"Now, it's time for the happy recap." - Bob Murphy
Blog 2006-13 Archives
March 4, 2013
BLOG: Operational Issues
So, I'm still trying to get the comments section fixed, it seems of late that real comments are going to the junk folder (just finally got through that and approved a bunch of old ones, sorry about that) while tons of spam is getting through.
I'm also experimenting with some changes to the font and other layout items, but nothing too dramatic, I promise.
PS - what really threw me is not even getting email alerts of the comments that got sent to the junk file after I slightly increased the aggressiveness of the spam filter.
February 20, 2013
BASEBALL: Established Win Shares Levels, RIP
I have come to a decision, absent a really compelling reason to re-think it: after doing them for nine seasons, I'm retiring my annual division-by-division Established Win Shares Levels reports.
First, it's an enormous amount of work. For nine years, I've run a 23-man roster for each of MLB's 30 teams and an EWSL for each of those players: a total of 6,120 computations, each and every one of them done by hand-entering the annual Win Shares data in an Excel spreadsheet and applying an annually re-adjusted age adjustment. I don't have a database or an assistant; every single number is my own effort.
The EWSL reports are by far the most time-consuming thing I do on the blog all year. Most of my other research projects (in baseball or politics) are smaller in scale, and often - being historical studies - they're not on the same time pressured frame as rolling out all six divisional previews before the season's too far underway for them to be meaningful. And they have to be cranked out at the same time every year when I'm engaged in preparing my fantasy baseball drafts and doing my taxes (and in recent years, my dad's taxes and my brother's estate's taxes), plus it's usually a busy time of the year at work.
Second, they're behind the times. In 2004, we had fewer ways to use all-encompassing "Great Statistics" to evaluate each team in anything like a comprehensive manner. The first PECOTA projections were only unveiled in 2003. Win Shares were something of a new kid on the block, and even if EWSL was never high science, it was - I thought at the time - a bit innovative to run an established performance level with them to get a rough estimate of the established major league talent each team had on hand. At the time, it seemed like a way to add a new angle to the discussion and move it forward. And I do think that, if nothing else, the age-adjustment data I compiled over the years is something of use.
But the state of the art has advanced a lot since 2004. With a quick click of the mouse, you can gather far more sophisticated projections at Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, the Hardball Times, and elsewhere than any value that EWSL adds. Many of those projections are developed by teams of people with a lot more mathematical expertise, computing power and free time than I have at my disposal, and at some point it's time to stop playing John Henry against the machine and know when you can no longer keep up. Most everyone these days prefers the more precise Wins Above Replacement to Win Shares anyway, since Win Shares are really a measure of gross value, rather than marginal value compared to a replacement level player. EWSL just isn't worth the effort that goes into it, and while I'm grateful for the support of my readers over the years, I'm not sure it will really be missed all that much.
Third, and related to the prior point...I can get more bang for my time by blogging other things. It's no secret that in the past 4-5 years, while my place in the baseball blogosphere has receded, my profile ability to reach a large audience with my political writing (especially at RedState) has increased a lot. I have no intention of abandoning baseball writing - I'd like to do more pieces for Grantland, for example, and I have some ongoing statistical research projects - but realistically, whether it's sharpening other baseball pieces or writing about politics, I can put my blogging time to better use than the annual time vortex that is the EWSL reports.
Thanks again to everyone who's read, commented on or linked to my EWSL posts. But it's time to move on.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:50 PM | Baseball 2012-13 | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
November 5, 2012
BLOG: 11/5/12 Open Thread
To talk elections or anything else. I had to close most of the recent threads due to a tsunami of spam comments that I was unable to deal with while the power was out (my house was without power, heat or hot water for 6 days from Monday afternoon to last night. Hoping to get internet, cable and phone service back some time today).
February 9, 2012
BLOG: Links 2/9/12
I should do roundups like this more often of the stuff I do on Twitter.
-Jose Reyes' hair sells for $10,200 in charity auction. The hair will play SS for the Mets.
-The one thing that's really booming in this economy - despite the best efforts of liberal activists and the Obama Administration to the contrary - is domestic oil and gas production. Frack, baby, frack!
-Yeah, sure, and being against Nazis is just what Elie Wiesel does to feel young & virile again. It is true that older people overestimate recurrence of the troubles of their youth. Ascribing this to "testosterone" is juvenile.
-Yet another "better Romney argument than Romney is making" column, this one with good ideas from Jim Pethokoukis. Call it a Prospectus for America.
-Then: "core symbol of right-wing radicalism" Now: Democratic mainstream. We always knew a lot of the anti-war stuff was just partisanship. Of course, unlike Greenwald, I regard this as a good thing for the country.
-Elvis Andrus focused on getting better. This seems like a unique goal to have.
-I'd forgotten that, for idiosyncratic reasons, Reagan actually won the popular vote in the GOP primaries in 1968.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:05 AM | Baseball 2012-13 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | Politics 2012 | War 2007-12 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
February 2, 2012
BLOG: SEO Ain't Beanbag
November 2, 2011
BLOG: Study Something Useful
I was a history major in college, so I probably shouldn't talk, but the traditional liberal arts - while they are inferior to studying science and engineering, as preparation for a trade - are one thing; subjects that are neither an academic liberal art nor a lucrative trade are just a waste of college tuition.
October 3, 2011
BLOG: A Word of Explanation
Content and traffic at this blog have been off for some time now, so I probably owe a word or two of explanation to readers who have kept stopping by.
In part, I've just been busier at work the past few months, with some rather large pieces of litigation, and these days it's hard for anyone to complain about being busy at work. But a major drag on my time has been personal.
As you will recall, my older brother died suddenly last November. This was too much for my dad, who turned 77 in December - he'd lost his wife and his two oldest sons. Just about the last thing my brother said to my dad was, "let's have a great Christmas," and my dad was determined to do that - he held together through the funeral and Christmas, and basically unraveled after that. He's been in, out and finally in hospitals and homes since then. As any of you who have dealt with aging parents in poor mental condition will understand, this has been enormously time-consuming, in addition to being stressful and generally unpleasant. But my father has carried so many other people for so long, it was time for us to carry him back.
Second, my wife and I had to take over as administrators of my brother's estate, with all that entails in terms of taking complete control of his finances, assets, bills, tax returns, etc. (Thankfully his papers were well-organized, but there are always small surprises). This, too, has proven enormously time-consuming in its own right. If anybody ever asks you to administer an estate...run.
Third, with my dad unable to function and my younger brother and sister in DC, it fell to my wife and I to mostly take over my father's finances as well - pay his bills, deal with medical stuff, etc. This, too, has proven enormously time-consuming in its own right.
Fourth, my dad for the last few years had been doing a good deal of the work to handle my Uncle John's finances, in terms of making sure his bills got paid on time and the like. My uncle, also a widower and with a son who was incarcerated on drug and theft charges (long story; he's out now and skipped parole, and we've had to take additional steps to protect my dad's house to prevent him from robbing my dad again) was not really able to look after that himself. For reasons not worth explaining here, it fell to my dad, as his surviving brother-in-law, to take this on for my uncle and my uncle's sister, who lived with him. So, we ended up inheriting all of that headache as well and many related others generated by people newly interested in John's finances (John died in the spring of this year, after long illnesses). This, too, has proven spectacularly time-consuming in its own right, as well as needlessly acrimonious.
Only so much of all this can come out of the time I devote to work and family, and so necessarily the blog has suffered the most. In particular, my baseball writing; I find it hard to do short baseball posts off the cuff, and I've had only so much time to do the kinds of number-crunching that typically goes into my baseball posts. And the more I'm stuck at the office listening to games on the radio rather than watching on TV, the harder it gets to do non-stat-driven posts without just repeating things everybody else is saying already. (My two cents on Jose Reyes, however: there's nothing at all unprecedented about the way he won the batting title, but especially if he's leaving town, he owed the fans to at least go out to field his position before being removed, so people could give him a more fitting sendoff ovation). On top of the fact that you can't really intelligently discuss the Mets these days without addressing the impact of litigation on their finances, and for professional reasons I can't really get much into the topic of that litigation.
So, thanks for continuing to drop by; I'm still trying to find time to keep the lights on and write when I can. I'm more active on Twitter, where it's easier to find time to toss off a quick one-liner than to write a long blog post. And sooner or later, I'll have more of my own time back.
October 2, 2011
BLOG: Open Thread 10/2/11
Sorry, had to close comments on the Facebook post again due to a massive spam attack.
September 17, 2011
BLOG: Open Thread 9/17/11
Just a placeholder, for tonight.
September 2, 2011
BLOG: Holiday Weekend Open Thread
I've been traveling all week and am looking forward to some family time, so probably no blogging before Tuesday.
Enjoy the weekend.
August 2, 2011
BLOG: Open Thread 8/2/11
I'm closing the last one due to comment spamming, which tends to target blogs without recent activity and threads that have been open too long. Continue here.
July 29, 2011
BLOG: Not Quite Dead
Yes, I know it's been reaaaaal quiet around here lately. I'm basically swamped at present at work and with life. I can still be found on Twitter, which of course is a lot less time-consuming than blogging. Hope to be back here soon.
July 19, 2011
BLOG: Open Thread 7/19/11
July 7, 2011
BLOG: Literary Atrocity
I used to like Roger Ebert, back when I was a teenager and he was a prolific, conversational movie reviewer, always challenging the highbrow pretensions of Gene Siskel. In time, I came to see Ebert, like Peter Gammons these days, as a sick, old man whose view of the world was curdled by his illness and his political bile - not just that their political opinions come from people I respected in other fields (I can live with that), not just that they're wrong, but the combination of ignorance and aggressive, often bigoted vitriol coming from people I don't especially care to read for their politics in the first place. I may forgive them some of this as being the sickness talking, but that doesn't make it go down any easier. And in time, in Ebert's case, with the benefit of hindsight I came to realize that he'd never really been that good a judge of movies in the first place.
All that said, I agree wholeheartedly with this column by Ebert about the literary atrocity inherent in rewriting The Great Gatsby. Yes, very old literature like Shakespeare can sometimes be usefully abridged or translated for modern schoolkids, but there is no earthly reason to think that anyone who can't read F. Scott Fitzgerald's 20th century American prose has any business reading any version of the book. As Ebert - who is still a fine writer, after all - puts it:
Any high school student who cannot read The Great Gatsby in the original cannot read. That student has been sold a bill of goods. We know that teachers at the college level complain that many of their students cannot read and write competently. If this is an example of a book they are assigned, can they be blamed?
In a note at the end, Ebert suggests that the dumbed-down version of the book may be targeted to an ESL audience, which makes it less alarming, but still a fairly misguided concept.
March 28, 2011
BASEBALL: 2010 EWSL Wrapup By Team
My annual division roundups, using Established Win Shares Levels (explained at the beginning and end of this post), are disastrously overdue, part of the general fallout of difficult personal times - between wrapping up my brother's estate following his sudden death in November and my dad's severe (and not unrelated) decline in health since the end of 2010, I've been up to my eyeballs in everything but time to spend on my job, family and blogging. Naturally, my baseball blog posts take the brunt of that - it's one thing to write about politics or music, since most of the time that takes is the writing time, but most of my baseball stuff requires a lot more investment of time crunching numbers.
That said, in the next few weeks I intend to get the EWSL "previews" done, maybe more of them than usual after Opening Day, if for no other reason than continuity in what is now a long-running project - the 2010 numbers are all in the spreadsheets now. To kick that off, here is the annual chart breaking down how the 2010 EWSL previews compared to each team's actual results (see prior charts for 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005).
Key for the chart, by columns:
EWSL: Each team's "projected" 2010 wins by EWSL.
Wins: Actual 2010 wins.
Team Age: Weighted average age of each team's preseason 23-man "roster" weighted by raw EWSL.
2010 WS: Win Shares earned in 2010 by those 23 players, expressed in Wins (WS/3).
W +/-: The number of wins by which 2010 WS exceeded - or fell short of - EWSL. Basically, if EWSL is the expected baseline for each player's performance, this column tells you which teams did better or worse than could be projected from the talent of the 23 players on hand that I included in the preview. Since the main purpose of this exercise is to evaluate how well EWSL fared as a predictor of team performance (as I've noted repeatedly, it's not actually a prediction system, just a fairly rough way of evaluating talent on hand), I've ranked the chart by this column.
Rest: The number of wins (WS/3) earned by players on that team who were not in the preseason previews. Basically, this column tells you how much each team got out of players who weren't on my preseason radar, either because I guessed wrong who would make up the depth chart or because they brought people in by trade, from the minors or elsewhere who ended up being significant contributors. My 2010 EWSL "wins" worked from an assumption that the average team would earn about 13 wins from the rest of the roster, so you have to bear that average in mind when comparing this column to expected results.
Here are the results:
A few notes:
-As usual, EWSL did about what you'd expect: it got half the teams within 5 wins of the results for their rosters, was way, way off on a handful at either end, and didn't really have any way of projecting what teams would add to their preseason depth charts.
-The Reds, Blue Jays, Padres and White Sox easily outstripped every other team in getting more from the players on their preseason depth charts than you'd expect. The Mariners and D-Backs fell the furthest short (EWSL had the Mariners as a first-place team, which is about the largest possible error, and Arizona as a strong second). The Mets, even with some fairly tempered expectations, also fell pretty far short, thanks to getting a lot less than projected from Beltran, Castillo, Francouer and (ugh) Mike Jacobs.
-The Mets were, however, second only to the Giants in finding help from unexpected quarters, in the Mets' case the youth movement led by Ike Davis and the scrap heap brigade led by RA Dickey. The Giants came in almost exactly where EWSL had the 23 guys on their depth chart; their surprising run to World Champions was driven by additions/promotions like Buster Posey, Pat Burrell, Madison Bumgarner, and Santiago Casilla). The A's, for once, were not leaders in getting extra help. The Cubs, White Sox, Yankees and D-Backs got almost nothing from anybody but the people on their preseason depth charts (other than Arizona, this was an unsurprising byproduct of having a roster already full of older established players with a firm grip on their jobs and a settled bench and bullpen - the three oldest teams, the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies, all relied heavily on the people who started the season with a job).
-MLB-wide, teams earned 1247 Win Shares, or 41.57 per team, from the rest of their rosters. Results year-by-year since I started tracking results at a team level:
2005: 1067 (35.57)
That may partly reflect that I've gotten worse over the years at projecting teams' core rosters, but on the whole, it does indicate at least some sort of rising trend from 2007 on in teams getting slightly more from second-line players, prospects and trade acquisitions than from their Opening Day rosters.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:01 PM | Baseball 2011 | Baseball Studies | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 10, 2011
BLOG: One Sporting Event
It's a tough question. I'd immediately discount any event I actually did watch live on TV, like Game Six of the 1986 World Series, the 1980 Miracle on Ice, or the Giants' three Super Bowl victories. My first reaction was to pick Game Seven of the 1960 World Series over some of the more impressive individual achievements like Don Larsen's perfect game or Wilt's 100-point game (of which film doesn't survive), or classics like Bobby Thomson's home run, but I think after kicking this around with some others on Twitter I'd probably settle with Game Seven of the 1912 World Series, which just had amazing team and individual drama and a chance to watch some of the greats of the pre-film era (Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker, Smokey Joe Wood) in their primes.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:07 AM | Baseball 2011 | Basketball | Blog 2006-13 | Football | Other Sports | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)
March 7, 2011
BLOG: Open Thread 3/7/11
Mostly to let you all know I'm not dead (which you could tell from my Twitter feed, but I've been silent on the blog). Still digging out after a business trip to China. Hope to be back blogging soon.
January 31, 2011
BLOG: Open Thread 1/31/11
It's been a couple of days, and none of my long-brewing essays are done yet, so have at it.
November 24, 2010
BLOG: Happy Thanksgiving To All
Enjoy the holidays and give thanks for family, especially. I'll be trying to get back on something more resembling a regular blogging schedule after the long weekend.
November 23, 2010
BLOG: Getting You There
Interesting look at the plans to remake Penn Station. I agree with the general point that while Penn is an eyesore and confusing to the uninitiated, it's also highly functional, and its multiple entry/exit points are a plus - not just for convenience but safety in the even an evacuation is needed. We should monkey with that for aesthetic purposes at our peril.
November 18, 2010
BLOG: Jerry Tough Loss
On Tuesday, we buried my brother Jerry. He was 43. He'd been fine, as far as anybody could tell; he'd been out to dinner with my dad the middle of last week and seemed perfectly healthy, and they were planning to drive to DC on Friday to visit my younger brother and sister. When he didn't show up, my dad called the cops, and they found him in his apartment, no signs of foul play or any other obvious cause or reason. He'd been in Vegas just a few weeks ago with his fraternity brothers. When we went to start cleaning out his apartment on Saturday night, his computer was still on. We're still all in shock. It's hard enough to explain all this to my kids; the oldest are 13 and 11 and don't understand how a man that age can just drop dead with no warning, the youngest is 4 1/2 and just old enough to begin to grasp the finality of death. But the cruelest blow is to my dad, who is 76. My oldest brother Timmy was killed when he was hit by a car in front of our house while flying a kite in 1972; he was 7, Jerry was 5 and was a step behind him when it happened. Jerry didn't talk much about it, any more than my mom did, but Timmy was always with them, and now both of them are with him and my dad is left behind. No man should have to bury a child, let alone two of them.
Regular readers of this site will recall Jerry as one of the regular commenters here on topics large and small. While we were on the same page baseball-wise, we didn't always agree on things political - he was basically a moderate Democrat, voted against Bush twice but had no illusions about Obama and I believe voted against him twice, too - but he always had something pithy and incisive to say on any topic, and usually cut to the issue faster than I did. I've been stealing his ideas and his one-liners for years.
Jerry was everything you'd want in a big brother. He was funny, he was cool, he was even-keeled, he was the responsible one, and he was always there. He was four years my senior: he was born in 1967, I was born in 1971. We shared a bedroom until I was 8; I thought back this weekend to us crying our eyes out when my grandfather died that year, my first experience with death in the family. He was quick and clever enough that almost nobody in the family could beat him at board games or card games; even as a kid, he was the one who could solve Rubik's Cube without taking it apart. He'd worked as a computer programmer at the same company since graduating college in 1989.
The picture above is us with Tom Seaver at my first baseball game, August 28, 1976 (I was not quite 5 and thus not responsible for those plaid shorts, Jerry was 9); my uncle got us down on the field and we got our pictures taken with a bunch of the Mets and a few Dodgers as well. The Mets won that game on a walkoff single in the 9th, Felix Millan driving in Leo Foster. As fate would have it, our last game - I found the ticket stub in his apartment - was 34 years to the day later, August 28, 2010. We'd gotten some tickets from friends who weren't using them, so I decided to take my son and asked Jerry if he wanted to come; he was always up for a ballgame, and being still single, he was generally free. He didn't complain when my son wanted to get something from the Shake Shack and we ended up waiting on a 25-minute line and missing the first-inning rally that put the Astros ahead of Johan Santana and the Mets for the rest of the game (it was Santana's next to last start of the year). We'd gone to a bunch of games with my son and sometimes my older daughter over the years, in the process seeing most of the best games I've seen. He had his company's box seats and my son was just 2 when we saw the Mets win the playoff-game-forcing last game of the 1999 regular season on a Brad Clontz wild pitch; we went to the Mets' last win at Shea, Santana's masterful performance with the 2008 season still hanging within reach, with my son and older daughter. He was with me when we went to see U2 at Yankee Stadium in 1992, when we got stuck in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge leaving a show that ended after midnight and didn't get home until after 2am. He'd seen a lot more great concerts than I ever did.
Looking back now, I realize quite how many of my interests came from him. When I was 6, he came home talking about this movie he'd seen, "Star Wars." We got the comic books and the action figures and I basically knew the whole story by the time I actually saw it in the theater, but it didn't matter. When I was 10 or 11, my Christmas present from him was a model ice planet Hoth built out of Styrofoam, complete with the Wampa's cave. He got a tabletop baseball game, SHERCO baseball, and we spent endless hours compiling and playing teams that we didn't know much more about at the time than their stat lines in the Macmillan Encyclopedia, teams like the 1894 Orioles and the 1906 Cubs. I could still tell you today what a J8K 11-16 pitcher means or a B(11)*mwmk2 hitter is like. He introduced me to The Hobbit (the first full-length book I read, in the second grade) and the Lord of the Rings. He discovered rock n' roll around 1980 or so (my parents had no use for anything recorded after the mid-1950s), and joined the CBS/Columbia Record Club back when it was records and tapes. A few of his early purchases were embarrassing (REO Speedwagon, Eddie Rabbitt), but he was swifty on to the good stuff, buying the Beatles 1962-66 and 1967-70 compilations, the ones that just hit iTunes this week; we wore those cassettes to death on a little tape deck (for my part, Paul McCartney's Tug of War on vinyl was the first album I bought with my own money). He bought The River on vinyl when it was newly out, and introduced me to Bruce Springsteen. He introduced me to Bloom County. He subscribed religiously to Baseball Digest, and in 1983, he introduced me to another new book he'd bought, his first Bill James Baseball Abstract. Eventually, I followed him across the Jersey border to the high school he chose (my younger brother also followed him to Lafayette College).
Jerry wasn't one to wear nostalgia or emotion on his sleeve the way I do, but he tended to the family traditions. He helped my dad decorate the house every year for holidays after my mom died in 2002; that house is still adorned with the Halloween decorations he put up, some of which date back decades. He'd sit patiently with my kids at my dad's house building Legos and Richard Scarry's Puzzletown and playing Wiffle Ball, the same stuff we played as kids. Going through his apartment, I found in the medicine cabinet the ringmaster from the Fisher-Price Little People Circus Train that we had as kids, a toy set long since scattered to the four winds, a little plastic figure squatting among the aspirin bottles and contact lense solutions in his top hat and his cummerbund. The next day, going through the old photo albums, I found a picture of me (age 3, in an engineer's hat) and Jerry (age 7) playing with the full set, Christmas morning, 1974.
For my part, I can't help but feel not just how much I'll miss him, but in a way the loss of that whole period of my life. My younger brother was born in 1975, my sister in 1979; I love them, but my brother scarcely remembers the first decade of my life, my sister not at all; those were the memories Jerry and I shared alone with my parents. You always expect to bury your parents, even if they die too young, as my mom did, but you expect your siblings to be there when your parents are gone.
Rest in Peace.
November 14, 2010
BLOG: Open Thread
For reasons I'll explain in a few days, it'll continue to be quiet for a bit more time here.
