Archive for August 2009
August 31, 2009
It’s been a crazy few days, but I’m coming to the surface for air. I’ll have more to say about that, either here or in the Fishing News, but for now …
- Congratulations to the kids from Chula Vista, CA who beat the team from Taipei to win the Little League World Series. It was just a few weeks ago that the parents of these kids, mostly lower-income working class folks, were scraping together money to travel to Williamsport to watch their kids play. The Padres and other San Diego businesses helped out financially, and you gotta think it was worth the trip! The SoCal team has been the class of the tourney, showing off impressive power at times, but were down 3-0 early before rallying for a 6-3 win. Their victory makes them the fifth consecutive US team to take home the trophy, the longest such streak since the ’60s. Well done, boys!
- It’s almost time to kick off the new NFL season, and this is clearly a year of change. Nowhere is that as true as at the quarterback position, where new field bosses are in charge of many teams. You’ve got the Broncos and Bears who swapped disgruntled signal callers, the Jets and Chiefs who are staking the future of their franchises on unproven QBs, and the Eagles who’ve opted to given the fallen Michael Vick a second chance. Then there’s the Vikings, the next (and hopefully final) stop on the never-ending Brett Favre retirement train. Another trend to note is that there are three clubs with former Southern Cal QBs at the helm (Jets, Chiefs & Bengals) and a fourth (Cardinals) that are just a snap away. Not bad for “Tailback U”. Finally, a fond farewell to John Madden, who has opted to retire. His place alongside Al Michaels has been filled by the much-less-capable Cris Collinsworth, but there’ll never be another John Madden. All together now … BOOM!
- If you believe the reports, pitcher Brad Penny will sign later today with the San Francisco Giants, and make his first start for his new club against one of his old clubs, the Dodgers. Penny, who signed with the Red Sox after the Dodgers declined his option at the end of last season, has a pretty miserable experience in the American League, and was waived by the Sox last week. I’d hoped he’d resign with the Marlins, where he initially broke into the big leagues, but the Giants continued their attempts to simultaneously improve their club while poking their SoCal neighbors at the same time. Penny is a stud, but has broken down a lot lately, so it’ll remain to be seen if this is brilliant or bust. But give SF credit for taking action.
August 25, 2009
We all have our vices in life … mine is coffee. Three healthy cups in the morning, or I’m pretty much useless to anyone. When things are going crazy, I blow through the java pretty quick, but if things are progressing at a manageable pace, I might linger a little longer over a cup – long enough for the damned thing to get cold.
Now, most of us would just walk to the microwave and zap some life back into it, but that’s not good enough for a group of German scientists who’ve founder a better way – a smart mug!
The idea came to the researchers at the Christmas market in the Bavarian town of Rosenhiem. “We got upset because the mulled wine” – Glühwein, in German — “was always either too hot or too cold,” say Klaus Sedlbauer, the head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP), and his colleague Herbert Sinnesbichler. “We had to find a solution.”
They hollowed out a standard mug and inserted phase change material, which melts at a desired temperature and acts as a thermal stabilizer.
The material absorbs the warmth of the mug’s content like a sponge, stores it and brings it down to the optimal temperature. And then the PCM helps maintain the content’s temperature at this optimal level by slowly releasing the stored heat back into the mug’s contents. “Under ideal circumstances,” Sedlbauer says, “the optimal temperature can be maintained for 20-30 minutes.”
In order to even further insulate the mug and permit less heat to be lost, the outside part of the mug’s hollowed-out cavity — that is, the part farthest from the material whose temperature needs to be maintained — is lined with a razor-thin layer of either plastic or ceramics. This helps further ensure that the contents of the mug only start cooling down once the PCM has released all of its stored thermal energy and returned to a solid state.
Because the material holds the liquid at exactly the right temperature over time, it can be used to optimize a drinking experience. Need your beer at exactly 44.6 °F? No problem – just design the mug for the precise temperature and it’ll do the rest. Of course, since any one mug will only hold liquid at one particular temperature, you’ll need a whole collection, but hey – that’s what the dishwasher is for, right?
