Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Homina homina homina

Remember when I was Homer-drooling over the car that looked like a plane?

Well, that's cool if you're on a budget. (And 300 mpg for under $30K would pay for itself very quickly.) But for those who can afford to spend money like they're getting a bailout, there's the official Real McCoy - the Terrafugia Transition.

This is a FLYING. CAR. Fuck yeah.

The two-seater Transition can use its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds, with wings folded, at a respectable 30 miles per gallon. Once it has arrived at a suitable take-off spot - an airport, or adequately sized piece of flat private land - it can fold down the wings, engage its rear-facing propellor, and take off. The folding wings are electrically powered.
MUA-hahahahahaha! Screw you bastids stuck on the Turnpike.

The company website also says that the cargo hold is long enough to accomodate golf clubs and the like, which means that I can fly to my next tournament with my sticks and gear in the hold - and if something really bad happens, I deploy the FULL VEHICLE PARACHUTE, sweet mercy me.
Its cruising speed in the air is 115 mph, it has a range of 460 miles, and it can carry 450lb. It requires a 1,700-foot (one-third of a mile) runway to take off and can fit in a standard garage.
In fifteen years we're all gonna be flying a Swordfish II, and I for one couldn't be more jazzed if you spiked my LSD with Red Bull.

PS - there really was a Swordfish, a torpedo plane that helped sink the Bismarck.  And, this being the Internet, there's a rule that says that if it exists, there is also Lego of it.  Here they are - the real Swordfish and the Swordfish II, both built by featured on the amazing Brothers Brick.  This post has so many awesome things in it, Chuck Norris may be moved to leave a comment.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I need tech support

I am unable to copy text on one page and copy it here. It's been a problem for awhile. Is there something I can do about it? Our is this a way for website to protect their copywright?

update from the 'fly -

If you copy-and-paste from another website into the body of a post, you ought to see you a dialogue box like this:

Like 'the Lady and the Tiger,' only with fewer ladies and tigers.

It's a new feature from our friends at Microsoft, so morons don't accidentally cut-and-paste all their bank account info and social security number into "xxxhottybody.ho" or something.  Click "allow access" and your text ought to show up safe and sound - though you will probably have to clean up the formatting, because Blogger really never does a good job with that.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New promotion at Tropicana Field

First five hundred fans get to no-hit the Rays.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Edwin Jackson was so wild early there was no reason to think he would even finish the game, forget throw the fourth no-hitter of the season.
Jackson (5-6) walked eight, all but one in the first three innings, but the Rays still were no-hit for the third time since last July, including Dallas Braden 's perfect game at Oakland on May 9.
Two things... first, Jackson threw 149 pitches to finish the game.  It's the most recorded in any no-hitter (they didn't bother counting stuff like this back when; I'd lay even money on one of the old-school guys topping this number, though's numbers go back a ways.

That in itself is not a big deal... but there's a game to be won.  I therefore wasn't so sure about this logic:
" All's well that ends well. We stopped counting at about 115,'' Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch said. " You do want to make smart decisions. You do have a chance at history and you don't want to take it away from him."
You don't, but it's 1-0 and your guy walked seven in the first three innings.  Hinch was warming up guys all night but didn't bring them in.  To Jackson's credit, he was never in such desperate trouble again, but Hinch has to be ready to call his guy in before that first hit if he has to.
Sentiment worked the same way for Dwight Gooden in 1996.  He was done as a front-line starter when he tossed his no-hitter for the Yankees; if I remember right it was the only shutout he had after leaving the Mets.  He threw a lot of pitches in that game, but not terribly out of line from other starts he made that season (game log here).  But you'll notice that a lot of those starts, those pitches didn't get him far.  He made, by my count, ten different starts in which he topped 100 pitches but didn't get through more than six innings - including one outing of 4 2/3 that took him 132 pitches.  It was foolhardy, to say the least, for Joe Torre to leave him in with a slender 2-0 lead.  Just the other night a fresh, young, good pitcher, Jon Papelbon, came in to close a game and threw all of eight pitches: two each to four batters.
Homer, single, sac bunt, homer, ballgame.
You can't give away wins through sentiment, even the sentiment of a New York hero coming back to his city and symbolically fulfilling, for one day, the destiny he squandered as a youth.  Nor should you heedlessly risk wins through the sentiment of... having pitched for the Rays two teams ago.
The other thing is small and petty and I wasn't even alive, but the AP account is calling 2010 "The Year of the Pitcher."  Hogwash.  The Year of the Pitcher is 1968; not to be a jerk about it, but Carl Yazstremski was the only guy who hit .300 in the AL that season.  How many games do you think a guy would win if he finished the year with 13 shutouts and a 1.12 ERA?  Bob Gibson won 22 and somehow lost 9.  He'd go 31-1 with numbers like that nowadays.  (Except in Kansas City.  He'd go 4-9, bust out GM Dayton Moore's windows with fastballs, and force a trade, then win the Cy Young for a half-season of work like Sutcliffe did with the Cubs in '84.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I don't care what this guy said in public, this is unconscionable.

