Friday, September 28, 2007

Internet Marketing

done right.
Also done right:
"I feel so strong and have no vitamin deficiencies."
to Alicia Silverstone's pro-vegetarian ad:
"I feel so much better and have so much more energy."
I'm declaring an October blog vacation.
I need it - as I am edgy and irritable.
Sporadic posts? Don't know yet...
Enjoy life. It is sweet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Haunting beauty: Shiri Negari

A "rare and radiant maiden" - full of life...

struck down

by the evil liar

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

just as surely as if he had personally put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

Shiri's mother: Everyone who met her admired her strong spirit. She was little, and looked very fragile, but still she was strong.

Shiri's sister Sharon: She had this way of walking, so... self-confident... like someone who knows where she wants to go, and what she wants to do. She never looked confused. And there was something royal about her - in her very long blond hair, and her amazing smile - that made people unable to ignore her.
And after she finished her service in the army, she could've just forget about them [some struggling people], but she just went to one of the big supermarkets there, and she asked the manager if he could help her. [...] She almost commanded him to help, because she said his neighbors needed him. And it wasn't even special for her. She never told many people about it. She never thought that she should be proud of it. It was just natural for her... to try to help as much as she can.

Shiri's cousin Sharona: She didn't have even one drop of wickness. She was always looking and searching for ways to help other people.

Sheri's sister Shely: She was very brave. I think that even by how she died you can see how brave she was. She act as if everything is okay: she didn't scream, she didn't shout anything. When the paramedics came to her and asked her what happened, she even smiled. So when they took her off, at the hospital, they were sure they will see her again. And she was taken into the surgery room, and she didn't come out. I thought that Shiri was so brave and so strong, that nothing could happen to her. I didn't believe anything could happen to her.

Sheri's friend Ron: I don't remember her as someone who died in a terror attack. I remember her as Shiri-
Shiri's friend Hadas: As the winner
Ron: with a big smile, as the winner. As, um..
Hadas: As the winner
Ron: as the winner, that's the word. She was the winner.
Hadas: Yes

This website gives detail, including an inspiring YouTube tribute.

Shiri Negari's life stands as a rebuke to the evil Iranian Mullahs. May the beauty and liveliness displayed in this photo haunt them, one way or another.

Note: "rare and radiant maiden" is from Edgar Allen Poe.

Related: 1LT Travis Manion

Saturday, September 22, 2007


The curious thing about life is we can never really, truly, actually know it's meaning and it's purpose. That is beyond our capability to understand.

We can postulate, but only at shallow levels:

  • The meaning of life is to live it, or
  • The meaning of life is to glorify God, or
  • The meaning of life is to prepare our souls for eternity.

That's all good stuff, yet it's necessarily shallow. Human capacity to understand is shallow.

Yet, reason tells us God acts in logical fashion. God is not a random prankster. Therefore exists a path of cohesive truth which stretches all the way to the very nub of the purpose of all existence. It's just that our brains are not strong enough to take the entire path.

Do we seek to get as far along the path as possible? For now, I think this: if it is your bliss, seek away!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Travis Manion

I am saddened and disconsolate. Our nation has lost First Lieutenant Travis Manion.

I didn't previously know of 1LT Manion. Yet, having read his story, I know him. I know exactly who he was. I know exactly what he believed in. He was the best our nation had to offer. He gave his life for his nation, for the Iraqi nation, and for all peoples. Travis Manion gave over his life to fighting evil.
I'm angry over 1LT Manion's death. I'm in a dark mood. OTOH, Iraqi soldiers are determined:
"The American people must know we too lost a close friend and brother this day," said Iraqi Army Col. Ali Jafar, Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Iraqi Brigade, who previously spoke at Manion's memorial service. "May his family know we too lost family, and we share their loss, our loss."

Iraqi soldiers have since named a combat outpost after Manion.

"The advisors on a MiTT team are very different from the other American forces in Iraq. They are choosing to live with us, in our ways, share the same hardships and dangers, and choose to fight alongside of us. Many days. Every day," said Jafar. "Their blood is spilled alongside of ours on the battlefield. It mixes with ours. This is why Mulazam (lieutenant) Manion was, and will always be, our brother."


At birth, our souls already have knowledge of God, and of a heavenly realm beyond human understanding. In transcendent spiritual moments, we can sense some of this knowledge. Only some. Hints, only.

This is, partially, the explanation for our earthly existential pain. Our souls know of a realm which is greater than this existence. We sense hints of that knowledge. We are consequently disappointed by the quality of existence in this realm.

1LT Travis Manion is in a better place. Yet, I'm still angry. I'm angry at the evil, Islamist ideology which necessitated his sacrifice.

