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The Two-Day Hangover: Smashing Blumpkins -- Melancholy And The Infinite Badness

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I never let on, that I was on a sinking ship
I never let on that I was down
You blame yourself, for what you can't ignore
You blame yourself for wanting more

--Smashing Pumpkins, "Zero"

Prior to Sunday's kickoff, I was talking to DisplacedTexan (nee Evan) about how neither of us was looking forward to the game.  We agreed that a loss, most likely in heartbreaking fashion, was nearly inevitable, and Evan said this was the first time he could recall ever just wanting the end of a game to get here so he could move on with his day.  I had to agree; numb or not, this was not something I wanted to spend my Sunday doing.  There was so much other stuff I could do --- yard work, going for a run, playing with the kids, smashing each of my toes with a ball peen hammer, etc. --- and all of those options seemed a better use of my time and emotions.

I watched anyway. 

We always watch, because we can't ignore this team. No matter how horribly coached they are, no matter how recalcitrant the people in charge are when it comes to making a move that needs to be made, no matter how inadequate the secondary, and no matter how sure we are that they will curbstomp our souls yet again.  We watch even when, after the Texans took a four-point lead, any excitement about the comeback was outweighed by the dreadful realization that there were still :58 seconds on the clock.

Frank Bush will still be coaching your Texans' "defense" this week.  Brice McCain and Eugene Wilson will still be on the Texans' roster.  None of us will feel confident about our chances, regardless of the quarterback issues in Methopotamia.

But we'll watch anyway.  And I kind of hate us for that.


Yards Arian Foster is on pace to rush for in 2010.  At his current pace (100.4 yards/game), Foster would break Steve Slaton's franchise record (1,282) at some point in the second half of the team's thirteenth game.  Throw in receiving yards and Foster is on pace for 2,211 total yards, which would be the 20th best single-season total ever.  I realize the problems in assuming "if he continues this pace," but I think it's worth noting that he's even ON such a pace after 10 games.

Foster is also on pace for 19 rushing TDs, which would shatter the existing club record of 13 (Domanick Williams, 2004), and for 21 total TDs, which would similarly destroy the current club record of 14 (Williams again).


Average rushing yards given up per game by five of our final six opponents (Tennessee twice, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Jacksonville).  Meaning that, if Foster is going to get 1,600 plus yards this year, he's going to earn it.  Even if we include the porous Denver run defense, the average only goes up to 110.7 ypg.

Oooh, yeah, touch me there!

By now, you'd have to be Amish not to have heard about the whole TSA/body scanner/pat down/junk touching hullabaloo.  (And, if you are Amish, what the hell are you doing reading an internet column? COMPUTERS ARE OF THE DEVIL! RUN, MORDECAI, RUN!!!)

Anyway, I'm not here to discuss whether the scan/frisk/whatever is an unncessary or improper violation of the Fourth Amendment or anything else.  My own opinion is that it's silly to continue to design systems that aim to catch the previous attacker, as if terrorists plan to do the same thing over and over, but whatever.

I want to address this whole issue in a different context: namely, the contention by those who oppose the scanners that, the radiation from the scanners can cause cancer.  This is simply untrue, and it does nothing to further what is a legitimate debate regarding privacy versus safety.

First, some numbers.  Estimates by science types like the Health Physics Society (i.e. NOT the manufacturers of the scanners) put the absorbed dose of radiation from one of these machines at .005 - .009 mrem.  For the sake of comparison, know that a dose of 100 rem (Rontgen equivalent man) is generally considered the minimum that would trigger any kind of illness from acute radiation poisoning. So the dose you receive from the body scanner is 9.0 × 10-5 less than the minimum dangerous dosage.

But, just for kicks, let's assume that the scientific estimates were off by a full order of magnitude, and the upper estimate for the absorbed dose is .09 mrem rather than .009.  Would that make a difference?  In a word, no.

