Monday, December 14, 2015

Bus Racing

I started out on my way to work. I 28x zoomed by on a cross street. "Catch my dust". I went down a parallel street, but it was still ahead. We jockeyed for position. Then finally around 70th I pulled ahead. I wasn't going to let it beat me. Then up ahead, I saw little brother, the 28. I passed it somewhere on market.
"You passed my brother, but there's no way you'll beat me downtown. I know that hill will slow you," it said.
"Forget about it!" I said as I passed it.
I got stuck for a while at the light on Leary. It passed me shortly after I turned.
"Haha!" it gloated.
Then it had to stop and pick up passengers, and I got the last word in.
I kept to the Leary route, but then did a "cheat" taking Phiney down to the secret bike way to the Fremont bridge. Ole Mr. 28 was mad at that one. He even called his cousin, the 26 to race ahead down Dexter. Not a chance. The started to pull up close, but as soon as they stopped on one of the islands, I whizzed past. By the downhill it was all over. They weren't even in sight when I crossed the finish line at 5th and Bell.

On the way home, I was hoping for a nice leisurely ride. My back had acted up a little after I crossed 105th a few days ago. I thought an easy route with minimal hills might be best. I kept an easy pace up and down Dexter (and actually got decent lights at Mercer and the Fremont bridge.)
Then I crossed the Fremont bridge, and what was waiting there revving its engine? None other than Mr. 28. He seemed to be waiting a long time there letting off passengers. He was waiting for me.
"Hey! You think you are all hot stuff beating me on the downhill. Remember how I creamed you last time going up?"
"That was unfair. It was late in the day, and your driver barely had any passengers he needed to let off."
"Oh yeah? Unfair. You just mean your slow. I'll race you now. Peak of rush hour. Full buss. No excuses!"
It took off. It passed my for a second on 36th. Then it stopped to pick up passengers and I was ahead. It required some huffing and puffing, but I was not going to let him pass me. The first part is not too steep. However, it starts to get a little steeper approaching Market. The light was red, so I tried to time it to get to Market around the time it turned green. No need to work too hard to get to a red light. (But I have been burned before taking it too easy.)
As I was approaching the light, who would turn right on market? It was none other than big brother, Mr. 28x.
"Ready for a race? You, me at the QFC"
"Your on! I've already left you're brother way back there."
He seemed to wait extra long at Market. He was egging me on to pass him. As soon as I did, he tore ahead.
"I don't even have to stop at 60th! Hasta la vista Baby!" He was gloating as he zoomed ahead to 65th. This seemed to be a hard stretch. That 65th light always seems to be super short - except when it was long. And today it was long. And 28x barely made it before it turned red. D'oh!
I kept pushing, but got stuck on the next cycle. 28x was laughing at me again. I almost caught up at 80th, but again he barely made the light I missed. It was almost a tease. Now it was starting to level out. It was may chance to gain ground. I was close to catching up at 85th, when none other than little brother himself pulled up across the bike lane to let people out. Uggh. Luckily there was enough space to pass the bus and wait for the light to turn green.
I gunned it at the green light. This was the final downhill before the stop sign and the uphill slog to QFC. I had them beat!
Then right as I was passing under Holman, "kerplang, boom!" No! My foot had kicked the pannier and it flying down. There were some things in the street. I had to make sure my gloves and hat were there as well as other things that I keep in there. (Duct tape is a life saver. Some of the other stuff I wonder about.) As I was gather things up and putting it back on, both the 28 and 28x went by.
"Haha! I told you we would win!"
The snarls on their little bus faces almost made me think they were involved in making the pannier fall. (Would I have been so careless to let my heel bump in such a key part of the race?) Oh well. I made it up to the QFC after both buses had already cleared out. And then my back started hurting.

Saturday, October 03, 2015


Brandon Sanderson has a knack for making epic fantasy books that are a joy to read. Elantris was his first widely published book. Elantis was once the home of the magical beings. Being "chosen" to go to Elantris was a special privilege. However, a few years ago, it lost its magic. Now, it is a great curse to be required to join Elantris. (However, it is something that cannot be avoided, because a body "changes" making it obvious that they need to be taken there.)