August 24, 2009
The marlin are here, and that’s my favorite sport by far. But when I wasn’t grabbing updates, I did catch a little sports …
- Here’s one of the reasons I love baseball: baseball is about statistics. You can compare the numbers for someone today and someone a century ago and, once adjusted for equipment and “enhancements,” get a realistic comparison of how it is versus how it was. So if something happens in a baseball game for only the second time in history, you gotta figure it’s either incredibly esoteric or incredibly special. Eric Brunlett wasn’t even supposed to be the second baseman for the Phillies yesterday; he only got the call so All-Star Chase Utley could have a day off. Pedro Martinez made his second start for Philly and had pitched well enough for the win, except that suddenly-shaky Brad Lidge had given up a run and allowed two more baserunners, helped in part by two errors – one by Brunlett. As Jeff Francouer of the Mets stepped up to the plate, I’m sure Brunlett was thinking it’s be nice to make a good play to recover from the error, but even he didn’t see what happened next. Francoeur hit a soft liner to Brunlett, who was playing directly behind the second base bag. With both runners going, he caught the ball for the first out, took two steps to second for the second, and tagged the runner arriving from first base for the third and final out of the inning – and the game. It’s only the 15th unassisted triple-play in MLB history, and only the second that ended a game – the last coming in 1927. Something he can tell his grandkids about, and doubtless the highlight of a career. Man, I love this game.
- NASCAR is one of those places where bad things can happen to good people, and the fans eat it up. They love to cheer the heroes and boo the villians and the promoters just smile. Saturday night, roles were reversed and everyone wanted to see what would happen. Kyle Busch, reigning bad-boy of the series, was leading the race at the Bristol bullring with only a few laps to go. Hot on his heels was Mark Martin – 50-yrs-old, and as competitive as he is fair. Everyone knew what would happen if it were Busch behind Martin, but what about this time? Would Martin accidentally – or “accidentally” – bump the leader aside as so many others would? The answer is no – he raced hard, gave no quarter, and took an honorable second. A lot of people were surprised by that, but they shouldn’t be – Martin has been the standard by which others should be compared for nearly two decades now. The real surprise was the gracious manner Busch handled the win – no chest-thumping, just a heartfelt appreciation for Martin and his fair driving. Now, it’s always easier to be gracious when you win, but maybe, just maybe, those media management classes they’re making Kyle take are starting to pay off. We’ll see the next time things don’t go his way …
- Hard to believe, but it’s almost time for college football. If you believe the pundits – and it’s not like they’re ever wrong – someone should be carving a pair of trophies as we speak: the BCS crystal football for Florida, and the Heisman for their senior QB Tim Tebow. Tebow made news last year when he decided to come back for his senior season, but I don’t think it was as hard a decision as people make it out to be. He’s one of those guys who stars at this level, but will struggle to find a place in the professional ranks. It makes sense to squeeze out as much as he can from his college career, which will likely eclipse any that has come before. Personally, I think it might be a little early for the coronation, particularly for the team, but I’d love to see Tebow run the table and walk away a winner. He’s one of the nicest, most sincere young men to come through the college game in many years, and the classic example of a role model. It’d be nice to see someone like that receive the recognition he deserves – assuming he earns it.
August 21, 2009
I’m sure at some point, my schedule will allow me to get offshore and spend some quality time chasing marlin, and I’ll break this addition I seem to have for water-based selections for our weekend eye candy. But it won’t be today.
Healthy lungs help a a time like this ...
This week, we bring you model Carolyn Murphy, from a shoot for the Italian edition of Vogue magazine. She’s a Florida girl who started in the model biz in the mid-nineties, and has appeared in the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. She’s also dabbled in TV and movies.