I don't care if this Lutheran pastor is against gay clergy (it's apparent that he's against himself being a gay clergy), for a reporter to lie his way into a confidential support group and then reveal what transpired is lower than Keith Olbermann. This piece of dirt dig great damage to this group's ability to help people.

But this is typical of today's gay activist. Put your name on a ballot initiative and you may get your place of employment picketed. Or your home. Or your church. But only if you are white, because even though black people put California's Prop 8 over the top these fairies didn't have the onions to got into the 'hood.

These people demand respect and dignity? Why should I give it to them when they have no respect for others?

Yes, I said fairies. I was considering using the other F word.

I hit the Creative Minority Report every day. You Catholics have really great blogs. If my pastor knew I was reading them......

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The President of the School Board of the City of Detroit

BTW, a little bit of a parental advisory on these links.

Usually when I am in a boring meeting I just have a country music song stuck in my head.

Maybe he was just taking a former Surgeon General's teaching to heart.

And you wonder why people home school.

H/t Michelle Malkin

Friday, June 18, 2010

Judenrein: an update

On June 5 I wrote: "Obama could bomb Tel Aviv and make the eating of pork mandatory and still not lose the Jewish vote. Most American Jews have long abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the god of FDR, JFK and BHO".

I offer this evidence as Exhibit A.

Maybe Mr Senturia should talk to a few Jews who actually live in Israel.

If only Imams were permitted to marry..

..then we wouldn't have any of this.

A former prayer leader is awaiting deportation after pleading guilty today to molesting a 13-year-old boy studying with him at a South Tampa mosque.

Yasser Mohamed Shahade, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of lewd and lascivious molestation stemming from a May 2009 incident at the Masjid Omar Al Mukhtar mosque where Shahade was an imam.

Shahade had been charged with raping the boy, but prosecutors agreed to lower the charge in exchange for the plea.

When asked through an interpreter why he was entering a plea, Shahade said, "I'm guilty."

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet A. Tharpe sentenced Shahade to 10 years of probation, accepting the plea bargain. Prosecutors and Shahade's attorney said the plea was predicated on Shahade's expulsion to his native Egypt.

I found this on the bottom right corner of Page 10 in the Metro section of the Tampa Tribune. Four-column-inch story on an incident that happened a year ago. Do you think if this were a Catholic priest or even a schoolteacher that this would have been the first time I'd hear about it? I keep reminding myself that I subscribe for the box scores. Thank God I don't have to depend on this rag for actual news.

Teach your children well

Something folks may not know about me: I never graduated from dear ol' R.U.

My time on the banks of the old Raritan, my boys, was fraught with self-caused misery, only some of it academic.  Sure, good times too.  Found Christ at college, so net-plus, and made a number of life-long friends whom I see or speak with regularly.  (One of them I share a blog with.)  But still... it took me ten years after I'd finally bottomed out to finally finish paying the student loans.