November 10, 2010
BLOG: Apologies For Olbermann
Via Allahpundit on Twitter, Pat Sajak looks back at his role in putting Keith Olbermann on national television for the first time. The video clip, from Super Bowl week in January 1989, is kind of sad, really; Olbermann, complete with Ron Burgundy mustache, is affable, relaxed, and low-key, not the bundle of psychotic vein-popping rage, smarmy smugness, egocentric rants at personal enemies and neuroses about women we see on air today. (Sajak, by contrast, remains a tweener, funny for a game show host but not funny enough for a late-night talk show host). While I found Olbermann off-putting when he first started on SportsCenter, I came to enjoy his work with Craig Kilborn in what has to be the golden age of the show; back then they did shtick, but (1) it was their shtick, not an imitation of somebody else's, (2) it was new and different from everything else on sports TV, and (3) because nobody expected shtick to be the focus of the show, it was much more restrained than it later became.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:28 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Football | Politics 2010 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
September 9, 2010
July 6, 2010
BLOG: And Now I'm Back, From Outer Banks
So, we just got back last night from a week plus vacation, mainly in Duck, in North Carolina's Outer Banks. Apologies for not setting up a guest blogger this time, I had anticipated doing a little blogging from vacation but we had the worst possible WiFi setup - I had internet access only up an observation tower on our rental house, and atop the tower it was too sunny to see the laptop screen by day and too dark to see the keys at night. (Also, I ended up doing more work on vacation than anticipated; it's been that kind of year). So, I was able to use Twitter from my Blackberry, but no blogging. Hopefully, regular blogging will return shortly.
We did get a chance, on the way out of town, to check out Kitty Hawk, where the second set* of Wright Brothers chose for their spot to make aviation history, and you only have to fly a kite in the Outer Banks to see why they picked the spot - the wind conditions are perfect for effortless flight. Of course, my 4-year-old was able to walk the distance of the first flight in almost the time it took the Wright Brothers to get there by airplane. The first flight wasn't that fast. But it is striking that it's one of the very few great moments in scientific and technological history that was captured for posterity in photographs. And of course, as befitted (befat?) men of that era, everyone involved wore neckties, topcoats and top hats.
On the trip back, we caught the July 4 Mets-Nationals game at Nationals Park. It's a nice place for a ballgame, with scarcely a bad seat in the house, notwithstanding that it was hot enough there Monday to melt the One Ring. I wouldn't say it's quite as attractive a venue as Citizens Bank or Citi Field, but it's very wide-open, and when Craig Stammen is pitching (he's in the rotation the day after Strasburg), you can have any seat in the house. We sat in the field-level right field seats (Section 135L), which were awesome until the heat became unbearable, then backed up to the covered seats at the top of the section.
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* - Harry and George Wright, the fathers of professional baseball, came first.
« Close It
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:31 PM | Baseball 2010 | Blog 2006-13 | History | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
May 5, 2010
BLOG: Ten Years Burnin' Down The Road
I wish I had more time for a proper retrospective, but I can't let today go by without noting that it was ten years ago today that I began blogging, with my first (then-weekly) column on Bill Simmons' Boston Sports Guy website. I stand by my argument in that column that baseball should change the rules to require relief pitchers to face at least three batters.
Long-time readers know the story: I was sending around long baseball emails to college friends, and one of my college roommates, Jay Murphy, suggested I should be writing on the web for Simmons; Bill and I had written for The Crusader, our college newspaper, at the same time. Jay got me back in touch with Bill, who immediately agreed to run a weekly column, which I banged out in one sitting Thursday night, and it ran Friday, May 5, 2000 (he had a couple other friends writing guest slots, including a guy who wrote about pro wrestling). The rest is history; I had no idea of what lay ahead - the Subway Series, Bill leaving to join ESPN and ultimately national stardom, my column moving to the Providence Journal, 9/11, starting my political blogging on Blogspot in August 2002, getting my first big link (from Andrew Sullivan, of all people) a few weeks later, joining The Command Post and redesigning this blog in its present (Movable Type) form in the spring of 2003, getting a then-coveted spot on Instapundit's blogroll, winning the Best Sports Blog vote in the Weblog Awards in 2004, running my own guest-blogger from Iraq during the run-up to the Red Sox winning the World Series, joining RedState as a diarist in the summer of 2004 and being promoted to a Contributor during the Harriet Miers fight in 2005 and ultimately becoming a Director at RS and a contributing columnist at the New Ledger, having my work run on CBSNews.com and the Hardball Times and referenced on CNN and ESPN.com and in the pages of Sports Illustrated, interviewing Mark Sanford, joining Twitter, etc. It's been a wild ride, and while the volume and shape of my output has waxed and waned at various times, I wouldn't trade it for anything, I'm thankful to all my readers and all the people who have published my stuff in many different outlets, and hope the next decade is as interesting as the first one.
Newer readers can sample my best stuff from the sidebar. It's hard to pick one favorite, especially among serieses of baseball and political columns that were designed to hang together as a coherent whole, but if pressed, I might pick my column on the 2008 farm bill, which I'm told was handed out around Capitol Hill; I had an enormous amount of fun writing that from the primary source in a white heat on a Friday morning, just plowing through the bill and finding one outrageous thing after another.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:23 AM | Baseball 2010 | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
April 20, 2010
BLOG: Quick Links 4/20/10
*The Mets have had some questionable decisions already this year. We saw Fernando Tatis try to score on a wild pitch with two outs, the bases loaded, down 3 and David Wright at the plate against a pitcher having trouble throwing strikes. We saw Jerry Manuel pinch run Tatis for Mike Jacobs and then have to use Alex Cora to pinch hit in the same inning. We saw Manuel play for one run on the road with Joe Mather pitching and Jose Reyes on first base, asking Luis Castillo to bunt before Mather had proven the ability to get anybody out. But perhaps none worse than Manuel on Saturday having K-Rod staying warmed up for 12 innings and possibly as many as 125 pitches in the bullpen before coming in tired to blow the save. Let's hope that doesn't linger. That's why you use the closer as soon as you hit extra innings on the road.
*Joe Posnanski's all-time NBA top 10. His mini-essays on Wilt, Kareem and Jordan are all spot-on, and in Jordan's case reminded me of his obvious, though smiling, irritation earlier this year when Jay Leno asked if he could still dunk. This, about Wilt, is an excellent point:
You know, if you think about Wilt Chamberlain's career - it really is staggering to think that he has through the years been labeled as a guy who did not win enough. I mean, Jim Kelly or Dan Marino or Charles Barkley or Barry Bonds - fair or unfair, it is true they didn't win championships. Chamberlain won TWO. What's more, he led his team to the Finals four other times. What's more than that, his teams were beaten by the Celtics six times in those years, and while so many would like to make that a Russell vs. Chamberlain thing, the truth is those Celtics teams had 10 Hall of Famers. TEN HALL OF FAMERS! Two starting lineups of Hall of Famers. Those teams at various times had Havlicek and Sam Jones and Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman and Tommy Heinsohn and K.C. Jones and so on and so on ... all in addition to Russell. They also were coached by Red Auerbach and Bill Russell.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:30 PM | Baseball 2010 | Basketball | Blog 2006-13 | Pop Culture | War 2007-12 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
March 8, 2010
BLOG: Ramping Up
Regular readers have undoubtedly noticed that things have been quiet about here lately. Partly that's work and family time commitments, and partly I've been using Twitter more for links and one-liners, and doing more longer-form posts for the blog, but I'm also at the point of the year where I'm ramping up on the preseason baseball previews, which require a lot of development time. I've also got something else baseball-related in the works that took a lot of time and won't be out for a bit.
I'll be back to talk about good news for the Mets, if there ever is any.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:46 PM | Baseball 2010 | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
February 11, 2010
The NY Times looks at an issue of pressing importance to its readers: how hard it is to get by in Manhattan on $500,000 a year. In fairness, the article is done with a sense of the absurdity of the question, and is pretty informative if you wondered how, exactly, people can end up feeling like they really are just getting by on that much money. Of course, the single biggest line item is predictable:
If a person is married with two children, the weekly deductions on a $500,000 salary are: federal taxes, $2,645; Medicare, $139; state taxes, $682; and city, $372. With an annual Social Security tab of $6,621, the take-home pay is about $293,000 annually...
Whatever you may think of the justice or efficiency of different tax rates, that's one seriously large bite. It goes a ways to explaining why, in "New York...a new study from the Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit research group in Manhattan, estimates it takes $123,322 to enjoy the same middle-class life as someone earning $50,000 in Houston".
Compared to my own living expenses in Queens and experience with Catholic school tuition, I can see where some of the more astronomical expenses are; $192,000 a year ($16,000/month) for a three-bedroom apartment is obscene even compared to the cost of home ownership inside City limits, and some of the travel, wardrobe and other expenses listed are truly hard to get my head around.
January 14, 2010
BLOG: Watchful Eye
I am amazed at a strange hole in the safety net of contemporary parenting that seems to gape wider and wider each year. Today’s parents will chopper into school if they think their child has been given an unfair grade on a quiz; they will spend hours manipulating coaches to re-jigger the roster of an all-star team if their kid has been passed over; and they will take over simple school fundraisers – like wrapping paper sales and car washes – that are supposed to be the teenagers’ responsibility. In other words, they build a firewall between their children and all of the old disappointments and aggravations that are meant to prepare them for the big league disappointments and aggravations that are the stuff of adult life. But then when it comes to teenage drinking, to teenager partying in general – when it comes to the kinds of experiences in which kids can get into a huge amount of very real trouble, parents suddenly disappear into the wallpaper.
Easier said than done, as any parent can attest, but crucial nonetheless.
December 28, 2009
BLOG: Year In Review
December 25, 2009
BLOG: Merry Christmas
To all. Enjoy the holiday.
December 20, 2009
BLOG: Reading List
I was asked to come up with a book list for The New Ledger along with suggestions from other contributors - this was banged out quickly between shovelfuls of snow this morning, but it's a cross-section of what I've read lately (I'm still reading the Dalin, Amar and Churchill books). The Zubrin book is a true must-read - I've been looking in vain for any sort of rebuttal to Zubrin's thesis about methanol. And the Dalin book is one I wish I'd read years ago, given that the thesis it pushes back at is a much-beloved Known Fact of the anti-Catholic/anti-religious Left.
December 14, 2009
BLOG: Busy Signal
Real life intrudes, from time to time, so apologies to regular readers if I'm tied up a few days - I know I'm particularly overdue on the Winter Meetings roundup. Hopefully, I'll be back in the blog saddle again by Wednesday.
Feel free to treat this as an open thread - baseball, politics, whatever. You can even talk about the Giants, but you can't make me listen.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:21 PM | Baseball 2009 | Blog 2006-13 | Football | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
November 20, 2009
BLOG: Quick Links 11/20/09
*Lots of interesting stuff out there on Sarah Palin and her book tour. the Daily Beast looks at how Palin's book and tour are a one-woman economic stimulus package. Obama's organization wants a part of that action too: Organizing for America says Palin's book tour is "dangerous," so please give them $5. As liberal writer Ezra Klein notes of the Palin coverage:
Liberal sites need traffic just like conservative sites, and the mainstream media needs traffic more than both. And Palin draws traffic. This is actually pretty good revenge for a politician who hates the media. The press had a good time showing Palin to be a superficial creature who relied more on style than on substance, and in getting the media to drop everything and focus on her book tour, she's proving that they're much the same.
Amazingly, two positive Palin pieces at Salon, and neither of them written by Camille Paglia: a favorable review of her book and a look at what she means and why she's not going away as a public figure.
And witness the McCain campaign's crack rapid-response team in action: more than a year after the election, the NY Times finally gets to talk to the stylist who bought the Palin family's clothes, and admits that Palin had nothing to do with the money that was spent.
*Mitt Romney takes apart how Obama's inexperience has led to his failure to set clear priorities and resulting lack of focus on the war and the economy while he pursues as-yet-unfinished health care and cap and trade bills and failed efforts to salvage the campaigns of Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds. It's a mark of how inexperienced and incompetent Obama is that he can be lectured credibly on these points by a 1-term governor like Romney and a half-term governor like Palin. Michael Gerson looks in more detail at the mess that is Obama's decision-making process in Afghanistan.
The Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, after receiving about $1.3 million in funding from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, reported creating or saving 935 jobs in their Head Start preschool program that only employs 508 people.
*Patterico, as usual, is a man not to tangle with, and he remorselessly dismantles an LA Times columnist over the latest Breitbart ACORN videos. It's a facepalm with egg and crow!
*Jonathan Karl notices a $100 million payoff to Louisiana in the Senate healthcare bill to buy Mary Landrieu's vote. John Conyers, in griping about Obama's posture on the House bill, speaks about "the Barack Obama that I first met, who was an ardent single-payer enthusiast himself."
*Michael Rosen looks at Al Franken's so-called "anti-rape" bill that would preclude arbitration of sexual harrassment and various negligence-based employment claims. As Rosen notes, given that the law already bars arbitration of claims arising from rape, whereas the things it would actually change are much less dramatic, it is flatly false to describe opposition to the bill as being "pro-rape" - but then, that's pretty much Franken's M.O.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:48 AM | Blog 2006-13 | Law 2009-13 | Politics 2009 | Politics 2012 | War 2007-12 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
November 18, 2009
BLOG: Big Media, and Hegemon
Also, we're ramping up a new foreign policy blog, "Hegemon," over at the New Ledger. Not much content yet, but my first post is up, on whether it matters if the President has friends among foreign leaders or not.
November 10, 2009
BLOG: Bill Simmons, the People's Sportswriter
A large part of Simmons' appeal has always been that sense that you knew him, that somehow you were invested in his success. Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Klosterman will sell more books in their lifetime than Simmons, but people don't wait in lines spanning around the block just to have them sign their book like they do for Simmons. (A search for photos of Simmons brings up hundreds of shots of him posing with fans.) ...But it's what fans have always done with Simmons, even those who purport to hate him. Simmons turned into an indie rock band from the early '90s. "He's hanging out with Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon now? SELLOUT!" We treated Simmons like he was a guy from our neighborhood who made it big, like it was important that he remember the little people who got him there. In a way, he kind of was.
Leitch is right, although of course it's a little hard for me to have the same perspective; Leitch didn't even read Bill on the Boston Sports Guy site in the pre-2001 era, whereas - as longtime readers will recall - I wrote on the site for over a year. I've been reading Bill's stuff since we were on the college paper together in the early 1990s. While I've enjoyed a lot of his writings on ESPN.com, they were nothing new to me, because I knew his writing style so well by then. And given our common background at Holy Cross and how long I've known him, Bill basically is a guy from my neighborhood.
Leitch's larger point, though, is one I've made repeatedly over the past decade about writers, politicians, musicians, and the blogosphere in general. There's no substitute for a conversational tone that draws the reader/listener/viewer in. There's no substitute for being truly, comfortably yourself - maybe a slightly more eloquent, witty or composed version of yourself, but people can tell when you are talking to them the way you would talk to your friends, and when you are just writing or talking at them. The latter is usually a sign that you are taking yourself too seriously and/or disrespecting your audience. I always personally feel my writing is much stronger - not just my blog writing but my legal writing as well - when it feels more conversational. Bill James was probably the first writer I really and truly absorbed that lesson from - and even to this day, James' fans are so dedicated to the man's work not only because of his insights, his wit and wisdom, or his scientific rigor, but because his writing was always a frank conversation where he'd go off on tangents, discuss petty feuds with his adversaries, gripe about what was on the radio, etc. You felt, just from reading the annual Abstracts, like you knew the guy. And Bill Simmons' writing does the same thing, and thus has generated the same loyalty, especially from people who remember when Simmons, like James, was essentially self-publishing his work and living on a shoestring to do it.
It's true, as Leitch says, that Bill has faced more backlash as the years have gone by, inevitably due to a combination of his success and ubiquity, people getting tired of his signature style, and the fact that it's hard for a die-hard Boston fan to keep the same underdog appeal when the Red Sox, Celtics and especially Patriots are rolling up title after title. But that comes with the territory. Bill's had great success and he's earned it by being the sportswriter the fans wanted to be.
October 28, 2009
BLOG: Quick Links 10/28/09
*Josh Painter looks at how the latest financial disclosure forms tell the story of the intense financial pressure put on Sarah Palin by the stream of bogus ethics complaints filed by left-wing bloggers, culminating in the complaint that prevented her from accessing funds raised for her legal defense. It certainly makes a compelling case why an ordinary person in Palin's shoes would step down rather than be driven under by the expenses. Whether that's enough to absolve her as a potential presidential candidate is another matter; we tend to expect potential presidents not to act like ordinary people. Of course, most politicians would have escaped the mounting debts by writing a book or giving speeches for money, but Palin may have felt, not without reason, that any such activities while serving as governor would lead to further ethics complaints that would tie up those sources of income as well. Meanwhile, Melissa Clouthier looks at a CNN poll finding 70% of the public currently thinks Palin unqualified to be president.
I'm not picking a horse for 2012 yet, nor will I until after 2010. It's unclear if Palin will run, anyway. I do know a few things. One, for reasons I've been through many times, I'd much prefer to support a more experienced candidate - we're not the Democrats, after all, who have permanently forfeited the right to say anything on this subject by backing Obama - and the fact that people in my position are even open to Palin at all at this juncture is a sign of the weakness of the field so far. Two, Palin has proven to be extraordinarily effective at retaining the public's interest and even at exercising her influence as a guerilla opposition leader armed with nothing more than a Facebook page; by mostly absenting herself from the public eye except for Facebook and a few op-eds and obscure speeches, she's kept 'em wanting more (witness the explosive early pre-orders for her book, which non-fiction publishing people viewed as unprecedented), while still driving the public debate (i.e., "death panels"). But the Newt Gingrich experience is vivid proof for Republicans that effective guerillas don't always make good leaders when they come into power.
Whichever way Palin chooses to go, the book tour (including the appearance on Oprah, who is naturally hostile but not really accustomed to tough interviews) will be a sort of second coming-out for her on the public stage that will be critical and should reveal whether she has spent well her time out of the limelight in terms of boning up for future policy debates. We'll be able to assess her future much better in a few months.
*Meanwhile, a man to watch if he gets persuaded to run is Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. (H/T) I'll have more on him another day...upside: Daniels is serious, tough-minded, won re-election in Indiana in 2008 (while it was carried by Obama) after being given up for politically dead in 2006 (when his low approval ratings were blamed as a cause for heavy GOP House losses in the state, paralleling a similar trend in Ohio and Kentucky). Downside: Daniels is as yet reluctant to run (recall how well that worked out with Rudy and Fred), and as a public speaker he's dry as dust.
*The Democratic circular firing squad over health care continues. And Jay Cost explains why the continuing threat to Lieberman from the Left has made it politically necessary for him to oppose the public option.
*Dan Riehl looks at how the GOP made the disastrous decision in the Congressional race in NY's 23d district to nominate Dede Scozzafava, who now seems likely to finish third in that race. Meanwhile, Newsbusters notices that the NY Daily News still refuses to acknowledge the existence of Doug Hoffman, the Conservative candidate in the race. Jim Geraghty is unsparing on the folly of Newt's continuing support for Scozzafava.
*George W. Bush, motivational speaker - without a teleprompter. The WaPo seems astonished that a man who won something on the order of 110 million votes in two national elections is actually a decent speaker. Key quote from Bush: "It's so simple in life to chase popularity, but popularity is fleeting."
*Naturally, he's retracted it, but you can't top Anthony Weiner's initial assessment of Alan Grayson as being "one fry short of a Happy Meal."
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:48 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Law 2009-13 | Politics 2009 | Politics 2012 | Pop Culture | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)
October 22, 2009
BLOG: Relatively Entertaining
Another college friend has been blogging on pop culture with her siblings at a relatively newly-established blog entitled "Relatively Entertaining." Check it out, if it's to your taste (it's well-written, although her taste in entertainment is not mine).
October 8, 2009
BLOG: Quick Links 10/8/09
As is true of the Great Depression, there will probably never be a consensus on the causes of the credit crisis, or at least on what weight to assign to the many various contributing causes. I'm skeptical of any effort to boil it down to just one culprit. But the Left has its work cut out for it in trying to deny that the visible foot of government meddling played a number of significant roles - including the GSEs, the CRA and the Fed's monetary policies. And there is something to be said - as was true in the case of California's electricity crisis earlier in the decade - that half-assed government interference can be even worse than more heavy-handed intervention, when the government unbalances the incentives in a market and cuts off some of the safety valves. A lesson to remember as the next rounds of proposals to ramp up government involvement in virtually everything make the rounds.
*Ben Domenech at TNL has an excellent piece on the Right's institutional failure to fund effective activists rather than bloated think tanks and vanity projects. I know he and I and others on the RedState and New Ledger staffs have beaten the drum repeatedly about the massive financial imbalance of power between the Left and the Right in terms of online and grassroots activism and investigative journalism, but it's not just that they have Soros and we don't (although in the world of funding bloggers, one billionaire can make a big footprint) or that they have the SEIU and we don't; Ben hits the nail on the head as to the dysfunctional structures in place.
*Also a must-read at TNL is Benjamin Kerstein's look from Israel at how and why Obama became so unpopular so quickly there. Add Israel to the list with India, Great Britain, France, Canada, Poland and Honduras (assuming he doesn't succeed in supporting the toppling of its government), among others, where Obama's created real problems with our bilateral relationships. Granted, to a lot of Obama's supporters, being unpopular with Israelis is a feature, not a bug.
October 5, 2009
BLOG: Quick Links 10/5/09
*Is there a bigger example on the web of not knowing your audience than ESPN.com automatically playing video content - i.e., with sound - when you open the page?
*I'm still unclear on why exactly the Twins-Tigers game has to be tomorrow instead of today....I'll have a more detailed post - whether you like it or not - on my Roto team, but I enter that game tied for first place, and if I lose the pennant by one home run or one RBI (both a real possibility) despite having the possible AL MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year on my team, I swear I'm gonna sue Grady Sizemore.
It's been sad watching the direction of Letterman and his show the last few years. I've had progressively less time to watch anyway since I started working for a living, but I'd been a fan on and off for decades. If there's one lesson here, it's that if you wanted to keep an affair secret, you don't take the woman you're sleeping with, put her on air on your national TV show and flirt with her shamelessly. Well, that and a guy who's a producer at 48 Hours shouldn't be dumb enough to think he could get away with blackmailing a public figure. Another glorious chapter in the history of CBS News.