Like many of her fellow models, she’s had a few bumps in the road. There was the brief marriage and subsequent motherhood – and the ex-husband who tried to sell the sex tape they made on their honeymoon. Then there’s the tattoo – a huge koi that stretches from the middle of her back down her right thigh. Guess you have to position her just right.
For our purposes, however, she works out just fine, and continues our “wet” trend. Will it continue next week? Stay tuned.
Oh, and for the record, no supermodels were harmed in the making of the blog posting …
August 20, 2009
This is less of a post than a simple acknowledgement of my place in the world.
Like a lot of folks, I have a Twitter account – several of them, in fact. The primary one, @marlinnut, was established to allow fans of the site to follow us, and for me to send along news tidbits. Some of you may recall our first effort at Twittering from the marlin grounds last season – a wonderful success that almost ended my marlin career …
Because there’s only so much marlin news, and because it’s so convenient as a way to update multiple data sources, I tend to use it as well to fire off little snippets of my life as well. After all, unlike those other fishing sites you frequent, there’s really no easy way to differentiate between marlinnut the site and MarlinNut the person – we’re pretty much one and the same.
I get mixed reactions from the Twitter feed – some love it, some don’t. the biggest complaints tend to fall into two related categories. One group wants more news tweets – hard, when there’s not more news available. The other group would be those who aren’t really interested in my musing about bubbles running down the windshield as I sit at the car wash, and wish that I’d excise all the personal tweets altogether. That last group is probably out of luck, inasmuch as it’s my tweetstream, and the whole “me and the site-joined-at-the-hip” challenge mentioned above.
As Ron White would say, “I told you that story so I can tell you this one.” Among the minority of folks who are positive about the personal elements of the @marlinnut stream are my fellow cyclists. Whenever I mention where I’m riding, or the difficulty of the climb, or how much I think headwinds suck, I tend to get more comments and retweets.
That’s not surprising, considering cycling’s biggest star is a Twitter addict. @lancearmstrong has announced everything from his return to professional cycling to the birth of his most recent child via Twitter, and often news stories will quote his tweets verbatim. Earlier this week, after winning the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in Colorado, Armstrong was flying to Europe when he fired off a quick tweet:
lancearmstrongHey Glasgow, Scotland!! I’m coming your way tomorrow. Who wants to go for a bike ride??12:41 PM Aug 17th from UberTwitter
The result? 200 riders show up and stop traffic in downtown Glasgow. Armstrong was apparently blown away …
lancearmstrongThanks to everyone who turned up to ride in Paisley! I figured we’d have a nice ride for a dozen or so. But 100′s came. Haha! Awesome!6:35 AM Aug 18th from UberTwitter
I tell folks I’m going for a ride and they bitch; Lance tells ‘em and they flock. It’s good to know where you stand … or roll …
August 19, 2009
With our government spending money like drunken sailors for everything under the sun in the name of economic stimulus, I’m happy to find an example of “make-work”‘ spending that I can actually get behind. A group in Washington will receive stimulus money to remove old fishing nets from Puget Sound – nets that continue to kill long after they were lost. I don’t know if this project qualifies as technically “shovel-ready” – it’s underwater!
Divers swim close to 100 feet down to an environment that is anything but friendly. Instead of using scuba equipment, they breathe through air hoses running from the boat above. When the divers find the fields of nets, they begin the labor of cutting them free piece by piece and all by hand. Removing one net can take days.
The nets are then pulled to the boat waiting on the surface. In just a few hours on the water, the divers can pull free about 1,000 pounds of nets. Inside are the bones of countless fish and birds, along with several species of protected sharks and crabs. Anything still alive is cut free and thrown back in the water. Then, biologist Jeff June notes what they have brought up. So far, he says, the group has identified 112 distinct species trapped in the nets.
One of the complaints against many forms of commercial fishing is the lack of foresight given to the methods, and this is a classic example. The nets were deployed, were lost, and were written off as a cost of doing business. But while the nets might have been forgotten, they continued to hunt and kill long after the fishermen had replaced them. This is one time when at least a small part of that damage can be ended.
