Battlefield 3

2011 August 23

I originally started writing a relatively long post imploring gamers to look at Battlefield 3 over Modern Warfare 3 for their contemporary military shooter fix, especially if they’ve bought the previous three Call of Dutys set in the present-day. Then I saw that the console player limit is 24. Sure, that’s the same deal as MW3, but BF3 is meant to be played on a grand scale. I can’t imagine the console versions coming close to the massive 64-player battles that will take place on the PC. That’s without throwing in the graphical advantage any halfway decent PC will have over the half-dozen year old tech of the 360 and PS3.

So while the above video is absolutely ridiculous looking, it’s the PC version featuring a 64-player battle. I don’t know if the graphics on the consoles will approach that level, but I’d put my life savings on them not coming close to a computer that satisfies the recommended specs. The little research I did on the matter unearthed a quote from an EA employee working on the game saying they limited consoles to 24 players and shrunk some maps in order to keep the graphics and other features intact. Either way, it’s obvious that the PC version will be superior, but PC gamers are already the ones who want BF3 much more than MW3. The consoles are where the battleground for market— and mind-share will take place.

And is there truly anything that I can say to change anyone’s mind on their decision? I haven’t played either game and I’m already an outlier with regards to the usual console COD player due to not owning Black Ops. Everyone owns Black Ops. Overhearing a conversation about the game is a somewhat regular occurrence. My 13-year-old cousin complains about his baseball teammates talking about Black Ops even during a close game. Battlefield doesn’t have anywhere near that popularity, so it’s going to need to blow people away upon release.

People know about Battlefield 1942 and the Bad Company games much like people knew about the Call of Duty games before Call of Duty 4 released. But COD4 created a phenomenon and an absolute monster of a franchise. It was a beautiful, responsive, 60-frames-per-second breath of fresh air among console shooters. I never felt completely comfortable playing a FPS with a controller until that COD4 beta. BF3 will need to be the COD4 of its series, and I’m going to take that thought to its logical conclusion and say that EA is smart in having a multiplatform beta. I think that’s the type of action needed to create hype of a critical mass. I look forward to getting a code somehow at the last minute so I can enjoy stunted 24-player vehicular action on my 360 or slightly prettier 64-player action on my newly acquired (hopefully), but gaming-mediocre laptop. Maybe then I’ll actually be able to write something of substance about BF3.

Things I Learned From A Weekend In Pennsylvania*

2011 August 23

*And technically New Jersey, too. But the former is more important, as a theme running through this post will be that everything south of Buffalo and west of Philadelphia might as well be considered the South.

- Apparently, two-and-a-half acres of land is the minimum required to be seen as a true homeowner in central PA. The way properties were split up with tree lines reminded me of some of the scenes in Band of Brothers. After a few too many beers, I started visualizing tanks rolling through the backyard.

- Since houses are spread out in what would qualify in my estimation as countryside (despite the locals vehemently classifying it as suburban), there are not many cab services around and none at all after 10 PM. So maybe friendly tanks and jeeps would have been appreciated. Also, there are students of the Wharton School who drive cabs — well, at least one.

- I had heard of Wawa and how it’s a souped-up 7-Eleven gas station, but I wasn’t prepared for touch screens to order sandwiches at three in the morning. I was impressed, considering I’m accustomed to just grabbing a buttered roll at that hour. I had also never seen so many coffee machines lined up next to each other.

- The reason I was in PA in the first place was for some memorial golf tournament held by some family that I’m connected to through about four people. But hey, I had two friends who invited me who said it was a good time last year, so how could I resist showing off my mediocre golf abilities in a best-ball (after researching, it turns out we played scramble) tourney? Oh, the thing I learned was that I can hit my driver relatively straight and far consistently now. So I have a step up on Tiger at the moment. BURN.