Now, had I managed a degree, that would have been a quicker process: but still, that's TEN years for paying off a relatively-small debt burden from a university that charges less to in-state residents such as myself.  (Remember, I didn't finish - I didn't have four or five full years of tuition and costs to pay off.)

Now imagine going to an Ivy League school for four years, with loans covering much of it.  Yowch.

I've long thought that if you didn't need college for what you wanted to do (or were likely to find yourself doing) then it was probably a lot of hassle for little gain.  My brother, for example, never went to college and he out-earns me as a mechanic.  (And is this sort of thing typical for the HVAC industry, Spider?)

Part of me also suspects that four years of higher education for certain jobs is probably overkill, and you could do them with two or three years of specialized training - with the benefit of starting a career earlier, with less debt, and wasting less of your precious time fiddling about with topics of no interest.  Rutgers, like many colleges and universities, requires its students to satisfy a long list of conditions before conferring a degree.

I'm not saying that schools should just start tossing sheepskin into the air like confetti.  But if I wanted to go to school to be a scientist, why do I need a major AND a minor (or two majors, if I perferred)?  Why do I also need two humanities courses, two social sciences, a non-Western, etc etc - by rule?  Instead of letting me focus on the twelve or fifteen courses that will outfit me for my chosen career, and then a smattering of what actually interests me, I wind up spending a lot of money and at least a full year on courses of no value to me, either economically or academically.  It's not like it would be difficult to include a course in the major that covers important non-technical matters.  But all the rest strikes me as the college doing what should properly be done in high school - giving me a basic well-rounded education and general skills useful to anyone.

It's not like you can't go to college parties without taking classes. (I know a lot of students who managed that quite well.) You can make friends and socialize anywhere. You can find Christ in the unlikeliest places. So if you don't want to be there and don't need it, why do it? Why do so many jobs require full-on Bachelor's degrees (and sometimes, Masters is preferred) when the actual job will use nearly none of what you learn getting the degree?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Internet giveth, gummint seeks to take away

More Internetty Goodness from the great Iowahawk.
It's the middle of the day on a deserted Washington street. You're on your way to a reelection fund raising brunch. Suddenly a gang of crazed camera-wielding teabaggers jump out from the alley and lunge at you with their razor-sharp switchblade questions!

Would YOU know WHAT TO DO?
Oh, Internet, you treat me so nice.  Let's not ever fight.
Uhm, wait - WHAT?
The federal government would have “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under the terms of a new US Senate bill being pushed by Joe Lieberman, legislation which would hand President Obama a figurative “kill switch” to seize control of the world wide web in response to a Homeland Security directive.
Honestly, I don't think that's Lieberman's intent; it's probably similar to the old "Emergency Broadcast System" where a central authority pops onto all TVs everywhere to tell you the Russkies have thrown the button down.  Or at least that's what he is thinking of.

And yet... it's a different world.  The Internet, as corporate as some corners have gotten, is still quite wide-open.  Anyone can grab a little free server space and hang up a cyber-shingle.  Getting even moderately known usually means ads or paying for bandwidth or fancy online publishing, but that comes later, and compared to something like running a radio/TV station or newspaper, it's shockingly cheap.  It's the most democratic medium in the world today, on a reach-per-dollar basis it gives incredible power to the common citizen.

Well, lately some elected sorts are quite down on the idea that common citizens have the Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and redress their governement for wrongs - as Etheridge has demonstrated.  How dare the little people exercise their rights!  How dare video footage of my bad behavior be made public!

And that's the worry here.  Even five years ago the only way for this to be widely-seen would be to submit the footage to the local network affiliate and hope it got picked up.  No more.  Now everyone on the street potentially has a flip-camera or a 5-megapixel cameraphone... I can take something the size of a pack of cards out of my pocket, capture the moment in full-HD and sound, and before the cops have even arrived, the clip is on a public forum where anyone can see it for themselves.  And those people increasingly have the affordable means to see that clip anywhere they are - not stuck in their house on a desk-based PC, but while out for coffee or waiting for a train or eating lunch.  And if they happen not to be online, that's ok, because some of them have set it up so their favorite websites buzz their phones when something new goes up.  They don't have to stumble across it, they get told.  They are their own big-paper editors, with the city desk buzzing in hot scoops they can run with.  Stop the presses! Life is a forties noir cliche.