.09 mrem is an amazingly small amount of radiation.  I mean, moving from sea level to Denver would increase your yearly exposure to radiation by about 50 mrem.  You would have to stand in the body scanner 555 times to equal that change, yet no one is screaming about the dangers of people moving to Denver.  Hell, the actual flight you are going through the scanner to catch will expose you to an average dose of about 1 mrem for each 3 hours of flight time, which, of course, is a little over 11 times higher than the scanner dose.  And, remember, all of these numbers are calculated after we assume that the scientists whose job it is to measure such things were off by a factor of ten.  If they are not incorrect, it could very well be that your relocation from the Outer Banks to Denver subjects you to a yearly radiation dose 10,000 times greater than a single body scan.

A tangent of this argument is "won't someone think of the pilots?!"  Specifically, the argument goes, pilots have to go through the scanners 3 or 4 times per day, some as much as 200 days per year, so that adds up to as much as 72 mrem.  Which is true.  Which is still less than the 100 mrem/year limit for general members of the public set by 10 C.F.R. 20.1301.  But if we are so concerned with the extra 72 mrem (on top of the 200 mrem from the actual flight, assuming a three-hour average and assuming our original order-of-magnitude mistake) pilots could receive each year, then we can probably just exempt pilots completely --- unless we are so amazingly paranoid as to think that a commercial pilot would smuggle an explosive or weapon on the plane rather than, I dunno, smash the plane into something if he was really trying to be a terrorist.

Look, like I said, I think the privacy debate is wholly legitimate and worth having.  I just can't stand hearing people try to bolster an argument against this (or anything) with demonstrably bad science.


Yards per game given up by the Houston Texans' defense.  Only Washington, at 411.1 is worse.  However, if we remove the Texans-Redskins game, so that neither team "benefits" in this comparison from their own offensive performance, Houston still clocks in at 407.7, while Washington falls to 398.3.

The Frank Bush Era, ladies and gentlemen!


Number of halves in which Houston has held an opponent to single digits in scoring.  It occurred in the second half of week two against the aforementioned Redskins, when the defense surrendered only 7 points thanks to Bernard Pollard's blocked field goal and Kubiak's successful icing of Graham Gano.


Number of halves in which Houston has been held to single digits in scoring.

Vroom! Swoosh!

Can someone explain to me how multiple Jets players running around, arms out, pretending that they are airplanes, is not a penalty for choreographed group celebration?  I don't even say that as someone who thinks that's about the lamest TD celebration I've ever seen, but as someone who doesn't see the difference between doing that and doing some other multiple-person act following a score.

And now, a list of all NCAA FBS quarterbacks with more than 1,500 rushing yards in a single season

Denard Robinson, Michigan, 2010

/quietly hopes Cam Newton is ruled ineligible

Bizarro Line

The Texans ran two completely different defensive line units out there at various times Sunday.  One was your standard Mario Williams, Amobi Okoye, Shaun Cody, and Antonio Smith.  The other was Mark Anderson, Damione Lewis, Earl Mitchell, and Tim Jamison.  Now, while Lewis did notch a sack in that alternate unit, I think I speak for all of us when I say that personnel groupings that exclude Mario when he is not in need of a rest should be stricken from the playbook.

Speaking of Lewis, I would pay $500 for him to replace Shaun Cody at 1-technique.  If we're stuck with smallish NTs, at least give me the one with the lower center of gravity.


On the final drive, with the Jets lacking any timeouts and :24 seconds on the clock, the Jets lined up with Braylon Edwards out wide to the right and Brad Smith in the slot beside Edwards.  Smith ran a deep post while Braylon worked up the sideline.  Eugene Wilson had deep responsibility on that side of the field.

I mentioned that the Jets had no timeouts, right?  Just wanted that to be clear.

Anyway, Jason Allen positioned himself just inside Braylon's left shoulder, "forcing" Edwards to go to the sideline like he wanted to.  Wilson then faced two options --- roll over the top of Edwards, who was already behind Allen and streaking up the sideline, or bite on the Brad Smith route toward the middle of the field (and moving AWAY from Wilson).

No timeouts, remember.