In the story, a betrothed heir to the throne wakes and finds he is Elantrian. He maintains his leadership skills and continues to learn and build up an "educated" group in Elantris. His fiance (whom he has never met) goes into Elantris to see what is up, and we get plenty of the Shakespearean relationship comedy as they finally work things out. There is also an evil Ninja-priest sect that is trying to overthrow the village and Elantris. Luckily, the heroes (through their learning) figure out why the magic disappeared and help save the day.

It is a long, well-written story with a Rune-based magic system.

Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Chese belong in a healthy diet

This is a "diet" book without being a diet book. It dives deep to understand the science (or the lack thereof) in many of the dietary recommendations today. Many of the heavily pushed recommendations (such as the low-fat diet) were created with flimsy dietary underpinning. However, once the establishment started running with these ideas, the burden of proof was on all challengers to "prove" that their option should even be listened to. (Even more amazing was that these recommendations seemed to go against very well entrenched industries such as beef packers.) This history shows how little you can truly take "government standards" at face value. Science is often very political, with the "best campaigner" often winning out over the "truth".

The author advocates a "high fat, high protein diet". Cholesterol and saturated fat are not the enemies. Bacon and eggs are more filling and provide plenty of nutrients, providing a better path towards weight-loss than low fat candy. (I love how sugary candy advertises that it is "low fat") Snack food producers have gone out of their way to substitute different "fats" because one is deemed healthier at the moment. (Coconut oil? Margarine? Butter?) In the end, the snack is the snack, and the changes are made more for marketing than for our benefit. I like to go with the simple test: 1. Do I enjoy eating it? 2. Do I feel good afterwards. (Now if I would just focus a little more on #2 than #1...)

The Seven Hidden Secrets of Motivation

These hidden secrets of motivation are based on the author's review of scientific literature. (However, he does not go into much detail as to how the review was done.) Religious faith is one of the "Secrets" of motivation, though the other tries to make it clear that a non-religious person could also use this "secret". (He does do a good job of making it accessible to all, but it feels like he does have to do some reaching to get there. There was nothing groundbreaking, but the work was made very accessible.

Fantasy League

This is a lot like his other books. Kid overcomes hardships and has all sorts of great things happen in the world. Kid's sports team wins the championship. And just for drama, some big medical thing is involved. I guess when you write for the young crowd, you can get away with just recycling the same story over and over again. (Is this the boys version of the Rainbow Fairies?)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Free: The Future of a Radical Price

Is giving away something a valid business model? Chris Anderson attempts to show how "free" business models can work. The book contains a lot of interesting anecdotes, but some of material already seems dated, just six years after the publication. However, the "dated" facts actually serve to help his thesis. Some concerns were echoed about facebook's business model. Wouldn't monetizing cause them to lose the eyeballs they had built up? Apparently not. Facebook has managed to build up an extremely profitable business. Google is still profiting by giving away even more (and selling a little bit.) Freemium models where only a minute percentage of customers pay are working well. Online music streaming services have caught on.

With costs of distribution getting smaller and smaller, it becomes easier to have a distribution model where most people get the digital product for free. Building up a large network of free users can help make a platform viable for paid users. Psychologically, mircropayments have not worked well (since there is a huge cliff between "free" and "pay") However, instead of charging everyone 1 cent, 1 person can be charged a $1 and everyone else can get it free. This allows building a large network or following (which also adds value to those who pay.)

The book is an interesting read, with many ideas that now seem obvious. Free can be a promotional tool as well as a valid business model.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


I remember hearing everyone rave about Neuromancer when it came out in the 80s. It was supposed to be one of the coolest books around and something on the "must read" list for every computer geek. Accordingly, it had been on my "must read" list for a long time. However, I never got around to it.

Now I do most my "reading" with audiobooks from the library. I regularly look for "Gibson" books to see if I can find it. Previously, I did find an interesting nonfiction work and an awful fiction one, but no Neuromancer. Finally I saw it there, and checked it out. I was eagerly anticipating a great work.