- That learning experience recap was just a segue to the picnic after the golf tourney at the host family’s two-and-a-half-acre abode. Remember when I said how everywhere outside of the northeast metropolitan corridor can be considered the South? Well, there was one cute girl at the party with a slight country accent — which I guess makes sense since she lives in Lancaster County adjacent to the Amish? — and after a few beers and filling my stomach with too much food, she was the only thing I was concerned with. But after consuming too many beers for her tiny frame during Flip Cup, the cute girl ended up disappearing and passing out upstairs in the house. As about ten people were seated around a couple of tables — younger family members, my friends and I, and some random girl — the cousin of the sleeping girl, in an attempt to keep us at the house overnight, said loud enough for everyone to hear, “Hey, you should sleep with [my cousin], she’s pretty!” I guess in Pennsylvania it’s cool to pimp out your catatonic cousin to a relative stranger when you want to fuck one of his friends, too. Maybe she meant literally sleep, but I feel like on some level that’s even creepier. Perhaps, at this point, I should be elated at the opportunity to just lie in the same bed as an attractive girl, but instead we all got the hell out of there because it was obviously getting strange. But not before one of the girl’s brothers got upset with a friend for hugging her a bit too hard, and said, “I don’t even get hugs like that,” to which my friend responded, “Yeah, because that’d be fucking weird.” With that, my friend summed up Pennsylvania west of Philly.

- Some driving listening thoughts after the proposed rape: I didn’t know I could like Ken Davidoff any more than I already did, but he was great on the Jonah Keri podcast episode he was the guest on. Anyone who answers a question with, “Because I’m not an idiot” is awesome in my book. Also, Louis C.K. stand-up passes the time extremely quickly. Especially this interview with Conan, which is for all intents and purposes stand-up (skip to 9:28 for best results, since I can’t embed and put the timestamp in).

Remember When I Used To Update This Blog?

2011 August 17
by CajoleJuice

It’s been about two and a half months since I updated this blog — so I stopped around the same time the Mets’ 2011 season was over (don’t try to pretend like they had a shot until this recent collapse). I also stopped creating link dumps over at Roto Hardball at the same time, so I can’t blame that commitment for the laziness. Perhaps I was just burned out from scouring my Google Reader every day for the best two dozen baseball stories to link. On the other hand, I can’t complain about that when my “boss” on Roto Hardhall writes for seemingly every decent fantasy baseball site out there, in addition to Amazin’ Avenue and Fangraphs occasionally. But it’s different when it’s your job and you truly aspire to make a living out of it.

It seems like it’d be cool to write about baseball for a living, but you’d also be a baseball writer for a living. In all likelihood, you’d make garbage money, and you’d be writing about overgrown millionaire children idolized for being able to hit baseballs really far or throw them really hard. Sometimes I wonder how I can even religiously follow and support such a farce until something awesome happens like Jose Reyes hitting multiple triples, or Tim Lincecum throwing a 14-K complete game shutout to win a 1-0 postseason game, or Shane Victorino getting beer poured on his head. I just enjoy watching athletes perform at the absolute highest level, whether it be baseball, football, or tennis. I don’t think there’s any shame in that, but sometimes you need to take a step back and realize this shit doesn’t fucking matter, even if their feats are impressive. Since gladiatorial battles and war aren’t held in the same regard as they were hundreds and thousands of years ago, perhaps seeing Justin Verlander throw 100 mph after 120 pitches while tossing a no-hitter is the closest we can come to seeing a chariot race to the death in our civilized society. Sure, there are still heroic soldiers, but the ongoing counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are not exactly spectator sport — even if the U.S. reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden was one on par with winning the World Cup.

On that note, wouldn’t it have made sense to post my first blog update in months on 9/11/11? That should be a fun day to look back and see how the terrorists won (I can be this much of a dick in this post because it’s not 9/11 yet). Instead I’ll be posting about the usual bullshit until then. I just wrote condenscendingly about sportswriting as a career and I’m going to resume blogging about sports, movies, books, and games. I’m obviously jealous of people that get paid for it, right?