At the snap, Wilson drifts toward Edwards, but, when Sanchez looks toward Smith for a split second, Wilson turns his hips and takes two steps that direction.  Now, I'm not saying that Wilson would have actually made a play on that ball to Edwards had he not gone the wrong way briefly, but he was only about two strides from Edwards when the ball was caught, so Wilson would have at least been in a position to make a play.

When Sanchez looks toward Smith, there are :20 seconds remaining.  On the pass earlier in the drive to LaDainian Tomlinson for 19 yards, 8 seconds elapsed between when Tomlinson was tackled and when Sanchez spiked the ball.  And that was on a dump-off pass, with Sanchez and the offensive linemen running after Tomlinson during the play.  Smith was already nearly 20 yards downfield when Sanchez looked toward him, meaning he'd have likely caught the ball around 24 or 25 yards downfield at the Texans' 23.  Assuming about three seconds for the flight of the ball and a quick tackle (a bold assumption, I know) of Smith, that puts the clock at :17.  Seventeen seconds in which Sanchez, who threw the ball from the Jets' 45, and the entire offensive line, who were all on the Jets' side of the 50 when the ball was released, to run 30+ yards, get set, and spike the ball.  Even if they do it, they are only going to have time for one shot from 23 yards away rather than two or more shots from 6 yards out.

Point being: I DON'T CARE IF MARK SANCHEZ YELLED, "BRAD! BRAD! I'M THROWING TO YOU, BRAD!", THERE WAS NO REASON IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE FOR EUGENE WILSON TO FOLLOW A WIDE RECEIVER TOWARD THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD IN THAT SITUATION.  (This becomes even more true when you consider that there's no way Wilson would have made the play on a much faster Brad Smith running away from him.)

I hate you, Eugene Wilson.  I hate you with the white-hot intensity of a supernova with gonorrhea.

Speaking of Hate...

With names and identifying facts changed to preserve anonymity, I present a real email sent from a reader to certain church leaders.

Subject: There are things you need to hear

Lumbergh and Dom,
I will first begin by saying that I have just heard the news and that this e-mail is not in any way being solicited by my mom.  For she simply has too much dignity to tell you both what you need to hear. 
I, however, do not have any such qualms.
You are both a disgrace to the Church and to the concept of Christianity. 
While I recognize that you may have had personality conflicts with my mom, and that you may have had communications issues on how her job is to be done -- to fire her from her job on the Monday before Thanksgiving (after she put in three hours at work on a Sunday preparing for upcoming services) is one of the coldest and cruelest acts of humanity I have ever heard. 
We all know that you are not paying her exorbitant sums of money, so she was by no means a financial burden to the church.  Keeping her employed at least through the holidays would not have affected the Church's budget in any way.  You know this, I know this, my mom knows this ... but only the two of you had so little heart that you did not care. We also know that my mom put in many hours of often grueling and time-consuming work to help a church she truly believed in (note the past tense).  Instead, you exploited her good nature and her dedication and tossed her aside when it no longer suited your needs.  This is pathetic.
Lumbergh, what is there to say?  This is why no one liked you when we were kids.  If you truly had problems with how she was doing her job, you could have talked to my mom directly instead of constantly going over her head and backstabbing her by complaining to others on the staff.  Your passive-aggressive approach reflects more upon you than it does upon her.  At the very least, you failed in your job as her supervisor by letting it get to this point. 
Dom, you are also not blameless here.  It's bad enough that you allow Lumbergh to bully you into this decision.  Have a backbone, my friend.  What's worse is that you supposedy preach kindness and understanding -- especially during the holidays when you implore the congregation to perform acts of kindness for random strangers and to love everyone.  I hope you realize that what you did today makes you a true hypocrite.  In fact, I want you to remember this moment and this e-mail every time you preach about being a true Christian.  For you fail at that.  You have now joined the infamous pantheon of fraudulent ministers at Church of the PC Load Letter.  Bob Slydell and Bob Porter are your contemporaries in being charlatans to the true believers. 
Again, my mom was too nice to tell you this when you gave her the news today.  I am not.  I've known for many years that organized religion is not to be trusted.  Thank you for once again proving my point.  This is why my brother and I no longer have anything to do with the Church.  You and your kind have long-since shown your true colors to us.  My mom, however, is a dedicated Christian and has been a member of the Church longer than both of you.  Yet your actions today suggest that you simply do not care.  For this I am not surprised, but you have now left a woman alone and without any source of income -- the very type of person the Church is to embrace, but you instead shun because you think you are better than her.  They had a name for these people in the Bible:  they were called Pharisees.
In short, you can both go f*** yourselves.

