February 2008 Archives

*Really* Stupid Mac::Glue Tricks

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I keep all my music in lossless format (unless acquired compressed, such as through iTunes Music Store), so I am guaranteed it will sound perfect on my home systems, and so if I ever want to re-encode, I have the originals: no need to re-rip.

I have a pair of Perl scripts that convert those lossless files to 128 kbps AAC for use on the iPods. The first script will mount the drive of the iPod computer over the network, and compress any lossless file (using Mac::Glue/iTunes) that does not exist on the remote drive, or if it does exist, if it was last modified since the modification date of the lossless file. It will also straight copy any non-lossless file, and then write out text file representations of my playlists.

On the remote computer, the original computer's drive is mounted, and the first thing it does is look to make sure that every file in its directories exists on the original drive. If not, it deletes the file. Then it goes through iTunes (again, with Mac::Glue) and removes any library tracks whose file is missing from the filesystem. Then it adds any files from the filesystem missing in the library, and finally, recreates the playlists.

So last weekend I ran the first program, then the second. I came back to find the entire iPod library gone. What had happened is that the mount failed somehow, but the directory for it was there, so it was looking for the original files in an empty directory, and deleting files that didn't match, which was all of them.


So now I am recreating the whole library, which is a simple -- but very slow -- matter of re-running the first program, then the second. I estimate it will take about 3-4 days, running nonstop (it's a G4/867 doing the main encoding job), for about 8500 files, with maybe 6000 or so of those needing encoding.

Of course, I patched the second program to make sure that the mount point really is there. A simple matter of looking for the existence of a directory or file that will absolutely be there if the mount is correct, and will not be created by the program -- so should not exist -- if it is not.

I run the first program again. Everything is basically fine ... until my local hard drive fills up.

Same problem again, on the other side: the mount failed, and so it is copying files TO the wrong place: the local drive.

At least I didn't lose much time: I move those files out of the way, mount the remote drive, and copy them into place. Then I patch the second program in the same basic way, and run it again.

Hopefully it all works this time. I've run these programs many times over the last few years, and then two failures of the same type on different machines in the same week. Weird. use.perl.org

Senator Haugen Blows Off U.S. 2, Too

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Like her Democratic colleagues in the House, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10) -- chair of the Transportation Committee -- refused to put any money for much-needed safety improvements for U.S. 2 into the budget. Haugen earmarked $95 million for her own district, including $82 million for Highway 532 (which leads from I-5, through Stanwood, to her home on Camano Island) and $13 million ($10 million more than the House and governor requested) for an Amtrak station (also in Stanwood).

Sen. Val Stevens (R-39) proposed an amendment to divert the $13 million for the Amtrak station to road widening on U.S. 2. Haugen, of course, led Democrats to vote it down.

I live right off 532. I know it needs improvements, and I welcome them. But I also know that U.S. 2 sees more traffic and more death and therefore is obviously more important. Just one month ago, Haugen seemed to agree, saying "safety must be the highest priority of our state transportation system."

Speaking of projects to improve U.S. 2, specifically, she said, "Everyone, including me, is in favor of getting these projects done. The catch is that no one I have spoken to can provide me with a realistic source for the $2 billion it would take to fund all of these projects at once. Until someone does, we'll have to prioritize how we allocate our limited transportation dollars between these projects, and similar projects all over the state."

By "between these projects, and similar projects all over the state," Haugen apparently meant "not any of these projects, but instead, nearly $100 million for transportation near my home."

She concluded: "I feel the frustration along with everyone else who gets stuck in traffic. My commute from Camano Island to Olympia during the legislative session takes me through some of the most congested miles of highway in our state -- in Everett, Seattle and Tacoma. I get stuck in traffic just like everyone else, and agree that we need to work toward reducing congestion on our highways -- but not at the risk of sacrificing safety."

Unfortunately, reducing congrestion at the risk of sacrificing safety is precisely what Haugen is doing. slashdot.org

Democrats Fail on U.S. 2 Safety

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When the Democrats on the House transportation committee refused to vote on three proposals to fund U.S. 2 improvements that are intended to save lives, Democrats said ""We are going to do something on Highway 2 this session in our budget."