*The Olympics story is pretty much a dead horse at this point, but this American Thinker piece does a bang-up job of dissecting the Obamas' sales pitch to show how it violated pretty much every rule of sales pitches.
*The Washington Post's paid left-wing activist Greg Sargent is proud that the Left is playing the race card on health care - seriously, read this post. Sargent's thesis is that the ad in question is racial code and that that's a good thing. Regardless of what you think of the ad itself, that speaks volumes about Sargent's mindset. What remains less clear is why the Post employs a full-time left-wing activist in the first place.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:54 PM | Baseball 2009 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2009 | Pop Culture | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
September 28, 2009
BLOG: Quick Links 9/28/09
*The Second Circuit reverses a prior decision and concludes that foreign governments, like states of the Union, are not "persons" with rights protected by the Due Process Clause. Perhaps more controversially, the court then extends this rule to companies that act as instrumentalities controlled by the foreign state.
*In the vein of other liberals suddenly switching gears to oppose the war in Afghanistan now that it can no longer be used as a club against Bush's Iraq policy, Rich Lowry takes apart Frank Rich's sudden about-face on Afghanistan. I'd agree with Lowry that, especially in Rich's case, this may be as much ignorance as duplicity at work. The Left's freshly-minted campaign to demonize the Karzai government is simply a fig leaf to cover this reversal, and it ignores the history of Afghanistan, a poverty-stricken country with an appalling history of all sorts of misrule.
*Obama is going to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago getting the Olympics. Yes, the President of the United States has officially run out of better things to do with his time.
But I think we can confidently predict his smile.
September 20, 2009
BLOG: Quick Links 9/20/09
*You know who quietly helped his Hall of Fame case this season? Bobby Abreu. Stayed healthy for a winning team, close to .300 average, .400 OBP and 30 steals, on the verge of his 7th straight 100-RBI season.
*Obama points out to David Paterson that he's already dead. Apparently redistricting trumps racial solidarity (so much for Paterson's effort to argue that all criticisms of him were racist, an argument that was especially dangerous to Obama due to Paterson's effort to equate himself with Obama; Obama has enough problems of his own without carrying Paterson as baggage). Of course, with only one GOP-held Congressional seat and few others even potentially competitive, redistricting isn't as big a deal as it will be in California, Texas, Illinois or Florida, but it's still a priority for the White House to bigfoot governors' races.
*Ben Domenech notes that Salon's polling shows that Obama had an 85% approval rating among Hispanics the week before the Sotomayor nomination, but 68% after her confirmation. So much for that battle damaging the GOP.
*Michael van der Galien looks at how Afghanistan has replaced Iraq as the anti-war Left's next target, with the declining salience of Iraq and the departure of President Bush dispensing with the need to pretend to be in favor of pressing on with the war that was started when America was attacked from Afghan territory by terrorists who were essentially indistringuishable from the Taliban. This was entirely predictable to anyone familiar with the Left, but it has nonetheless been more depressing than amusing to watch the turn in particular among the leading left-wing bloggers.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:56 PM | Baseball 2009 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2009 | War 2007-12 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
September 9, 2009
August 26, 2009
BLOG: Prime Time
Thanks to TNL's relationship with the CBS News site, my health care costs piece ran here.
July 30, 2009
BLOG: Gone Fishin'
Not literally...will be away from the blog for about a week. Hopefully, I will be recharged when I get back.
July 29, 2009
BLOG: Young and Stupid
Craig Ferguson nails it:
July 8, 2009
BLOG: Cost Cutting Comes To Local TV News
June 16, 2009
BLOG: Now This Is A Car Review
H/T Erick Erickson.
May 20, 2009
BLOG: The Juggling Act
Congrats to Ted Villa and Nancy Snow Villa, two of my old friends from college, who got a prominent writeup in today's Wall Street Journal (it's on page D1 of the print edition) about how they juggle their business and care for their three children in shifts.
May 8, 2009
I have finally given in and joined Twitter. Find me at @baseballcrank
April 23, 2009
BLOG: Wired To Be Deceived
April 9, 2009
BLOG: Well, He Was A Protestant Minister
Fortunately, ignorance is curable, at least in the young. Although if that's the way the question was actually written, the teacher's ignorance is another story.
March 31, 2009
This seems like one of those ideas you're almost afraid to ask what the point is. It has its own website, which attempts to explain and ends up conjuring up mental images of the Hindenberg. Video below the fold.
Read More »
March 17, 2009
BLOG: Ten Thousand Words
March 3, 2009
BLOG: Quick Links 3/3/09
*I had a quick piece up at RedState yesterday on Ron Kirk's tax troubles. Kirk is actually not one of the more egregious offenders like Geithner, Daschle or Charlie Rangel, but when you start talking about a third of Obama's appointees, it stops looking like just a coincidence. Maybe Taranto is right that Joe Biden questioned their patriotism.
*I don't think the Lord expends much effort intervening in public policy disputes, but it's kind of hard to avoid wondering if He has a wry sense of humor in tweaking people who think human beings control the weather.
*A man punches dog story, sort of. Not a very good idea.
*Of course, Obama wants to vastly increase the federal payroll, with unionized workers who will then be compelled to kick back dues to be donated to the Democratic party. We should be surprised?
[M]atch funds for venture capital and angel investments. Venture firms and investors need financial incentives to invest in companies that create U.S. jobs. What if firms with credible histories could receive as much as $100 million in federal matching funds if their investments create jobs in the United States? Investors could keep their normal return plus 50 percent of the returns on the matching funds, while the other half goes back to the government to revitalize further investment. This would give individuals an incentive to double down on investments they would make anyway, but sooner rather than later.
Have we really just been through a credit crisis without learning that people make bad investments when they get too much easy money to play with? And traditionally, the reason to invest in venture capital instead of established companies was the potential for rapid growth and big profits....but of course if you are making it harder for new companies to grow, and easier to take away their profits, then I guess you do end up short on incentives.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:54 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2009 | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
February 18, 2009
BLOG: Japan is Different
In case you needed further proof:
Read More »
BLOG: Quick Links 2/18/09
*Megan McArdle on whether World War II ended the Great Depression. Francis Cianfrocca responds here.
*The New Republic profiles the Politico's knack for scoops and - what comes with that - penchant for inaccuracy. That said, you can smell the jealousy from the newspapermen quoted here (is Bill Keller really the guy to talk about unsustainable business models?)
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:23 PM | Basketball | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2009 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
February 5, 2009
BLOG: Rest in Peace, Mark Kilmer
My RedState colleague Mark Kilmer has died. Erick has a tribute to him here. We only found out - Mark only found out - last week that his cancer had returned; none of us were expecting this to happen so quickly. For those of you who don't read RedState, Mark was best known for his weekly roundup of the Sunday morning talk shows, which he did every Sunday for years and which were widely read in DC. He will be missed.
January 26, 2009
POLITICS: Focus on FOCA
I am pleased to announce that my political commentary will now be appearing at yet another outlet, the brand-newly-launched The New Ledger. More on TNL to follow.
As I have noted before, and as we saw previewed with Barack Obama's executive order repealing the ban on taxpayer funding for international groups that perform abortions and Democratic plans to put federal matching funds for abortions and contraception into the stimulus package, there is no question that the new Democratic majority in Washington intends to go on the offensive in the culture wars in general, and in particular to use federal taxpayer money to subsidize and incentivize more abortions while bulldozing democratically-enacted state law restrictions on the practice and cracking down on private conscientious objectors who do not wish to participate in abortions. TNL contributor Christopher Badeaux takes an in-depth look at the Freedom of Choice Act, what it means and how it is likely to be pushed in Washington in stages rather than as a single omnibus assault that would trigger massive opposition by the Catholic Church, among others.
January 23, 2009
BLOG: Lost in Transcription
January 22, 2009
BLOG: This Means War!
December 29, 2008
BLOG: Dave Barry Does 2008
The annual year in review column, always a must-read. January alone contains the most concise summary ever of the Obama campaign, while May contains a concise summary of how John McCain spent the months between wrapping up the nomination and the end of the Democratic race.
December 17, 2008
BLOG: I Have Given A Name To My Pain
December 11, 2008
BLOG: Wrong Week To Quit Sniffing Glue Open Thread
This is an exceptionally crummy week to not have time to blog, but work pays the bills (and, as it happens, I'm working on some very interesting stuff - just quite a lot of it at the same time), plus my home PC is still out of service. For those of you who come here regularly, here's your open thread for now on
Or, you know, whatever else.
December 4, 2008
BLOG: Bear Market
December 1, 2008
BLOG: Shock and Awe
Yeah, we're gonna here a lot of that. Past winners.
BLOG: Thanks, Given
Between the holidays, work, technical problems (my home PC needs Vista reinstalled), a little post-election burnout, some slow baseball news days and the like, I've gone quiet for a few days here - but I did want to extend a word of thanks to my readers. 2008 has been a good traffic year for the site, culminating in the election, as you can see:
I can't predict the mix of content going forward, but of course I expect to keep up the baseball side of things a little better over the next 12 months, without neglecting the many political battles to come. In the meantime: thanks for stopping by.
November 24, 2008
BLOG: Banning Chemical Weapons in School
Now this is serious.
November 14, 2008
BLOG: Talking Down
So, I have reached the point with our two-and-a-half year old daughter where she actually talks down to me. Coupla examples.
1. She's sitting on the toilet (having been potty trained earlier than her siblings) and wants me to read her a book, one with the "Wheels on the Bus" song in it. I can't find it in her room.
Me: "I can't find the Wheels on the Bus book in here. Do you know where it is? Can I read you another one?"
Her: "It's the one with the stripes on the side. Now do you understand?"
2. She tells me she wants to play cars, but I can't make out whether she said wanted to play cards or play cars.
Her: "I want to play cars"
Me: "Cards, or cars?"
Her (leaning her face in and speaking slowly and deliberately): "Say cars."
November 3, 2008
BLOG: This Week's Schedule
1. Baseball content, and in general a more normal balance of content, should resume around Thursday.
2. Sadly, I never did get to the end of my list of posts to write up before the election. I'll be rolling a few more things out if I have the time.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:45 AM | Baseball 2008 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
October 27, 2008
BLOG: Dean Barnett, Rest in Peace
Bill Kristol has the news here; this was the end of a long battle with cystic fibrosis. I'll repeat what I said earlier: Dean was one of the good and decent guys on the web, from his start as a pseudonymous baseball and politics blogger at SoxBlog to his tenure blogging with Hugh Hewitt to his gig at The Weekly Standard. I didn't always agree with Dean - he'd been a driver for Mitt Romney during Romney's 1994 Senate campaign and was a big believer in Romney as a presidential candidate - but I always respected his opinions.
Some samples of his writing:
*Wondering - oh, how long ago this was! - why John Kerry kept invoking John McCain. And arguing here, here, here and here about the idea that Kerry was a smart guy. I believe it was his posts on the topic of Kerry's intellect that put Dean on the map.
October 8, 2008
BLOG: Say A Payer For Dean Barnett
I would echo every word Ed Morrissey writes in this post. I take some pleasure in Dean's success since I was one of the early people to link to him at SoxBlog before he hit it big and ended uo at The Weekly Standard (and, sadly, left the baseball part of his blogging days behind). He really is one of the good and decent guys on the web.
September 14, 2008
BLOG: Cooperstown Travelogue
I had started writing this up when I got back from my vacation in August and got sidetracked - I'll just offer up a truncated version here.... we spent a week in Lake George and the last few days in Cooperstown making a pilgrimage to the Hall of Fame. It was the first time I'd been back since the inductions in 1982. The Hall seemed different in a number of ways, although it's always hard to tell how much of that is not being 11 years old anymore. There are a lot more Hall of Famers, now, of course - you can basically go by a set of panels that collect in one place the stars of the 70s, and by now the 80s collection is fairly well-stocked as well. When I was there in 1982, there was basically nobody there I'd seen play; now there are guys like Ripken and Boggs I remember as rookies, and even one guy (Kirby Puckett) who came to the majors, played his whole career, retired, got inducted in the Hall, and died since the last time I was there. Oddly, at random places there were a few shiny new plaques for Hall of Famers who'd been in a while - I guess guys like Ruth and Bob Feller needed their original plaques replaced at some point. (Odd promotion: they were advertising for 9/10 year olds to do a sleepover in the Hall itself, on its hard stone floors among the plaques. That seems very cool but also kinda ghoulish).
The Hall, of course, is a must-make pilgrimage for any serious baseball fan. It's still basically a museum you can cover in one day - although I got rushed through one or two sections because of the kids, we basically covered the whole place with hours to spare. (One thing that struck me in the equipment exhibits: Honus Wagner used a much thicker-handled bat than guys who played at or shortly after the same time, like Sam Crawford. Also, I hadn't known that in the 1880s they used color-coded uniforms, like today's NFL numbering schemes, to distinguish the different fielding positions). I also stopped in the day before at the library (it's only open M-F) - I'd still like to do a book someday if I get the free time, so I wanted to get a concrete sense of how research is done there and what's available. It's basically a one-room reading-room by-request operation, no public stacks at all, but nonetheless very user-friendly.
If I had one beef with the Hall, it's that the caliber of the stuff in the gift shop didn't match up to the souvenirs we got 26 years ago. Back then, we came home with, among others, a book collecting pictures of all the plaques and a punch-out book of cardboard replicas of actual old baseball cards of all the Hall of Famers. I went looking for similar things for my kids this time and came up empty, as too much of the selection was generic MLB merchandise.
We also took some time after lunch to check out a "Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum" down the street. This was a bit less of a serious fan site, but it was a fun mid-day diversion you can cover in an hour or so. The exhibits are eclectic - amidst the ballplayers there's George Costanza, a League of Their Own exhibit, Joe D and Marilyn, even George W and Rudy at Yankee Stadium after 9/11. But they also clearly made use of their unauthorized status to get a hookup with Pete Rose (they seem to have a fair bit of stuff that came from Rose himself) and an exhibit on Joe Jackson. Definitely worth seeing if you have kids.
Driving around upstate New York, you realize how many vast stretches of sparsely-populated greenery and farmland there still is in what people in the rest of the country still think of as a densely-settled urban state. After you've driven through stretches like that in New York, Pennsylvania, even Connecticut and western Massachusetts, and then compare them on the map to the size and scale of the whole rest of the U.S., you really start to appreciate how enormous this country is and how little of it looks like New York City and its immediate surroundings, where I have spent most of my life along with the Boston-Worcester area, northern New Jersey, and Washington DC.
A brief political note: we did see an Obama TV ad or two in Lake George, which struck me as odd since I couldn't see why he'd be advertising in New York (the closest neighboring state is Vermont). We saw a lot of ads for the incumbent Congresswoman, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who was still ripping the Iraq War but solely on grounds that it costs money that could be spent in her District.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:37 PM | Baseball 2008 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
August 18, 2008
BLOG: Back But Not All The Way
I'm back from vacation but it's looking like tomorrow at the earliest before I'm dug out enough to resume regular blogging.
August 8, 2008
BLOG: Guest Starring....
There's a bunch of stuff I'd like to get to today, but I really have to get everything in order before I leave on vacation. So in case I don't get back to the blog this evening, as I did the last two years I have lined up a guest blogger; I will be leaving you in the capable hands of the excellent but semi-retired-from-blogging Ricky West, who really is a good guy despite being a Braves fan.
July 17, 2008
BLOG: Bomb The Smurfs
July 9, 2008
BLOG: Overstayed Welcome
July 7, 2008
BLOG: Not Quite Back
I'm back from vacation (West Palm Beach), but still digging out. More to follow once I get a few free moments to resume regular blogging.
July 1, 2008
I'll be away from the blog until Sunday night or Monday. Happy Independence Day!
June 29, 2008
BLOG: 6/29/08 Quick Links
*Price fixing does not sound like a useful solution to the hazards of maple bats. (H/T). Does anyone really think Major League ballplayers are currently using cheap knockoff bats?
*George Carlin on Kiner's Korner. And a few of his one-liners from the later stage of his career (i.e., when he wasn't high). Some of those were only funny because of Carlin's delivery, and some have become cliches by now, but he does have a few classics there. Carlin was at his best when he was being misanthropic.
*Replacing Chris Noth with Jeff Goldblum on Law & Order: Criminal Intent is not a step up. Amusingly, that photo makes Goldblum look quite a lot like Jerry Orbach, though.
*There's money in poverty, if you're a friend of Barack Obama. Decent housing's another matter.
*It's like joining a cult, except...I'm working on it....let me think ....
*Somebody on Kos tried to do a response (sans permalink) to our RedState editorial on the GOP as the party of freedom of choice, and I think I hurt my brain reading the thing. The paragraph on the salary cap is priceless, and the sad part is that the author presumably intends us to take the Jeff Spicoli quote as authoritative, as if quoting Montesquieu or something. In a similar vein, this is awfully unspecific. Why should it matter if I'm "ungrateful" to farmers - I pay for my food, and that should be enough for them just as it is for lawyers, autoworkers, toymakers, whoever.
*Interesting writeup on great NHL goalie Terry Sawchuk, who I'd never known much about. Man, that's a guy with a lot of problems and a lot of injuries.
*This is an oldie but a goodie, on Live Earth. Our old friend and Holy Cross classmate Dave Holmes makes it out of this with more of his dignity intact than most of the participants.
*I shouldn't laugh at Al Sharpton on a bicycle (in fact, I can't ride one myself), but what the heck, he's Al Sharpton.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:01 AM | Baseball 2008 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
June 18, 2008
BLOG: What Would We Do Without The Internet?
To answer practical questions.
June 15, 2008
BLOG: 6/15/08 Quick Links
*The idea of a steroid blacklist is not implausible, but it's not the simplest explanation, especially where Barry Bonds is concerned: it seems more likely that no team wants the PR headache and distraction of the disgraced, indicted Bonds. And with guys like Jay Gibbons, there's the double issue of "will he still be any good if he's not juicing?"
Here are the important numbers:Big Brown (2008 Kentucky Derby): 2:01:82 Affirmed (1977 Kentucky Derby): 2:01 1/5 Secretariat (1973 Kentucky Derby): 1:59 2/5
*Drill, drill, drill. It's not the long-term answer, but it's appalling that the U.S. insists on preferring to import Saudi and Venezuelan oil rather than do the sorts of routine oil exploration and development that's done everywhere else in the world. Note Gingrich's point about offshore drilling in enviro-conscious Norway.
*The NY Times on the dangers of an inexperienced candidate for president. You know, a lot of Bush-hating liberals respond to questions about Obama's experience by noting Bush's relative inexperience compared to some past candidates...but even if you insist on ignoring the advantages Bush had over Obama, I have to ask: are you saying now that Bush worked out just fine? Because that wasn't what I heard from you up to now.
In the course of writing the book, you and your co-author, Bryan Garner, consulted more than a dozen judges. Did you learn anything about the habits of your colleagues?
I'd have to think that would be counterproductive in a lot of cases where the briefs are loaded with references back to complex facts and defined terms in the beginning, but it's a caution to lawyers to consider how a brief looks like from the back to the front.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:05 AM | Baseball 2008 | Blog 2006-13 | Other Sports | Politics 2008 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
May 30, 2008
BLOG: Reunion Time
For my fellow Holy Cross '93 friends: see you at the 15th reunion tomorrow.
May 8, 2008
BLOG: Drugs Are Bad, Vol. MCXLVIII
UPDATE: Speaking of drugs being bad, apparently playing a highly sophisticated crime scene investigator on television won't prevent you from getting busted like a common wino.
May 7, 2008
BLOG: Toddler Moment
So I recently tried out Fox in Socks on my 25-month-old daughter, figuring it was a little beyond her age (stretches have just words that aren't tied closely to pictures in the book, which I explained by pointing out that they were funny words), and she sat for it, but since it was bedtime I figured after that I'd try something easier and more familiar. So I got one of her touch-and-feel-the-animals books, and I started reading, and about two pages in she says, "this book not as funny."
April 15, 2008
BLOG: Five Years On
I count blogoversaries from three different points - the debut of my column on the old BSG site in May 2000 and the start of my Blogspot blog in August 2002 are the first two - but as of yesterday I reached the five year mark of this site in its current form. It's always an adventure, balancing the baseball/sports/pop culture and the political/war/law sides of the site, on top of all my other family and work commitments (and blog commitments, as I've assumed an ever larger role over at RedState, where I am currently one of the site's Directors), but it's almost always been fun. Thanks to everyone who stops by.
April 7, 2008
BLOG: It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated
This looks like a desperate cry for links and traffic...but I'm linking anyway. If you don't mind bad language and generally non-G-rated content you can go vote, or something. There are no real upsets in the 8/9 game anyway.
April 6, 2008
BLOG: Quick Links 4/6/08 Part II
*Poor cash management. Among other things.
*For the record, I approve of splitting the 7th Harry Potter film in two parts. There are too many good extended action sequences in the book that shouldn't be cut to the bone to fit a 2-hour film schedule.
*I have linked to this Bill James interview before, but I am very interested to hear that James, an avowed fan of crime stories, is finally working on a true-crimes book of his own.
April 4, 2008
BLOG: Quick Links 4/4/08
*This analysis of major league managers' tendencies illustrated as cartoon faces is...well, you have to click on the graphic to get the full effect. It's bizarre. H/T Rays Index.
*Today is the 97th anniversary of the introduction of baseball's MVP Award by automaker Hugh Chalmers. The first-ever MVPs? In the AL, 24-year-old Ty Cobb for his first and best .400 season, batting .420/.467/.621 with 47 doubles, 24 triples and 83 steals, scoring 147 runs and driving in 127. In the NL, 28-year-old veteran Cubs rightfielder Frank "Wildfire" Schulte, narrowly over Christy Mathewson, for batting .300/.384/.534 with 21 triples and 21 homers (only the third 20-HR season ever if you exclude the fluky 1884 Cubs), 105 Runs, and 107 RBI.
*Our old friend Dr. Manhattan is back blogging! While I was tied up doing my baseball previews, he had a fine column taking John McCain to task for his knee-jerk ignorance on the connection between vaccines and autism. As a general rule, the more science is involved in an issue, the worse McCain is. He seems sometimes to have a superstitious faith in junk science.
*Former equipment manager Yosh Kawano is leaving the Cubs clubhouse after 65 years. That's a very long time to work for one baseball team and not get a World Series ring. I think Kawano's name is familiar to me from one of Joe Garagiola's books...as in, he was there when Garagiola played for the Cubs.