Peter Gibbons
Former Member



Number of sacks Mario Williams had on Sunday.  He had 1.5 in the seven previous games.  Nice of you to show up there, big guy!

Speaking of Mario, last week, discussing his low sack total during that period, I wrote, "For the life of me, I can't figure out why he's been so lackluster, either."  Benevolent king of SBN Houston Rivers McCown correctly pointed that (a) Mario is still having an impact and (b) has been battling a hip injury.

I Wouldn't Say I "Missed" Him, Bob

Daryl Sharpton getting the start at weakside linebacker on Sunday was a welcome sight.  No, Sharpton was not perfect, but the mistakes he made were the of the type you'd expect from a rookie in his first start.  You would not expect those same errors from, say, a four-year veteran with multiple seasons of starting under his belt.  Unless you are an imbecile who has no business coaching an NFL team.

Which is why I have no doubt that Zac Diles will be back in the starting lineup as soon as possible.

I'm Not Sayin', I'm Just Sayin'

Underreported story:  Brian Cushing, post-suspension, has not been anywhere near the impact player that Brian Cushing, pre-suspension, was.  Case in point, Cushing met Tomlinson in the Jets' backfield, with Tomlinson more or less at a stand-still looking to make a cut.  Cushing wrapped him up ... and was then carried about two yards before a gang tackle completed the play.  One of my knocks on Cushing was always that he had yet to blow up a play hitting a full-speed running back head-on.  You could, however, always trust him to knock the hell out of someone when he had a clean shot from the side.

Rounding Out the Linebacker Discussion

Nice game from Lyndon Veins Johnson (aka Kevin Bentley).  He seems comfortable in the middle and his interception would have been even more impressive had the Texans been able to punch that ball in and put the team up 8. Alas.

Oh, speaking of what might've been, I'd like to think that the Texans would have gone for two had they scored a TD with a one-point lead, as a failure still leaves you up 7 while a successful 2-pt attempt would have put the game away.  Too bad we all know that a 2-pt conversion would not even have crossed the coaching staff's collective minds in that situation.

To those who would say, "no way, you kick and force the Jets to have to complete a 2-pt conversion to tie," I would point you to the 8-yard cushion given to Braylon Edwards by Brice McCain on a play from the 4-yard line, and I raise you "really, you want to trust that defense to stop someone in overtime?"

TXT MSGS of the Week

DisplacedTexan, following an open-field cut by Arian Foster

Hey, Revis, your jock is in Foster's locker if you want it back!

Tim, being rather prescient

Oh, and the Jets will get the back back with :45 seconds left.  It ain't over.

Paul, after the Jets' final drive

Think of LB, Sophia, Gabe ... walk away from the toaster and the bathtub.

grungegave, being existential

Do you think that deep down Eugene Wilson knows that he sucks?

Come On You Spurs!

As a way to distract myself from thinking about the Texans during the 162 hours each week that they are not playing and I am not writing this post, one of the things I've turned to is Barclay's Premier League soccer.  This past weekend, my favorite team, Tottenham Hotspur took on arch rival Arsenal at Arsenal.  However, despite falling behind 0-2 in Texans-ish fashion, Spurs rallied back in the second half and held on to win 3-2.

So, yeah, my Saturday was much better than my Sunday.


Two music recommendations --- one hip-hop and one that kind of fits the mood of Texans fans --- from my buddy, Paul.

Das Racist, "hahahaha jk?"

Slowdive, "Dagger"

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.