August 18, 2009
You know, when I see the amount of time we spend covering our own asses, I marvel at the thought that we’re decended from the folks who won the West …
Jared Bergstreser and Colin Trapp were employees at a Best Buy store in Colorado. I emphasize “were,” because they aren’t any more. The heinous act for which they were terminated? They tried to stop a shoplifter.
“A gentleman came by us in a red shirt with a bunch of product in his hand. It was pretty obvious that he hadn’t paid for it yet,” Trapp said.
“I just kind of reacted. I wasn’t thinking about it and followed the guy out the front door and tackled him,” Bergstreser said.
As you might imagine, the corporate types are quoting the policy manual and justifying their decision. The terminated employees are still disappointed by it all.
“It was just completely demoralizing. You think you have in your head what you know is right or wrong, what your parents instilled in you growing up as a child, and then to be reprimanded for that act is so sour and so sad,” Trapp said.
“I think I did what I believed was right,” Bergstreser added.
Now, to be fair, the situation could easily have gone bad. The thief pulled a knife, and a store employee got nicked in the process of trying to calm the situation. And it’s true that Best Buy, like most retail enterprises, has policies in place that dictate that employees do not insert themselves into dangerous sitations for fear of just such an escalation. Some kind of action would need to be taken towards the employees for a technical violation of policy, but termination? What exactly is the message they want to send here – or do they even care about the message? We spend so much time and money protecting the rights of the guilty and those presumed so; just once I’d like to see someone stand up for the people who try to do the right thing – even when technically it’s wrong.
If it were up to the corporate lawyers, our forefathers would still be standing on the Boston quayside, saying “we can’t throw that tea in the bay … we could get in trouble,” and the Union Jack would be flying over the White House.
August 17, 2009
Lots of sports this weeekend, but really only one sports story …
Imagine that you’d just achieved the greatest success of your career, only to find everyone focused not on your achievement but rather on the failure of another that allowed it to happen?
Congratulations – you’re Y. E. Yang, 2009 PGA champion!
There aren’t a lot of things you can depend on in this world. The sun will rise in the east, the Democrats will raise your taxes, and Tiger Woods is a lock when leading a major championship. Well, keep an eye on Obama and the sun, because Woods got rolled yesterday.
Fourteen times, Tiger has lead coming into the final round of a major, and all fourteen resulted in a victory. Eight of those came after leading after two rounds, and he was perfect there, too. So it’s understandable that when he came into the weekend with a four-stroke lead on the field, things were considered pretty much done. The pundits openly wondered if it was even worth considering the other players in the event. Funny how things happen, though.
Woods played tight on Saturday, seeming to be playing more to not lose than to win. As a result, while everyone else in the field was moving, he was idling and saw his lead chopped in half. Unlike the agressive Woods that slew Padraig Harrington only a week before at Akron, Tiger seemed tentative – something I’ve never seen in him.
Only a slip by Harrington at the end resulted in Woods’ Sunday pairing with the unheralded Yang, an Asian tour veteran playing his first season in America. Woods and Yang actually have a history, with Yang being one of the very few to ever run down Tiger in an event he lead. But that was the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, and Yang was in a different group. This would be the PGA Championship, and he’d be staring down the greatest golfer in the world.
That didn’t seem to be much of an issue for Yang.
“It’s not like you’re in an octagon where you’re fighting against Tiger and he’s going to bite you, or swing at you with his 9-iron,” Yang said through an interpreter. “The worst that I could do was just lose to Tiger. So I really had nothing much at stake.”
Yang played solid, Tiger once again tight, and when Yang made a spectactular eagle chip at the 14th hole, he leapfrogged Woods into the lead. Add to that a partially-blocked 3-iron on 18 that will be talked about for a long time, and the dead was done, and the Tiger had been slain.