All the faux grassroots activism the left was talking about when they were centrally-organizing busloads of protestors to hassle the President, get out the vote, agitate for something-or-other.... it was mostly a flop, wasn't it?  This is different, though.  This is a game-changer: not imposed from above or without, but true independent action rising from within, taking shape, and people are using it to rally themselves to the ideas they like, and to reject those they are ordered to believe by their self-appointed betters.

Lieberman may well not realize it, but others do.  They're desperate for a way to stuff the information toothpaste back into pre-approved tubes, rationed out at their pleasure.  They already regard tax-cutting protests, fiscal conservatives, pro-lifers, and small-government movements as more or a terrorist threat than actual blow-you-to-bits terrorists; they say so out loud. It's plain that all that "dissent is patriotic" and "question authority" stuff they love is a lie - they only like it when they're the questioning dissenters.  They have no real interest in advancing the debate, in freedom of speech (which is really freedom of thought), in the marketplace of ideas, or in a free people making their own choices.

They used the RICO statutes against pro-lifers, they use shakedown and blackmail techniques against private enterprise, they cry racism at every attempt to enforce the borders or control entitlement spending programs.  They assume the authority to intrude into ever-more-trivial aspects of our everyday lives.  If something like Lieberman's bill ever passes, they will use it on the rest of us.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Besser spaet dann nie

After seeing this clip, I was wondering if I had awoken in that alternate universe where Spock has a beard.

Or maybe that scene in The Man Who Would Be King where Sean Connery is believed to be the son of Alexander the Great until he is cut and bleeds. Perhaps this clip is Olbermann and Matthews way of saying, "Behold, a god who bleeds?".

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Last night @ the Bayshore Blvd gate...

Update: The man was an AWOL serviceman.
..of MacDill AFB in South Tampa.

A man and a woman are in custody after officials say they tried to enter MacDill Air Force Base in a sport utility vehicle carrying weapons and military gear, base officials said.

Base officials haven't heard that it was a planned attack and authorities did not find any explosives.
Bayshore is the secondary entrance to MacDill. I normally go through the main gate on Dale Mabry. The city bus goes to the BX, and you better have a military ID when it stops @ the main gate. An SF comes aboard to check everyone out and they run a mirror under the bus.
Being an SF @ the gate can be pretty routine with the same people coming on base every day. But sometimes something happens.
My first thought is these two are not jihadists because I don't think they roll together as men and women, but I am a little suspicious that at 9 am the next day the cops haven't released any names.

Monday, June 14, 2010

They could always try the Jersey option

UPDATE - oh, it gets better...  it turns out that huge voting irregularities may be responsible for Greene's victory.  Do read the whole thing.

original post, 6/11/10 - Via Ace of Spades, an interesting snippet from the Washington Post about the recent Democratic primary for the US Senate in South Carolina.

Seems that a fellow named Alvin Greene came from nowhere to take his party's nomination, despite not campaigning a lick and barely affording the filing fee.  Lots of speculation that he's a GOP plant.  (If that were the case, why not actually campaign him and stuff?  How did they possibly expect that filing alone was going to get jack-sprat done?)

Anyway, the WaPo quotes the head of the national Democratic Senate Campaign Committee on the situation... one Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

You know, if Greene winds up quitting for his alleged shenanigans, then South Carolina could always do what New Jersey did when it was their Senate race - cram a new guy into the general election well past the lawful filing deadline.  I wonder if Menendez could advise them in any way about anything like that?