I really don’t know how much longer I’ll be updating this particular blog, though, and with what frequency. I’m still bitter about all the [bot] traffic I lost when I moved away from my previous URL and I’m also bored with this name and site design. For a little while, I thought Google+ could serve as a sort of blog, but that service looks DOA, much to my chagrin. Twitter is not enough to get my thoughts across, even though I’m on there way too much. There’s always Tumblr, I guess. Or focusing on writing pieces for Baseball Nation.

I can’t help myself.

My Personal Hypetrain – 6/1/11

2011 July 1

I think this works as a regular feature, like I Watch Movies Sometimes. So by “regular” I mean “approximately twice a year.”

Over the weekend, the internet “leaked” a red band trailer of the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the version I’ve been looking forward to since the announcement of David Fincher at its helm. Many people have put the quotation marks around “leaked” since Sony Pictures could have taken down the YouTube’d bootleg trailer before it came close to accumulating a few hundred thousand views. But it seems now the green band trailer has officially hit the web. The difference between red band and green band is that the former indicates an R-rated trailer, which means the latter has cut out the blood and boobs. I naturally prefer the red band, as it revels in the violent nature of the material more, but the two trailers are in almost every way exactly alike.

Trailer courtesy of Movie-List, via The Film Stage.

Other than Fincher’s involvement, I’m looking forward to the film due to Trent Reznor composing another score for him. I have no clue whether the trailer music is reflective of the film score, but no matter how you may feel about the cover of “Immigrant Song”, you have to admit it fits the trailer perfectly. Add that to Reznor’s fantastic work on The Social Network, and I’m confident he will know exactly how to score anal rape and serial killing.

And that brings me to why I’m looking forward to Fincher tackling this book: he does his best work when dealing with serial killers. Not to mention his movies are stylish as fuck. Anyone who can cut the story of Facebook into a fast-paced two-hour film simultaneously following the initial creation of the website, along with two separate depositions for lawsuits that were spawned by the site, is an extremely talented director. Ok, maybe he had help from Aaron Sorkin in creating the script that made those scenes so entertaining, but Fincher’s directing was probably the star of the film. I need to watch The King’s Speech just so I can say how little directing was even needed for such Oscar bait. “Just point the camera at the great actor with the stutter! People will eat that shit up!

While The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is over half a year away (note the “Feel Bad Movie of Christmas” tagline), the next piece of entertainment is even further away. It should be arriving next year, but who knows with Blizzard? I could be talking about either Diablo III or the first expansion to Starcraft II here. But this time I’ll just post the first gameplay footage of SCII: Heart of the Swarm. There’s not really much to get excited about in the video, though, especially considering how shitty appearance of the main character, Kerrigan. I’ll probably make a dedicated post to Diablo III in the near future.

To get to something that will come out soon, a trailer for the fourth season of Breaking Bad hit the web yesterday. It consists solely of scenes from previous seasons — whether that’s a positive or negative is up to you. I’m just glad I got a reminder one of the two best shows on television is back in July, which is only one month away. This summer has really sneaked up on me. If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad yet, get started now.

Go Mavs

2011 May 31

Once the Heat emerged victorious in the Eastern Conference Finals almost a week ago (NBA scheduling is the worst), I made sure to declare my rooting interests for the Finals. I’ve probably been rooting for the Mavs this entire time, as the only other legitimate options were the Bulls and Thunder, two young teams that look to have plenty of opportunities to challenge whichever team becomes champs this year. I say “probably” due to my tepid interest in the NBA playoffs until now. The Spurs and Lakers got knocked out earlier than expected, and Chris Paul put on a spectacular show in a losing effort (unlike Derrick Rose), but nowadays the only sport I really care about is baseball. Undoubtedly, Roto Hardball and my self-imposed pressure to know as much as possible have me neglecting all other sports. Hell, there’s a Djokovic-Federer French Open semifinal coming up and I doubt I’ll watch it. To keep track of baseball as a whole, majors and minors, while also trying to watch his own team as much as possible, is probably analogous to having two girlfriends. And being a Mets fan means neither of them is having sex with me.