*Via Pinto, Travis Nelson at Boy of Summer has a lengthy attack on Melky Cabrera. I'm more optimistic about Cabrera's potential for across-the-board growth as a hitter, but I'd generally agree that his prospects are much dimmer if you don't regard him as a competent defensive center fielder.
*There's no such thing as an innocent non-Muslim? This may go a ways to explaining what this means. I can't buy into Hawkins' notion, which has been pushed for some time by my RedState colleague Paul Cella, that the U.S. should bar immigration by Muslims, but when you consider Hawkins' logic, I have to admit that that's more an emotional reaction than a reasoned position on my part.
*While I don't agree with all the analysis, David Frum and Bill Kristol have some useful points about the perlious passivity of the Bush Administration in responding to criticism, most particularly the conviction that there's no point in fighting over the past. The Administration's enemies have nourished a number of myths about the past 7 years that have proven terribly corrosive of its credibility, goodwill and, ultimately, ability to get anything done. (On a related note, consider how little press went to the Army Corps of Engineers' ultimate admission that its design defects caused the flooding of New Orleans).
*Yes, Glenn Greenwald is still a fool who has trouble with elementary logical reasoning.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:09 AM | Baseball 2008 | Blog 2006-13 | Business | Hurricane Katrina | Politics 2008 | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
March 10, 2008
BLOG: It's That Time of Year
Over the last several weeks I've been dividing my blogging time largely between writing about the presidential election and crunching numbers and getting up to speed behind the scenes to prepare for my annual division previews. Now, with the season starting in earnest March 31 (leaving aside the March 25 Japanese opener between the Red Sox and the A's) and 6 divisions to cover, ideally before that date, I really need to put my back into getting my preseason division previews in shape. As a result, expect the site to go to a more sporadic publication schedule as I roll out the divisional previews. I may not go completely dark on politics - there's just so much material out there - but just about anything worth saying today about the elections will be equally worth saying in April.
March 7, 2008
BLOG: Where Did That Come From?
I really miss referrers.net and its code that used to run on this site giving me an instant look, not just for the front page but every page on the blog, at how many visitors were entering a particular page from a particular site. Among other things it was a much more reliable guide than anything else I have both to who was linking to me and how many eyeballs they were sending my way.
Today, this post from nearly 8 years ago has drawn, estimating from SiteMeter, hundreds of people to this site. And I have no idea from where. I'd be willing to pay to get a service like that back, as I was paying before; but it just does not seem to exist, or if it does I can't find it.
March 6, 2008
BLOG: Great Moments In Manual Writing
Actual sentence from troubleshooting section of iPod player manual, suggesting possible cause of problems: "There has case by switching between standard and extended most, iPod backlight is out of control."
BLOG: Love and Marriage
This may seem odd to the single men out there, but it will come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone who has been married for any appreciable amount of time.
March 5, 2008
BLOG: Patty Hearst is Back
February 28, 2008
February 24, 2008
BLOG: Multicultural Ignorance
How can the use of feng shui, a traditional Chinese concept, in a California McDonald's "help all customers tap their inner Zen," Zen being a Japanese religious/philosophical concept? You would think an AP reporter named Nguyen (a Vietnamese surname) would know the difference, but apparently all "Asians" are alike to her.
A person knowledgeable about her Vietnamese heritage would be acutely sensitive to such distinctions,the distinction between Chinese and Japanese culture and tradition being of enormous importance to East Asian history. A person raised in America to think of all "Asians" as a homogenous mass to be agglomerated for political purposes might miss that distinction. I infer the latter.
February 17, 2008
BLOG: Quick Links 2/17/08
*The morality of waterboarding. This probably deserves a longer post but I agree 100% with the point that you have to consider the morally correct thing first and let the law follow.
*The most badass U.S. presidents in history. Hilarious.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:19 AM | Baseball 2008 | Blog 2006-13 | History | Politics 2008 | War 2007-12 | Comments (30) | TrackBack (0)
February 1, 2008
BLOG: Quick Links 2/1/08
*Bob Klapisch has a must-read (really!) article about how the Twins got backed into the Santana deal with the Mets instead of taking better packages from the Yankees and Red Sox (one is left with the impression that the Red Sox, possibly rationally, lost interest once the Yankees were out of the bidding - unlike the Yanks they don't have unlimited financial resources and have a fairly solid pitching staff at present). Via Pinto. On the one hand, the Twins' new GM Bill Smith clearly screwed up by turning down a deal involving Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and two additional prospects in December; on the other hand, the Yankees will probably regret turning down a last-minute chance to get Santana for just Ian Kennedy, Melky and one other prospect (and I say this as someone who thinks Melky has a good shot to be a real good player).
*Speaking of great reporting, Fred Barnes' account of how President Bush decided on the surge, based heavily on interviews with the president himself, is also a must-read for intelligent discussion of the subject.
*You will look long and hard for two savvier observers of presidential politics than Karl Rove and Patrick Ruffini, and their takes on the 08 scene are worth reading, especially Rove's point about exit polls and Patrick's point about the advantages of online fundraising (added advantage he doesn't mention: online donors don't show up demanding favors).
*The FBI interrogator who questioned Saddam after his capture confirms what we all knew: Saddam intended all along to retain the ability to ramp up WMD production as soon as he could, and he made a deliberate effort to appear to still have WMD capability:
Mr. Piro: "The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there."
*Great move by the Yankees snagging Morgan Ensberg. Ensberg has had his struggles lately and granted he will be less useful as a first baseman, but his combination of power and patience makes him a potentially very useful bat.
*The real DB Cooper, unmasked? Nah, he would never have stolen paper currency just months after Nixon took us off the gold standard.
*Mark Steyn rightly takes McCain to task for his hostility to making money in the private sector. I think John Hinderaker has the better of the argument about preferring McCain to a novice politician like Romney on foreign affairs - unlike Steyn's example of Hillary, McCain is a longstanding, indeed life-long, foreign policy hawk who has no illusions about the likes of Putin (I believe he once said he looked in Putin's eyes and saw the lettters "KGB"). And Pejman properly takes McCain to task for misrepresenting Romney's position on timetables and the surge, which is a shame because there really is a fair contrast (see here and here) on the fact that McCain was a longstanding, vocal leader on Iraq strategy while Romney played the role of a cautious follower who always kept his options open to bail on victory in Iraq for the greater good of getting himself elected.
*This video about Hillary's role on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart will likely hurt her mostly in the primaries, and certainly doesn't scandalize me. But it's amusing and interesting on a few levels, not least the accent she was using back then. There's also a lesson about what drives journalists; biases are one thing, but when Brian Ross mentions that he covered this story 16 years ago, it's pretty clear that returning to it now is about Ross' career more than about Hillary.
Read More »
*I know this is wrong, wrong, wrong, but it was emailed by a friend (I'm not sure what the original source was) and cracked me up:
« Close It
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Baseball 2008 | Basketball | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | War 2007-12 | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
January 12, 2008
BLOG: Quick Links 1/12/08
*Tom Maguire on Paul Krugman's efforts to put lipstick on the pig of the European welfare state. Of course, deceit is to Krugman what the fedora and the bullwhip are to Indiana Jones.
*Two war-related decisions yesterday from the DC Circuit; one that rejects First Amendment challenges by Cindy Sheehan to her arrest at a protest but reverses her conviction for failure to prove her state of mind, the other of which rejects a variety of civil claims against Donald Rumsfeld and a variety of other DoD personnel, brought by Guantanamo detainees claiming that they were tortured or otherwise mistreated in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
*Slate has a really silly article about the demise of the billable hour, while admitting that the big law firms that handle high-end cases (i.e., lawyers like me) are not likely to abandon hourly billing any time soon. Yes, it's true that basically every lawyer in private practice hates the billable hour; that's been true as long as anyone could remember. And it's true that clients don't love it either, and that if change comes to billing methods, it will come from client demand. But like Churchill's dictum about democracy being the worst form of government except every alternative that has been tried, hourly billing endures because lawyers and clients alike are familiar with it, and for potentially major litigation, it's hard to come up with alternatives that don't have larger problems. The flaw in the Slate piece is not suggesting any feasible alternative - that works at least minimally for both lawyer and client - for how to bill a case that walks in the door with potentially huge damages liability, yet even the most experienced litigator can't tell you up front whether it will be quickly dismissed or settled, or end up in years of labor-intensive discovery and trial, or somewhere in between. Without a workable alternative, large organizations will always prefer the tried and tested, and work within that framework to make the process work for both parties.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:43 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Law 2006-08 | Politics 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
January 8, 2008
BLOG: Quick Links 1/8/08
*Dave Barry's Year in Review. Priceless. Too much great stuff to excerpt.
*Mark Steyn cautions against
writing New Hampshire off as just another effete decadent coastal latte-swilling gay-marriage weekend home untypical of the conservative heartland, just a Studio 54 in the mountains full of transplanted liberals hitting on coked-up moose as they stagger around in search of a restaurant serving something with arugula. NH delivered Bush's margin of victory in 2000. It remains the north-east's still-just-about non-liberal state. If the Republican Party can't come up with a candidate that has some appeal in New Hampshire, its prospects of winning in November are dramatically reduced.
*From Kevin Drum, grudging acceptance of military progress in Iraq, and a picture-perfect sample of the attitude I described here. And yes, I still think it more likely than not that Hillary pulls this out, although while Iowa didn't really surprise me that much (the race there had been close for months), I've been surprised at how quickly her support in NH seems to have cratered. Speaking of which, Patrick Ruffini and Jay Cost, two of the Right's savvier campaign observers, lay out how Hillary can win the nomination even after losing New Hampshire, as she is now expected to do. Patrick focuses on the Nevada caucuses, while Jay focuses on the delegate math, particularly the superdelegates.
*Ralph Peters argues that the US Navy should have reacted more aggressively to an obvious provocation by the Iranians in the Gulf on Sunday. He's clearly right about what the Iranians were trying to do, and I'm generally sympathetic to the power-politics argument that failing to respond to provocations only brings larger ones. On the other hand, you don't start fights you are not prepared to pursue to the bitter end. As Peters describes it, the encounter came awfully close to the line at which a US Naval commander would need to open fire to protect his vessels, but I don't buy the idea that we always have to initiate combat over this sort of thing, which is the logical endpoint of Peters' argument.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:20 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | War 2007-12 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
December 31, 2007
BLOG: Best of Baseball Crank 2007
I've been writing on the web since 2000 and blogging since 2002, and in all those years, 2007 has been perhaps the toughest in terms of being satisfied with my ability to produce consistently new and interesting content for my readers - so with things a little quiet here over the past week or so and probably staying that way for the next few days, I hope you will indulge me here if I run a retrospective look back at my best work from this year, or at least the posts I enjoyed the most. For newer readers, it's a chance to catch up on things you may have missed. Posts are grouped in three subjects and listed chronologically within those. As you can see, the 2008 presidential election is somewhat overrepresented here, while the baseball postseason is underrepresented.
Baseball's most impressive records. Probably my favorite post of the year, and definitely my favorite baseball post.
Politics, War and Law
The Libby pardon. I'm not even sure if I still agree with this post, but I did put a lot of thought into it.
Why Fred Thompson needed to get specific. (He since has).
Pop Culture and Other Fun Stuff
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:14 AM | Baseball 2007 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
December 28, 2007
BLOG: Under Attack
I seem to have suffered some sort of server attack that has wiped out everything (posts & comments) posted to the site since Christmas Eve. My apologies. If anybody happens to have a blog-reader or other cache-type service that still contains the text of any of my posts for 12/25-27, it would be great if you could copy & paste and email them to me at:
baseball_crank at yahoo *dot* com
UPDATE: Got 'em, thanks to reader Dave S.
December 26, 2007
BLOG: It's Expensive To Not Look Cheap
December 19, 2007
BLOG: Quick Links 12/19/07
*TIME Magazine looked into Vladimir Putin's heart, too, and named him their Man of the Year for discarding the remaining constitutional breaks on dictatorship in Russia. Unlike President Bush, TIME can't excuse this as diplomacy.
*You'll shoot your eye out! Mike Huckabee may have a serious problem with granting too many clemencies to violent criminals, but Mitt Romney's refusal to grant any pardons or clemencies at all took him to the ridiculous length of refusing to expunge the conviction of a decorated Iraq War veteran who was convicted at age 13 of shooting a friend in the arm with a BB gun.
*Britney Spears' 16-year-old sister, who was supposed to be the responsible one, has announced that she is pregnant. At least she's keeping the baby.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:19 AM | Baseball 2007 | Blog 2006-13 | Pop Culture | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
November 14, 2007
BLOG: The Static Channel
Apologies for the general lack of content and specific lack of baseball content - it's been crazy in a couple of ways, and I admit that the baseball stuff has been crowded out a bit from all the work that has gone into the Romney series, of which two installments remain. Hopefully I can return soon to the hot stove league and postseason awards beat.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:30 PM | Baseball 2007 | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
November 1, 2007
BLOG: More Quick Links
*A note about something missing from the California disaster: looting.
*Matt Yglesias looks at evidence that independent voters are more aggreived about illegal immigration than anything else, a finding that surprises me. Via OTB. It's pretty clear that the government needs to rebuild confidence in border security before the political environment will again permit serious consideration of a path to legalization.
October 2, 2007
BLOG: I Should Sue
Taco Bell infringes on my intellectual property:
If it were worth the filing fee, I would do something.
Hat tip: Red Sox Republican, who emailed the pic.
September 13, 2007
BLOG: Quick Links 9/13/07
*Michael Lewis is a wonderful writer and a guy who understands and loves markets. You have to read (here and here) his take on the subprime lending crisis. (Not everyone is amused). Lewis himself was a bond trader for a few years in the 1980s, leading to his smash hit book "Liar's Poker," and he poses here as a Gordon Gekko-type hedge-fund manager who blames poor people for evertything. The great thing about these pieces is that they are double-edged satire, containing enough cold-hearted economic truth to effectively skewer subprime borrowers and Capitol Hill demagogues, but at the same time mocking the misanthropic (at best) attitudes he parrots.
*Speaking of which, Gekko himself is apparently coming back as a hedge-fund manager (improbable given his insider-trading conviction, but that's Hollywood - it wouldn't be as much fun if he was running a car insurance company). I wonder how he reacts when he finds out Martin Sheen ended up President.
*Medieval scholastics would have been awed by the effort exerted by the Third Circuit to determine that putting on a hair net is "work". Of course, I am thankful not to work in a place of employment that has an "evisceration" department.
*The Constitution stops at the frat house door, as the Second Circuit upholds a college's right to use anti-discrimination policies to deny recognition to a fraternity on grounds of not admitting women. There's a case to be made for greater autonomy of educational institutions and a case to be made for the fundamental ambiguity of right-to-association law, but the reasoning used in this opinion is almost as flimsy as the public policy at issue is blinkered.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:52 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Business | Law 2006-08 | Science | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
September 8, 2007
BLOG: Everyone Says So
Today's Dilbert is a classic:
September 7, 2007
BLOG: I Admit It, I Confess
I am totally a sucker for anything that combines Legos and YouTube. Do I need a better reason? I think not:
BLOG: Does WBuck Approve?
When you reach the point of "DFred," I think this form of abbreviation has reached its logical nadir. I believe it started with A-Rod, followed by J-Lo, in the mid-90s. As far as I am concerned it should not have gone beyond those two.
August 20, 2007
BLOG: Pennsylvania Travelogue
I have returned from my travels to exotic Pennsylvania. Thanks to Dr. Manhattan for filling in (the other planned guest blogger proved to busy to post).
Citizens Bank Park
We kicked off our trip to Pennsylvania by hitting Citizens Bank Park for a Saturday night game against the Braves (which offered a rare reason to root for the Phillies). We had bought tickets for the Sunday afternoon game, on the theory that a night game would be too late in particular for my 17-month-old daughter, but ESPN decreed that the Sunday game had to be moved to 8pm. Fortunately, the Phillies were very accomodating in exchanging our tickets, and we were able to get a row of six seats even though Saturday ended up being sold out.
It's a beautiful ballpark in the Camden Yards style, with large open-air walkways behind and under the seats. We took the kids to a Build-a-Bear in the lower level before the game, in which you could build a stuffed Phillie Phanatic (note: this was somewhat more of a summary process than your typical Build-A-Bear). We sat in Section 414 on the first base side of the upper deck (from the map you can see the view), which despite the height were good seats except that the steep angle of the upper deck puts you at the mercy of the good sense of the people in the front row to sit down and avoid blocking the view of home plate. Of course, the Phillies fans were not exactly shrinking violets about letting people know to sit down. We were sitting behind a rather indecently vocal collection of Braves fans (the guy in front of us was nice, the others were unwisely loud) and as for the Philadelphia fans, well, the reputation of Philly as the toughest park in the big leagues for the home team is well-deserved. The next day's paper didn't headline the game "Drunk on Boos" for nothing. The phans there hate Pat Burrell almost as much as Mets fans do, and they really hate Adam Eaton, the latter with good reason. I shouldn't laugh since the Mets have Brian Lawrence in the rotation and he is basically the same pitcher, but at least the Mets aren't paying Lawrence $8 million a year. Eaton was terrible, put the Phils in a hole they almost but couldn't quite get out of even against Lance Cormier.
Also on the stadium: the food didn't impress me. The Liberty Bell that lights up for hometown homers was OK but no Magic Apple. The out of town scoreboard along the fence takes some getting used to but is tremendously informative. There are too few places to get the count; I didn't love the layout of the big CF scoreboard. There were a preposterous number of moths in the air for the upper deck. The jerseys? Chase Utley jerseys were definitely the dominant theme. I did see one old-school fan wearing a Doug Glanville jersey. That said, the sign of a baseball town is the proportion of fans wearing the hometown colors, especially the female fans, and the Phillies phans don't disappoint (there were a very large number of young women and teens wearing the identical uniform of colored Phillies T-shirts and very short white shorts).
The racial makeup of the phans is a shock: I know in most towns your baseball crowds are largely white, but to get to Citizens Bank Park you drive through miles of all-black neighborhoods (what looked to my eye like working-class neighborhoods with clean, respectable houses, not slums), but in the park and the parking lot the only black people you see are ticket scalpers.
The Phillie Phanatic comes out at the 7th inning stretch, but unlike Mr. Met he fires hot dogs rather than T-Shirts into the seats. And lemme tell ya, Mr. Met is badly outgunned; while he uses a light shoulder launcher to fire shirts into the crowd, the Phanatic uses a hot dog shaped cannon mounted on a jeep.
Also on the game: I have never seen more dropped third strikes in my life. The Mets bullpen may be a mess but at least we don't have Jose Mesa. And Jeff Francouer has a freaking gun in right field; he uncorked one throw that had my jaw dropping before it was more than two feet out of his hand.
On Sunday, we took the "Duck Tour" of Philadelphia, which is cheesy but entertaining (we had always meant to take those tours in Boston and DC but never got around to it). One thing that made me think when we got off: they mentioned that the amphibious DUKW bus/boat you ride around in was manufactured during WWII and that they had sat dormant for years until the idea came to refit them for tourism...it made me wonder: were we riding on a piece of history? I guess that the DUKWs they use for these tours have been extensively refitted from military to civilian uses, but the idea that any part of the vehicle we were riding may have been used in the war gave some additional meaning to a tour that touched on everything from colonial Philadelphia to Rocky.
Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia....sorry, couldn't help myself. On Sunday evening, we went to see the King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute. On the whole, the exhibit was interesting, indeed, riveting, just knowing you are looking at things made - in some cases, of wood - multiple thousands of years ago. We went as well to the IMAX film about the excavation of the bodies of many pharoahs in the 1880s. Unfortunately the staff misinfored us about the starting time so we not only missed the beginning but ended up sitting in the front row. The baby's eyes nearly rolled out of her head trying to comprehend an IMAX screen from the perspective of the front row. The film, narrated either by Saruman or Count Dooku, talked about how the pharoahs believed that they would be immortal as long as their names were said, in which case I suppose thy succeeded, but then it also talked about how they were using the mummified bodies of Ramses the Great and other pharoahs to study disease, like they were hoboes who gave their bodies to science for a few bucks. Somehow, I can't imagine they would have approved.
The exhibit starts with relics from tombs other than Tut and works its way up to his immediate family (interesting note: the Egyptian royals may have been primitive but they found time to remember unborn fetuses of the royal family), and then escalated to Tut's own burial chamber and the things on his body...but I was disappointed when it ended with the diadem that crowned his head - and no sarcophagus, no death mask. I guess it's perhaps a politically difficult time to get that stuff out of Egypt but the whole iconography of the exhibit - including the repainting of the museum's steps - is in the image of the sarcophagus. It was a big letdown when nothing of the sort was there.
Instead, after you leave the Tut exhibit, you enter...the gift shop. Which sold, I kid you not, a Tut tissue dispenser modeled on the head of the sarcophagus (you pull Kleenex out of the nose). I guess being donated to science isn't the worst of it. (My son got a Tut baseball - I was disappointed not to see Cap Anson at the Pyramids).
After the gift shop, the next room has a glass case containing Bobby Abreu's #53 Phillies uniform. Talk about being put on metaphor alert.
By coincidence, I was vacationing the same place Dr. Manhattan was this week - Hershey, PA. And lemme tellya, Milton Hershey could have taught the pharoahs a thing or two. His name is on the town, it's on the candy company, it's on the amusement park, it's on a school he endowed with $60 million in 1918, there's a statue of him at the amusement park and biographical filmstrips, there are even Kiss-shaped streetlamps on Chocolate Avenue (which intersects with Cocoa).
OK, out of time - short takes on some things I may or may not have time to revisit later: we saw more Amish people at Gettysburg than we did in Amish country; we saw Ratatouille in the theater, and it was no Incredibles but still very entertaining; and Jesus must have a good press agent in Central PA because He has one heck of a lot of billboards in the area.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:40 PM | Baseball 2007 | Blog 2006-13 | History | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
August 17, 2007
BLOG: Programming Note, 2007 Edition
Here's the deal: I'll be away from the blog this week, so I am leaving up this announcement so you will know that I have guest bloggers. Unfortunately, for reasons I have explained, I can neither add nor alter the names of co-authors on this blog, so both of my guest-bloggers will be logging in under the name of last year's guest blogger, Mike Rogers of Mike's Neighborhood. I promise I will fix this as soon as I can, but for now, that'sthe best option we have.