Today we find out what they put in the budget for U.S. 2: one mile of passing lane.

In a transportation budget of $7 billion dollars, a mere $5 million -- 0.07 percent of that budget -- is going to fix what Rep. Dan Kristiansen correctly calls "the state's deadliest highway" ... on a small stretch of that highway that has never experienced a fatality.

That's "something," alright. I am not quite sure what it is, but it's "something."

Democrats tell us that we should vote for Democrats if we want to see U.S. fixed. My question is simple: on what basis should we believe they would, when they are in power, and don't? slashdot.org

King County Breaks State Election Law

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For the presidential preference primary last week, King County gave out a single ballot for the Republican and Democratic parties. So if you signed on the sheet for one party or the other, when you voted, you could choose to vote for either party.

This violates RCW 29A.56.050, which states:

(2) If requested by a major political party, the secretary of state shall adopt rules under RCW 29A.04.620 to provide for any declaration required by that party.

(3) Voters who subscribe to a specific political party declaration under this section must be given ballots that are readily distinguishable from those given to other voters. Votes cast by persons making these declarations must be tabulated and reported separately from other votes cast at the primary and may be used by a major political party in its allocation of delegates under the rules of that party.

Sherril Huff talks about how separate ballots are more confusing for voters (I don't see how having only the choices that the voter chose to have available to themselves could be MORE confusing), and higher costs, but that doesn't change the fact that state law clearly states that voters who sign one party's declaration must be given a separate ballot than other voters.

Whatever reasons Huff thinks she has for doing it this way, it doesn't justify breaking the law. slashdot.org

It's All Over

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Yesterday, a former giant's reign was permanently laid to rest. It was long over and we'd all just assumed it was going to happen eventually, so the long overdue announcement was no surprise. It lasted a lot longer than many thought it would.

Am I talking about Fidel Castro, or HD-DVD? slashdot.org

Teamsters Endorse Obama

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The Teamsters have endorsed Barack Obama, most likely because Obama denies the right of employers to hire and fire at will. According to Obama's own Blueprint for Change (pdf), he is for the Employee Free Choice Act, but oddly, does not believe in the free choices of employers: "Obama will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers."

Free choice for everyone who isn't those guys!

Read Obama's Blueprint. Many people think Obama will have more crossover appeal than Clinton, but Obama denies the rights of employers; thinks a college education is not a privilege but a right (which means you are going to be paying for it); wants to ban all civilian concealed carry except for retired law enforcement (Second Amendment be damned); wants to take our money to make a five-star rating system for credit cards (because we are too stupid to choose a credit card without government's help); the list goes on. And I didn't even begin to mention his foreign policy.

He would be, bar none, the most leftist major party candidate for President in this nation's history. If this election is about issues, then Obama wouldn't stand a chance. I'd say that I want him to be the Democratic nominee, but I am not at all certain that this election will be about issues ... slashdot.org

In a guest commentary in the Herald, Snohomish County Councilman Dave Somers is telling us that because "vehicle emissions comprise half of the state's greenhouse gases that fuel global warming," that therefore we should "devise ways that allow us to live prosperously while driving less."

Somers' main point is that we should reduce "car-dependent sprawl," that is, that we should all live in cities so we can reduce resource consumption.

The message is clear: your quality of life doesn't matter nearly as much as slavish belief in unsubstantiated claims about anthropogenic global warming.

We shouldn't try to come up with solutions to problems that will improve our quality of life; instead, we should solve problems by reducing our quality of life. Make no mistake: the point here is opposition to all change, except change that reverses our positive direction. Forward is backward. Up is down. Progress is regress.

Somers wants HB 2797 to pass, an ignorantly written bill that proffers the false claim that "the effects of global warming are becoming evident in Washington, adversely affecting its residents, economy, and environment."

That's a claim that even the UN's IPCC dismisses, as it has not been able to link events or effects to global warming: in their words, "[i]t is likely [i.e., greater than 66% probability] that anthropogenic warming has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems." They continue: "Limitations and gaps prevent more complete attribution of the causes of observed system responses to anthropogenic warming. First, the available analyses are limited in the number of systems and locations considered. Second, natural temperature variability is larger at the regional than the global scale, thus affecting identification of changes due to external forcing."

