, but most of the details will be fleshed out on the drive down. I may have another post after the weekend is over detailing any substantial changes coming to Da Blog in the near term as a direct result of this move.

In the meantime, I’ve updated the lineal titles in preparation for football season. It seems I never actually updated the lineal titles before last year, despite what I said in last year’s post. Both of last year’s new college football lineal titles got merged with others; the BCS title was merged with 2006 Boise State pretty quickly, while Ohio State’s claim was merged with 2009 Boise State at the Rose Bowl. This year starts with three lineal titles; Alabama went undefeated until the Miracle at Jordan-Hare and Auburn went on to the BCS Title Game, so 2006 Boise State starts the year with national champion Florida State. You can see what happened to the NFL lineal title on the history page accessible from the category page.

My Airport Misadventures

You probably thought I had made my last “Da Blog in LA” post. I thought so, too. Instead, it turned out the most eventful part of my trip came once I got back.

Never book a flight that gets in after 10.

My flight was scheduled to arrive at 10:56 PM and it did so. Before we got off, however, we were told our luggage would arrive on either Carousel 13 or 14. Uh oh.

I arrive in the baggage claim area, look at the board showing arrivals, and it says our baggage is coming on Carousel 14. Straightforward, right? Except that after a while of waiting someone comes on the loudspeaker and says our luggage is on Carousel 13. Oops. To add to the confusion, neither carousel’s own electronic board ever states that my flight is on it.

Thinking maybe our luggage just hasn’t come down yet, I sit and wait while a collection of other flights sees their luggage arrive. As I wait, two things occur. The ex-passengers of a different flight, arriving at around 11, complain after an hour that their luggage hasn’t come down yet. Their luggage doesn’t come down until around 12:40. (So I am justified in thinking it’s taking a long time – it was a possibility.) While they’re waiting, I meet someone else from my flight who tells me our luggage has already been “unloaded”. What does that mean? That it already had its turn on the carousel and I missed it, or that it should be coming down shortly? If the former, well, if I’m an idiot I’m evidently not the only idiot.

Which is exactly what it turns out to be. After the pack of long waiters finally get their luggage, I note that there are basically no waiters left and finally find out my luggage has been sent to behind a rope. It’s around 12:45 by this time, so I’ve waited for the better part of two hours. If it weren’t for the two factors above, I might have found out what happened quite a bit sooner.

You know, I have a vague memory of something like this happening two years ago, when me and my dad went to LA partly to check out colleges in the area, but it may just be false deja vu.

Da Blog in LA Recap (what prodigious output!)

For the most part, my week in LA consisted of little more than hanging out around my dad’s house. I had some enlightening conversations with him about heavy topics and briefly caught up with some family, but not much happened.

Some catchup from the week that was:

  • NFL Lineal Title news: Carolina picked up the core Lineal Title off the Rams. They face Houston next week. The Colts will be defending against the Titans next week. If Houston and the Colts win unification would come Week 3. Atlanta and New Orleans are rooting for Carolina and Tennessee to win respectively.
  • After a week of no CFB lineal changes we get changes galore this week. Florida held on to the Princeton title against Troy, while LSU demolished Virginia Tech to retain the 2004 Auburn title. But Boise State falls to Washington while BYU loses to UCLA, making unification between the 2006 Boise State and 2004 Utah titles likely. UCLA plays Utah next while Washington plays Ohio State; the latter has a very high risk of averting unification. Unification is certain, however, if both teams retain.
  • SuperPower Rankings will start being hosted on the web site tommorow. They are currently delayed; Sporting News is joining the race but SI appears to be dropping out and if USA Today has any power rankings ongoing they don’t have this week’s up yet. My Week 2 picks are partly dependent on the SuperPower Rankings and are similarly delayed.
  • The voting-method-for-100-greatest-movies poll received no votes whatsoever in almost two months. I’m ashamed of you.

Random, poorly-remembered thoughts from my first day in LA

One thing has stood out about my trip to LA to hang out with my dad so far.

Early on, he talked about the air quality in the suburbs, and gave me the impression he could tell when the air was heavily polluted just by breathing it. I started thinking he was some sort of hippie “connection to nature” guy.

Yesterday I went on a sojourn to Hollywood and came back with a very scratchy throat, guzzling water like mad when I came back. How on Earth can natives live just ignoring such air?

My trip has mostly centered around two trips, the one above and one where I was basically driven around the Santa Monica area.

Housing prices are insane. When I lived in LA we lived in a decent sized apartment with two bedrooms in Venice proper. My dad lives further from the sea in a secluded, behind-a-larger-house, cramped, studio apartment, where I force him to sleep on the floor, for more than it cost to live in our previous apartment and for about $100/month more than it costs my mom and me to live in a two-bedroom in Seattle. He talked to me yesterday about the possibility that, if traffic worsens too much and too many condo projects in places like downtown are built and sold to rich people, poorer people could find themselves unable to live near work and unable to get there from anywhere else.

I might have firmer thoughts later in the week.