Confused yet? Hopefully not, and I'm asking them to say up front in each post which is which. One of the guest bloggers was once (so long ago I had deleted his account) a co-blogger here under the nom de blog "Kiner's Korner." The other, long absent from the blogosphere, is none other than Dr. Manhattan.
Give them both a big welcome, and apologies for any confusion.
August 15, 2007
BLOG: Belated Welcome
Posted by Dr. Manhattan
A belated welcome to all of the Crank's readers from vacation in Hershey, PA, home of chocolate and misbehaving laptops. (Given my intermittent blogging history, it is only too typical.) I ask your forbearance for a little while longer. By tomorrow, all connecton issues should be cleared up and I should have a few posts up that should provide grist for debate.
August 8, 2007
BLOG: Movable Type Bleg
I'm currently running Movable Type 3.33. I am trying to create new authors on my blog - I will be going on vacation in the near future and have guest bloggers lined up - and need to figure out how to add new authors. I can find my way to the "Authors" page, which is supposed to allow you to add authors, and can even edit the permissions of the existing authors, but there seems to be nowhere on the page to add new authors or edit the names of the existing ones. Anybody know enough about MT to help me out here? I'd try tech support but I don't even know how to contact MT (their site boots me off every time I try to login), plus I suspect that even if they still support 3.33, it will cost an arm and a leg to get an answer to a simple question, if I can even get one in time.
BLOG: Quick Links 8/8/07
*Did Mike Bascik purposely make it easy for Bonds to go deep? The argument isn't wholly illogical, but I find it very unpersuasive for such a serious charge. Occam's Razor suggests that Bacsik is just a bad pitcher, albeit one who was willing to try to make Bonds hit the ball and not just get a free pass.
*Dennis Martinez was 2-19 in his career against the Yankees. In a similar vein, Larry Jackson has to have been the all-time master of beating up the weak teams; from 1957-68, Jackson was 39-8 with a 2.20 ERA against the expansion Mets and Astros, 20-11, 3.08 ERA against the Cubs (when not pitching for them) but no better than .500 against any other team; against the rest of the league he was 124-148, with a 3.57 ERA.
*Spinlessness from Barack Obama on Bonds. Via Instapundit.
July 31, 2007
BLOG: Prepare To Be Awed
That thing doesn't actually float, does it?
July 30, 2007
BLOG: Quick Links 7/30/07
*Pedro Feliciano's meltdown on Saturday can probably just be chalked up to nobody being perfect (Wagner, whose ERA is down to 1.39, is almost certainly overdue for one of those games), but with Joe Smith down in the minors, it's also a reminder that guys like Feliciano can go south on you in a hurry if overworked. The Mets don't have the juice for a Mark Teixeira deal at this point, so the deal they need to make is for another arm in the pen.
*Via Bob Sikes: Bill Robinson has died. Robinson always seemed like a classy guy, and as a ballplayer he was (along with Mike Easler) one of the guys rescured off the scrap heap in mid-career to help build the Pirates into a championship team in the late 70s and early 80s: Robinson was a 31-year-old .235/.386/.281 hitter and busted ex-prospect when he came to Pittsburgh, but batted .276/.477/.313 (114 OPS +) over 8 seasons at Three Rivers. RIP.
*David Pinto makes an excellent point about changing sizes of ballplayers: scrappy little Craig Biggio is the same listed height and weight as Willie Mays and Carl Yastrzemski.
*For all the guff David Wright takes, recall that in 2007, he is batting .295/.516/.423 with runners in scoring position and .333/.611/.400 in the late innings of a close game.
*I banged out a quick column on Spitzergate last week that I never got around to cross-posting here. Mindles Dreck and Prof. Bainbridge both point out that Spitzer would not have cared whether corporate executives claimed, as he does now, not to have known of their subordinates' misconduct.
I'll be honest: I hated when Steve Phillips and the Mets signed Tom Glavine five years ago. I thought it was a stupid, misguided attempt to steal away a rival's player and a complete waste of money. But, while Glavine's never been a personal favorite -- I'm Irish, grudges don't fade as easily for us -- he's far outperformed any reasonable expectations of him while behaving in the most professional, likeable manner possible. He may not be dominant any more, and he seems particularly prone to giving large leads away lately, but I'll always remember the tremendous performance he turned in during last year's playoffs. And I'll be thrilled to see him finally achieve his 300th win.
He also quotes this bizarre statement from Wallace Matthews:
Historically, he may be the best pitcher the Mets have had on their staff since Tom Seaver was run out of town 30 years ago...
How soon they forget. Has Matthews never heard of Pedro Martinez?
*Jaw, meet floor: Byron York notes Obama's pledge in last week's debate "to meet, one-on-one, in his first year as president, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashir Assad, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong Il."
They never learn. They never, ever, ever learn.
*There are many reasons to doubt the veracity of TNR's formerly pseudonymous mil-blogger Scott Thomas Beauchamp, but Megan McArdle, as usual, cuts to the root of why the stories set off people's BS meters even beyond the parts (e.g., the Bradley dog-hunting tales) that seemed to clash with physical reality:
It beggars belief that 100 or more people silently watched some pottymouthed privates taunting a cripple who had acquired her injuries in the line of duty. I'm moderately well-versed in the stories about battle-hardened veterans committing atrocities in World War II. I've never come across a single story about making fun of your own side's wounded.
*This study doesn't sound too promising by itself, but it is true that fantasy baseball is a great microcosm of how humans learn and adapt - getting your butt whipped in a fantasy league, and the desire to avoid doing so again, is a great motivator for not just gathering information but also learning how to sift between the useful and the fool's gold (similarly, I have crammed years of lessons about, say, the value of on base percentage into the past year by playing Strat-O-Matic with my son).
*Hanson is back. I actually thought those guys had talent, if not much depth to them (unsurprising, at their age back then). I'll be interested to see if they've done anything useful with it now that they have grown up.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:55 AM | Baseball 2007 | Blog 2006-13 | Law 2006-08 | Politics 2007 | Politics 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
July 27, 2007
BLOG: The Spell Is Broken
Finished the Harry Potter book last night, after a week of squeezing it around some very busy work commitments and thus no free time remaining for blogging. Review to follow later, after which regularly scheduled blogging will resume.
July 18, 2007
BLOG: Next, A Plague of Locusts
I'm way, way too busy to blog right now, so I will just say this: this morning's rush hour we had Bilblical floods, and for the evening rush hour we get fire and brimstone. I hope someone isn't trying to tell us something.
July 10, 2007
BLOG: Keeping It Green
70-year-old woman arrested and injured in a struggle with police in Orem, Utah. Her crime? Having a brown lawn.
July 9, 2007
BLOG: Running With The Cows
BLOG: Back in Service
If you're wondering, things have been a bit rocky around here the past few weeks, and probably will be for much of July, at least; work in particular is just crazy right now. One thing I finally got accomplished Friday was to get my home desktop back. Regular readers will recall my misadventures with Hewlett Packard; I finally succeeded in returning the defective replacement for my defective original. H-P was schizophrenic to deal with throughout the process; the online purchase system is a dream, the tech people were unfailingly polite, the machine looked really nice, and their marketing folks are very diligent about bombarding new purchasers with helpful emails. At the same time, the computer didn't work, the replacement didn't work, the repair people orginally didn't show up and then just refused to come, and it was a horrendous ordeal to try and get someone on the phone who would admit to having the authority to give me my money back. At one point I talked to eight different people in two days, each of whom assured me that the next person they sent me to (in some cases volleying me back and forth between the same two phone numbers) would be able to authorize a refund.
Meanwhile, I went to Best Buy and bought a Gateway. Buying from an actual human turned out to be a big plus - the guy got me a Gateway with the same processor as a comparable H-P for hundreds of dollars less. They even offered local on-site installation and data transfer from the Geek Squad, a service company that clearly knows they are in the service business. Granted, it took a few weeks even with these guys to schedule an appointment - but when the Geek Squad guy was running late, he called, and he showed up only an hour late rather than weeks or months. And he set the computer up and it works. Granted, Windows Vista takes some adjusting, and with both computers I was surprised to discover that nobody has 3.5" floppy drives anymore. But I'm back in business.
June 12, 2007
BLOG: Catchy Tunes
There really is nothing that says New York quite like walking through Penn Station early in the morning listening to South American immigrants playing "Hotel California" on the pan flute, is there?
Ever have a song stuck in your head by someone who never sung it (at least, as far as I know)? Had that the other day, had Barry White singing the WKRP theme song. And well, I should add. Once a few years back it was Britney Spears (I must have just heard a song on the radio - I couldn't hum the tune to two of her songs) singing the Kinks' "Till the End of the Day," another time Wilson Pickett doing Bon Jovi's "Never Say Goodbye," much better than the original.
"Baby, if you ever wonder..."
June 5, 2007
BLOG: The End For Hewlett Packard
My tribulations with Hewlett Packard, previously chronicled here and here, have reached their logical endpoint. To recap briefly, my brand new HP desktop didn't work at all, so HP was going to send someone out to look at it pursuant to the extended/in-home service contract I paid an extra $300 for; the guy never showed, and only later called to say the motherboard he was supposed to replace wouldn't be in until late May (later revised to late June). Once I got the second date I had them send me a new PC instead.
So the new PC doesn't work either; it has the exact same problem. I called tech support tonight, to get them to hopefully send someone out who would actually come. Naturally this led to an hour or more on the phone being tranfserred through five different people (one of whom was in laptop support, the prior person having ignored me when I said desktop), and having to retell the whole tale from the top for each one.
Finally, I get past the guys who wanted to run me through all the same steps that accomplished nothing last time, and onto the guy who could authorize sending someone out...and he tells me that until the old PC has returned the in-home service doesn't apply to the replacement.
Which, in the interim, still does not work. Even though it, like its predecessor, is brand new.
I have had it; I'm sending everything back to HP, getting my money back and never buying a computer from them again. I've now been a month without a working computer (I'm typing this from my wife's laptop) with no realistic prospect of having one any time soon. I keep reading all this great stuff about HP (the Wall Street Journal had a cover story recently on them surpassing Dell as the #1 maker of computers) but as far as I am concerned, a company that can't sell a computer that actually functions is not one I want to do business with.
May 23, 2007
BLOG: I Hate Hewlett Packard, Movable Type, HostMatters and Kenmore
Sorry, comments are down right now, because HostMatters sent me an email telling me that they were cutting off the comments until I upgrade to Movable Type 3.2 (which I did months ago - I'm running 3.33 now) and do a bunch of other technical goobledegook that is beyond my free time and technical expertise. What drives me nuts is dealing with people who think that running a blog means you understand how to download plugins and rewrite scripts. I have no way of knowing whether the problem here is that HM is a bad host or MT is a bad platform, or both, and given how little time I ordinarily have to blog in the first place, I don't need to spend a bunch of time trying to find out.
Meanwhile, 13 days after my new PC arrived from Hewlett Packard, I still have no functioning computer other than to keep borrowing my wife's laptop. The service guy who was supposed to come last Friday to replace the motherboard - to provide the expanded warranty service we paid hundreds of extra dollars for and repair a brand new machine that does not work at all - simply never showed up. When my wife called (I've been reminding her to take notes - dealing with computer companies is like litigation, you need to document every conversation), they finally admitted that the part the guy was supposed to bring hadn't come in and won't until the end of this month. So, no computer. The fact that I don't want to go through the hassle is the only reason I have not returned the whole thing yet, but I may.
We also have no functioning washing machine. My wife got the call from Sears asking us to buy the extended warranty/service contract on our Kenmore machine, since the 1-year warranty will soon run out. She said no - and just a day or so later, the machine basically melted down, and won't run at all because all of its fancy electronic parts are dead. (Dare I ask whether this has anything to do with the fact that this is an energy-saving washing machine). Progress on having that fixed is also slow.
(I won't even get into the fact that I can no longer connect my iPod to my wife's Dell laptop without frying the USB ports, which means no more downloading music).
May 16, 2007
BLOG: Random Thoughts From Last Night
I was switching back and forth last night between the GOP debate and the Met game before catching up on last night's "24," so let me give you my observations on what I did catch, plus a few other bits:
*It may almost be time to add Shawn Green to the list of Omar's successes - I'm really amazed that he is hitting .324 and slugging .525, when he looked for all the world like he was headed irreversibly downhill last season. It's a Mike Lowell-style resurgence. Green doesn't look like a power hitter; he's built like a finesse pitcher. The Mets have batboys beefier than Green.
*24 has just gone catastrophically off the rails since the end of the plot with the Arabs. They should probably have ended the season right there. In particular, we have seen no explanation of how Chaing new where and when to call Jack to start this whole thing, and no good reason why the White House should have agreed in the first place to negotiate with a state actor holding a U.S. citizen hostage in Los Angeles. It's gone downhill from there. The Russians seem awfully touchy about nuclear technology that their own consul was basically handing out like Halloween candy, yet blase about threatening war with the U.S. when they know that the U.S. has access to that technology. The simplest explanation is this one.
It looks like Jack is finally leaving Los Angeles after this season. This means we can ask a question that would come up for no other show: will they kill off Los Angeles?
*The account of the White House hospital visit to John Ashcroft, by the way, sounds so much like something from 24... a scene very, very radically different from the caricature of Ashcroft as a jackbooted thug. I would love to have been a fly on the wall for Bush's talk with Comey to know how his concerns were ultimately dealt with or whether Bush just twisted his arm on the importance of the intelligence being collected.
*That set for the debate looked like a bad game show...I missed the rules, were the candidates actually buzzing in for rebuttal time?
*Rudy had the best response of the night when he slammed Ron Paul for essentially saying the U.S. had invited 9/11. I think Paul misread his invite to the Green Party debate. As I have said before, one Ron Paul in Congress is a good thing, but more of them would be a disaster. Any time he opens his mouth on foreign affairs you see why.
*Runner-up line goes to Mike Huckabee: "Congress has been spending money like John Edwards at a beauty shop".
*Of course, both of them have stiff competition from Fred Thompson's brilliant and hilarious response to Michael Moore.
*Having seen only transcripts of the first debate, I had not seen Paul or Tom Tancredo live before, and they were much unlike my image of them from reading their statements for years - Paul seemed like a frail old man, and Tancredo seemed meek and nervous; I was expecting a guy who looked and sounded like Bob Dornan.
*Goldberg and Vodkapundit had basically the same reaction to Romney - of course, Romney's father was a car salesman (well, a CEO of a car company, actually). In positioning himself as a conservative, Romney is basically a smart businessman pursuing an underserved market, not a man seeking higher office out of a firm belief in anything in particular, and it shows.
*There is really, really no purpose to Thommy Thompson and Jim Gilmore being in this race, none.
*Other than his position on trade, I can't think of a single thing I have seen from Duncan Hunter to dislike. Hunter has no realistic chance of getting the nomination, but he might not be a bad running mate - he's a serious guy who looks and sounds like a serious guy.
*From what I saw, compared to some of the last debate's questions, I have to say that the Fox team was just miles better than the MSNBC team in asking questions that GOP primary voters would actually want to see answered (one exception was the justly-booed question to McCain about the Confederate flag) and avoiding speechifying by the moderators. From here on out they should just have Brit Hume & co. do all the GOP debates and Tim Russert do the Democrats.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:30 PM | Baseball 2007 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | Pop Culture | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
May 15, 2007
BLOG: Write First, Think Later
May 12, 2007
BLOG: Computers Bad
I am writing this from my wife's laptop. Why, you ask? Well, I finally had to get a new computer, since my old one was 7 years old and wheezing badly (still running Microsoft ME).
Having had quite enough of malfunctions and Dell tech support over the years, I decided to buy a Hewlitt Packard, having heard good things generally and seeing as how the company is doing so well, I assumed the products would be good. My HP Pavillion Slimline with its state-of-the-art LCD monitor arrived early this week, looking sleek and a significant upgrade in every way from the old desktop battleship.
Except it will not work. Just keep getting this "Monitor Going to Sleep" message. Tech support seems convinced that the problem is the computer, not the monitor; in either way the thing is entirely useless. Tonight they tried to get me to take a screwdriver and open the thing up...a brand new computer out of the box! They gotta be kidding. Now they want to send me a box and have me send them the computer back to fix, taking who knows how long, and in the meantime I had essentially dismantled my old PC.
Unbelievable. I just can't seem to buy anything that works on the first try.
UPDATE: So, HP has decided it's the motherboard, and they are sending someone to my house on Friday to replace it. It took some talking to get them to agree to do that even though we have the warranty/home service contract and even though I'd already been through two prior calls to establish that it didn't work, but at least now we hopefully will get a functional machine.
Meanwhile, my iPod is no longer on speaking terms with my wife's laptop, which is supposed to run the iTunes. I can't win...
April 19, 2007
BLOG: 4/19/07 Quick Links
*There's a fair number of debates from the Virginia Tech shooting I don't have time to weigh in on now (there's the gun control issue; Glenn Reynolds aptly summarizes the case for less of it here, there's the university's reaction time, and there's the appalling spectacle of NBC News broadcasting the killer's videotape), though it seems the most important question is why it was so hard to get the killer out of circulation or at the very least on a list of people who should not be permitted to buy firearms, when he was giving off every sign of being a potential danger to himself and others and everyone around him saw those signs and several people tried to do something about it.
In all the horror I did find one moment of a little levity from this quote:
Briettney said her friend, who was shot in the knee, buttocks and shoulder, was expected to be all right. "The one day he goes to class, he gets shot three times!"
*All three of my fantasy baseball teams have Felix Hernandez. This is not good news for any of them. Perhaps letting him throw a 111-pitch complete game on a cold April night in Fenway in his last start was not such a good idea.
*I definitely did not see a Mark Buehrle no-hitter coming. The past four years, Buehrle has finished second, second, first and first in the AL in hits allowed.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:41 PM | Baseball 2007 | Basketball | Blog 2006-13 | Law 2006-08 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
April 17, 2007
April 9, 2007
BLOG: Swimming the Amazon
52-year-old Slovenian swimmer Martin Strel has set a world record by swimming the length of the Amazon River - but somehow, this article just doesn't make it sound like much fun:
By Thursday evening, he was struggling with dizziness, vertigo, high blood pressure, diarrhea, nausea and delirium, his Web site said. But despite having difficulty standing and being ordered by the doctor not to swim, Strel was obsessed with finishing the course and insisted on night swimming.
He said he was lucky to have escaped encounters with piranhas, the dreaded toothpick fish, which swims into body orifices to suck blood, and even bull sharks that swim in shallow waters and can live for a while in fresh water.
Cramps, high blood pressure, diarrhea, chronic insomnia, larvae infections, dehydration and abrasions caused by the constant rubbing of his wet suit against his skin frequently tormented him.
Why? Because it was there, I guess.
March 29, 2007
BLOG: Hooked on Phoenix
I'm just catching up now after a business trip to Arizona; regular blogging should resume soon. I had not been to Arizona before; definitely a new experience for an East Coaster, from the unnaturally clear skies (the moon being visible pretty much all afternoon) to the everything-takes-30-minutes-by-car sprawl.
Also, got to see my first live spring training game, Teusday's Giants-Mariners game that ended 9-8 Giants on a late Seattle rally that wasn't enough to overcome Horacio Ramirez getting pasted. A few thoughts on that. First, as a Mets fan I'm sad to see Ramirez no longer pitching for Atlanta; Seattle is highly unlikely to get equal value after dealing Rafael Soriano for him. Second, up close in person Barry Bonds and Ichiro look even less like big league ballplayers (especially next to a monster like Richie Sexson) - Bonds looks, at most, like a retired athlete, while Ichiro looks like a miler. But Bonds hit the ball with his customary authority (a double that would have been a homer but for a 25-30 foot high center field fence) and seemed to be moving OK, albeit at spring training coasting speed. And third, I never, ever expected to attend a baseball game and see Rey Ordonez play again.
February 15, 2007
BLOG: Bleat Bleat
Lileks has a variety of amusing things in today's Bleat. I liked this:
BLOG: The Ultimate Beer Glass
Two-sport star Samuel Adams (hey, the slogan says "Brewer-Patriot") has unveiled the "ultimate beer glass." It's . . . shapely. Funny, I always thought the ultimate beer glass was defined as "a full one."
February 14, 2007
BLOG: Really Bad Idea
February 12, 2007
BLOG: 2/12/07 Quick Links
*I'm not thrilled to see any foreign leader meddle in US domestic politics, but it is nonetheless heartening in John Howard's war or words with Barack Obama to see a reminder that the "international community" is not as monolithically anti-American as sometimes portrayed. Powerline has some useful thoughts on why Obama's response was so ham-handed. Of course, the Democrats are never as solicitous of countries that actually support our policies.
*An interesting analysis of the Hamas-Fatah accord. Via Frum. My guess as to the alternative explanations for Abbas' behavior would be "all of the above." I tend to think that the accords are a good thing simply for the fact of their existence, i.e., the fact that an Arab government sat down two warring Arab factions and got them to negotiate an agreement without the involvement of the US, the UN, Israel or financial or territorial concessions from any of the above. Hamas is still Hamas, but I still believe that while you can't negotiate about terrorism, you sometimes need to negotiate with terrorists, and it's not like there are other good alternatives. The best policy for the US is to avoid the situation as much as possible and play "show me" - i.e., make the Palestinian regime demonstrate its trustworthiness and peaceable nature before we give them anything. At least with Hamas in power, there is less pretense that they are actually peaceable or trustworthy unless they can genuinely demonstrate otherwise through deeds.
*There is little enough worth saying about the Anna Nicole Smith story; she rose to fame due to her natural physical gifts combined with tremendous ambition and a corresponding willingness to use and add to what she had, and she fell due to a lack of sense and even greater lack of discipline. A familiar Hollywood story. But Larry Miller has useful words on the litigation that will long outlive her:
Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:53 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2008 | War 2007-12 | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
February 10, 2007
BLOG: Justice Hamburger
Ouch. Maybe they got him confused with Frankfurter.
BLOG: Bad Taste
February 9, 2007
BLOG: Clip No More
January 30, 2007
BLOG: Quick Links 1/30/07
*From the same source: Rick Mirer, the worst NFL QB ever. Note that the list also includes Danny Kanell, Scott Brunner, Kerry Collins, Dave Brown, and Kent Graham.
*Via Instapundit, the Top Ten Iraq War Myths.
*In one January strike, the Iraqis brought down the highest ranking casualties of the war. (Confirmed here). One hopes this was just a coincidence and not a sign of inflitration or other compromising of our operational intelligence.
*John Kerry finally gets good press - in Iran's state-run media. I had more on his latest foot-in-mouth episode at RedState yesterday, including links to other sources. The most charitable reading of all this is that Kerry really is an idiot.
