The New York Times had a feature story today on Stanford QB Andrew Luck. It says exactly what you’d expect: he’s smart (on and off the field), he’s got first-round potential and he hugely admires Coach Harbaugh. As a side note, I have been an Andrew Luck fan before he even arrived on The Farm.
ESPN also had its PAC-10 preview, which was also was about exactly as you’d expect: it’ll be a tight race to the finish, Jake Locker and Andrew Luck will be battling for the Top QB herald and Oregon might still be a threat despite their team’s inability to stay out of police custody.
Both items also had their own surprises. In the New York Times article, Andrew Luck’s dad, Oliver, made a very good point about Harbaugh:
Jim has taken Stanford kids — and they all come from pretty good families; I’m sitting in the parents’ section with doctors and lawyers — and he’s convinced them they are a group of lunch-pail, blue-collar, smack-you-in-the-face, union kind of guys. I just love the irony of that. It’s the last school you would anticipate where you could create that.
He’s totally right.
In the ESPN clip, the commentators claim that USC and Oregon are the schools to watch — Lane Kiffin will have his struggles, and the arrests across just about every position at Oregon will have their effect. But the surprise is at the end: Stanford is the (dark-horse) pick to represent the PAC-10 at the-bowl-which-must-not-be-named.
He is also totally right.
In a year where you really can make an argument for any one of 7 or 8 teams to win the PAC-10 title, it’ll be a great football season.
And Andrew Luck will be a huge part of all the story lines.
I found myself reading a number of articles on Ars Technica today. The first was a good run-down of what Comcast already owns in the face of its controlling stake in NBC. The second was an exciting look at the future of WiFi and the 1 Gbps speeds we can soon look forward to. Finally, Ars examined the history of YouTube, not only from a cultural perspective but also from a tech/policy standpoint.
Without endorsing endorsing or distancing myself from Christopher Hitchens, this piece on Palin is notable. I agree that it is absurd to see she has jumped on the “birther” bandwagon and all that, but what I like is the word Hitchens created:
…I pointed out the crude way in which she tried to Teflon-ize herself when allegations of weird political extremism were made against her (emphasis CLT).
In other news, we (the Stanford Cardinal) will be playing in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on New Year’s eve (yay!) but without star redshirt quarterback, and Texas native, Andrew Luck (not-so-yay). That could be bad news bears. It could also mean that Toby will step up like he always does and account for 900 all-purpose yards. We’ll see.
Politics: Barack says he wants to use TARP money to stimulate the economy and put on some public works projects; the GOP goes all crazy. We’ve already put aside the money…people are looking for employment…Wall Street is in better shape (or at least so it seems): I think the Dems are right to fight for this money to be used intelligently.
CNet compiles a nice list of free holiday MP3s across the Web: 29 of which come from Amazon, including some titles by Lady GaGa and others.
Lifehacker shares a nice iTunes alternative, something I’m always happy to read more about.
I find it hilarious and also smart for AT&T to offer its “Mark the Spot” app in the App Store (iTunes link). It’sfunny because it’s an admission by the carrier that their service is, well, somewhat lacking. And it’s smart because it makes it at the very least appear like they’ll do something about it. Plus it’s a nice little community crowd-sourcing project which I think is a smart play.
But here’s what I don’t get: how it’s supposed to work. Let’s say I’m walking through Manhattan and I get to the corner and — BOOM! — service drops out. The very important business call that I was on is now terminated. I am mad. But, at least AT&T hopes, I fire up the app to report the spot as problematic. EXCEPT WE JUST SAID I DON’T HAVE ANY SERVICE. So riddle me this: how does a location-based app for reporting service dead zones work? I could walk down the street until my little EDGE or 3G icon reappears, but by that point, the whole idea of a GPS-tagged submission is gone. It’s all somewhat funny to me, and unless I’m missing something, AT&T is either going to have lots of frustrated customers trying unsuccessfully to report spotty (get it?) service, or lots of dead zone tags from nearby-but-not-quite-right locations.
Finally, today was a big day at Google*. Two huge announcements of (1) real-time search and (2) Google Goggles.
For real-time search, it’s a fantastic feature and the implementation could not be better, IMHO. There is lots of (far better) coverage across the Web on this, but I think it’s great.
Goggles is also an interesting product, and its launch was kind of buried by in a number of other big mobile announcements. The fact that is basically has augmented reality is also really really cool. This video does the best job of quickly and clearly communicating what exactly it is:
**NB: Just to be clear, none of my comments on anything at Google relate in any way to my employer. I’m just a guy, writing about and commenting on tidbits I find across the Web. Nothing here is an endorsement or Company position. I know you probably know this, but I wanted to put it in writing.
Tags: amazon, andrew luck, at&t, augmented reality, barack obama, birther, CNet, comcast, el paso, google goggles, hitchens, itunes, lady gaga, lifehacker, mp3, nbc, palin, real-time search, sarah palin, stanford football, sun bowl, TARP, texas, toby for heisman, toby gerhart, wifi, YouTube
As was just mentioned in the CBS broadcast of Oudin’s 4th round match against #13 Nadia Petrova (a victory), Oudin’s story is a great one but not just for the normal reasons of a young upstart whippersnapper who can keep up with (and beat) the big names in tennis.
A large part of why she is so fun to watch– and cheer for– is that she is a small, technically-sound player whose strengths are mental fortitude and solid footwork. She does not have the height of 6’2″ Maria Sharapova (whom she beat in the 3rd round) and while she moves well on the court, her killer strength is not pure “speed.”
Oudin’s got a big game and she would be a big story regardless of her Cinderella run: at #70, she’s the #3 American on the WTA behind the Williams sisters and is thus cast as the next rising star in US tennis on the women’s side. (Remember the golden years of the 90′s when we had Seles, Capriati, Davenport; Chang, Sampras, Agassi?).
In the end, a key takeaway from Oudin’s success is that playing the fundamentals– good, solid strokes and quick, efficient footwork– can compete in an age of tennis where power and racket speed seem to otherwise dominate the game.