But to get back to basketball, Dirk Nowitzki needs to be perfect for the Mavs to even have a chance in this series. He needs to put up numbers like he did in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, where he scored 48 points on 15 field goal attempts. That’s like driving in 11 runs in 3 at-bats. He could have taken 15 three-point shots, hit all of them, and he still wouldn’t have had as many points. Sure, 12-15 shooting from the floor is awesome, but to top that off with a 24-24 performance at the free throw line is just unfair. But then again, having to play against two of the top three players in the NBA is even more unfair.

This will probably end up being Dirk’s best chance at a championship, barring devastating injuries to either LeBron James or Dwayne Wade within the next year. How could you not root for a guy who’s been as consistently great the past decade as anyone not named Tim Duncan? A player whose unique combination of size and skill has made basketball scouts dream about other massive Euros, only to be terribly disappointed. A player who was so close to a championship only a few years ago, and has since been unfairly labeled a choker.

How could you not root for a player who has been with one team his entire career, a player who practically created the franchise himself? LeBron could have traveled the same path, but he decided to become part of a three-headed monster in Miami instead of carving out his own competitive legacy. If there were one player who could have single-handedly led a team to a championship in this era, it would have been LeBron. Dirk may be at times the most efficient and unstoppable offensive force in the league, but LeBron can do just about anything on the basketball court when he wants to. Derrick Rose, the 2011 “MVP”, turned into a high schooler when LeBron was matched up against him. Yet in hindsight, perhaps it’s unfair to treat the situations of LeBron and Dirk equally, as their owners certainly weren’t equal. Mark Cuban invested in building a team around Dirk, while LeBron was fed scrubs that he managed to transform into legitimate NBA players.

Maybe I’m still bitter that the Knicks are left with the volume scorer that is Carmelo Anthony instead of the all-around monster that is LeBron James. Maybe the thought of LeBron in a Knicks uniform still makes me want to jump on the bandwagon that never came around. Maybe I just want to see one of the greatest players of his generation finally get his due.

Go Mavs. Go Dirk.

The Battle of #6orgs

2011 May 23

Entering the 2010 MLB season, the Seattle Mariners had garnered plenty of hype from the sabermetric-community for their offseason moves, masterminded by perceived genius Jack Zduriencik. Instead of focusing on the on-base machines heralded in Moneyball, the GM known as Jack Z created a team of spectacular fielders who would devour every ball put in play. Great fielding was the new “market inefficiency.”

In their first attempt at MLB organizational rankings — a sort of all-encompassing, forward-looking version of power rankings — Fangraphs named the Mariners the sixth-best organization in baseball, above teams like the Braves, Phillies, and Cardinals. Even with the reasoning behind the ranking, the writers were accused of bias by readers (many of the writers who created the rankings are fans of the Mariners). But the bastion of sabermetrics on the internet wasn’t the only place to buy into the defense-first philosophy, as Sports Illustrated wrote an article about the Mariners explaining the shift towards run prevention.* Even random baseball fans on the internet predicted the M’s to win 86 games and take the AL West title.

*Theo Epstein, the Red Sox’s young star GM, also believes in the power of the glove, considering his signings of Mike Cameron and Carl Crawford the past two years. He is also talked about in the article.

But as the 2010 season unfolded, it was clear that the Mariners were not going anywhere. Chone Figgins, their big offseason signing, was not hitting at all–neither was Casey Kotchman, or Jose Lopez, or anyone else on the entire team. If they wanted to win, the duo of Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee had the impossible task of throwing shutouts practically every time they took the mound. Somewhere along the way, the Twitter tag #6org became the chosen method of mocking the entire situation. I suspect either @samtpage or @willDavidian (correct me if I’m wrong here) was the snarky bastard behind it, and it was glorious. You couldn’t go a day without seeing a pathetic Figgins AVG/OBP/SLG slash line or a hard-luck losing pitching line from Hernandez followed by #6org.

The #6org 2010 Seattle Mariners ended up dead-last in the AL West with a record of 61-101 and scored only 513 runs the entire season. Such offensive ineptitude had not been seen since the inception of the DH. By comparison, the Yankees led the majors with 859 runs scored.