Friday, June 11, 2010

It's come to this

The Phils recent slide is driving preschoolers to drink.
On Monday a video surfaced showing a young boy taking a swig from what appears to be a beer bottle during the Phillies' loss to the Padres on Sunday.
The six-second clip of the boy, donned in a home Phillies jersey, has now drawn the attention of the team.
On Tuesday, Phillies spokeswoman Bonnie Clark said the team hasn't identified the tot or the adults next to him. Clark said it appears to be "a very brief event, probably involving an empty bottle."
I hope the bottle was empty. Where's Mom and Dad?
See the video here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Teen sailor in distress

This is very bad news.  Abby Sunderland, attempting to sail around the world solo, without stopping, is in terrible trouble in the Indian Ocean.

As her brother, Zac, says - there's nothing out there at all.  It's the literal middle of nowhere.  He ought to know since he's actually made this sail himself.  Since she activated those beacons I hope it means that she's simply battened down and riding it out, unable to respond but not actually swept overboard.  It would be an awful way to go.

I know that a lot of people are dead-set against someone her age trying something so audacious.  I'm of two minds on it.  On the one hand, of course, it's natural to protect the young and desire their safety.  And yet...

Well - to put it bluntly, "safety first" can only get one so far - certainly it won't get one around the world in a sailboat, for example.  It won't get man to the moon.  It won't break the four-minute mile.  It won't even get one very far out the door in the morning.  "Safety First," writ large, is "Safety Only," and that thinking is a trap, coddling and cusseting and soothing kids into unpleasant, spoiled, nasty little narcissists.  Not that this happens to everyone, of course, nor that pushing a kid to achieve isn't free of peril - one thinks of the unfortunate Todd Marinovich, pushed by his frustrated father into becoming a quarterbacking machine, only to conk out in spectacular fashion.  For that matter, there's Tiger Woods, far more successful professionally but only marginally (if at all) better-off than Marinovich in character.  But in the middle there's the desire to risk in order to achieve and excel.

I think that Ms. Sunderland's attempt is on the high end of a desirable trait, in short supply in some quarters, and thus is not foolhardy so much as extraordinary.  The high end of that scale is peopled with folks who either succeed or fail spectacularly, but who kick forward humanity a little bit by the attempt.

A little down the page is a headline in the "Most Popular" sidebox - it may change so I screen-capped it, and highlighted the pertinent bit:

Savage bastards.

If Ms. Sunderland is indeed lost at sea, she was at least killed trying to do something she loved, trying to achieve an amazing and skilled feat.  There are worse ways to go; and worse enemies of humanity and excellence than failure.  I hope that she proves to be all right, so she can go on to achieve greater things than this.

UPDATE - because of course I'm an idiot.  I forgot to clarify something very important, the difference between being PUSHED into something to relive the failed dreams of a bitter elder, and a genuine desire from within to excel.  Nothing could be more different than a thirst for achievement borne of one's own free choice, and the imposition of someone else's will.  Sunderland is on the high end of the "healthy middle" on a spectrum of risk-taking, but on the far opposite of the scale of freedom from someone like Marinovich.  I should not have switched so abruptly between ideas in that paragraph.

DOUBLE UPDATE - she's all right.  Amen.  I look forward to her next attempt at great things.

Not so fast

Andrea Harris has a favorite stop of mine in blogworld.  (You can see her off to the side there in the Pantheon.)  This post of hers, about tourists having mental meltdowns when their real trip abroad destroys their romantic notions of the destination, brought brought out a comment that is making me scratch my head a bit:
Pity they didn’t bother to read about Paris (especially material not put out by the travel industry) rather than rely on a medium intended and designed to transmit lies.
I object to this, and I will explain why.  (At length - lucky you!)  Movies are not a medium intended and designed to transmit lies, any more than television, or novels, or plays, or art, or video games. All these are media intended and designed to transmit IDEAS or STORIES. Some of those may well be outright lies; some of those are excellently-crafted. There are also truthful stories, and beautiful ideas, and nobility and kindness and grandeur.