In other words, the IPCC is basically saying: "what we see in the evironment is mostly consistent with the theory of man-made-CO2-caused global warming, but we don't have nearly enough data, or understanding, to come to a serious conclusion."

How can the legislature be certain of something that our world's top group of pro-global warming scientists say cannot be certain? Simple: truth does not matter to the regressives. It's the ends, not the means. If the argument works, it is right, whether it is true or not.

This is Washington State. No one here wants to destroy our beautiful forests, and everyone wants to decrease pollution. But we also want to live well, not just "prosperously." I can't enjoy the forest if I live in the city, both because I won't see it very much, and because even when I do, I'll be so completely stressed and depressed by my living conditions that it will provide little solace.

I don't like cars much. I work at home in large part because I hate being on the road. But it is necessary, because I'll be damned if I am going to live in, or near, a city. You think us gun-toting rural individualistic citizens are scary now? Wait until we all go crazy from having to live in an urban area.

That's not meant as a threat, of course, but just a reminder that the colonies went to war over significantly less than the right to own and improve land. And they weren't driven mad by living in a duplex or townhouse.

If you like living in the city, great. If that is for you, then that is for you. The point is not that you shouldn't live in the city, but that each of us makes our own choices, and the government doesn't make those choices for us. That's what liberty means. It's astonishing to me that people out there still insist that it's Republicans that want to control people's lives, when the Democrats prove every day with bills like this that they want to completely control our lives right down to what we are allowed to buy, drive, eat, and live in.

Maybe it won't be so bad; the Democrats will probably just force us to take antidepressants to address our "anti-social" behavior. And I wish that sounded a lot more like hyperbole than it does. slashdot.org

I was checking out the story that the band REM is releasing 11 videos for its latest song under the Artistic License 2.0. Very neat. Check it all out on the song's web site.

Someone noted that they are not going all the way and offering the audio for free, but of course, it's in the video, so I looked at the audio of the downloaded files: 16 bits, 48 kHz. Slightly better quality than the 16 bits, 44.1 kHz of CDs. Also very neat.

But then on the first track, "Studio #1," I noticed some dropouts. I opened the audio file up and saw this:

REM Studio #1

There are four gaps at about 1:23 (only one shown). This goes on throughought the song (including more gaps later, such as at 2:20 and 2:30).

Each track has different audio, though it is all of the same song. Some of the other tracks with the studio audio are messed up in various ways. Some are totally overcranked. Track 11 might be hork-worthy. Maybe a little soft, but better than a little clipped (or, like track 10, almost completely clipped).

From the episode Trans-Fascism, which makes fun of both socialists and not (but far more the former than the latter):

HANK: "The last thing Arlen needs is a food ban."
COUNCILWOMAN: "Are you saying are FOR childhood obesity?"
HANK: "No, of course not."
COUNCILMAN: "I'll have you know my son is obese!"
HANK: "Calm down. I'm not saying trans fats are good for you. But banning them isn't going to solve all those problems."
CITIZEN: "Tell that to that guy's poor, pathetic, fat kid!"
HANK: "The government should not be deciding what we have the right to eat. Besides, all sorts of foods can make you sick: rare burgers, raw oysters ... if you ban trans fats, you might as well ban that stuff too."
COUNCIL: "Fantastic idea. Let's ban raw oysters and rare burgers too. All in favor? AYE!"


DALE: "I wish the government would just ban itself!"
BILL: "I'm just glad the government is keeping me safe. Now I can snack my way to a healthier me! ... You don't have to worry about me anymore, Hank. The government is doing that now."


MR. STRICKLAND: "We in the illegal food business!"
HANK: "I'm not sure that's a good idea."
MR. STRICKLAND: "It's a great idea! I'll be just like Joe Kenendy running whiskey during prohibition! Which helped him become the father of a President!"
HANK: "Well I like the sound of that, but you could get in a lot of trouble."
MR. STRICKLAND: "You said the food bans were un-American? What's more American than breaking an unjust law? This is a fight for freedom, Ol' Top!"
HANK: "I'll do it ... for America."


BOBBY: "Donuts were one of my little joys. If the government takes away puppy breath and really good yawns, I'll have nothing left to live for."