*Israeli PM Ehud Olmert on Iran. (A government that now includes a Muslim cabinet member - don't hold your breath for a Christian or Jew in the regimes of Israel's enemies).
Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:40 AM | Blog 2006-13 | Football | Politics 2008 | War 2007-12 | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
January 19, 2007
BLOG: Mustard In The Kitchen With Mazola
Every time you think you've exhausted the possibilities for bizarre homicides, there's something new.
January 11, 2007
BLOG: Quick Links 1/11/07
*Mmmmmmm.....pitchers in mini-camp.
*I feel Milton Chappell's pain. Those chances don't come around very often, but the worst of it is having to sit silent while the other guy fails to make your best arguments.
*The real Muhammad. There are extremely good aspirational reasons why our government should continue to insist, however tendentiously, that the true and faithful interpretation of Islam does not include imitating the Prophet's own 7th century behavior, but Andrew McCarthy draws a pretty bleak picture of what that behavior entailed and why Muslims today have difficulty separating it from their doctrinal canon.
*John Roberts on being the Chief. Via Bashman.
*Amateur hour for the Democratic Senate caucus, while Harry Reid circles the wagons around his tribal benefactors. I'm not in favor of the current campaign finance laws, but David Vitter is 100% right that the tribes, now that they are in a major revenue-raising business subject to extensive low-profile federal regulation (and thus a honey pot for Congressional venality), should get the same treatment as corporations. Of course, on the cui bono? side, I assume that Vitter, as the sponsor of this measure, and Mary Landrieu, the lone Democrat to support it, both care about the fact that the tribes compete with Louisiana gambling interests.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:52 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Law 2006-08 | War 2007-12 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
January 4, 2007
BLOG: Five Things You Don't Know About Me
I'm deeply delinquent in getting to this one, but Matt Welch tagged me in the blog game of "5 Things You Don't Know About Me". Let's start by acknowledging that you won't be surprised that I could give you variations on Matt's #2 until you begged for mercy. And I cannot possibly top #4 on Drezner's list.
1. I'm seriously double-jointed, and in high school once got caught by a teacher demonstrating - in class - my ability to put my foot behind my head. While sitting in a desk. (Note: at 35, I can no longer do this). Fortunately, this was a sufficiently absurd spectacle that the teacher just chuckled and went back to writing notes on the board.
2. I've never ridden a bicycle. I tried once, briefly, on my honeymooon in Ireland, but didn't last. There's actually a very long list, in fact, of things I have not done, from breaking a bone to skiing to smoking a cigarette (I even lived across the street from a golf course for six years without ever playing golf), but that one sticks out.
3. People who went to college with me know this - we had a "lip synch" contest, and my senior year I did "Old Time Rock n' Roll," by myself, "Risky Business" style (since it was onstage, I could get away with white spandex shorts in lieu of just briefs). Somewhere, video exists of this. Amazingly, no alcohol was involved.
4. True fact: I have never met Bill Simmons. Bill and I have known each other for many years, from reading each other's columns on the college newspaper at Holy Cross (which is a very small place, after all) to having many mutual friends to Bill giving me my start writing on the Web on his old "Boston Sports Guy" site to joining each others' WhatifSports leagues to being in regular email contact for the past several years. But we've never actually sat down together. Funny world - I've met people ranging from Ted Williams, Tom Seaver and Warren Spahn to Barbara Bush, Clarence Thomas and Rudy Giuliani. But not Simmons.
5. Felix Millan singled home Leo Foster to beat Rick Rhoden and the Dodgers 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth on August 28, 1976. That was the first major league game I attended.
UPDATE: John Salmon joins the fun.
BLOG: Does Whatever A...
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz
January 3, 2007
BLOG: Flipping the Calendar
As usual this time of year, I'm creating new categories for the new year. This is especially important for those of you who come here directly to the baseball category page, which should now be here. Update your bookmarks accordingly. Also note that posts about the 2008 presidential race will be in the Politics 2008 category.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:37 AM | Baseball 2006 | Baseball 2007 | Blog 2006-13 | Politics 2006 | Politics 2007 | Politics 2008 | War 2006 | War 2007-12 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
January 2, 2007
BLOG: Still Dark
On deadline today; work has not let up over the past few weeks. I plan to be back to regular blogging tomorrow.
In the meantime, a thought for the past week - you could not buy a better contrast between American and Arab politics than the lives and deaths of Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein. One man, decent and modest, fought for his country in his youth, rose to the highest office in the land largely on the basis of being sober and inoffensive, and lived three decades of peaceful retirement after being asked by his people to leave; though widely recognized as one of our lesser presidents, he has nonetheless been accorded the honors of a state funeral and fulsome praise from his countrymen. The other, cruel and megalomaniacal and with delusions of historic grandeur, brough ruin, repeated war, and invasion, had to be pulled cowering from a hole in the ground by foreign troops and was sent by his people forcibly to the gallows, mourned only by a disgruntled few, his death celebrated by the many.
Also: Congratulations to Jon Henke! Or, more properly, congratulations to the Senate Republicans on hiring Jon Henke.
December 22, 2006
BLOG: Merry Christmas to All!
Well, in case you hadn't noticed I have been way too busy with work and other stuff lately to keep up on the blog much, especially the baseball content. Never fear! This too shall pass, I've been doing this for six years now, it always does.
Anyway, I'm unlikely to have much else up here until after Christmas. In the meantime, Merry Christmas, and happy Hanukah and whatever other holidays you may be celebrating this season.
December 21, 2006
BLOG: Mmmmmm....Taxpayer-Funded Studies
December 14, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 12/14/06
*One of the more doleful implications of a very narrowly divided polity is the places it leads partisans to go in search of that one last vote that turns an election, a court, a majority, a presidency. So it is difficult for Republicans to resist the temptation to hope for a change in the Senate upon the news that South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson is in critical condition after what may or may not have been a stroke. The right thing to do, of course, is to wish Senator Johnson and his family well (this is especially so because Tim Johnson, whatever his ideology, is not a loathesome human being like Ted Kennedy). Thinking otherwise may be only human, but it's a reflex to resist.
All things considered, it probably would be for the better if more states had laws that require the appointment of a replacement Senator of the same party, followed by a special election, if an incumbent dies or needs to be replaced - I believe such a law is in place in Hawaii, which has a GOP Governor and two elderly Democratic Senators, and a similar law (the details of which I forget) was enacted in Massachusetts when John Kerry was running for president. That said, existing practice in the absence of such a statute is to replace the Senator however the governor wants, as happened when the Republicans lost Paul Coverdell's Senate seat in Georgia and John Heinz's seat in Pennsylvania (both of which the GOP recaptured at the next election), or when Jesse Ventura appointed an independent to fill out Paul Wellstone's term.
*Count Rudy Giuliani and John McCain with the skeptics about the Iraq Study Group. As of Sunday, Mitt Romney was ducking the issue and saying he hadn't read the report, although a commenter at RedState has a purported statement from Romney that likewise hits the right notes in rejecting consensus for its own sake and rejecting negotiations with Iran and Syria. Still, there's a worrisome pattern to Romney's delayed reactions. The GOP needs its next candidate to be someone who can roll with the punches and drive the public narrative.
On the other hand, Syria loves the ISG report:
The United States will face hatred and failure in the Middle East if the White House rejects the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, Syria warned on Sunday, according to The Associated Press. Syria's ruling party's Al-Baath newspaper urged President Bush to take the group's report seriously because it would "diminish hatred for the U.S. in region," AP reported.
*Academic Elephant over at RedState notes a movement (see also here and here and here), apparently with at least tacit U.S. approval, to break up the current governing coalition in the Iraqi Parliament so as to remove the increasingly ineffectual al-Maliki as leader, build a new coalition that does not depend on the support of Muqtada al-Sadr, and set the stage for a second and hopefully final military showdown with the Sadrists. This would be a necessary step to finishing the job in Iraq.
*This is just a really cool article about turtles. It also pretty well captures the NY Times science section, which still does about the best stuff in the paper - but the headline writer couldn't resist going for an anti-people headline that is really only a small part of the article.
*Great New Republic profile of Sam Brownback, once you make allowances for Noam Scheiber's view of the Catholic Church as a secretive cult. I'm not inclined to support Brownback for president because I don't think he can win (not least of which, the man isn't exactly Mr. Charisma), but I probably agree with him on more issues than most of the other candidates. He'd make a great Senate Majority Leader someday.
*Peter King (the football writer, not Peter King the Congressman) admits error, supports Art Monk for the NFL Hall of Fame.
*I'm all for attacking terrorism at its roots, but poverty ain't it. It's political and religious extremism married to anti-American and anti-Israel ideologies.
*Eliot Spitzer under pressure from Democratic legislators to allow drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants. New York moved to require more secure driver's licenses after September 11 by requiring social security number background checks before issuing a driver's license. Little faith though I have in our new Governor, you would think he won't be this indifferent to law enforcement and security concerns, let alone allowing the privileges of citizenship without its burdens.
*I'm sorry, this is just hilarious.
*Linda Greenhouse on the shrinking Supreme Court docket. This point is a useful fact:
One [reason] is the decreasing number of appeals filed on behalf of the federal government by the solicitor general’s office. Over the decades, the Supreme Court has granted cases filed by the solicitor general’s office at a high rate. In the mid-1980s, the office was filing more than 50 petitions per term. But as the lower federal courts have become more conservative and the government has lost fewer cases, the number has plummeted, opening a substantial hole in the court’s docket.
This, I'm less convinced of:
In private conversations, the justices themselves insist that nothing so profound is going on, but rather seem mystified at what they perceive as a paucity of cases that meet the court’s standard criteria. The most important of those criteria is whether a case raises a question that has produced conflicting decisions among the lower federal courts.
I can certainly attest from my own practice that I routinely encounter issues of federal law that are deeply unsettled or as to which a circuit split exists (in areas like securities law, RICO, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, class action procedure, etc.). The Court has been wise to trim its docket from the days of the 1960s-70s; the quality and care with which opinions are crafted has noticeably increased, and it's crucial for the Court to get things right because it often will not return to a particular question again for decades, if ever. But if the Court really wants to take on a few more cases it should have no problem finding appropriate vehicles to clarify unsettled issues.
*Consumer fraud statutes as a remedy for descendants of slaves? (See p. 14). (H/T). I know at least under New York's consumer fraud law, you need to show some loss beyond than just having bought something you would not otherwise have bought, and Justice Breyer has worried about the free speech implications of such lawsuits, which I guess puts him to the right of Judges Posner and Easterbrook on this one.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:08 AM | Blog 2006-13 | Football | Law 2006-08 | Politics 2006 | Politics 2008 | War 2006 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
December 4, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 12/4/06
*This essay on the Democrats' coming move to strip funding from missile defense programs is one of the best I have read on the subject of SDI. This is an especially good point about the Democrats' insistence that the program be shown to be 100% effective before money is spent improving or deploying it (a rather different tack than they take when dealing with, say, medical research or alternative energy sources - or global warming, for that matter, even though unlike the battle against combustible fuels money spent on missile defense is a single, transparent cost and imposes no burdens on individual liberty):
[L]ike software, most successful weapons systems are best debugged after being deployed. And some weapons systems were never tested at all before deployment.
Yes, missile defense is expensive and unlikely to ever be 100% foolproof, and yes, we have other means of deterrence. But especially if we are unwilling or unable to act militarily to stop nations like Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the reduction in the potential threat to the U.S. and its key allies is enormous, and well worth the money. But then, it's never really been about the money but about guys like Carl Levin having an ideological fixation on stopping missile defense no matter the underlying facts. The Democrats' move will also break faith with and alienate one of our key allies, Japan. As usual, when they get on one of their left-leaning foreign policy jags, the Democrats treat the actual commitments of our allies as a worthless trifle.
*This December 2005 Iraq analysis from Steven den Beste looks prescient now. I'm still deeply alarmed by the mounting indications that Maliki is taking orders from Sadr and Sadr is taking orders from Iran. We are now locked in a battle for regional supremacy to see if the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Taliban-Al Qaeda axis can strangle democracy in its crib in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon - a battle that looks more and more everyday like the battles we fought in Central America in the 80s and Southeast Asia in the 70s against Communism.
*Patterico catches the LA Times consistently telling only part of the story of a discrimination lawsuit against the LAFD. This is one of those stories I had seen and thought there was something missing from it - Patterico fills in the blanks, which make the whole episode sound more like a sophmoric prank than racism.
What galls me is this, from an LAT editorial:
Scathing audits have outlined the LAFD's erratic disciplinary policies, poor leadership and hostile work environment, yet those reports have failed to dislodge the frat-boy culture. Maybe a public airing of its dirty laundry will.
Now, fixing a bad disciplinary system is fine, and stamping out racism is a noble cause. But a "frat-boy culture" is the concern of the law, why? These are firemen. They run into buildings that are on fire for a living, buildings that have a nasty habit of collapsing on or under them or otherwise acting in a highly dangerous and unstable fashion. Fire departments, like military organizations and police departments, are sustained in their dangerous mission by their unique institutional cultures. People who haven't walked a mile in their boots should be very hesitant to tamper with that culture.
*Speaking of employment law, the Democrats are also poised to add homosexuals to the list of protected classes who can raise the shield of federal litigation to prevent them from being fired or passed over for promotions. Via Bashman. Now, in theory, private businesses (as opposed to, say, religious organizations) should not be able to fire people because they are gay. But anyone with even passing familiarity with the three-ring circus of employment law can tell you that these statutes do not exist in theory - they are, instead, a practical weapon reached for by the kinds of people who get fired from jobs, and usually deservedly so, or to force companies to go through all sorts of contortions in figuring out the proper demographic composition of layoffs rather than just running the best business case.
What is more, what is often an issue is whether a person is perceived as being a member of a protected class, or what the employer knew about their membership in that class. Now, it's usually not hard to figure out who is black, or a woman, or in a wheelchair, but after that things get complicated, and with sexual orientation we enter unchated ground. Do we really want to create a whole cat-and-mouse industry over employers' knowledge of their employees' sex lives? A federal gaydar jurisprudence? ("The court finds that the company's awareness that the plaintiff enjoyed men's figure skating. Summary judgment denied.") If there's one thing the Democrats are experts at enacting, it's the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Or maybe, for their backers in the plaintiffs' bar, not so unintended.
*Good RCP Blog look at Barack H. Obama. I'm split on whether, as a matter of practical politics, this really is Obama's moment to run at the top of the ticket. On the one hand, his liberal record will only grow the longer he is in the Senate, especially now with a Democratic majority, blunting the appeal of his rhetorical moderation. The usual rule is that you run when people want you to run - that's the moment. On the other hand, it seems awfully presumptuous to run after one unfinished term in the Senate, when he has manifestly not accomplished anything. My guess is that moreso than John Edwards in 2004, Obama would be well served by running for VP even if on a losing ticket.
*Speaking of finding the right moment, the GOP field seems to be attracting people whose moments would appear to have passed - like Tommy Thompson and Frank Keating, two star GOP governors from the 1990s.
*Matt Welch takes a harsh look at John McCain from his perspective as a left-leaning libertarian. I loved the subtitle.
*Via Instapundit, Eugene Volokh notes a decision from the Washington Supreme Court recognizing an individual right to bear arms. This only sharpens the conflict I noted three years ago with a Ninth Circuit decision holding that California could impose tort liability on legal sales of firearms within Washington State.
*TV sictom/romantic comedy comes to the factory floor. I will be more than a little surprised if Hollywood gets this one right and is entertaining in the process.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:34 AM | Blog 2006-13 | Law 2006-08 | Politics 2006 | Politics 2008 | War 2006 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
November 30, 2006
BLOG: Quiet Time
OK, I know content has been slow here lately - it's been busy at work and the baby's not been sleeping well, and that eats away at my blogging time from both ends. I'm also working on some longer-term projects that don't hit the site right away. The good news is, my tech guru has finally come up with a way to close comments on older entries, which seems to have solved the spam problem once and for all, so when I do have time I'm able to focus again on writing.
November 28, 2006
BLOG: Things You Learn By Reading Slate
November 26, 2006
BLOG: Comments Resolution
Here is where things stand:
*I wanted to get rid of the spam, but it seems there is no workable solution right now for adding registration without a huge hassle. However, I may get in the habit of shutting off comments when I know I'll be away from my computer for more than a day or so, so I don't get inundated.
*In the meantime, to keep the spam from ending up on the site, I've instituted a form of comment mediation: the Whitelister (hat tip to Chaz Hill of Dustbury). Basically, your comments will go into moderation unless I have your email address on a list. I already entered the addresses of the last 20 or so commenters here, which should include most of the regulars, but if you leave a comment and it doesn't show, email me (if I don't catch it right away myself) and I'll add you to the list of trusted commenters. It stinks, I know, but the goal here is not to become a spam farm.
Anyway, I'm still hoping for the day when most of my blogging time can be spent, you know, blogging.
November 22, 2006
BLOG: Comments Down Again
Well, it was nice to have the comment section back, but 500 spam comments overnight convinced me to shut them off again over the holiday weekend, at least until we can install the permanent fix.
November 20, 2006
BLOG: Back in Blog
Lots to catch up on here - the blog is now once again operational after an upgrade to Movable Type 3.33. Comments should be working again soon, but I may be instituting registration. It pains me to do that, but I'm sick and tired of spam-busting, and most of the comments here tend to be from a handful of regulars anyway.
UPDATE: Comments are open and working for now, but I will probably put in some sort of registration or authentication system once I figure out how to get one to work.
November 17, 2006
BLOG: Out of Service
Blog will be down a few days for repairs. In the meantime my political stuff can still be found at RedState.
November 7, 2006
1. Yes, I know comments are still down. I'm pursuing options for a more permanent solution, but I'd like to see if I can do it without leaving Movable Type. Among other things I hate having to get a whole bunch of new permalinks to the old entries.
2. Unsurprisingly, I expect to be doing mostly politics for the rest of this week, while we pore over the election results and before the offseason begins in earnest.
3. Tonight, I may or may not be blogging here; if I'm not posting here I may be over at RedState.
BLOG: Toad Sucking Dog
November 1, 2006
BLOG: No Comments
Yes, for some reason the comments are out of service again. The percentage of my blogging time that I spend on spam and site maintenance just keeps rising.
UPDATE: It appears that the comments were shut down by Host Matters precisely because the waves of spam attacks were overwhelming the server. Really, no punishment is too harsh for spammers...I've been told I now need to upgrade to another version of Movable Type, as if I have nothing better to do with my time than tinker with the behind-the-scenes technical stuff, most of which I don't understand anyway.
October 27, 2006
BLOG: Name in Lights
Just ran a search for links to my stuff, as most bloggers do from time to time, and noticed that Michelle Malkin quoted a comment I posted at RedState, and that I got my first hate diary at Kos.
October 23, 2006
BLOG: Shrimp on a Treadmill
Do I really need to say more? Shrimp on a treadmill, man!
October 17, 2006
BLOG: Much Funnier Than The Mets Game
October 16, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 10/16/06
*A manifesto for Republicans facing the 2006 elections. Though I'm not sure an anaology to the Spartans at Thermopylae will raise a lot of spirits.
*A maybe not-so-different kind of border fence. Of course, the Chinese have tried the wall-building thing before without notable success.
*There's a difference between historians and lawyers, on the one hand, and journalists, on the other; only the latter think that you can prove your point through sloppy paraphrasing, playing fast and loose with primary sources, and citing the testimony of the anonymous. Bob Woodward's new book is a classic example of this. Be sure to read the whole thing, long as it is, and reflect on Woodward's motive.
October 13, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 10/13/06
*What I take away from this story about Bill Simmons playing video golf with Tiger Woods is that Bill definitely lives in a different world from the rest of us these days.
*Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts has a handy guide to assessing media rumors in the baseball offseason - in fact, I would say that it's good advice for evaluating media rumors generally.
*Mike Carminati notes the historical rarity of the Yankees losing in more than two consecutive postseasons. Note the short list of teams before 1995 that appeared in the postseason three years running without winning it all.
*A Robin Williams film appreciation by a critic who really hates him. Like Eddie Murphy, Williams didn't lose so much his comic touch as his judgment in scripts.
October 12, 2006
BLOG: Script News
Instapundit links to an article bemoaning the decline of cursive writing, but doesn't think it's such a bad thing:
I'll take neat printing over sloppy cursive any day, and -- take it from a guy who's graded a lot of bluebooks -- nearly all the cursive you see is sloppy.
Granted, handwritten high school/college/law school exams tend to be excessively sloppy, given the intense time pressures involved, but I'm with Glenn. In my current line of work I take a lot of notes and I basically always print; it makes my notes much more legible to me and others than my script ever was, and once you are in the habit of printing it's not appreaciably slower. I use script only to sign my name.
October 11, 2006
BLOG: Horror in Manhattan
The big story today - I've been hearing the sirens from my office - is a small plane crashing into an apartment complex on 72d and York. Word just came across Fox News that the plane was registered to Yankee (and ex-Met) pitcher Cory Lidle. No word on who was on board.
UPDATES: ESPN says Lidle was on board and is dead:
Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died Wednesday when a small plane he was piloting crashed into a 50-story condominium tower Wednesday on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
This is shocking, shades of Thurman Munson and then some. Presumably Lidle was on his way home from the end of baseball season. I always liked Lidle when he was with the Mets, and he had some decent years, especially in Oakland. Lidle was 34.
Here's an article from September about Lidle as a pilot. As you will recall, Lidle was a descendant of Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat; I guess the interest in transportation ran in his family.
Bloomberg's doing a press conference now. He's basically saying NTSB will have to clear up what happened, nobody knows much else for certain yet, reports are conflicting. Air traffic control lost contact around 59th street as Lidle was heading north. Bloomberg is utterly emotionless.
This obviously casts a very serious pall over tonight's scheduled games, including two of Lidle's former teams. The Mets may not play anyway, given the rain (more on the implications of that later).
Via Instapundit, though, a smidgen of humor: Alec Baldwin being . . . well, Alec Baldwin.
October 9, 2006
BLOG: No Comments?
Looks like the comments function is off again. I'll see when I have time to get someone to fix it.
October 5, 2006
BLOG: Baseball Crank Media Alert
I realize that most of this site's readers will be watching the Met game tonight, but if you happen to not be watching or want to record/Tivo it, I am scheduled (assuming the pre-taped segment isn't cut) to be on "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" at 10pm tonight on CNBC (probably the third or fourth segment) discussing Washington scandals, with special emphasis on my Weekly Standard article on the subject.