Alas, it is was not to be.

Neuromancer was just awful. The story, the characters, the language. Ugghh. I find it difficult to get engaged. I thought maybe after a while I would get into it. After all, this was something I'd been eagerly anticipating. Alas, it was just not to be. It was simply not good.

It opened with "The sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel." I was hoping this would be the set up for a great story. Alas, it was just a bad metaphor. And it was one of the best lines of the story.

Like Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive has a great sounding title. However, I think I will be taking a pass on it also.

Richest Man in Babylon

The richest man in Babylon is a fun take on the traditional "financial self-help" book. The advice is all structured as discovered tales from ancient Babylon. Some people discovered certain paths to follow to obtain wealth. These "parables" show how they did that (and also how people failed.) The combination of history and good stories make this an entertaining story, even if the advice does feel somewhat dated (though for the most part, still usable.)

Monday, September 07, 2015

The Rithmatist

I read the Rithmatist immediately after reading Elantris. Both had a lot in common, but they were very different novels. Elantris is a long "Epic Fantasy" set in a distant world. The Rithmatist is a shorter more modern young adult fantasy novel. However, both deal with magic caused by writing. People are "chosen" to practice the magic and can't elect themselves.

A rithmatist is a person that can fight battles with chalk drawings. Certain structures can provide defensive fortifications, while Chalklings can be sent out as attackers. People that are chosen to be rithmatists complete special studies in the art of drawing all the needed structures. After graduating, they then spend time out on the battlefield, defending the society from the wild Chalklings. Non-rithmatists can try to draw the same shapes, but they wont have any of the magical properties that the rithmatist shapes have.

The protagonist of the Rithmatist, Joel, is a school boy who attends an elite private school with a "rithmatist department." His father was a chalk-maker at the school who died in an accident. Joel, like his father is not a rithmatist, but has an intense interest in studying rithmatics. He likes to sneak into rithmatics classes and has a knack for the rithmatic structures. He often runs into Melody, a rithmatist who struggles with rithmatics and prefers to draw unicorns. Together with a professor, they help solve a case of disappearing students.

The novel is set in a universe somewhat resembling ours, but different. The world is now made up of various islands and the technology has evolved somewhat differently. (Writing is obviously more important, in part due to the "chalklings". In the story, "lower class" boy meets up with with "upper class, but doesn't want to be" girl. They end up using their skills to solve the big mystery and become the community's heroes. It took a little while to get into, but left me wanting more stories in this universe.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

David and Goliath

Malcolm Gladwell is an entertaining author. David and Goliath reads similar to his other books. He takes a sociological premise that seems somewhat counter-intuitive, and then uses a number of well-told anecdotes to help "prove" his point. In this book, the premise is that disadvantages can force people to work in other ways to "overcome the odds". The basketball full-court press was shown as an example of how weaker teams can beat better teams. (Though you have to wonder - if this works so well, why don't more teams do it.) Other stories present similar "Against the ods" victories. These are nice, well-told feel-good anecdotes that come together in an entertaining story. There is not a lot of strong "science" here, but plenty of well done entertainment.

Robots of Dawn

Isaac Asimov's first two books in the robot series were palatable sci-fi mysteries. Robots of Dawn is not. It comes across as the unedited musings of a lecherous old man. It is much longer than the other robot books, and filled with too much of Asimov's sociological musings. Plot and characters, are, alas tough to find. It does, however, have a nice sounding title.

Naked Sun

Ok, it has been a long time since I read this book. (Nine months can put a dent on an initial reaction.) It is a detective story set in a science fiction future with robots. The key to solving it is figuring out the loopholes in the laws of robotics. It is not a bad story, but not a great one either.