HANK: "I'm trying to change the law."
PEGGY: "Of course you are. And good luck with that."


HANK: "What can I get you sir?"
CUSTOMER: "I - I got a choice?"
HANK: "Well, you do here, friend."
CUSTOMER: "Hey, they've got all the banned food in there!"
MR. STRICKLAND: "That's right! Remember to tell your friends about us. Sugarfoot's Express: the food you want, at a price that reflects the risk involved!"


DALE: "I can't take it! I'm dying for a raw oyster! I never liked them before, but now that they're contraband I MUST HAVE THEM!"


BILL: "They banned that food to save us! Think about it, Hank! If they government isn't deciding what we can and can't eat, who will, huh, who?!"


HANK: "Ted? But the food bans were your idea."
TED: "A contradiction on the surface, but unlike many, I have the discipline to enjoy such indulgences."
KAHN: "That's right, Hank Hill, Ted Wassonasong better than you!"
TED: "Perhaps it is education, perhaps breeding. The debate rages on." slashdot.org

Democrats vs. Republicans

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Many Democrats have been coming out in the wake of the GOP caucus in Washington claiming that in the GOP, it is the "elite" and "party bosses" who keep down the "average voter." The reasoning is hard to follow; they say that because the delegates are not committed to any candidate, that the delegates somehow become "elite" or "party bosses" and no longer represent "average voters."


Let's see.

In the Republican Party here in Washington, no one is required to pay dues. In Washington's Democratic Party, people who wish to be members, who are not PCOs, are required (by the "elite" "party bosses") to pay dues.

In the Republican Party, the precincts decide for themselves on what basis to elect their delegates. In the Democratic Party, the precincts are required (by the "elite" "party bosses") to select delegates based on presidential preference.

In the Republican Party, if you choose not to participate in the caucus, you can still have your voice heard by voting in the primary. in the Democratic Party, you are required (by the "elite" "party bosses") to participate in the caucus to have your voice heard.

In the Republican Party, delegates selected by caucus or primary account for 95 percent of the national convention delegates, with the remaining 5 percent "superdelegates." In the Democratic Party, delegates selected by caucus or primary account for only 80 percent of the national convention delegates, with the remaining 20 percent "superdelegates" (the "elite" "party bosses").

I actually don't mind the Democratic system at all. It apparently works for them, and nothing above is intended to be a criticism of that system; it is, rather, a criticism of those Democrats who claim to be more independent of the "elite" "party bosses" than the Republicans. slashdot.org


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i wish the word "I" were spelled with more letters, so that i could shorten it to "i"

Colbert guest Philip Zimbardo says God was wrong, Lucifer was right. Stephen Colbert smacks him down, and gets a big ovation from the audience.

The whole thing is interesting, but this exchange is at the end, starting at the end, with 1:00 left.

ZIMBARDO: "If God was into reconciliation, he would have said 'I made a mistake.' God created hell. Paradoxically, it was God who created Hell as a place to put Lucifer and the fallen angels, and had he not created Hell, then evil would not exist."

COLBERT: "Evil exists because of the disobedience of Satan. God gave Satan, the angels, and man, free will; Satan used his free will and abused it by not obeying authority; hell was created by Satan's disobedience to God and his purposeful removal from God's love, which is what Hell is: removing yourself from God's love."


COLBERT: "You send yourself there, God does not send you there."

ZIMBARDO: "Obviously you learned well in Sunday School."

COLBERT: "I teach Sunday School, motherf****r."

Colbert knows his Christian theology. slashdot.org


People from all over the media, from Josh Marshall to Tim Russert, and Mike Huckabee, are talking about the party declaring a winner, whether it was too soon, and so on. But what the party said about the results literally means nothing at all.

This is clear if you understand the process. The results were released just so that the party could make some news. They have no meaning.

The first thing to understand is that people do not always vote by presidential preference. In my caucus, and in many others in my pooled caucus, presidential preference never even came up. Only two people wanted the two delegate spots, so we nominated them and elected them.

At the precinct caucus next to ours, there were far more participants than delegates, but a similar story: they all knew each other and just said, "well, who wants to go?," and they picked two to nominate and that was it. Presidential preference never even entered into the equation.