The Lord's Prayer says "deliver us from evil."

If you don't believe evil exists, take some quiet time to reflect. Take a spiritual moment. At a spiritual level: you can sense the existence of evil - not like a clear and obvious sense, but, rather, maybe like a hint here or there. Look for yourself. Look at the people around you. Look at the cruelty in the world. Be spiritual for a moment. There is more to existence than football and beer.

People who have life after death experiences frequently say this:
I suddenly understood everything. There are not human words to describe what I understood.
Take a quiet moment to contemplate evil. Gaghdad Bob says existence is both horizontal (Earthly) and vertical (spiritual). Just so. Take a moment for verticle.

Evil exists. It's one of those not-completely-fathomable things, yet we can sense it's existence. By going vertical, we can sense it's horizontal presence.

Sharia is evil. Stoning homosexuals is evil. Forcing women into burqas is evil. Dousing your daughter with gasoline, then setting her aflame - as is done by multiple Islamist families each and every year - is evil. Islamic fundamentalism is evil. The barbarism it unleashes is evil.

First Lieutenant Travis Manion recognized evil. He fought it.

Political progressives have come to a place from which they cannot acknowledge the existence of evil. They have similarly come to a place from which they cannot name wrong and right - except in cases of discriminating between wrong and right (which they say is wrong) vs. not discriminating between wrong and right (which they say is right). The irony of this escapes them.

This is largely why progressives do not see the threat our nation faces. They cannot see - even willfully will not see - the evil and wrongful ideology which Islamic fundamentalists promote.  Islamic fundamentalism is not mysterious. It is, for anyone who takes the mildest look at it: transparently barbaric, wrongfully conceived, and evil. When Islamist barbarism comes to power - in Afghanistan, in Africa, in parts of Iraq, in Iran, the results are just as oppressive and murderous as when Stalin and Mao came into power and murdered millions. Fundamentalist Islam is as murderous as the Khmer Rouge in the killing fields.

That progressives will not name the ideological threat, will not see the ideological threat, are blind to the ideological threat, is part of the difficulty our nation faces in countering the threat. Travis Manion gave his life fighting a threat which the "progressive left" refuse to acknowledge.

From where do we get Travis Manions? From God. From His grace. Travis Manions are gifts. They are evidence of God's love.

A generous heart will never care to go part way;
it won't be cowed
if there is passage anywhere,
but set out on the hardest road;
nothing can cause it misery,
and with faith soaring like a cloud
it feeds on something I don't know
that one may come on randomly.

- St. John of the Cross

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dan Rather

Triumphalism, thy blogosphere name is Rathergate. Vanity, thy name is Dan Rather - especially because Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS is so clearly in vain. Beldar has the legal take.

Ironically, I referenced Rathergate, and Dan Rather's blind spot regarding it, only last Wednesday:

In that instance, blogs attracted expertise which almost immediately proved - to 100% certainty - that Rather's docs were fakes. It took some of the MSM weeks to catch on. Some of the MSM (including Rather) never caught on to what is absolute, 100%, scientifically verifiable proof. It was proof - not beyond a reasonable doubt - but beyond a shadow of a doubt - beyond any shred of doubt whatsoever.

It's easy to stand by those words. Facts are facts. A hallucinatory lawsuit is meaningless - except as demonstration of how silly we the people once were to invest large amounts of trust in TV personalities.

In present day, we make up our own minds about the probable accuracy of various bits of information. I judge Beldar's information is more accurate than Dan Rather's. Yet, even Beldar(!) is not invested with absolute authority.

I suspect Dan's Rathergate blind spot is a type of psychological defense mechanism. I suspect Dan's psychology can bear neither the jolt of acknowledging such a sloppily biased mess up, nor the jolt of acknowledging almost everyone in the U.S. knows he acted in such a sloppily biased fashion.

I suspect Dan Rather's life revolves around what people think of him. When his head hits the pillow at night, I suspect he experiences psychological agony. I can empathize, as most of my life revolved far too much around what people thought of me. I've been there. I still, sometimes, slip into old habits.

Here, I was going to recount how Dan Rather falsely claimed credit for breaking the story that JFK had died. And how it worked. Though the truth is widely known among broadcasting insiders: Dallas local CBS reporter Eddie Barker broke the story - via a contact inside the Parkland Hospital Emergency Room, Rather stole the story by refusing to properly credit Barker. Today, Rather is commonly given credit for breaking the story.