Sunday, May 03, 2015


Firefight is Young Adult love story interspersed with loads of action. (Attack of the Clones comes to mind.) We also delve deeper into the Epics. They all seem to have powers and weaknesses that are somewhat related to their life prior to becoming an Epic. The use of their power corrupts them, leading them to use it more and become more evil. Even if they use their power for good, that use tends to corrupt them and make them use it more for destruction. Some Epics lose all self control and go on power-grabbing destructive binges. Others have a little more self control and can limit the use of power to their advantage (though they still tend to use it at the expense of humans.) It is a rare Epic that can not fight against humanity. (And to do that, they have to significantly limit their use of power.)

There seems to be one exception to this - gifting power. Some Epics have the ability to gift their power to others with no ill effects. If they perform the action themselves, they become corrupt, but they can seemingly give an endless amount to others without becoming evil.

We also learn the weaknesses are related to a past experience in a human life.

People have freedom to chose to accept or deny power. Most people will acept because, hey, who wouldn't wnat super powers? However, once they accept, the freedom of what to do with your life is significantly curtailed. (It is not easy being Clark Kent when everybody knows you are superman.)

We had picked this book up after seeing Brandon Sanderson at a local bookstore. It was a quick read that same week, and I intended to have this up on the blog right then. Only it has not happened. And now it is a couple months later.

I do remember that I really loved this book. It was one of the best books I've read - until the very end. (It seemed as if a few details were just slapped together there.) However, it was still a great book, and set itself up perfectly for the next book int he series.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Three Parts Dead

I listened to this one after hearing the author talk on the Writing Excuses Podcast. I actually like the fantasy books by podcast host Branden Sanderson, so I figured this book would be good also.

Alas, it was not to be.

I had trouble getting into this book. The universe was too far removed from reality and it just wasn't interesting. With a good audiobook, I try to take every free moment to listen. With this one - well, it took a long time to get through.

It had to do with a god being killed and some recent graduate of craft school trying to uncover what was going on and somehow prevent bad things from happening.

The start was not that bad. We have the "craft"y girl going home and subtly using her skills. Then she makes the mistake of resurrecting some zombies and get in real trouble. Luckily one of her teachers comes and sends her on her quest. Then a bunch of stuff happens and the end they uncover the bad guy and some bad guy gets killed through some sneaky non-crafty thing. In between? Well, stuff happened. Alas, nothing that really drew me in.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Firstborn was Brandon Sanderson's first published work. It lacks some of the storytelling craft he has mastered over time, yet it is still a quick, entertaining read. The exposition seems to consume most of the story, with the "action" only happening at the end.

We follow the exploits of the "second born" son of a grand Duke. His older brother is a great military leader who has had success after success in bringing rebellious sectors under control. The second son, however, can't seem to do anything right. He is sent off to study his older brother's battles to attempt to learn from them. However, even in simulations, he loses more often than wins.

He later discovers that he is not just the little brother, but an actual clone of his older brother. So much for genes being everything. He was cloned due to concerns that his brother might get too much power. Alas, those concerns were justified, as the brother ends up coming and killing his father and indicating that he wants to take over the empire for himself. However, he spares his "clone" because he wants an opponent worthy of his challenge. Eventually, however, the younger brother does manage to foil the older brother's plans - just not in the ways the older brother was anticipating.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Alternate meaning with incorrect grammar

1) Nathaniel bees good
2) Nathaniel is good
3) Nathaniel is being good

The first one indicates that at the given moment, Nathaniel is currently in the state of "good". The second one implies that he is always good. The third is closer to the first one, but still has a different nuanced. It implies a more active state of goodness, while the first is more passive.

"Bad" grammar gives us an additional nuance of meaning that we cannot get with proper grammar.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Mitosis is a short novella set between Steelheart and Firefight. Firefight has many references to it, so I was expecting something big. However, it is more of a comic interlude that helps set up Firefight.

The Reckoners now have the unenviable task of controlling the city that they have taken. Of course, the Epics don't like the idea of humans ruling a city, so it was inevitable that one come in to try to take it for himself. Mitosis wanders into the city and "divides" himself into many clones to try to find David to ask him questions. His clones can all communicate with each other, however, the clones seem to lose some fidelity and intelligence as they reproduce many times. Individual clones can be easily killed. However, they can all reproduce.