I’ve always thought that Tiger’s greatest assets aren’t his shotmaking but his reputation and his brain, and neither phased Yang in the slightest. He showed no intimidation whatsover in his first head-to-head meeting with Woods, and Eldrick’s temper was in evidence repeatedly as he grew more frustrated with each hole. The debate will rage on as to whether Yang truly won or Woods simply choked – I say both.
Tiger Woods demonstrated that he is indeed human, and is capable of blowing an event that was clearly his to win. It’s worth remembering at this point that while Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors, he also placed second in another nineteen events. For Woods, this will simply add to his runner-up total, but it’s gonna burn for a long time.
The real story, though, must be Yang. Golf in Asia is huge, and the Korean women have dominated the LPGA Tour for the better part of a decade (how many different event winners do they have named “Kim” – six? Seven?). Yang’s victory is the first for an Asian-born player in a PGA major, and while we don’t know if it will be his only major, you can bet it won’t be the last for an Asian golfer.
August 14, 2009
Every Friday, we like to run a little eye candy to make up for taking the weekend off from posting. In the past, that’s always been in the form of some kind of pretty girl in a topically relevant pose, but there’s more than one way to be sexy. With the passing yesterday of guitar legend Les Paul, we’ve decided to honor his memory with a different kind of eye candy – that sexy beast of a guitar that bore his name. May we present the Gibson Les Paul …
Just as sexy whether posing or shredding
Les Paul might have been just another footnote in the history of popular music had he not been so frustrated. Performing first with Mary Ford and later on his own, it irritated Paul that he couldn’t play loud enough for a large audience to hear. Beginning in 1941, he experimented with different prototypes for a solid body electric guitar. His experiments culminated with the 1952 release of the Gibson Les Paul, a guitar that continues to set the standard for electric guitars and has been used by a half-century of guitar greats.
But Paul didn’t stop there. Four years later he designed the first eight-track tape recorder, a device that changed the way music could be recorded in the studio. All the while, Paul continued to release Grammy-winning albums; just last year he released “Les Paul and Friends,” an album of duets with some of the greatest guitarists of all time. Those touched by his life commented on his passing:
“Les Paul was truly a ‘one of a kind.’ We owe many of his inventions that made the rock ‘n roll sound of today to him, and he was the founding father of modern music,” B.B. King said in a statement. “This is a huge loss to the music community and the world. I am honored to have known him.”
Joe Satriani said in a statement: “Les Paul set a standard for musicianship and innovation that remains unsurpassed. He was the original guitar hero and the kindest of souls. Last October I joined him onstage at the Iridium club in [New York], and he was still shredding. He was and still is an inspiration to us all.”
In a statement, Slash said, “Les Paul was a shining example of how full one’s life can be; he was so vibrant and full of positive energy.”
Others might have made their own impact on the electric guitar (Leo Fender among them), but few can boast such a game-changing life as Les Paul. Scary to think what the music scene might sound like today had he not acted on those frustrations so long ago. Les Paul was 91, and will be missed by every sore-fingered guitarist – and their fans.
August 13, 2009
When you run a website about billfishing, and a new TV series is announced about billfishing, chances are you’re going to be interested. Add to that SCMO’s conservation ethic, and the fact that the subject of the new series is one of the more vilified commercial fishing methods out there, and you can bet there’ll be a lot of conversation around the Home Office after the series’ debut.
“Swords: Life On The Line” is a new Discovery Channel reality series created by the same folks who brought us the wildly successful “Deadliest Catch”. It follows the same basic pattern of embedding camera crews with fishing boats as they fish in dangerous conditions – in this case, the longline swordfishery on the Grand Banks off the east coast of the US and Canada. Like the crabbers of the Bering Sea, the stars of the shows are the fishermen manning the boats, and the show attempts to hype the drama and danger of their profession.