Since images and feelings are more immediate, most art aims for those instead of thoughts. No argument on that point. I do think that to simply call the whole thing "lies" by design is to miss the point, however. One of the earliest moving pictures was in fact used to truthfully answer a question: does a horse pick all four feet off the ground at once while galloping? (Turns out that they do.)

Look - I'm a storyteller by nature, if not by profession.  (And there's a long post brewing about that conflict: stay tuned.)  This is my passion.  I would be willing to go on a limb and say that for most creative community, that passion is a primary motivation.  They have turned that passion into a job.

Once you turn a passion into a means of commerce, things change.  As long as I'm just writing, I can just write.  Once I am also selling, then the writing has to meet the demands of those to whom I wish to sell.  It's a dilution - not much of one, since an audience wants a compelling story above all, and storytellers are nothing if not compelled.  Still, they may have no taste for the story struggling to free itself from my mind.  At that point it's the old familiar choice: give 'em what they want or say what I need to say?

Here's the thing, though: that tension exists in EVERY business.  Some people's passion is food.  They become amazing chefs.  They also have to consider: will people pay money to eat this?  How much?  Again, the dilution is slight.  People want great food, chefs want to cook great food.  But people can scarcely afford $100 meals every night, not in great enough numbers to keep the chefs themselves fed.  So ingredients are swapped, flavors change, and viola - Chili's.  Or Wendy's.

I won't pretend that line cooks at a chain restaurant give two shakes of a rat's patoot about Great Food in the abstract, but they care at least about how the particular food they're actually cooking, that it should be done properly and please the customers.  And the people who develop the menus care much more about that abstract, the ideal of flavors.  Even Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's, cared a great deal about it, even if it was just burgers and fries.  He may not have been a chef on the par of a Gordon Ramsay or Julia Child, but he cared.  He had to.  Ultimately, if you make too many changes for commerce - too much dilution - then one loses both the passion and the commerce.

You will find the same tension in every walk of life: in education, in politics, in construction, in sports.  There is a perfect ideal, that drives everyone with a passion, and then there is the economic reality.  It would cost too much to make every teacher an Ivy League-quality professor (and not every one of them could be, anyway), though the children would benefit.  It costs money to campaign, money to run a government - too much to run unelectable candidates no matter how great they may be at governing.  Should my house get obliterated by meteorites or something, it would cost twice as much to construct the way it was originally built vs. using modern materials like sheetrock.  And the greatest players in the world command a great deal of money, more than any one franchise could pay (even the Yankees or Red Sox); so they make do with affordable players rather than pursue the perfect ideal of 162-0.

Yet those ideals exist.  Those passions are real.  Every teacher wants to teach as well as possible, every politician hopes to govern, every housebuilder (and homeowner!) wants the home to endure, and every team wants to win every game, or at least their league's chamionship.  Without those ideals, that passion, there would be no point in even starting.

That's why I say again that filmmaking is about ideas and stories, not lies.  Based on some of the loopier things that movie-folk say and do, it's easy to believe that Hollywood is full of narcissists who dictate What is Acceptable to the rest of us, when in fact they are full of crap.  There is some justice in the claim, perhaps, in certain examples.  Certainly Tim Robbins and Sean Penn have done more than their share of loopy lefty proselytizing.  But they didn't become actors to be able to dictate What is Acceptable, they did it because their passion is in the stories they tell.  Those who have lost that passion are usually the worst at their profession, and again, this holds across all walks of life.

Not surprisingly, when singers and athletes and kindergarten teachers also lose that passion, they become fairly useless in their fields as well.  That doesn't mean that music, sports, and knowledge itself is intended and designed only to convey lies, does it?

(Funny how this comes up when I'm working on a story that indirectly touches this idea - that of the storyteller as a professional liar.  Reality keeps anticipating me.  Bad reality!  No cookie!)