Before becoming an Epic, Mitosis was a classically trained member of a rock band. He hated his band's music, and the music ended up being the weakness that allowed him to be destroyed.

Once the destruction of the Epic was taken care of, people could go back to eating the authentic Chicago-style hot dogs. Yum!

This is the "TV episode" between the two movies. This is a universe that Sanderson can really have a lot of fun with.


In the typical superhero tale, the hero puts on his tights and goes out to round up the bad guys. Eventually, he may run into the "super villain", but that is not until after the "good guy" has shown his worth to society.

What if the tables were turned? What if the super villains came out first? And what if there were not any super heroes out there?

Steelheart is set in a near future Chicago that has been taken over by the eponymous Steelheart. He is an "Epic" with various super powers, including the ability to turn things to Steel. "Newcago" as it is called is now a city of Steel ruled by a super dictator. Steelheart does engage in acts of random killing. However, he provides general infrastructure and some sense of daily life for humans, making his city more desirable than many of the others.

David witnessed Steelheart killing his father a decade ago. In the intervening decade, David has been consumed by the thought of revenge. He had been spending most of his time researching Epics and finding their weaknesses, with a goal of eventually taking down Steelheart. He manages to meet up with the anti-Epic group, "the Reckoners" and help take down many of the Epics. Being a YA novel, he falls in love with Megan, a Reckoner with a few secrets of her own. However, here they are busy with the action.

The book is fast paced and loaded with plenty of twists and surprises that all seem to make sense in the end.

Each Epic has their own power and weakness, providing all sorts of fun in the story. David also has a knack for really bad metaphors, with explanations that manage to be even more over the top. Though Sanderson is best known for his Epic fantasy, he seems to have the most fun when he writes for younger ages.

Friday, January 23, 2015

QBQ: Question Behind the Question

You can be happier by not blaming others. This book is a power point deck of points that you can use to help take responsibility. Instead of getting upset trying to change others, you should frame questions and actions based on what you can do. That will make you happier and may even help others to be more likely to do what you want them to do. It makes sense. Doing it practice is the challenge.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Popular Tales from the Norse

Librivox can be hit or miss, even in a single book. Some "tales" in this collection were read with such thick accents I could barely understand them. Others had way to much "enthusiasm." There were even a few that were done really well. There were many short tales - some that seemed to have more space dedicated to the "librivox introduction" than to the actual tales. But, that is enough about the narration.

The book starts out with a long introduction. Then it jumps into a large number of Norse tales. Then we get a bonus West Indian tales featuring Anansi. (Scandinavia and the Caribbean. Uh, yeah, I see the connection.)

Some of the tales have been popularized (albeit in somewhat different forms) by Disney movies. Others seem to be half complete. There are plenty were the humble guy gets a great advantage by his smarts. There is also a good deal of supernatural behavior.

One tale had a man sell his soul to the Devil, then trick the Devil out of taking it. Since he was not a good guy, he was left without a place to leave and had to sneak into Heaven. The moral? Uh, not sure. But it is an interesting yarn.

While there are some moralizing, it seems that many of the tales are primarily for entertainment. Some are good, while some are bad. This collection would be better skimmed in print than listened to on audiobook.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Collected Fictions

I like Borges' style. I expected something much more pretentious, but I was pleasantly surprised. Borges has a playful knack for blending fiction with "nonfiction". The characters in a story may talk with an author. He may also provide a backstory for events in fictional works or even describe how something really happened. Characters may suddenly have something "magical" happen in a realistic story. This seems to be at the roots of magical realism, yet it is also reminded me of Kafka. In this collection we get the famous "Library of Babel" as well as many other "stories". There are a few that fall flat, but even those have their redeeming points.