Other caucuses were different: a few active Republicans at a precinct caucus a few tables away didn't get elected, because they were outnumbered by Huckabee supporters.

So to portray this as an election for presidential candidates is a complete misunderstanding, worsened by the fact that your stated presidential preference isn't even binding. You could have written down "McCain" on the sign-in sheet (the only record we have) and then changed your mind and said "Romney" in the caucus, and you'd be marked down for McCain.

Or you could have stuck with McCain, but then changed your mind before the county convention. And that's assuming you even GO to county convention: many people won't bother, they are just delegates because no one else wanted to do it. And at county convention, we will split up into legislative districts, and for all we know, McCain supporters could all be from a handful of legislative districts, and then be totally outnumbered at state convention.

For Huckabee to be talking about legal challenges to a completely meaningless result shows that either he has no idea what the results actually mean (nothing), or he is just doing this for show. slashdot.org

Apparently State Senator Steve Hobbs (D-44), whose district is found entirely within Snohomish County, doesn't realize that Snohomish County (like most of Washington State) is all vote-by-mail,* because he introduced a bill asking the federal legislature to make election day a national holiday.

The bill is just completely bizarre in its total inapplicability to Hobbs' own constituents:

WHEREAS, The opportunity to participate in the electoral process, and the act of voting that embodies that opportunity, represent the cornerstone of our democracy, and voters should have ample opportunity to cast meaningful votes

... which they can do for two weeks leading up to election day by mail, or five days in person ...

and WHEREAS, Fostering a high voter turnout is crucial in order to ascertain with greatest certainty the political will of the voting public; and WHEREAS, Voter turnout in Washington's general elections has varied from as high as 82% in presidential elections to as low as 52% in other elections; and WHEREAS, Increasing voter turnout can be directly linked to the ease with which voters can cast their ballots

... which this bill will do nothing to affect ...

and WHEREAS, Although employers are required to allow employees to take time off of work in order to vote, a temporary absence from work may pose hardships for employers, and employees may be reluctant to request time off

... which is absolutely unnecessary ...

and WHEREAS, More public buildings, especially schools, would be available for use as polling places; and more, better trained poll workers, including patriotic high school and college students, might be available to staff polling places on election day

... even though we only have 10 polling places in the entire county anyway, and no shortage of places to put them, or people to staff them ...

Regardless of the merits of the idea, it is very odd to see someone introduce a bill like this that has absolutely no applicability to his own constituents; and when King goes to all-mail, then this would represent Washington State petitioning the federal government to impose a federal holiday on the rest of the nation for something that doesn't have any effect on Washington State.

* I personally don't vote by mail. I never have. I vote in person: Snohomish County always has several days of polling places around the county leading up to election day (what it calles Disabled Access Voting sites) as required by federal law. slashdot.org

pudge posted a photo:

Governor Gregoire Is Emperor Palpatine

That's the Mariner Moose behind the mask.

Repealing The Common School Code

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State Senators Rosemary McAuliffe (D-1), Rodney Tom (R, I mean D-48), Marilyn Rasmussen (D-2), and Joseph Zarelli (R-18) have sponsored a bill, SB 6929, that would repeal the common school code. Almost all of it.

The bill is 76 pages long, and about 75 pages is just listing the nearly 1000 sections of law to repeal. The rest of the bill grants authority to each schol district board to run the schools as it sees fit.

It's a very simple bill. While it is an intersting idea that I am generally in favor of, I am also in favor of following the state constitution, which reads, in part: "The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. The public school system shall include common schools, and such high schools, normal schools, and technical schools as may hereafter be established." I don't think the legislature would be fulfilling its constitutional obligations under such a bill. Then again, however, the Constitution can be amended ...

Note also that in the long list of sections to repeal, no part of 28A.200 is mentioned, which (mostly) protects the rights of homeschoolers. slashdot.org

Liberal Fascism and Daycares

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I was accused of reading a book by Jonah Goldberg the other day when I linked liberals to fascism. I am not now reading, nor have I ever read, a book by Jonah Goldberg.

Not that I have anything against him or anything. But I don't know much about his book.