I can't promise scintillating television, but I think I got through it with a minimum of hemming and hawing. Bear in mind that (1) I had no idea what the questions would be and (2) I only found out around 10am today that I would be on TV.
UPDATE: So, I'm on national TV tonight and there's a Mets playoff game on ... and my TV dies. After 11 years of flawless service. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
SECOND UPDATE: Well, they cut me. We did get the TV fixed, but to no avail. Sorry to those of you who tuned in.
September 25, 2006
BLOG: Heads Up
September 20, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 9/20/06
Yeah, another bunch of links and quick hits, heavy on politics and war.
*First of all, for my own purposes I should note here that as of this week I have been at my law firm for 10 years. A milestone, of a sort.
*This putatively hostile profile of Mitch McConnell makes him sound like the ideal leader for a legislative majority - a guy who's a brilliant master of parliamentary rules and techniques, a workhorse rather than a showhorse who has a keen understanding of how to hold his caucus together and has been an instrumental player in some of Bill Frist's biggest successes. The authors criticize him for not writing "landmark legislation" or taking to the airwaves, but they have to concede that McConnell has done, in his fight against campaign finance regulation, the very thing the Framers most hoped a a Senator would do - wage an unpopular one-man battle against landmark legislation that is simultaneously self-interested (by protecting incumbents) and hostile to our constitutional guarantees of free speech. And as for his partisanship, (1) the authors don't really even pretend that Tom Daschle wasn't an arch-partisan and (2) "bipartisan" legislation is usually a warning to watch your wallet anyway.
*While I share David Frum's frustration that Bush didn't spend more of his UN speech pressing the case against Iran, I thought this passage in the speech was one of the best articulations yet of why the battle against tyranny in the region is so important to the battle against terrorism - as Bush's predecessor would say to himself, "it's the propaganda, stupid":
Imagine what it's like to be a young person living in a country that is not moving toward reform. You're 21 years old, and while your peers in other parts of the world are casting their ballots for the first time, you are powerless to change the course of your government. While your peers in other parts of the world have received educations that prepare them for the opportunities of a global economy, you have been fed propaganda and conspiracy theories that blame others for your country's shortcomings. And everywhere you turn, you hear extremists who tell you that you can escape your misery and regain your dignity through violence and terror and martyrdom. For many across the broader Middle East, this is the dismal choice presented every day.
This is, by the way, a signal difference from the Cold War - the Communist bloc may have fed its citizens propaganda, but at least they were literate and educated, and thus easier to reach with a contrary message. Illiteracy is a particular problem in Egypt and one of the reasons why Egyptian society presents a greater danger than, say, Iraq or Iran of the populace embracing Islamist nutcases if given the vote.
*Links on the continuing saga of the threats of violence against the Pope for implying that Islam preaches violence: was Pope Benedict trying to build pressure for Christians to receive the treatment in Muslim lands that Muslims receive in Christian lands?; the archbishop of Sydney isn't backing down; David Warren on the BBC; and Fr. Neuhaus at First Things has some reflections. More detail on the violence and threats of violence here, here, here and here. Josh Trevino offers trenchant analysis, especially this parallel:
There's an illuminating historical incident from the tenth century that deserves wider dissemination, and that the Pope might have used in lieu of Manuel II Paleologue's quote. That Emperor was the last to enjoy a full reign in a free Empire; but nearly four hundred years before, the Empire was enjoying a resurgence. Manuel II Paleologue ruled barely more than Constantinople itself - but Nikephoros II Fokas ruled from Italy to the Caucasus, and from Bulgaria to Syria. He was a longtime foe of the Muslim Caliphate, and he observed that a signal advantage of the Muslims was their jihad doctrine. The Orthodox Church then - as now - regarded war as a regrettable necessity, with emphasis on the regrettable part, and soldiers returning from war would be made to perform some manner of penance before again receiving communion. By contrast, Nikephoros II Fokas observed that the Muslims who went to war were directly fulfilling the commandments of their faith, and were accordingly more motivated, violent, and relentless. The Emperor decided that the Christians needed a similar spiritual edge, and so he asked the Patriarch Polyeuktos in Constantinople to declare that any Christian who fell in battle was automatically a martyr. In effect, he requested a Christian version of jihad. The Patriarch and the entire Church hierarchy, so often in that era mere tools of Imperial policy, refused. The Emperor was forced to back down, and within a few short centuries, the Empire was overrun by the Muslims.
Trevino also points out something else. While the founder of Christianity was martyred by the State and the Church endured three centuries of persecution from its founding, Islam began as, and has for most of its existence been, the religion of power and the powerful, united with the State. There are examples of Muslims living under both the culturally light yoke of colonialism (in British India and the brief Western mandates over the former Ottoman territories from 1918 until just after WW2) and Communist opression (mainly in Kazakhstan and the other southern republics that left Russia at the collapse of the Soviet Union), but Islam for the most part does not share the heritage of other faiths in surviving separate from and in opposition to the State. None of this suggests that Islam is necessarily or by nature bad or dangerous, but it does underline why Islamic doctrines have been such potent and hard-to-defuse weapons in the hands of actual and would-be tyrants.
*I had hoped to get to the issue of the Senate Intelligence Committee reports on pre-Iraq-War intelligence sooner and in more detail, but I have only thus far had the chance to read parts of the reports. Critics of the reports have been out in full force on the Right - Stephen Hayes says the report glosses over Saddam's history with jihadist extremists, as does Deroy Murdock, Byron York looks at the fact that Chuck Hagel, a Republican on the committee, had a former Kerry campaign staffer on the committee staff, Wizbang has a link here to a piece that appears to rehash some of Hayes' reporting, and here to a CNN report from 1999 (quoted by Hayes in his book) claiming that Saddam offered asylum to bin Laden. Read and judge for yourself - like I said, I haven't had time to digest all of this yet.
"There are some stand-out cases and each of them will test whether this is a 'restrained' Court," said constitutional law scholar Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine University School of Law, referring to the abortion, affirmative action and punitive damages challenges.
Kmiec concedes that it is "very difficult at first blush" to see why a conservative, restrained court would take the [partial-birth] abortion challenges, since there is no circuit split and there is a recent precedent.
Um, the Executive Branch has asked the Court to reverse lower court rulings that struck down an Act of Congress. I don't care what your judicial philosophy is in deciding a case like that, the Court is almost always going to take a case in those circumstances; it would be a serious dereliction of its institutional role not to.
*A female Supreme Court justice in Yemen? Baby steps.
*Lawrence of India: funny how this statute didn't get mentioned in Justice Kennedy's discussion of international precedents in Lawrence v Texas. Remember, foreign law only counts if it helps one side.
*Correction: Hekmyatar wasn't actually captured.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:15 AM | Blog 2006-13 | Law 2006-08 | Politics 2006 | Religion | War 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
September 19, 2006
BLOG: In Honor of "Talk Like A Pirate Day"
Ahoy! A few thoughts, mateys, from Captain Blood:
Honesty Nuttall: Yes, I think so.
Dr. Peter Blood: Do? We'll board a ship that's not sinking!
September 18, 2006
September 13, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 9/13/06
Sorry I've been a little short on baseball content the past week. That was certainly one crushing loss for the Marlins last night. Anyway, on to some links:
*My initial reaction to the news that Pakistan was effectively conceding its lack of sovereignty over the mountainous, tribal, Taliban/Al Qaeda-infested Waziristan region on the Afghan border (more here and here) was that the last grounds for pretending that Pakistan, and not the U.S., was responsible for cleaning out this hornet's nest was gone, and that we would need to brace for a bloody invasion that would inevitably (given the terrain and hostile locals) require heavy U.S. casualties and massive civilian deaths, given that the only really feasible approaches to the warren of hills and valleys are (1) go in single file like sitting ducks or (2) bomb the place back to the Stone Age, Curtis LeMay style. Ed Morrissey and McQ were more guardedly optimistic - after all, Musharraf was also simultaneously working out an agreement with Hamid Karzai to take a joint approach to rooting out the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the border regions, and if there's one thing we know about Pakistan it's that an awful lot has gone on there the past five years that has never been made public. I remain skeptical, but as Bill Roggio reports that the Taliban has already violated the agreements with Pakistan (surprise!) while the accord with Karzai was followed very rapidly by the capture of troublesome Afghan warlord and sometime Taliban ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, it is possible that progress is actually being made in the region that is still the most likely haven of bin Laden and Zawahiri. Stay tuned.
*Here in NY, the dominant story in the media lately has been the illnesses (mainly respiratory problems, although class action lawyers have been trying to squeeze the square peg of unrelated ailments into the same hole) suffered by Ground Zero rescue/cleanup workers. The Daily News on Saturday had an interesting article on how dogs at the rescue site have not suffered comparable illnesses despite working long hours at the site without any protective gear. The obvious physiological differences between people and dogs are noted, but it seems to me there are two further issues that probably exacerbate the difference. One is behavioral: some of the people who labored long and hard at Ground Zero may be smokers, and smokers are always at greater risk for other respiratory problems (a fact examined at exhaustive length in studies of asbestos). The other is psychological: if people expect to get sick, they may be more vulnerable. Dogs didn't expect to get sick. (I'm not trying to blame people who got sick, mind you; just saying that the interaction between the mind and illnesses of the body remains poorly understood).
*Excellent point by Orin Kerr (via Instapundit): despite the great hue and cry over the NSA surveillance program, the actual footprint of War on Terror legislation and executive actions on civil liberties has been much narrower than a lot of people expected five years ago.
*John Hawkins runs down the GOP's best chances to gain Democrat-held House seats. Many of them are not great pickup odds right now, but are still within striking distance. As in the Senate, I think Republicans will have to make a few gains to hold the chamber given the likelihood of losing Republican-held seats.
*Of course, Democrats oppose voter ID that would make fraud more difficult. I wonder, given the specific issue discussed here, whether there is some sovereignty-based grounds for exempting the Navajo.
*Make Afghanistan the new Iowa? Can you really grow good corn crops there?
*I've been stunned to see recent reports that Dunkin Donuts wants to expand nationally - I always thought they were every bit as national and synonymous with donuts as McDonalds with burgers and Kentucky Fried Chicken with fast food chicken.
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*Peggy Noonan in 1998 (via Instapundit):
Something's up. And deep down, where the body meets the soul, we are fearful. We fear, down so deep it hasn't even risen to the point of articulation, that with all our comforts and amusements, with all our toys and bells and whistles . . . we wonder if what we really have is . . . a first-class stateroom on the Titanic. Everything's wonderful, but a world is ending and we sense it.
We must take the time to do some things. We must press government officials to face the big, terrible thing. They know it could happen tomorrow; they just haven't focused on it because there's no Armageddon constituency. We should press for more from our foreign intelligence and our defense systems, and press local, state, and federal leaders to become more serious about civil defense and emergency management.
Prescient, but like so many others in our politics and punditry who looked at the terrorism issue in that age, Noonan didn't act as if she thought it was coming, didn't make this her sole issue and pound the table until something was done. Hey, I didn't either. Some were more at fault than others, yes, but we all failed.
« Close It
September 11, 2006
BLOG: Screening "Path to 9/11"
Glenn Greenwald has started another blogfight with Patterico, and yet again he doesn't seem to know who he's tangling with (see here, here, here and here). The short summary is that Greenwald made a simple error of fact - he confused Patterico with a guest poster on his site, who had seen "Path to 9/11" because he works for a top-rated LA morning radio show. A sane person would admit the error and go back to blogging about more substantive issues, but Greenwald instead chose to dig in, ramp up his already elevated levels of outrage, and dig up personal dirt on the guest poster. Amazing.
September 5, 2006
BLOG: Familiar Faces
Nice Worcester Telegram & Gazette profile of the latest business venture by my friend and Holy Cross classmate PJ Sansonetti. And ConfirmThem welcomes Curt Levey, who was a year behind me at Harvard Law and has been active in the conservative movement ever since.
August 31, 2006
August 29, 2006
Nasty head cold knocked me for a loop yesterday and I'm still playing catch-up today. Hopefullly I'll be back blogging by tonight or tomorrow.
August 24, 2006
BLOG: Moo, Y'all
Do cows have accents? Or do some farmers just spend way too much time with their cows?
August 16, 2006
BLOG: The Internet Is A Wonderful Thing
Where else can you find a chimpanzee playing Ms. Pac Man? (Of course, I could not shake the creeping suspicion that this was somehow supported by taxpayer money, but that's just me)
August 10, 2006
BLOG: Not Beyond Parody
August 9, 2006
BLOG: A Round of Applause
Thanks to Mike Rogers for keeping the site updated while I was out of town. I'm back from Florida now and digging through the hundreds of emails I have backlogged, from site comments, spam, etc.
July 27, 2006
BLOG: SI Bleg
Apparently I'm mentioned in Sports Illustrated, which is very exciting news, but no longer being a subscriber I don't have the issue and have yet to be able to view the article online (here) and the newsstands I checked this morning didn't carry SI. Could someone with access to the online article email me the text? Thanks.
UPDATE: Got it. Cool. Welcome, SI readers! If you want to sample the posts mentioned in the article, the "Least Favorite Mets" list is here and here, and the series on the 2006 Tigers and the great pitching teams is here, here and here. There's a lot besides baseball here, but if you dislike my politics (or politics in general), you can always just bookmark the baseball-only category.
July 25, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 7/25/06
*Justice Stevens' opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld took Senators John Kyl and Lindsay Graham to task for inserting a colloquy in the Congressional Record that didn't actually take place on the Senate floor, instead relying on statements by Harry Reid and Carl Levin; lots of bad press followed, and left-wing blogs tore into Kyl and Graham (see here and here for examples). Well, well, well, Ramesh Ponnuru points out that Levin's and Reid's statements were also inserted into the record and didn't take place on the floor. Which supports both the view that the Republican Senators did nothing unusual and - as Ponnuru notes - the common-sense position of Justice Scalia that legislative history can't be trusted. Kyl and Graham are owed an apology, big-time.
*IMAO T-Shirt Bride Sarah K. reads the tea leaves from the casting of the fifth Harry Potter film to guess at what storylines will and won't be pursued (with an 850+ page book to trim into a 2-3 hour movie, a lot will undoubtedly be left behind).
*I'm not sure what's more characteristically French - that they instituted paid vacations by force of law, or that the Vichy government sent the architect of that law to Buchenwald.
*They found 50? The good news is, apparently our Majority Leader is prettier than theirs.
July 21, 2006
BLOG: Bad PR
This post by John Scalzi vivisecting a marketing email sent on behalf of Napster is side-splittingly hilarious. (H/t Instapundit) I actually got the same email - verbatim, of course, though my blog and readership are rather different - and just stuck it aside to review later because I couldn't immediately make sense of what it meant and it left me with a vaguely bad feeling that this was spam or a trick of some sort. Good marketing never makes you think it sounds like a 411 scam.
The postscript: if you believe a comment left on Scalzi's thread, apparently by the CEO of the marketing firm, Scalzi's post got the author of the email fired. The comment, by the way, claimed that the email was "specifically developed for outreach to a database of comedic fansites," which doesn't explain why it went to Scalzi (a novelist who writes sci-fi) or to me.
BLOG: Tanks For Nuthin'
Ken Arneson spots an unusual road sign in Denmark. The comments are pretty funny.
July 20, 2006
BLOG: One Million Visits
If you check the Digits.com counter on the left, which has been up since August 2002, you will see that as of lunchtime today I am within 800 visits (a day's worth, give or take) of cracking a million. Thanks to everyone who has visited, linked to or otherwise helped out the site.
July 19, 2006
BLOG: Patterico Feeds The Trolls
I would advise Glenn Greenwald not to tangle with Patterico. (More here). The last guy who did that ended up losing his job.
UPDATE: I might have advised Greenwald to not repeat the exact same mistake Hiltzik made. I'd predict that Greenwald would lose his job and end up fleeing the country, but as he apparently has no job and left America for Brazil a couple of years ago, I guess the worst that can happen is to lose still more credibility on the internet . . .
SECOND UPDATE: Greenwald claims that the "sock puppets" must be someone else who lives with him. Also, he notes that he only lives in Brazil half the time. Though he remains, if you've read any sampling of his blog posts, remarkably cavalier about American national security. Anyway, the main problem with Greenwald is his persistent hysteria about the Bush Administration and the ways in which that leads him to extremely attenuated factual and legal conclusions and bad policy arguments. But it's amusing, after his bitter attacks on other bloggers, to see him get called on this.
July 9, 2006
BLOG: From the Referrer Logs
How can I not reciprocate when I get a link from a blog called "Star-Spangled Haggis"?
One suggestion to small blogs looking to get noticed: bloggers love links, but they love traffic even more. I tend to follow to see who is sending me readers.
BLOG: Our Long Nightmare is Over
May 25: Moved to new house.
June 20, 2006
I can't summarize this lengthy screed except by saying that Megan McArdle is wonderful.
BLOG: The Horror
BLOG: About the Comments
I've post-dated this so it stays at the top. Yes, I am well aware that the comments on the site are busted. And my efforts thus far to get help have been unsuccessful. If anyone can help or offer suggestions, I'd be much obliged.
UPDATE: I miss the feedback of having a comments section, but I simply have neither the time nor the technical skill to sift through self-help forums to find an answer. What I need is someone to get this done. Specifically, if anyone can recommend someone who can fix this sort of thing, let me know. I am willing to pay.
SECOND UPDATE: Comments are fixed!
June 12, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 6/12/06
*Clarice Feldman at The American Thinker starts the discussion of whether the Haditha "massacre" was a hoax. It's too early to tell - but of course it hasn't been too early for potential House Majority Leader John Murtha to pronounce the guilt of all involved in war crimes or for the domestic Left and America's enemies overseas to sing the same common theme. More here on TIME Magazine's corrections to its initial story, and a longer roundup and links here.
*At least Republicans pretend to want to limit government spending. The absence of even that pretense is what makes the Dems frightening as stewards of the public purse. Well, that and a 40-year track record as the House majority.
*"Dems slipping in state races": A USAToday front-pager today on the Democrats' struggles in governors' races, prominently featuring Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.
*I've said it before: Mike Huckabee, New Democrat.
*This may be of some relevance to the ongoing interrogation debate. And of course, Zarqawi read Newsweek (via Taranto) By contrast, Tom Elia asks if the BBC could "actively help the government by passing along coded, top secret information in order to advance the objective of winning a war" as it did in advance of D-Day. In the BBC's case, it's even worse - the BBC isn't just a media organization that heaps scorn on the government and works at cross-purposes to it - it's one that does so with taxpayer money and the benefits of governmentally sustained monopoly power.
*Bring it on! I last revisited the ongoing battle between John Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in detail here back in September 2004. Well, in late May, Kerry decided to reopen the battle in the pages of the New York Times, but Thomas Lipscomb is answering in detail, with the first two installments here and here. Read the whole thing - especially, read part two to the last line.
*The US District Court in Massachusetts, following the lead of the Florida and Massachusetts state bars, disbars F. Lee Bailey. The First Circuit affirms, explaining along the way how the once-prominent criminal defense attorney came to this pass.
*Leading Democrats' reactions to Zarqwi's death - most of them are OK, but Hillary's otherwise fine reaction is marred by a typically Clintonian urge to personalize the issue:
I saw firsthand the terrible consequences of Zarqawi's terrorist network when Bill, Chelsea and I visited the hotel ballroom in Amman, Jordan last November where Zarqawi's followers had detonated a bomb at a wedding party, killing and wounding innocent people.
Because, you know, if a Clinton wasn't there it didn't happen.
Pitcher Scott Erickson, who started the game for the Orioles and was in line to get the win before Armando Benitez served up the fateful pitch in the eighth inning to Jeter, said he hopes Maier makes it to the major leagues, "just so I can drill him -- I'd like to get one shot at him."
*Dan Lewis calls on Selig to resign in the wake of the Jason Grimsley story. We should not be surprised at Grimsley's attitude towards the drug policy. Recall that this is the same guy who confessed to assisting Albert Belle in covering up a corked bat and whose father was a notorious spitballer.
June 5, 2006
OK, I don't blog about parenthood here all that much, but indulge me here for a minute. Or not; it's my blog. Anyway, yesterday my youngest daughter played peek-a-boo with me.
Now, if you know babies, you know they love peek-a-boo, and some of them have a nearly inexhausible patience for watching a parent or pretty much anyone cover and uncover their face repeatedly. Since my youngest daughter is just three months today, I wasn't sure if she was quite old enough to respond to peek-a-boo, but a few days ago I did it and got a laugh out of her.
So, yesterday I was doing it again, and she was sitting in her car seat with a blanket a little below her chin, and she didn't just smile - she pulled the blanket up with both hands and lowered her face so the blanket covered her eyes, and then popped back up again. In other words, she played peek-a-boo with me, and not just by doing exactly what I was doing but imitating the concept. Of course, that got a tremendous rise out of me, and my wife and mother-in-law came to watch - and she did it again. As in, seven or eight times in a row, ducking behind her blanket and then pulling it back down and popping back up again, to leave pretty much no doubt that she was doing this on purpose.
Parenthood is a lot of work and, at times, more than its share of aggravation, but there are times when you are reminded very directly why it's worth it.
May 31, 2006
BLOG: Uncool Cars
May 29, 2006
BLOG: No Comments
Yes, I'm moved now and gradually getting unpacked. And yes, I'm aware that the comments function is busted at the moment, but as of yet I have no clue how to fix it. Hope you're enjoying the holiday weekend as well as honoring our war dead who give Memorial Day its significance; hope to be back soon.
May 24, 2006
BLOG: Moving Day
We're moving tomorrow, so the blog should be quiet at least the next two days.
May 16, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 5/16/06
*Some days, the bear eats you.
*Laurence Tribe pens an op-ed for the Boston Globe entitled "Bush stomps on Fourth Amendment". (Via Bashman). You have to wait until the third paragraph to discover that the "stomping" in question is permitted by a 1979 Supreme Court decision, and that Prof. Tribe's argument is really that the Supreme Court should overrule its prior precedent, not that Bush is somehow flouting the law and the courts.
*Baseball Prospectus finally has HACKING MASS standings up. My team is currently ranked #21 out of 1,427. And BP's Kevin Goldstein is souring on Andy Marte.
*Today's Day by Day is pretty amusing.
