Monthly Archives: October 2007

Happy Halloween

Lateral It Home

Student Announcer Ensures Laterals Are Heard Around the World

By Joe Lapointe

New York Times

Jonathan Wiener is a sophomore English major from Mississippi who enjoys William Faulkner novels. He is comfortable with bursts of words and long, descriptive paragraphs.

So when Wiener’s narrative skills were put to a test Saturday in a football broadcast booth, he was prepared. For a young man with broadcasting ambitions, it was the pop quiz from heaven.

“I can’t think of anything better in the world than watching football and talking about it,” Wiener, 20, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “It was only one of the most improbable plays in college football history.”

Wiener, a student at Trinity University in San Antonio, was the play-by-play announcer for the Division III college football game between Trinity and Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.

He was part of a four-man crew with only one camera in a telecast seen live only over the Internet. Trinity won, 28-24, on the final play by completing a forward pass and then scoring after 15 lateral passes that zigzagged across the field, taking 62 seconds to cover the 60 yards to the end zone.

Wiener kept his cool through the frenzy and described most of the details precisely as they occurred. The replay of the video with Wiener’s description has been shown on national television and has become a hit on the Internet.

“It wasn’t much of a call,” Wiener said. When someone suggested to him that it really was a pretty good call, Wiener replied: “Well, I tried. They were moving so fast. You do what you can.”

The play began with two seconds left on the clock and the ball on the 40-yard line of Trinity. Just before the snap, Wiener’s color analyst, Justin Thompson, finished a Wiener thought by suggesting that the offense might have to “start lateraling.”

Moments later, after quarterback Blake Barmore completed a pass to Shawn Thompson, the players began to throw the ball to each other, either sideways or backward but never forward (which would have been illegal). Riley Curry ran it into the end zone after catching the last lateral, which bounced, at the Millsaps 34.

Seven players touched the ball, including two offensive linemen. Wiener mentioned all the players, except the linemen, who did not hold the ball long enough to be recognized. Wiener also kept track of the ball’s position on the field. “He’s going to throw it to Thompson; Thompson at the 30-yard line; Thompson now laterals it back to Curry at the 35; they’re running out of spaces; Curry fakes; he’s going to lateral it.”

Wiener’s voice increased in volume and pitch only after Thompson — the color analyst and brother of the original pass-catcher Shawn Thompson — began to shout. And then Wiener, too, began to shout, like Russ Hodges at the Polo Grounds.


“OH, MY GOODNESS!” he added.

Wiener said he had not planned to cover the game but decided to stop in Jackson while returning from a journalism convention in Washington. The game just happened to be played in his hometown, a few minutes from his parents’ house.

His mother picked him up at the airport and dropped him off at the field before kickoff. Along with his major in English, Wiener is studying for a minor in communications.

Wiener said he had a native Mississippian’s love of Faulkner and read “Absalom, Absalom!” last summer while doing an internship as a basketball writer for Slam magazine in New York.

He said he would start reading Faulkner’s “Go Down, Moses” this week while preparing to announce Saturday’s home game against Centre College of Kentucky.

Faulkner, by the way, did a little sports reporting, too. In 1955, he wrote an impressionistic essay about a hockey game at Madison Square Garden for Sports Illustrated. Faulkner described the movement of players in a game between the Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens as “bizarre and paradoxical, like the frantic darting of the weightless bugs which run on the surface of stagnant pools.”

In other words, hockey to Faulkner looked sort of like the football play that Wiener described Saturday in Mississippi.

Free Reading…

Interesting links/articles…

A death in the family…

What’s wrong with The office and how to fix it…

Ingredients of a family fortune…

Free tacos for everyone…

Steven Colbert’s Op-ed…

The 51 best magazines ever…

Free my phone…

The trouble wth Indie Rock…

Inside college sport’s biggest money machine…

100 reasons you are still single…

100 icebreakers to avoid…

The greatest Papelbon story ever told…

Wealthy colleges questioned about costs…

What’s wrong with Boston sports fans…

Crank Dat Soulja Boy…

Designing for a disaster…

The future of Tigerade…

Is Steven Colbert breaking the law?

DC’s inequality…


How the NFL season resembles your Netflix que…

Facebook Chooses Microsoft

On Wednesday, Facebook announced its decision to allow Microsoft to invest $240 million in exchange for a 1.6 percent stake in its company. While this certainly does not give Microsoft any increased control over Facebook, it does lend some credence to the worth of the company, which is now estimated at $15 billion. That’s right, a company run by a 23 year old, with only $150 million in projected revenues, is worth $15 billion.

Where are these future additional revenues going to come from? Well, there has been talk about the applications that are being added each day, but advertising has long been Facebook’s weak point, consistently being one of the worst performing sites on the Web:

Facebook Campaigns-1

As one person pointed out, the valuation does seem high when considering current traffic levels.

$15Billion valuation at 42million registered users comes out to over $300 per user. Now let’s say Facebook earns a VERY healthy $5CPM and we assume a 33% sellthru.
That means to recoup the investment, a user would have to log in every day and have 50 page views per day would take over 9 years to make their money back.

Here is what the recent trend looks like…the valuation clearly assumes traffic levels wll quadruple in a rather short period of time.