But it is hard to think of words other than "fascism" and "communism" when reading about a bill to require that all daycare workers be unionized, and that their dues be subject to being given to Democratic politicians against the will of the workers, especially when the bill has the emergency clause tacked onto it to prevent the people from exercising their Constitutional right to challenge it.

But don't worry, you owners of other businesses, if you feel left out. They'll be coming for you eventually, too. It's only a matter of time before laws are passed to abolish all private employees in this state, and to force all of us to fund the campaigns of Democratic politicians against our will. And fear not: you won't get to challenge any of those laws, either. slashdot.org

It has been widely reported that several months ago, the New England Patriots were heavily penalized by the NFL for, in violation of NFL rules, videotaping the New York Jets' play calling in the first half of the first game of the season.

The NFL made clear that this action did not affect the outcome of any game this season. The question is, did it affect other games in previous seasons? Or did past similar actions affect games this season?

What has gone less reported is the fact that the New York Jets also previously videotaped the Patriots, and that many other teams have also done such videotaping. And what is clear is that the same information could be acquired without violating league rules, by using binoculars and pad-and-pencil, so the advantage of using videotape is at best marginal anyway.

But this has not prevented people from wondering aloud whether the Patriots "cheated" to beat other teams in past years, including the last two teams the Patriots beat to win their last Super Bowl in early 2005 (both from Pennsylvania): the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship, and the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.

But especially the Steelers.

It was a widely practiced activity, and it provided no significant advantage. But, a rule is a rule, and the league wanted to not only enforce the rule, but prevent it from happening again, so they fined the coach half a million dollars, the team a quarter million, and took away the team's first-round draft pick. It's the biggest penalty for a team or coach in league history.

So, most fans recognize the complaining for what it is: sour grapes. Even most Eagles fans and players just shrugged it off and joked about it.

But not the Steelers.

The coach, players, and fans of the Steelers have been very vocal in claiming that the Patriots "must have known" what plays were being called, and strongly implying that the Patriots "cheated," despite no evidence of this existing.

So, they want evidence. But how to get it? Or if you can't get it, at least imply that it might have existed at some point, but there's a coverup, in order to discredit your opponent and try to make yourself feel better about getting beat 41-27 in the title game?

Simple: have your Senator raise the issue in a congressional hearing. And do it two days before the Patriots are set to play in the Super Bowl for the title of Best Team in History, as the only team ever to go 19-0.

So that's what they did. Seantor Arlen Specter (R-Heinz Field) is trying to use whatever means at his disposal to discredit the Patriots' devastating win three years ago over the Steelers and their previously undefeated quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger (hey, I spelled that correctly from memory!).

It's really one of the more descpiable things I've seen in politics. Politics in sports is bad enough (cf. the steroids hearings), but trying to discredit one team in favor of your home team is just incredible. Is it too much to ask of our Senators to act like adults?

I have nightmares of Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) facing off against Senators Specter and Dick Lugar (R-IN) over the credibility of the Patriots' championships. Is this really what our Senate is supposed to be doing?

Granted, I am a lifelong Patriots fan. And it's not like Seahawks fans like the Steelers, either. But most people would recognize this as ridiculous no matter which team was their favorite.

My pick for tomorrow: Patriots over the Giants, 34-17. slashdot.org

My Super Bowl Pick

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When last I made a Super Bowl Pick, I nailed it exactly.

My rationale at the time was basically that every Tom Brady playoff game to that point had been won, and by three points, except games against Indy and Pittsburgh; that the Pats had won every NFL game ever held in February; and that it wouldn't be very high scoring, but each team would get their knocks in.

A lot has changed since then. Brady has still never lost a Super Bowl, but he has since lost both a divisional playoff and conference championship game. They've won games against non-Colts and non-Steelers teams by more than 3 points. And they haven't lost in over a year, while racking up the most points ever scored in a season.

The first two Patriots games this season were won 38-14. Their average points for/against is 37/17 (36/17 including playoffs). While they have not been doing as well lately, having more problems than at the beginning of the season, I think the team is poised to break out the stomping boots. They'll generally control the Giants, who will have a few successful drives, but the day will belong to the Pats, 34-17. slashdot.org

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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