I was going to recount how Dan Rather slandered the city of Dallas via the willfully false report that schoolchildren from Dallas' University Park Elementary School had cheered news of President Kennedy's death. In actuality, the children were not told of President Kennedy's death. Having been kept in the dark about ongoing events, the children cheered when they were informed school would be let out at 12:30 that day. Rather knew this, and reported the false story anyway. He sacrificed the city of Dallas - via falsely stoking a nation's anger - for the sake of his own broadcasting career ambition. And it worked. Rather's career zoomed.

A link to a 2005 article about those stories by Weekly Standard's Philip Chalk, a 1974 graduate of University Park Elementary School.

Instead, I wish to consider bias and narcissism.


in this instance, means nothing more than having political views. There's nothing wrong with that. The ability to discriminate is the essence of rational thought. As humans, we cannot not discriminate amongst choices. It is hardwired into us.

News media - and Dan Rather is a champion of this - claim they report political news as if they have no political views. This is simply impossible.

One may report political stories as fairly as possible. One may not report political stories without one's own discriminatory rational thoughts seeping into some of the stories - via subtle characterizations and wording, if nothing else. A reporter, after all, wants accuracy in their stories. If "free markets work" is accurate, then that accurate framing and characterization will appear inside an economic story. If "markets must be managed" is accurate, then that framing and characterization will appear instead.

Journalists, and journalism schools, exhibit a collective blind spot about this reality. The blind spot is made larger via the circumstance of almost everyone in newsrooms and j-schools holding simpatico political opinions. Newsroom and j-school denizens begin to believe their collective political views equate to accuracy - and why wouldn't they, seeing as how every smart person around them thinks in the same way? Reporters often do not recognize bias in their stories. They succumb to groupthink:

It's not bias. It's what every smart person I know thinks - and therefore it's what every smart person thinks! It's accurate framing and characterization.

Reporting can be fair and biased. There is nothing wrong with this circumstance! Every sensible person has opinions. Some bias in framing and characterization cannot be avoided. Reporters have space considerations. They cannot turn 500 words into 2000 words, so as to fully describe the background of all political thought which surrounds the framing of a story.

What could be avoided, by smart publishers, are newsrooms in which 95% of reporters and editors hold identical political opinions. What could be avoided is reporters' and editors' lack of self-awareness about the standing and heft of their own opinions, relative to dissenting opinions.

Political Correctness has something to do with reporters' and editors' ignorance. As a conservative who bounces through blog comment sections, I have an excellent understanding of left-side opinion on the issues of the day. I can usually make the left-side argument as good or better than the lefty. The lefty, otoh, and the news reporter and news editor: do not understand my argument; cannot make my argument for me; and cannot accurately represent my argument in even the most shallow conversational fashion. They don't have to understand my argument. Political Correctness dictates that I hold my opinions b/c I am selfish, uncaring, sexist, racist, homophobic, and, lately, a Nazi. Why would they waste time trying to understand my arguments? I do not waste time studying the opinion of David Duke.

Newsrooms do not need diversity of race and gender so much as they need diversity of political understanding. Why did Dan Rather and Mary Mapes fall for the false Texas Air National Guard documents? Answer: because the documents confirmed their pre-existing bias about GWBush. Nothing is so wonderful as something which confirms one's pre-existing bias. Not one person existed in the CBS' newsroom to say: "Hold on. GWBush has not led a life filled with hypocrisy. Maybe we should check into these documents a bit more." Au contraire. Full speed ahead. No need to seriously, carefully validate the accuracy of those documents. EVERYONE in CBS' newsroom KNEW IN THEIR GUT that GWBush was an unexposed hypocrite. They also knew they were just the newsroom to expose hypocrisy which simply HAD TO BE TRUE, BECAUSE EVERYONE IN THE NEWSROOM SENSED IT WAS TRUE. This is how a major network came to stand behind an infamous explanation:

"Fake, but accurate."

The saddest part is, Dan Rather and Mary Mapes haven't even admitted to the "fake" part.


It's instructive to note how other people view you. It's helpful to have this feedback - as FEEDBACK - not as motivation.

It's misguided to let actions be motivated by desire to have other people view you favorably. It's psychologically agonizing. It's misery. It's shallow. It's not why we were put upon this Earth.

We get lost. We fail to recognize we are born to thrive; to love; to be love in action. We lose our way. We look for validation - not from God, not from the purpose for which we are born - but from the fallible persons of suspect motivation who exist around us. This way lies agony. Separation from God is agony. Looking to fallible, imperfect humans for validation is also agony. Other people can give us feedback - not validation. And we ought examine their feedback at a skeptical arm's length.

I suspect Dan Rather is lost. I suspect he looks to others for validation. I suspect he exists in a state of psychological agony. I empathize. I've been there. And sometimes I return.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tony Romo

Dolphins' Pro Bowl DE Jason Taylor:

"[Romo] moves very well and is very quick. He's got great pocket presence and he made plays today and I didn't. We saw it on film that he's a good quarterback who makes plays and seems out of control at times but he makes it work and they work around him that way. He's a very, very good quarterback."

