Archive for August, 2011

Premature Celebration? Saints-49ers preseason

August 14, 2011

Watching a Saints’ game with an opposing team’s announcers was a pretty interesting scenario, highlighting the tremendous leaps-and-bounds the nation’s opinion of Black and Gold has leapt to. Overall, it was an encouraging game, but as I cautioned my mom back home – don’t look too deeply into it.

For starters, the Saints were a well-prepared team with continuity and consistency in too many ways – coaching and schemes, players, familiarity with teammates, and winning attitude – that the 49ers couldn’t compete with. The Niners are playing under a rookie coach who has had very little time to coach up his guys, given the long lockout shortening training camps NFL-wide, and their intrateam practices have been all post-lockout (12 practices, as their announcers repeatedly stressed).

The ironic note was, of course, watching the complete role-reversal that I had become accustomed to as a child watching 49er-Saints matchups. The Saints had always been the underrated, expected-to-lose, forever up and coming team for whom the local announcers always had to go out of their way to find bright spots. The 49er sportscasters had the Saints pegged as the feared, dominating monsters that I had always imagined the Niners to be in the Montana, Young, and even the Garcia days. Watching Saints games from my perspective, they have been great these past few years, but history tells me that there are always mountains to climb. The enemy perspective is quite eye-opening in the over-dramatic presentation of the Saints’ strengths.

The two biggest bright spots I took from this game were defensive. First of all, we stopped the run! Mild annoyance and a convenient ability to forget the recent playoff past arise everytime the “greatest rushing play of 2010” is shown – a Marshawn Lynch run up the middle where he broke tackle attempts from all 11 defenders and several sideline players as well en route to a victory-sealing (and Super Bowl repeat destroying) rushing touchdown. However, against one of the better rushing packages in the league, the Saints managed to consistently shut down the run. Comparisons between last year’s squad and the Super Bowl champs of the year before showed consistent inability to stop rushers. So, this is a hopeful, albeit not-to-be-trusted, predictor of 2011 performance. Whether or not Gregg Williams being Gregg Williams was fair in an opening pre-season game, the ability of the defense to disrupt the offense (by whatever means) was impressive. The constant take a chance, strip the ball, harrass the QB tactics that were so lacking from Gregg Williams 2010 model showed up in this year’s model and were a welcome memory of years (2009) gone past.

However, should either of these should be trusted against one of the worst-prepared preseason teams? No, they shouldn’t. Prove yourself, Black and Gold defenders, and I’ll allow you to be put in the same sentence as your predecessors two years removed.

The running game seemed decent, and it was great to see the rushers pounding away into one of the better defenses in the league. Special teams really shone with Joe Morgan securing a spot on at the least some NFL roster this season. There were no 49er returns of any note, and there were only moderate opposing drives that eventually stalled, excepting David Akers succeeding in breaking his career-long field goal distance.

So, what prognostication should we take from this? None. This game will provide adequate fuel to the Niners in future games with the “we were disrespected by Gregg Williams” card. The game will be a temporary ego-boost for the Saints for the next day or two until Sean Payton points out how hollow the win is. Joe Morgan and other potential cuts will eventually make the roster due to their performances Friday. But let’s relax the hype about the game – hyped as it was by being the first game for both teams after the torturous lockout of the past 5 months.

What to look for? The Saints’ preparation in the off-season providing an edge over opponents in the first 3 weeks of the season. The 49ers signing new offensive linemen and really using this game as a motivational springboard. Plenty of wide receivers making the Saints active roster. The continuing defensive swagger that has defined the Saints’ last 2 seasons. Colin Kaepernick’s first start between week 6-12. Early hype about the Saints’ chances in the first half of the season. John Harbaugh revealing his game plan in Week 1.

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Facebook outs your phonebook

August 10, 2011

I’ve always been pretty easy on Facebook, letting people share what they want to share and be responsible for the information they post online. People know what they’re posting, and they can be reasonably held accountable for it. I have a few friends – mostly women who’ve had stalkers in their past – change their name on the profile to hide from unwanted attention seekers. Men will apparently do anything to jump at a girl they think is cute, so I don’t blame them. I have a soft spot in my heart for their situation, since they’re pretty powerless against some creep who will do anything in his power to track her down.

Well, my defending of Facebook privacy just ended a half-hour ago. I just found a link to my entire phone book in Facebook and EVERY person who has put their phone number on facebook. Let me repeat that. If you’ve put your phone number in facebook (which is used to verify that your account isn’t fake), and you have EVER given me your number, I can now find your Facebook profile. I have numbers from women I’ve met ONCE and gotten their number, and now I can see their names and any other information on Facebook. Before I say anything else about this, anyone from Facebook reading this, DISABLE THIS IMMEDIATELY. This is completely unacceptable and borders on the worst habits you would expect from cops overstepping their bounds (which doesn’t happen too often – I’m quick to defend officers, as well). To give a step-by-step account of why this is a violation on way too personal a level: If I never gave Facebook my phone number, I’d have to fill in CAPTCHA’s (the box where I have the read the screwed up letters and type them in) a bunch of times when doing common facebook activities. So, I gave them my phone number. Then, I installed Facebook for my smartphone. I didn’t really care at the time, but they make you accept their access to your phone so they can send you background pictures of people who call you from their facebook profile pages.

Well, I’ve been able to go through my list of past phone contacts (even those I’ve deleted), and I’ve seen some names I hadn’t seen before. Of these names, Facebook found about 30-50 people whose number I may have written down once and linked me to their profile, including their full name. For example, I found out that someone I put in my phone as “Jessi [Local Bar Name]” now lives in New York, is friends with a friend of mine, and works for a major retailer. If I was a creepy stalker, that girl could have now had 1) phone calls from me knowing her name, 2) questions from her friend about her or her job, 3) inquiries at her job…. The creepy list goes on. And women face this kind of creepy shit all the time. Facebook, don’t give these people more avenues to harrass people that want to hide their personal lives from the world.

I found a perfect example – I met a girl at the pool in Vegas a few months ago, and we realized we don’t like each other. Now, I know her full name! She never wanted to give me that. By giving me her phone number, she was able to screen my calls and control all the information she allowed me to know. Not anymore! Thank you, Facebook!

More examples, an ex-girlfriend I never want to see again who stopped taking my calls – found her. About 15 numbers (girls and guys) that I never got around to deleting have obviously changed. Unless my old drinking buddy Sean changed his name to Moesha and got a boob job. And I’ve never known anybody named Prettyboy K******.

Let’s take this exercise in invading people’s lives a step further. This means all I have to do is find out a person’s number, put them in my phone, and on the next download, I can find their Facebook profile? Seriously, Zuck?

I’ll be honest, I’ve enjoyed Facebook, because I get to keep up on everybody I can’t otherwise keep up with. Facebook has made high school reunions obsolete, allowed me to see pictures of my family without flying back to New Orleans, let me see my best friend’s house and new kid in Austin, and all kinds of truly wonderful things. But these people volunteered ALL of this information. Please don’t allow me to peek behind others’ veil of privacy without their permission. It’s disrespectful at least and harmful and dangerous at worst.

I’m not mentioning my phone type or the link to this “feature” / invasion of someone’s life, for fear of stalkers tracking down my friends or yours.