Republic of Pirates

The original pirates of the Caribbean were the early new world democratic revolutionaries. They threw off the chains of repression and gave each man an equal say and his destiny. They achieved this destiny primarily by looting and plundering, but hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

The big pirates often started out with fairly normal "careers" before drifting into piracy. Some were originally privateers and then decided they could do even better without the official sanction. Others still held to some nominal allegiance to their comrades and the rule of law. Others were just in it for fun. What they all generally discovered was that you can appeal to a man's greed. By promising each man a significant share of the wealth and saw in the ship's activities, they were able to recruit and maintain a dedicated workforce. (They also resorted to conscription when they needed it.)

The Bahamas were once the headquarters of pirate activity. The rule of law was largely ignored and the pirates had their saw. The man that came in and finally cleaned up the Bahamas ended up living in poverty due to his efforts to support the "honest" population.

Alas, while the pirates achieved notoriety, they rarely got to enjoy their riches, often dying at the sword or gallows. At least they went out in flames.

Republic of Pirates attempts to bring this early pirate era alive by focusing on a few main characters (such as Blackbeard.) The story is a little more than a biography, but a little less than a history. I would have liked to have a little more of both.

Caves of Steel

Caves of steel in six sentences: A cop is assigned a robot for a companion. They attempt to crack a murder case in "space town". The cop goes down a lot of false paths, manifesting his robot prejudice. Eventually he helps crack the case. The robot was not able to identify the culprit because his brain analysis did not reveal the guilt. However, the human realized an accidental killing would not manifest the guilt.

Caves of Steel in six words: Human outsmarts robot, solves Turing test.

Caves of Steel is OK as a mystery and OK as science fiction.

I wonder if this was one of the things I read in my youth. I remember reading a lot of Asimov, but not reading the foundation books. There must be some good stuff out there. However, it seems a lot of this is merely ok.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Earth Abides

Earth Abides is an optimistic post-apocalyptic novel. Some disease sweeps through earth and wipes out almost everyone. It manages to happen very quickly, yet orderly. We just have to believe the author on this one. The narrator was out in woods when things happened, and nobody else seems to provide details. It seems there was time to properly bury everyone, but not to shut down stores or bring cars home.

Utilities were also still running. The hydroelectric power and plumbing still kept chugging along for a while, even without anybody to attend to it. Roads were still usable, though gradually tree-falls and floods cut off some routes. (However, long distance travels were still possible.)

The few people that remained tended to stay by themselves. Nobody seemed to ask why or engage in serious conversation. At first, they were mere scavengers trying to gather what they could and live off the working utilities. Eventually, things broke down and they found themselves returning back to nature. However, they do take shortcuts. Instead of going all the way back to stone arrowheads, they use the metal found in coins.

The new generations soon lose all contact with "civilization". They have become hunters, obtaining their sustenance from nature. The stored up knowledge of society had been gradually eaten away by nature. The old ones that remembered the civilization are treated as deities.

The novel seems to be attempting a connection between "savage" lifestyles and our more modern society. Perhaps the "natives" that had been encountered by Europeans had had advanced societies, but saw them quickly disappear due to the diseases that were brought in. By the time there was large-scale cultural contact, they had fallen into a pure survival mode.

The book paints the new society in an optimistic way. Rather than roving bands of thugs, we have people that want to work together and be happy. The one "bad guy" that they do encounter is quickly removed. People can still be happy even after the fall of society.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Gods Themselves

Asimov can get annoying. He spends too much time describing the science and the "people" and not enough time developing characters and story. However, he usually has an interesting premise and writes just well enough to keep things interesting.

Alas, in "The Gods Themselves" he managed to show us everything that can go wrong with science fiction. There are a few "deep thoughts" held together with a horribly executed story. The premise is a cross-universe energy exchange device that can seemingly produce endless amounts of free energy, with only one minor catch. Alas, the catch is that the sun in one universe gets hotter, while that of the other gets colder, eventually wiping out life in both universes.

The story structure seemed to serve the ego of the author. "I am so good, I can rearrange things just because." Long sections of the parallel universe and their "triad" relationships are just plain tedious. They may be computers or they may be slaves to the "hard ones". However, it didn't seem to matter much for the story. The section in our universe didn't matter much either. The people on the moon had some sci-fi utopia and helped "provide" for the earth. Most of the people in both universe enjoyed the cheap power and didn't want to change. (Asimov did add a quip about people trying to make "safer" cigarettes and more fuel efficient cars rather than smoking and driving less. It was a nice soundbite, but it didn't fit in with the story.)