Naturally, when it came time for another go-around with the organizational rankings before this season, Fangraphs revamped their methodology and the Mariners ended up 17th. The team that ranked 6th? The 15-30 Minnesota Twins, who are currently scoring 3.43 runs per game. It’s not quite as horrendous as the 3.17 runs per game the Mariners put up last year, but it’s the worst in baseball.

Is the #6org curse more powerful than the Madden curse or SI jinx? Joe Mauer is battling knee issues and will probably be moved away from catcher sooner rather than later, destroying his positional value, and making his massive contract look much worse. Francisco Liriano may have thrown a no-hitter, but his ERA is 5.73. I guess it doesn’t help that the Twins traded away a competent shortstop in J.J. Hardy just to pay for a set-up man. At least Justin Morneau is finally hitting like a man whose brain isn’t totally concussed.

Starting today, the two teams to be named #6org will battle for overrated supremacy. The pitching matchups, as @CapitolAvenue pointed out to me, could not be any more perfect.

Monday: Jason Vargas vs. Carl Pavano
Tuesday: Doug Fister vs. Nick Blackburn
Wednesday: Erik Bedard vs. Brian Duensing

I’m giddy at the prospect of three strikeouts each from the pitchers not named Bedard.

So which team will be doomed to a shitty season in 2012? Braves? Rockies? Blue Jays? I could see the Rangers dropping from 5th to 6th. If that happened, Josh Hamilton would fall off the wagon and into the coke pile, Neftali Feliz would be stupidly left in the closer role, and Adrian Beltre would hit like he was back in Safeco. At least the Mets have no chance of being named #6org any time soon.

Handicapping the Mets’ Chances for a No-Hitter

2011 May 2
by CajoleJuice

I originally posted this as a FanPost over at Amazin’ Avenue last week, but I’ve been too lazy to re-post it over here. It probably would have came in handy since I didn’t post anything here last week, huh?

“And there goes the no-hitter” are the words that have haunted every Mets fans for years. The New York Metropolitans have played 7,821 regular season games and their opponent has had at least one hit in every game. Tom Seaver, arguably the greatest pitcher of the Post-War Era, started 395 games for the Mets, finishing 171 — five of them were one-hitters, but none were no-hitters. Naturally, he threw his one and only no-hitter for the White Sox Reds (I swear I keep making these dumb mistakes in Fanposts) in 1978, the year after he was traded away. Teammates Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack (who had a wonderful chapter dedicated to him in the 2011 Amazin Avenue Annual) weren’t too shabby, either. Dwight Gooden and David Cone were two great young pitchers for the Mets in the 1980s, but they only threw no-hitters when they later went to the Yankees. Nolan Ryan threw seven no-hitters after being traded as a young, wild flamethrower. Al Leiter switched it up by throwing his sole no-hitter before joining the Mets in 1998.

Ok, I think that’s enough of a depressing history lesson for the day. We’d all be better served looking forward and trying to guess which current Mets pitchers have the best shot at rendering batters completely helpless. The current major league roster may not have any starting pitchers that hit the upper 90s on the radar gun, but no-hitters can sometimes come from unexpected places, and the farm is home to a few promising young arms.

Let’s set these unscientific lines. I have to give a tweet by @SurfingtheMets credit for the idea.

D.J. Carrasco 1,000,000-1

This dude is only here because he started one game for the Mets already. I give him the same odds as Lloyd Christmas marrying Mary Swanson, so I’m saying he has a chance. I also have a chance of stealing Minka Kelly from Derek Jeter.

Pat Misch 200-1

He’s had some success in the minors, but so far he’s given up 10 hits per 9 in his 195.2 ML innings. This is not going to happen.

Dillon Gee 150-1

He’s enamored himself to the fanbase somewhat with his number of good starts the past two years. Unfortunately, the number is only seven. He struck out AAA hitters at a solid rate last season, but his stuff isn’t particularly exciting. Sure, seemingly unlikely pitchers throw no-hitters, but it doesn’t happen all that often to guys with middling velocity. Not that I’ve done any research to back this up outside of quickly browsing the list of no-hitters at Wikipedia.