Some days all you need.. a cigarette and Scripture. Fron NRO's the Corner.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Spam in the place where you blog

The latest trick for the spambots is to snag some bits of a legit article from a web page, run it through Google's translator a few times, and then post it with links to the usual suspects.  This one, in Joe Posnanski's comments section (probably gone by the time you click this thread) was a winner: Wednesday night’s game, Blackhawks wachovia center 3-2. “We have read this story,” Chris Pronger defenseman said. . But in this case just support him and make sure he’s feeling good about Chanel Bracelets.
Note that this came out several hours before Game Six.  Philly, go support him!  Make sure he's feeling good about bracelets.

(Cut to 17,500 screaming Philadelphians yelling, "Prong-er's Brace-lets!" *clap clap clap-clap-clap*)

But, yeah - Strasburg.  Fourteen whiffs, no walks, seven innings. Kid's stupid good. Apparently they pulled him after seven innings so he could go to the Gulf and plug the oil leak with a well-placed slider. (His fastball would have just cracked the Earth open and caused a volcano.)

The Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Awards

Monday, June 07, 2010

Jesse James... an idiot.

Tyler Perry's 80-20 rule. You've got 80% of what your want, but you lose that 80% chasing the 20% you ain't got.

The Tampa Tribune. Why?

Over the weekend Helen Thomas went Judenrien. President Obama blew off any mention of the 66th anniversay of D-Day to go to the theatre. Yesterday 5,000 people took to the streets of NYC to protest the mosque to be built across from the WTC.

None of these items made the print edition of the Tampa Tribune. Why again, am I subscribing to this fishwrap?

At least I have the Internet where I can get real news. That is until the FCC has its way.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Yogi Berra @ D-Day

Before he was a Hall of Famer, before he won a gazillion World Series with the Yankees, Seaman Second Class Lawrence Berra was a part of the D-Day invasion 66 years ago. He talks about it here.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


If Glenn Beck would have said this, MSNBC would have devoted three days of programming on it. The US Senate would have sent a letter to Fox demanding they fire him. But Helen will get a pass, and we all know why.

While I'm on the subject, Obama could bomb Tel Aviv and make the eating of pork mandatory and still not lose the Jewish vote. Most American Jews have long abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the god of FDR, JFK and BHO.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The hand that empties the cradle rules the world

Mark Steyn rocks hard, again:

Europe’s economic crisis is a mere symptom of its existential crisis: what is life for? What gives it meaning? Post-Christian, post-national, post-modern Europe has no answer to that question, and so it has 30-year-old students and 50-year-old retirees, and wonders why the small band of workers in between them can’t make the math add up. 
America and its famed "Puritan work ethic" has been, up until now, somewhat insulated from this phenomenon.  The current Administration's attempt to impose a Euro-style cradle-to-grave state from above has met with a huge wave of opposition.  However, how long can it last?  The culture has already abandoned most of everything else associated with actual Puritans, for good or ill; the work ethic isn't just going to prop itself up once everything else has gone.  And in the end, the next generation always has to carry on the struggle of civilization against entropy; if there isn't a next generation, then the struggle is by definition lost.  It's little sense worrying about a healthy society if there's nobody left to socialize with.
When Barack Obama started redistributing American wealth, a lot of readers dusted off Mrs. Thatcher’s bon mot: “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” But European social democracy has taken it to the next level: they’ve run out of other people, period.

However, the Puritans may have been on to something.  Laugh all you like, they helped build from nothing the incredible country we live in.  Tossing out all of the ideas that inspired them is not going to help us keep up.  Has discarding their alleged prudery helped us enjoy more fulfilling sex lives?  We console ourselves by saying "They thought sex was dirty and we don't," and that may have more than a bit of truth about it - but we're the ones who've suddenly stopped having kids.  (Whatever we say they thought, they must have been enjoying themselves.)  The few that we do have are in many ways worse-cared-for, despite our obsession over shielding them from every-increasing bits of the unfairness and routine difficulties of life.  We legislate winning and losing out of their games, and find that they can't handle setbacks, nor succeed with grace.  We put their feelings in front of their education or their discipline, and are amazed that they are uninquisitive, self-absorbed, entitled, and lazy.  Good luck forming lasting and healhty relationships that way.