The New York Times reports:

“What’s significant is how much money Facebook is raising and what it wants to do with it. Facebook took $250 million from Microsoft and hinted that it is looking to raise more. It said it wants to grow from 300 to 700 employees. And it defined its business as “social computing.”

This is a signal that the company wants to take on Google, at least in some realms, by having a battalion of engineers developing original technology. That’s very different from most Web 2.0 companies that pride themselves on using a handful of engineers to do quick, lightweight front ends. And it’s different from MySpace, the other big social network, which is adding media content but can’t seem to improve its central technology.

… [Mark Zuckerberg] talked about how his role models—like many in his generation– are Steve Jobs of Apple and Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They weren’t chastened by the excesses of the Internet bubble and have been rewarded for thinking big.

Mr. Zuckerberg, at least, has earned the right to at least consider thinking big. Facebook has risen above hundreds of rivals through a good sense of how to please users and an excellent approach to technology. Anyone who lived through the first crash would have simply cashed in his chips at this point. But Mr. Zuckerberg is doubling down.”

Clearly Google lost out on this one, though it probably is more of a loss for Yahoo than anyone else.

That doesn’t mean Google isn’t ticked off:

“Yesterday, in a conversation with reporters, Google co-founder Sergey Brin was asked whether he thought there were similarities between Facebook and Google in its early days.

A somewhat flip Mr. Brin responded: “I think the location was somewhat similar.” Facebook is in Palo Alto, across University Avenue from the former home of Google.

Mr. Brin was more serious when it came to highlighting the differences between the two companies. “We really started to grow (Google) during the bust of the dot com bubble,” he said. “Their timing may be somewhat inverted.” Google, he said, benefited from the discipline imposed on it by the bust. “I think that’s an extra challenge that they face,” he added.

One way that challenge is likely to play out is that Facebook will have to get more creative to offer prospective employees a shot at the same kind of Internet riches that Google afforded to hundreds, if not thousands, of its early employees.”

However, tenured Google employees are already leaving for Facebook, looking to cash out their stock options and strike while Facebook is hot. According to tech reporter Josh Quittner, Benjamin Ling, one of Brin’s “Golden Boys” and a top engineer, is leaving Google for Facebook.

With Google promising to increase its focus on social applications, this battle is just beginning.

Colbert in ’08

Steven Colbert, beloved comedian, a man who does not see race, a man who has his own eagle mascot (albeit Canadian) , and who is not afraid to pose in front of a portrait of himself (posing as himself in front of himself, in front of himself…), has declared himself a presidential candidate…in South Carolina.  He will be running in his home state on both tickets, as a Democrat and a Republican, a strategy he does concede “may allow him to lose twice”.

Here is the clip of Colbert filling out his paperwork.

Colbert in ’08 has become a rallying cry for those who are fed up with the current candidates, would like to see a third party candidate, or, let’s face it, can’t get enough of what is by all accounts the greatest American (no, seriously, google “the greatest American” and see who shows up – and we all know google cannot lie). 

So how serious is his candidacy? Well, grassroots campaigning has already begun, as indicated by the social meter that is Facebook.  The group “1,000,000 Strong for Steven T. Colbert” as of this posting has 867,083 members.  Not impressed?  Consider that “1,000,000 Strong for Obama” has been around for a year, yet its group total of some 381,000 was passed by Colbert’s group in less than four days.

Yesterday’s Rasmussen survey indicates his support is picking up as well.  As a third party candidate, a remarkable 13% of voters gave him the nod over frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Guiliani.  We claim this race is over, and that Hillary is already planning her redecorations of the Oval Office, but that was pre-Colbert.  This is a whole new political force to reckon with.

The Washington Post reported on Colbert’s campaign this week that Public Opinion Strategies, another polling firm, found the following:

In the Democratic primary, Colbert takes 2.3 percent of the vote — good for fifth place behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (40 percent), Sen. Barack Obama (19 percent), former Sen. John Edwards (12 percent) and Sen. Joe Biden (2.7 percent. Colbert finished ahead of Gov. Bill Richardson (2.1 percent), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (2.1 percent) and former Sen. Mike Gravel (less than 1 percent).

Wow, Bill Richardson.  You are behind a comedian…I don’t think your campaign manager is laughing too hard now.

What is Colbert’s  platform, you might ask?  Well, according to the Washington Post coverage:

He’s ticked that Georgia is known as the Peach State even though, he contends, South Carolina grows more peaches. He’s worried about Chinese shrimp imports hurting his home-state fishermen. And, he adds out of nowhere, “we shouldn’t fall prey to the homosexual agenda.

I’m sure he’ll build on that.  But really, won’t this already speak to the primary voters in South Carolina more than what the other candidates have promised?

Like many, I am looking forward to Steven Colbert’s participation in any future debates.  The other candidates may practice truthiness, but at least let’s hear from the candidate that coined the word.


For a side of Colbert you hardly ever see, watch his interview with Larry King:

Cannonball Run


(click map to enlarge)

Manhattan to Santa Monica.  In 32 hours.  Averaging 90.1 miles per hour and with 0 pee stops.

Sounds impossible?  Read about it here.

Looney Wars

Ah, World War II. A time of patriotism, American military prowness, sacrifice, and…Looney Tunes featuring Hitler.

Because if these didn’t get eight year olds to buy defense bonds, nothing would have.