Jeurys Familia 120-1

He’s only 21 and lights up the gun at 96-97 mph. Last year in 121 IP at St. Lucie (High-A) he struck out 10 opposing batters per 9 for a FIP of 3.89, even if his ERA was a disappointing 5.58. He might not even stay as a starter, but he has an electric arm that I can see throwing a 5 BB no-hitter.

Chris Young 100-1

His flyball tendencies help him in the no-hitter department, but he might not even be healthy enough to throw a complete game all year. These odds are Mets career odds, but I don’t see Young staying with the Mets past this year. (Edit: I would shorten these odds if I were doing this again today.)

Chris Capuano 80-1

Another pitcher who might not be with the Mets past 2011, but one that I like more than Young. He has a much higher groundball rate, which doesn’t help in this exercise considering the notorious seeing-eye single, but he also isn’t a 6’10″ pitcher who can’t touch 90 mph. Sorry, I just really hate watching Chris Young pitch.

Mike Pelfrey 50-1

A groundball pitcher who really does not strike out many batters at all. This is not a recipe for a no-hitter. Maybe I should give him better odds since he’ll likely be with the Mets for at least a few more years, but I can’t go any lower. Of course, he could get lucky, like those couple of stretches where he’s looked like maybe he could be a top-of-the-rotation starter. Ha, yeah.

Matt Harvey 50-1

The 22-year-old Is off to a ridiculously hot start in St. Lucie, but apparently Mike Pelfrey had a similar start. But Harvey has a legitimate breaking pitch and still has a good chance of developing into a dominant starter — something I can’t see happening with Pelfrey. Maybe it’s kinda dumb to give him similar odds to Pelfrey since he’s still only in High-A ball, but I can’t help myself.

Jenrry Mejia 45-1

Oh hey, I just went ahead and gave another prospect better odds than Pelfrey. Mejia is 21 years old and hasn’t thrown more than 100 IP in any full season, but he’s still the Mets #1 prospect and has absolutely filthy stuff. A man can dream of him becoming an ace by 2013 and throwing a no-hitter, right? (Edit: I would lengthen these odds considerably now since he has a complete MCL tear of his elbow WAIT WHAT GODDAMN IT ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?)

Jon Niese 25-1

These are pretty good odds because he’s under Mets control for another three more years after this one and I like him to achieve the feat more than Pelfrey. He actually has a higher groundball rate than the sinkerballer, but he also strikes out more batters. And I’ll go to the opportunity-for-growth well yet again.

Johan Santana 10-1

This might be way too optimistic, considering we have no idea how Johan will pitch coming off shoulder surgery, but I want to believe a pitcher only 85% of the original still has a great chance of throwing an absolute gem. Plus, he’s a boss.

R.A. Dickey 1-1

No explanation needed.

Osama Bin Laden Killed, Mets Win

2011 May 2
by CajoleJuice

As I took an LIRR train home after a couple of days spent in Hoboken with a friend, I read David Foster Wallace’s wonderful essay on his personal 9/11 experience in his residence of Bloomington, Illinois. (Here’s a PDF of the original Rolling Stone article — a PDF which also includes the end of an article about Bin Laden.) Not an hour later, as I sat in my living room watching a 1-1 tie game between the Mets and Phillies, the crowd starting cheering “U-S-A! U-S-A!” for no apparent reason. Within a few moments, the announcers let the audience know that the catalyst was news of Osama Bin Laden’s demise. I can only imagine how much louder the cheer would have been if the game were at Citi Field instead of Citizens Bank Park.

What then followed were Obama’s official announcement/speech and crowds gathering across the country to wave flags and banners and cheer the death of their enemy — our enemy. But I still felt oddly uncomfortable watching college kids cheer and jump around in front of the White House due to some aging extremist Islamic terrorist getting shot in the face. As this tweet points out, it’s practically the exact same scene that took place in parts of the Muslim world after 9/11 that disgusted millions of Americans. While I don’t agree with making a direct parallel, since this is a death of a murderer (as opposed to almost 3,000 innocent people), I wasn’t the only person who thought the raucous celebration a bit unsettling. My father, a man who has voiced misgivings about Islam in general, even commented that he felt weird watching the footage on FOX News. Yeah.