When first announced, my concern was that the program would glamorize this kind of ill-advised fishing method. Longlines have been banned in many areas, including here in Southern California, because they are such an indiscriminate form of fishing. With up to 40 miles of baited hooks, anything that might be hungry can fall prey to the lines. That certainly includes the target swordfish, but can also include other billfish, sharks and many other species. That “bycatch” is usually not a marketable commodity and is dumped overboard, thus depleting the resource. In addition, the method is so efficient that the Atlantic swordfish nearly disappeared a decade ago, and only agressive management has brought it back. Thus, anything that popularizes the industry that is threatening the swordfish once again can’t be good.
I had little expectation as I settled in to watch the first episode. Discovery had already demonstrated their ignorance by passing off a picture of a sailfish – a mounted one, no less – as a live swordfish on their website (the picture has been changed, but you can see the original in a Fishing News edition here). Their willingness to artificially ramp up the drama has been well documented on “DC” as has the tacky product placement (do you really think they have Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on Bering Sea crab boats??). I figured that would be the case again with this show, and it didn’t take longer than the opening credits to prove me right.
Most people would be unaware of this particular fishery, had it not been for the ill-fated trip of the fishing boat Andrea Gail in 1991. That trip, documented in the book and movie “The Perfect Storm,” established the fishery as dangerous – and, therefore, fodder for Discovery. Just in case you didn’t make the connection, it was mentioned three different times during the show’s first segment. One of the characters in that drama was Linda Greenlaw, who at the time was running a sister ship to the Andrea Gail. Long retired, she was dragged out of retirement, presumably at the behest of the producers, and given the task of restoring a derelict fishing vessel – all in the name of drama.
The show itself felt derivitive and entirely dismissable. I’m sure that subsequent episodes, when they actually start to catch fish, will bring a little more excitement, but this isn’t really that embraceable a situation – most of the time it’s pretty dull. I’m sure Discovery will do their part to escalate the drama artificially, and have already gotten a few classic moments – my favorite was when Greenlaw’s mechanic declared the engine to be running fine seconds before it catastrophically threw a rod.
If the only issue was that the show was artificial and dull, I could simply dismiss it. But, as I feared, the coverage seems to be very much one-sided, with no attempt made to justify the destructive nature of the fishing they document. At one point a juvenile swordfish was thrown- presumably dead – overboard, while later the narrator discussed the challenges associated with trying to release the many sharks caught – while on the screen two gaffs are sunk into a mako shark, which is left bleeding on the deck. With their focus solely on the fishermen, and the fish and sharks seen as little more than props, I have no reason to believe this skewed perspective will change in subsequent episodes.
The root cause of the problem lies with the producers, who are simply clueless filmmakers hoping to capture that “gotcha” moment when someone gets hurt or goes overboard. But the real blame in my mind lies with the Discovery Channel decision-makers, who ought to know better. They’re the ones who brought us the wonderful “Blue Planet” series that celebrates the richness of the ocean while warning us of the challenges it faces. They also created “Planet Green,” a channel dedicated to preserving the planet. If anyone is not going to get a pass from me on this show, it’s them.
Discovery is clearly aware of the controversial nature of the fishing method they are documenting. The show included a disclaimer that opinions are not necessarily those of the producers, a standard way of dodging responsibility for content. There is also a posting board at the show’s website titled “Talk About The Issues” – issues unnamed, but not unknown, as the postings are running about 10-1 against the fishermen.
It’s unlikely that Discovery will voluntarily make changes to a proven money-making format without outside pressure, and it’s up to us to bring it. Take a moment to tell the folks at Discovery what you think of this new show, and the destructive fishing methods it glorifies. Remind them that once before the fishery was brought to the brink of collapse, and they are only helping it once again be threatened. Explain to them the damage longlines do through bycatch, and the horrific waste it represents. And be sure to tell them that the decisions you make with your consumer dollars will be influenced by the decisions they choose to make – or not.
You can voice your opinion in the forum listed above, or via Discovery’s online contact form. I’ve already aired my opinions with they – now you should, too.