*A devil's theory of J. Michael Luttig: There's been a lot of ink and pixels spilled debating why Fourth Circuit judge and Supreme Cout short-lister J. Michael Luttig decided to leave his life-tenured job to become General Counsel at Boeing. The decision became doubly interesting with the announcement (detailed on the front page of today's Wall Street Journal) that Boeing has reached a tentative settlement of criminal charges with the Department of Justice.
As is often true of these things, the answer is probably a bunch of reasons. Clearly, Judge Luttig will make more money at his new job, likely multiples of his $171,000 salary as a federal appellate judge, and his kids are reaching college age. Other proffered explanations - Judge Luttig didn't really love the solitary life of an appellate judge, he was frustrated by his clashes with the Bush Administration over the Jose Padilla case, he figured out that after Roberts and Alito the next Bush SCOTUS nominee couldn't be another white male and would likely not be the #1 guy on conservative wish lists, etc. - may also have much truth to them.
But here's another thing: Judge Luttig is young enough, at 51, to bide his time a bit. Boeing is heavily regulated by a Senate committee chaired by John McCain, who has been a critic of the company, and the new GC will have as part of his job the task of mollifying Senator McCain. Which will mean working with him personally. And McCain, of course, if elected president, will need to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court to keep the restive GOP base happy. Perhaps you see where I'm going with this: I think it is at least plausible that Judge Luttig, understanding the ways of Washington, considered among the factors in his decision that getting to know John McCain would be a surer path to the Supreme Court than continuing to write Fourth Circuit opinions.
May 11, 2006
BLOG: Run Away!
Know when to wheel away, know when to run.
May 8, 2006
BLOG: She's Back
I hadn't noticed - I'd finally stopped checking - until Instapundit mentioned it today, but Michele Catalano is back; this essay is pretty much vintage Michele. Welcome back.
May 5, 2006
BLOG: Six Years and Counting
Although the blog didn't open until August 2002 and this site in its present form opened in April 2003, I count my real "blogoversary" as my first weekly column for Bill Simmons' old Boston Sports Guy site, which ran six years ago today, calling for baseball to change the rules to require relief pitchers to face at least three batters (go read the whole thing - I still stand by the proposal). The internet was but a pup then, and the word "blog" unheard-of. Somehow, I'm still going six years later, and while we all have our dry spells, unlike a lot of the burned-out bloggers out there I hardly feel like I'm running out of things to say (more often I come up with ideas too ambitious to get them done - right now I've got at least three long political pieces in draft form, one long statistical study yet to start, and a couple other baseball, politics and law columns I'd write now if I only had more time to write).
Anyway, thanks to everyone who has read, linked, commented, advertised or otherwise supported my writing these past six years.
April 29, 2006
Question for other bloggers: know where to get a good referrer log? I used to have a code at the bottom of each page that showed how much incoming traffic I got from every external source - with the unreliability of Technorati and the near-total demise of the trackback function, it had become my best resource for finding out who had linked to me, and by far the best way to track which links provided a lot of hits (Site Meter doesn't connect traffic to particular pages to particular links). Unfortunately, that code - from a site called TrueFresco.org - has gone to a registration-required pay service (see here). Fair enough; I decided their service was worth paying for and signed up, sending via PayPal $17.95 to sign up. And: nothing. I can't log in. They won't answer my emails. Is it a scam, or just bad service? I have no idea. But I'd love to find a substitute, if anyone has a better idea.
April 24, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 4/24/06
*Amy Langfield has pictures of and from the new Seven World Trade center; the fifth from the bottom is strongly reminiscent of the view from my office in 1 WTC back when I was on the 58th floor. Via Welch.
April 18, 2006
BLOG: Geography Quiz
According to this, the world's five largest nations, in terms of land mass, are (in order) Russia, Canada, the US, China, and Brazil. Can you name the next five? Answers after the break.
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« Close It
BLOG: Quick Links and Quick Hits 4/18/06
*Count me out of any complaints about there being a Flight 93 movie. I'm sick of being told how we can and can't commemorate September 11. In World War II they didn't flinch from making movies about the war that was on - go watch a movie like Mrs. Miniver, which won Best Picture in 1942 and took on the blitz while the bombs were still falling in England. The Flight 93 story has everything: real villains, real heroes, real tragedy, and the reality of why we fight and what the difference is between them and us. We need to have this movie.
*More on Iran another day, but I just gotta say, reviewing how bad our options are with regard to both Iran and North Korea: thank God we got rid of Saddam before he got that far down that road. In the meantime, compare this excellent Mark Steyn analysis of the Iranian situation and how it got this way (h/t Drezner) with this Michael Kinsley hand-wringer on the same question, and see if you can spot the difference. (Hint: Steyn says what he thinks we should do. Kinsley can't).
*Stuart Buck asks a good question about the Iraqi mobile bio-not-weapons lab. (His source is his brother-in-law, for what that's worth). And Ed Morrissey catches the Washington Post misleading readers on the subject.
*A Constitutional right to vagrancy: Such a very Ninth Circuit-y opinion from the Ninth Circuit, authored of course by a Clinton appointee.
*Speaking of which: I asked around my office and nobody wants to bet against the Supreme Court taking this case. Let's see: Ninth Circuit? Check. War on Terror significance? Check. Campaign finance/First Amendment angle? Check. Dissent by heterodox group of judges including Kozinski and Reinhardt? Check. (UPDATE: More on the same).
*So, let me get this straight: Cindy Sheehan now thinks President Bush is spending too little time at the ranch? Go away, please. (UPDATE: Looks like the AP has changed the story at this link).
*Libertarian and reluctant 2004 Bush voter Megan McArdle notes three things the Bush Administration has gotten right without getting adequate credit:
The first is trade. The Bush administration's committment to free trade has been downright inspiring. . . .
As usual, McArdle isn't hesitant to criticize Bush, but she makes a good case that he's been right on all three of these counts. Read the whole thing.
*Conservatives=racists? Jeff Goldstein has a lengthy take-down of this particular substitute for thought.
*Via RCP Blog, a profile of Caitlin Flanagan, who writes on what is, by far and away, the single most divisive topic you can raise in American society: the tradeoffs of mothers of small children working outside the home vs. staying home with the kids.
*Another battle over a Founding Father's legacy, in this case Hamilton. My general view of the Founding Fathers is this: their virtues - foresight, wisdom, physical and moral courage, restraint in the exercise of power, leadership, stirring rhetoric, keen understanding of human nature - grow all the more impressive with time, and make all generations to come after them look small by contrast.
*Lawyers, watch where you post about your own firm's cases on the internet. (via Bashman).
*First, shoot all the lawyers: unrest in Nepal.
*This is just a wild photo.
April 10, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 4/10/06
*Saddam and suicide attacks on America: Ed Morrissey connects the dots. Disbelieve if you like, but another must-read for anyone interested in getting to the bottom of Saddam's regime's multifaceted terrorist ties and ambitions rather than continuing to hide behind the same old talking points. I remain skeptical that Saddam's regime was actually involved in the September 11 attacks - I think it more likely than not that the Iraqis' ties to Al Qaeda didn't run quite that deep - but a prudent person would not rule that possibility entirely out, either, and the fact that there wasn't immediate evidence pointing in that direction is no reason for investigative reporters, bloggers and historians to stop looking. Kudos to Captain Ed for doing the legwork of hiring his own translators to vet this particular document.
*John Hawkins interviews Mike Huckabee, Republican governor of Arkansas and a possible dark horse candidate for the 2008 nomination. Huckabee is defensive on taxes, but perhaps reasonably. But consider this answer:
John Hawkins: Let me ask you one more question here. If someone came up to you and said, "Mike Huckabee, pick any three pieces of legislation you'd want to see passed nationally, and we'll tell you they'll definitely make it through, what three would you pick? Take your time. I understand this is a tough thing to pull off the top of your head.
If I had to pick two words to describe a platform built around these three ideas, it would be "New Democrat."
*I'm sorry, but I'm just not buying this story. You can't make me believe it.
April 6, 2006
BLOG: What is Wrong with People?
An argument at a baby shower escalated into a brawl in which one man was shot and the pregnant guest of honor was beaten with a stick, police said. . . . Authorities said the shooting victim, Aristotle Garcia, got into a fight with a man who is dating his ex-girlfriend. The argument, over whether the woman let their 5-year-old daughter drink beer, escalated and drew in two other people . . .
March 7, 2006
BLOG: Just Like Starting Over
So, tomorrow my wife and I bring home our new daughter (baby #3) from the hospital; she was born Monday afternoon. I'd post more but my wife is insistent that we put as little information about the kids on the internet as possible. Let's just say the little lady, like her sister, exercised her full female prerogatives and arrived ten days late.
Hence, of course, the blogging interruption, which will continue; I've actually got a fair amount of stuff stored up from my review of how Established Win Shares Levels (explanation here for new readers) panned out in 2005, and am frantically at work on the 2006 EWSLs, which I use as the framework for my preseason previews. I'll be at home this week and next, so even with the chaos of a new baby I expect to make some progress on that front, but there's no predicting how far I'll get or how much of it will make it into completed posts any time soon. The collateral consequence of this is that the political content around here should be pretty minimal through Opening Day.
Having a third baby six years after the last one is, as I've said before, like coming out of retirement. Every time I feel too old for this, I try to remind myself that lots of people our age (34) are just getting started; we're really just old compared to when we had the first two (I was 25 when my son was born).
Looking at all the baby stuff they sell these days (car seats, infant toys, etc.) and how far it's all advanced from where our first daughter was born, I feel like we had our kids in another century. In fact, we did have our first two in another century, in what seems like another world. When we last brought a baby home from the hospital in the summer of 1999, I was still working in the World Trade Center; Bill Clinton was the president, and "the war" meant Kosovo. John McCain was still a relatively obscure Senator, Howard Dean an extremely obscure governor. The Mets' pitching rotation included Orel Hershiser and Masato Yoshii; the major league home run leader was Mark McGwire. Wade Boggs was still playing. Patrick Ewing and the Knicks were the defending Eastern Conference champs. "The Sopranos" was coming off its first season on TV.
I hadn't started wrting on the web then; nobody had heard of "blogs." Bill Simmons was still an obscure web writer, Glenn Reynolds a law professor known only in his field, Duncan Black and John Hinderaker were just working lawyers, and Aaron Gleeman and Matt Yglesias were still in high school. 1999 was the year I bought my first Baseball Prospectus. (Heck, when my son was born in the summer of 1997 I didn't even have email at work). In 1999, my mom was still with us.
The new arrival shares the name of my grandmother, who was born in 1900 as a subject of Queen Victoria. Life goes on . . . and I should go get some sleep, while the house is still quiet.
February 23, 2006
BLOG: On One Wheel
This morning in Midtown Manhattan I saw a guy apparently commuting to work on a unicycle. I guess now I've officially seen it all. This was the best one since I was in Cambridge, Mass. and saw a bearded academic-looking type (complete with corduroy jacket with patched elbows) riding a bicycle while smoking a pipe.
February 16, 2006
BLOG: Fellowship for Israel
If you are or know a pro-Israel college student interested in a fairly good-paying summer internship, you may want to check this out.
February 15, 2006
BLOG: The New Constitutionalist
NRO's Bench Memos pointed the other day to The New Constitutionalist, a site run by Holy Cross political science professor David Schaefer and including, as a contributor, Joe Busher, a classmate of mine at HC (we were in constitutional law together - Joe's a sharp guy). Welcome to the web!
February 14, 2006
BLOG: Sci-Fi Quiz
Saw this one a few places:
Read More »
« Close It
February 7, 2006
BLOG: But Neither of Them Is Enrico Palazzo
Brian Williams is lucky there are only two prominent and relatively light-skinned young African-American Democrats in Congress. Oops. Although I'm not sure how you could mistake anyone for Obama.
February 6, 2006
BLOG: Irregular Content Notice
If you're wondering: my wife and I are expecting baby #3 at the end of February, give or take a few weeks (you never know). As a result:
1. I'm working like crazy right now to get everything done that needs to be done work-wise before the baby gets here; and
2. Once the baby arrives, I'll be at home for about two weeks.
The net result of both of these facts is that posting is going to be irregular around here for the next month or so. And doubly so because I've got to prepare some things for baseball season. I don't intend to let the blog go dark for long stretches, but I can't really promise regular every-morning posting for a bit.
February 3, 2006
BLOG: Grilled Cheese
I often find I have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Yet I often see news items suggesting that some people have the opposite problem, causing them to spend the time necessary to learn how to do things like eat 26 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes. Or, perhaps more astonishingly, attend an event at which you watch someone else eat 26 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes.
Then there's the guy who invented the "Chuck Norris Facts," some of which are admittedly very funny.
January 27, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 1/27/06
*Saber-Rattling, Canadian Style - or a neat bit of triangulation to distract from the reality of a less anti-American posture.
*Fun, unverifiable, malicious rumor of the day: a Kos diarist says Ken Salazar isn't supporting a filibuster of Judge Alito because he struck a deal to get James Dobson off his back. Certainly, everying we've seen from Salazar lately suggests a man cracking under the strain of criticism on judges. This sounds like an exaggeration by a disgruntled staffer filtered through some anonymous dude on the internet, but it could be a version of the truth.
*I know I've been on this theme for a while now, but under pressure from opponent Rick Santorum, putatively pro-life Democratic Senate candidate Bob Casey in Pennsylvania has now come out in favor of confirming Judge Alito, and the Blogometer has a good roundup of lefty bloggers' teeth-gnashing over Casey's announcement, which drives a serious wedge into the Democratic caucus; unlike Ben Nelson, Casey's defection can't be explained by an overwhelming Republican tilt to his state. (But it is consistent with the prior endorsement of Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor, Ed Rendell, whose wife is a Third Circuit colleague of Alito). Could it be that there really just isn't a valid basis to filibuster Judge Alito?
*On the other hand, Bill Nelson is opposing Alito because he's not conservative enough?
January 26, 2006
BLOG: The National Journal Interview
January 25, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 1/25/06
*Eliot Spitzer picks a running mate who is popular, African-American and disabled (he's blind), and still manages to run afoul of Charles Rangel and other self-appointed NY City Democratic power brokers. (Via NRO). You can debate whether this says more about (1) Spitzer's abrasive personality, (2) the endless demands and elephantine egos of guys like Rangel, or (3) why it's so hard for the NY City Democratic party to produce leaders with a spine (the results of which are on garish display every four years in the mayoral elections). Spitzer will be the next governor pretty much no matter what, but it's instructive to watch how easily he alienates even his own allies.
*Characteristically brilliant Megan McArdle analysis of the chimerical connection between abortion and sex education:
Now is the time of year when William Saletan tells us that we should stop arguing about abortion and just keep women from getting pregnant in the first place.
Read the whole thing.
*This New Republic analysis of the educational crisis facing boys in this country is deeply alarming and a must-read. The suggestion that some sort of implicit or explicit affirmative action may be needed for male students is appalling. The article fingers a number of the likely culprits, from lack of interest in reading to an unduly feminized curriculum. Like it or not, boys thrive on competition and challenges; that needs to be retained as part of the educational process. While the article notes that many of the problems are at the grade-school level, it underscores my conviction that the sexes are better off being separated at the high school level.
I've always wondered why busy lawmakers make so much time for lobbyists, at least when they're not playing golf or being comped at Signatures, and gradually I realized: They envision themselves, a few years down the road, in the same role. After all, half the former members of Congress--half!--are now earning many times their Hill salaries by trying to persuade their ex-colleagues to fund a Bridge to Nowhere or some equivalent measure.
I mostly regard lobbying reform as a pointless sham, since the real issue is at the macro level - the power to hand out special interest favors, power that attracts corruption - and the micro level, the specific cases of corrupted officials. But this is one systemic issue that needs to be addressed. It's perhaps not as dire as the similar problem of ex-diplomats being systematically bought off by the Saudis, but as long as members of Congress have in mind the possibility of staying in DC as part of the lobbying class, their incentives will be deeply skewed.
*I've been disappointed with John McCain' stance on the NSA intercepts issue, and while I agreed with him on the problem I was distressed by his solution on the treatment of detainees. But this Mark Levin column is typical of the overwrought teeth-gnashing McCain inspires in some quarters of the Right. McCain has many flaws, but being "soft on defense" is not one of them.
*Cathy Seipp ticks off some NY Times reporters by blogging about what they wrote to her (via Matt Welch). Very entertaining stuff. I do think it's mildly unsporting to write about the fact that a journalist is working on an as-yet-unpublished story, but journalists of all people are fools if they think anything they say is off the record, and expecting sources to keep quiet permanently is absurd.
*Mark Kilmer notes this Washington Post column by the Post's ombudsman, detailing the campaign of abuse directed at her by lefty blogs over the distinction between direct and indirect contributions made by Jack Abramoff. As I pointed out before in linking to this Jon Henke post (see also here), the distinction is noteworthy but (a) hardly as conclusive as the Democrats would like, and (b) inconsistently applied by the Dems themselves. If you hear Democrats and liberal blog commenters calling people liars for saying Democrats got Abramoff-tainted money, well, they're just full of it, especially if they're simultaneously steamed about indirect ties between Abramoff and President Bush or other Republicans. WaPo explains:
Records from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Public Integrity show that Abramoff's Indian clients contributed money to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats between 1999 and 2004. The Post also has copies of lists sent to tribes by Abramoff with his personal directions on which members were to receive what amounts.
Crowley has it right. Abramoff was a Republican in a Republican-run city, and this is mainly a Republican scandal. But suggesting that a number of Democrats aren't also associated with Abramoff is just false. And - lest we forget - corrupt ties between Indian gambling interests, campaign contributions and Washington politicians didn't exactly begin in 2001 (see here and here for details).
January 24, 2006
BLOG: Follow Your Surname
January 13, 2006
BLOG: Service Interruption
Unfortunately, due to the site crashing yesterday and moving to a new server, it looks like a month's worth of comments, trackbacks and site modifications have been lost. Stay tuned to see if the site stays back up, although the server move is complete and presumably you wouldn't be reading this if Network Solutions hadn't successfully redirected the URL to the new server.
January 12, 2006
BLOG: Quick Links 1/12/06
The site has had some technical problems and may continue to for the next day or so (I'm moving to a new server). This was posted Thursday morning.
*Faith and Fear in Flushing asks why Jim Bunning is in the Hall of Fame and Jerry Koosman isn't. Via Repoz. As I've written before, Bunning is a fairly weak Hall of Famer and shouldn't have been voted in, given the large number of comparable pitchers who are on the outs (I'd take Luis Tiant over Bunning any day of the week, let alone Blyleven). But the real reasons are obvious. First, W-L record: Bunning and Koosman won a nearly identical number of games, 224 to 222, but Koosman lost 25 more games. Second, strikeouts: Koosman's career high was 200, while Bunning struck out 200 six times and 250 or more three times. Third, the shape of their careers: Bunning won in double figures 11 years in a row, and between 1964 and 1967 his average record was 19-12 with a 2.48 ERA and 248 Ks in 298 innings. Koosman's best years were more broken up: he had three straight losing records from 1971-73, went 11-35 in 1977-78, and 4-13 in 1981. It's all somewhat unfair, but the fact is, the Hall has always rewarded players who concentrate their best seasons together.
*Ramesh Ponnuru notes the media's haste to characterize Judge Alito's views on executive power based on only the thinnest of evidence, persumably just to fit him into a preconceived storyline about Bush.
*I loved this line from Dahlia Lithwick characterizing the theme of Alito's opening statement: "My family was too poor to afford a judicial philosophy."
*The professor who suggested this question for Alito clearly missed the memo on the Democrats' talking points:
I'd also ask him if he would be willing to sell any shares of stock that might cause him to recuse himself (and instead reinvest them in mutual funds that do not require recusal based on underlying investments).
*Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden need to be reminded that in hearings, unlike in football, time of possession is not a winning metric.
*When you say "Ted," you put your mind on hold . . .
*Patterico catches the LA Times misleading readers into thinking that Alito is the fifth vote to overturn Roe (a claim repeated yesterday by Dick Durbin). If only.
*John Miller's latest NRO analysis has the 2006 Senate races a stalemate other than a likely GOP pickup of an open seat in MN and three "tossups," those being one Dem-held open seat (NJ), one GOP Senator (Santorum in PA), and one semi-GOP Senator (Chaffee in RI). In other words, if the Dems win all three tossups and the other races stay where Miller has them now, the GOP nets a loss of one seat, and only on the issues where Chaffee votes Republican.
*Jon Henke makes an excellent point about how all the money that flowed directly from Jack Abramoff was to Republicans, but Abramoff sent a lot of money indirectly the way of both parties. Typically, the Democrats are making a big deal about the direct/indirect distinction in defending their own, while counting the indirect money as part of what went to the GOP. I agree with Henke that the people who got money directly are in more trouble, but everyone will have some explaining to do. But at the end of the day, there's no real scandal in taking contributions from the guy - the real scandals are in the personal benefits (trips, etc.) and in ties to favors done for Abramoff clients. After all, there's no truer example of "everybody does it" than the fact that everybody takes money from favor-seekers.
*There has to be more to this story, doesn't there? Of course, I could see him joking about this. But it would be utterly typical of Bush national security controversies if there are reasons why Bush can't publicly disclose his reasons, and the critics get another free shot at him unanswered.
*Long Mark Steyn column that pretty well summarizes his theory of why much of Western Europe, Russia and Japan is headed for demographic and cultural suicide.
*Can you bully your way to Oscar glory?
*Rachel Corrie's family abducted by Palestinian terrorists. Oh, the irony.
*Henke again, on real wages. Essential reading.
It is much better copy as a naïve defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public.
January 9, 2006
BLOG: Name Caruso's Blog!
Jay Caruso has given up politics and started a sports/pop culture blog, and he's giving away a free DVD as part of a contest to pick a name for his blog.
UPDATE: Is my blog now illegal?
BLOG: Programming Note
Some long-fuse, heavy-research baseball stuff is in the pipeline, but absent some significant baseball news, with the Alito hearings kicking off this week, expect a lot of law & politics blogging and not much baseball between now and Friday.
January 7, 2006
BLOG: A Good Cup
Maybe you should order a shorter cappuccino at Starbucks: "The short cappuccino has the same amount of espresso as the 12-ounce tall, meaning a bolder coffee taste, and also a better one." I wonder: does that mean even the really big cappuccinos and cafe lattes don't have more actual coffee in them, and thus - more importantly - don't have more caffeine? If that's the case, the latte - which I have from time to time as a shot in the arm - doesn't make sense beyond the smallest size.
January 3, 2006
BLOG: Don't Tickle Me