I’ve also heard “the cost” of this assassination (if that’s the correct term) being described as possible retaliation in the coming days and weeks. No, the cost was $4 trillion over $1 trillion and over 100,000 civilian deaths. Sure, we’re cheering the “end” of what we originally set out to do, but in the process we’ve sabotaged ourselves financially, helped destabilize much of the Middle East, and killed a whole bunch more innocent people than Bin Laden ever did. But I guess it was worth it to prove a point?

Maybe this isn’t the right time to talk about this shit, especially after seeing an image like this:

Because, fuck, if anyone has a right to celebrate this news, it’s the men who lost their friends at the World Trade Center. But they know — along with anyone else who lost a loved one — that this doesn’t change much. America finally finished the job we set out to do 10 years ago, but no one is coming back to life, Al-Qaeda and its off-shoots are still very functional, and Bin Laden ultimately won since he changed our way of life since 9/11/01.

But at least the Mets beat the Phillies in 14 innings, right?

An Eerie Reading Coincidence

2011 April 20

I’ve been reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson lately and I came across this passage:

The most common types of earthquakes are those where two plates meet, as in California along the San Andreas Fault. As the plates push against each other, pressures build up until one or the other gives way. In general, the longer the interval between quakes, the greater the pent-up pressure and thus the greater the scope for a really big jolt. This is a particular worry for Tokyo, which Bill McGuire, a hazards specialist at University College London, describes as “the city waiting to die” (not a motto you will find on many tourism leaflets). Tokyo stands on the boundary of three tectonic plates in a country already well known for its seismic instability. In 1995, as you will remember, the city of Kobe, three hundred miles to the west, was struck by a magnitude 7.2 quake, which killed 6,394 people. The damage was estimated at $99 billion. But that was as nothing—well, as comparatively little—compared with what may await Tokyo.

Tokyo has already suffered one of the most devastating earthquakes in modern times. On September 1, 1923, just before noon, the city was hit by what is known as the Great Kanto quake—an event more than ten times more powerful than Kobe’s earthquake. Two hundred thousand people were killed. Since that time, Tokyo has been eerily quiet, so the strain beneath the surface has been building for eighty years. Eventually it is bound to snap. In 1923, Tokyo had a population of about three million. Today it is approaching thirty million. Nobody cares to guess how many people might die, but the potential economic cost has been put as high as $7 trillion.

The recent Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami may have mostly spared Tokyo, but damn. I wonder if it counts as getting rid of that strain beneath the surface. If it does, I guess possibly $309 billion in damage and anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 deaths is preferable to $7 trillion and hundreds of thousands of casualties.

The book is wonderful, by the way, even if it’s more of a relatively short science book (considering the breadth of topics covered) which explains our knowledge about the universe and how we came to realize such things, as opposed to a massive history tome like Europe: A History. Bryson is a very entertaining author who obviously did an insanely amount of research to put together the book.

Your Randomly Heard In A Bar Song Of The Week

2011 April 20

Radiohead – Lotus Flower

I was on a posting hiatus when the new Radiohead album came out. Maybe if it was a life-changing piece of art like some fans regard each of their albums, I would have bothered to throw up some words on it. Don’t get me wrong, I love about half of their catalog, but Amnesiac is pretty garbage. But to come back around to talking about their newest output, The King of Limbs, it’s definitely a slow, minimalist album that most people think has more in common with Thom Yorke’s solo work than Radiohead’s past music. If I had listened to The Eraser more than once maybe I could relay my opinion. I like this song, though, and hearing it at the bar along with some other good tunes like “Bloodbuzz Ohio” from The National helped me forget that my friend actually asked me, “So did you see ‘Atlas’ this weekend?” I shouldn’t have to explain why that is at once both amusing and depressing.