Some beings in both universes decide to rebel and... the book ends.

Asimov thought this was one of his favorite books. This enjoyment must have been based on the writing process, for reading this book is pure tedium.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Random College Football Thoughts

So far the college football bowl season has been going good for a change. A few thoughts:

I guess they belong

Ohio State was the last of four teams in the college football playoff. Boise State was the "group of 5" team that squeezed into the access bowl. Both one close games, that really weren't all that close.

PR firms don't help on the football field

Baylor hired a PR firm to plead their case for inclusion in the playoff. They had only lost one game and beat the other one-loss team in their conference, therefore they should be in the playoff. What the conveniently did not mention was that they also lost by two touchdowns to West Virginia - a team that TCU beat. And that victory over TCU? Well, it was come-from behind win by 3 points at Baylor. If you go by Sagarin's example of a 3 point home edge, that amounts to a tie. A quick eye test shows that TCU looks like the better team. They also had a stronger non-conference schedule, with the game against Minnesota. The playoff committee saw that also and had TCU ranked higher than Baylor. Alas, Baylor played spoiled brat, and claimed it should be conference champion and thus be in the playoff. Luckily, Ohio State provided an easy way out. Its dominant performance in the Big 10 championship game allowed it to take the final playoff spot. The rankings could then show Baylor ahead of TCU. However, the result was largely meaningless as they would both make New Years games. TCU then pummeled Mississippi, while Baylor lost as Michigan State managed a come from behind win. The law of averages to the rescue.

Boise State to the rescue

Marshall had left the playoffs in a pickle. They were undefeated, but they hadn't played a strong schedule. The playoff rankings barely even included them. But they had not lost. Florida State was also undefeated and seemed a shoe in, despite barely squeaking by many of its opponents. Luckily, Eastern Carolina defeated Marshall in overtime, freeing things up. Boise State was conveniently the Mountain West champion and had only two loses. They had the brand reputation. Everybody heard of them and nobody would complain if they played in a "big bowl". It was also very convenient that they lost a game to Air Force early in the season. Without that loss, Boise's only loss would be to Mississippi. That's the same team that gave Alabama its only regular season loss. It would make for a nice controversy if Boise and Alabama both won. Luckily, the Air Force loss meant there was no argument for playoff inclusion. Boise's victory over Arizona further showed that Boise belonged with the Big Boys.

Florida State really was that bad

It was a good thing we had 4 teams in the playoff this year. Otherwise, we may have ended up with a Florida State/Alabama snooze-fest. One was the lone undefeated team. The other had a few recent championships under their belt. How could you go against either? Ugghh. Luckily, there were four teams. Oregon nicely avenged their lone loss to Arizona. Alabama and Ohio State were one-loss conference champions that were both playing well. TCU also looked great. That would make a great playoff. Alas, we still had to have some politics. Florida State was the undefeated defending champs. They had to be in, even though they were not that great. There was also the bickering in the Big-12. Put the two together and Florida State takes TCU's position. Oregon promptly destroyed Florida State and Ohio State held on to beat Alabama. Was the SEC really deserving of all its championships or did it just get the luck of the draw?

How do the conferences look?

Looking at the Conference Rankings, Conference USA was on top. Alas, none of their teams were ranked. Perhaps we will see some ranking love in the final poll? The Pac-12 was the best of the major conferences. The two loses were both by less than 10 points in Arizona bowls. Oregon also won a semifinal bowl game. The SEC was the next major conference. Alas, their position was held up by the bottom of the conference and the "weaker" eastern division. Ranked teams were 2-5, with all teams in major bowls losing. Big-10 ended up at .500, with victories in the big bowls. Sun Belt, Mountain West and American were all right at or below .500, with the lone ranked team (Boise) vindicating itself well. ACC and Big-12 did finish above the MAC. Can you say overrated?