Those who are going to solve the first trouble are the ones who are toting four and six and more children along in a minivan while their enlightened neighbors snicker in an empty house.  I suspect the way they raise those kids is going to start to solve the other problems as well - on a practical level, you need to have good working rules in place to have a successful family society, and the larger it gets the more opportunities for learning those lessons that also serve in the larger human family.  On a cultural level, the smart money is on the culture that values virtue, hard work, friendship, healthy competition, winning with class, and losing with dignity; the one that treasures life and all its pleasures and thinks about how they ought to work together in the best order - not trampling each other and themselves selfishly.  Giving up that advantage is a disaster.

I'm hopeful despite it all, but we have to start to at least appreciate the good lessons our ancestors taught us, even if some points are disupted.

Portrait of the umpire as a sad man

How many pitchers mounds can Alex Rodriguez cut across?  Shortly after a tiff with A-Rod about ballplayer etiquette, The A's Dallas Braden shut down the Rays on May 9.  Then Philadelphia's Roy Halladay punked the Marlins on Mother's Day.  (This completed a Phillies Family Holiday perfecto, as Philly's Jim Bunning set down 27 straight Mets on Father's Day in 1964.  Take note - Grandparent's Day is September 12 this year.)

Last night we nearly had a third A-Rod Crossing, with Detroit's Armando Galarraga setting down 26 consecutive Cleveland Indians.  And then... well, you can see it for yourself.  (Maybe the problem is that the Indians aren't from Florida.  A fictional owner tried to move them there, but both she and Galarraga were thwarted with two out in the ninth.)

I saw this in a very loud sports bar.  From the look of it, I thought that Galarraga may have bobbled the ball as he caught it - you see that it's much more visible than normal on a play like that.  It was later that I saw, and read, that umpire Jim Joyce thought the runner had beaten the throw.

God bless Jim Joyce.  He was convinced that he was right, so he made the call, no matter how tough it would be.  That is not easy.  Those calls are always so close.  Had this been a routine fourth-inning grounder in a game where the Indians had already gotten a hit, nobody would remember it five minutes later.  Now the guy may unfairly go down in history with the rest of the world's refs who've completely blown it, and on a play that's always tricky to get right, that can honestly be missed.

From that link above there's a gallery of infamous blown calls.  You'll notice as you scroll through that Joyce has been helpfully included.  Some of the others in the list are far worse, though.  For example, the "fifth down" touchdown for the University of Colorado was far worse because it was easily preventable.  Not even included on the list is the bizarre incident from last season's playoffs, when two Yankees wound up stuck at third - neither of them actually standing on the bag! - but Tim McClelland ruled one safe after he was tagged.*

* McClelland is on the list elsewhere, though - the Pine Tar Game.  He was the home plate ump that ruled George Brett out on Billy Martin's appeal, leading to one of the more memorable sports meltdowns ever... and leading to the bizarre four-out conclusion much later in the year.

But really, McClelland at least had a base to stand on in the Pine Tar Game.  And he was dealing with the wily Billy Martin, who never missed a trick, who would invent tricks if there were none to miss at the moment; in a situation where there was no specific rule or precedent.  The more recent one - how do you not know that a stationary runner is not in fact standing on the base?  Joyce had to watch the runner, the pitcher, the ball, and do it all at full-speed with the call deciding whether or not the pitcher had just completed a perfect game.  To me that's far less culpable.

(And not for nothing: one of these calls shouldn't be on that list at all.  Brett Hull's goal was good.  He's allowed to be there with possession of the puck, even if the puck itself is not in the crease when it's shot.)

What do you all think?  Should the Commissioner's Office overturn the call and give Galarraga the perfect game?

UPDATE - today Jim Joyce is working behind the plate at the Tigers game.  Detroit sent Galarraga out to hand in their lineup card before the first pitch, and while Joyce sobbed, the Detroit crowd gave them a standing ovation.  Goosebumps.  That's true class and grace.  Appropriate label has been added below.