This is reassuring to read. If Romo reduces his fumbles, I believe he will have an outstanding career.

Romo's always going to throw some crazy, Favresque interceptions. I'm no longer worried those plays will derail his career. Romo's always going to have plays where he looks like a flag-football athlete posing as an NFL athlete. I'm no longer worried about his physical capabilities.

Romo's intangibles - so far - look off-the-charts spectacular. When he fails, Romo has the guts to resume trying to stick passes into necessary places. This is the type of QB mentality most players yearn to play with. Romo can shrug the weight of failure off of his shoulders. His mental toughness is in the tradition of Roger Staubach; Joe Montana; Doug Flutie; John Elway; Brett Favre. Romo is a leader. If he can just control that fumbling thing, he could be - as Jason Taylor said "a very, very good quarterback." If he can just control that fumbling thing, Romo can be championship quality.

The Dallas Cowboys have had tremendous QBs during their franchise history.

The top tier (chronologically):
Don Meredith
Roger Staubach
Troy Aikman

The second tier (good, winning talent):
Eddie Lebaron
Craig Morton
Danny White

If Romo can control his fumbling, he could threaten the first tier. If he's not first tier talent, yet does win a Super Bowl, Romo could create a second tier all for himself. He could push Lebaron, Morton, and White into a third tier.

Its often forgotten that Don Meredith terrorized the league for several seasons in which the Cowboys were a high-scoring, bomb-throwing aerial circus. I'm trying to think of a more modern comparison for Meredith... I think, maybe, Dan Marino or Peyton Manning. Going back further, maybe Dan Fouts. For five seasons or so, Meredith dominated. The only reason he's not in the HOF is he retired so early - victim of multiple injuries.

What other franchises have had three dominant QBs?

John Brodie, Joe Montana, Steve Young

John Unitas, Bert Jones, Peyton Manning

and.... that's it. Several teams have had two great QBs, but not three.

Romo has crazy good intangibles. After 13 career starts, here's my crazy prediction:
if the Cowboys get him a young, talented receiver: Romo could be a Bobby Layne/Sonny Jurgenson level of talent and leadership ability - only with scrambling feet, and without the alcoholism. Romo could be a Joe Theisman type player - only with brains and leadership ability, and without the irritating narcissism.

Note: Romo is half Mexican. Mexicans love American football. The Cowboys are "Mexico's team". This is one of the most fortuitous marketing opportunities of all time. Romo could become a huge, huge persona. Luckily, his head is squarely affixed to his shoulders. He can handle big hype.

Note II: The "Curse of Bobby Layne" is one season (2007) from coming to an end.


In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne responded to the trade by saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years". Since Layne left Detroit, the Lions have not won a championship and have suffered through many setbacks on and off the field.

Before he was traded, Bobby Layne and high school teammate Doak Walker led the Detroit Lions to three NFL Championships.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Threat (reworked)

NYPD document:
"[T]he transformation of a Western-based individual to a terrorist is not triggered by oppression, suffering, revenge, or desperation. Rather, it is a phenomenon that occurs because the individual is looking for an identity and a cause and unfortunately, often finds them in the extremist Islam…"
Daniel Pipes:
Interestingly, the NYPD acknowledges that it needed time to reach this level of sophistication: "Where once we would have defined the initial indicator of the threat at the point where a terrorist or group of terrorists would actually plan an attack, we have now shifted our focus to a much earlier point," when the process of radicalization begins.
The outcome of the "war on terror," I submit, will have less to do with breakthroughs in avionics or intelligence coups than with the degree to which civilized people understand the nature of their enemy and join together to fight it.
Melanie Phillips comments:
[T]he NYPD has now realised that the threat to the west does not arise with the terrorist plot but far, far earlier, when the process of radicalisation begins. And it’s that process that the west has so conspicuously failed to address.
Similar to the NYPD, our national focus must be on "the point where radicalization begins." This is why our enemy is not merely Al Qaeda terrorists who plan attacks - and that is where the left misses the point. Our enemies are underneath the terrorists - and are propping them up. Our enemies are
  1. Those who succumb to the region's cultural malaise of non-achievement, victimhood, and blame; and
  2. Religious ideologues who take advantage of the cultural malaise for their own evil purposes. They game the intricacies of the honor-shame culture, and mine it's weak points for human product.
Our goals should be to convert Group 1 to a culture of achievement and personal responsibility; and to either convert, marginalize, or kill Group 2. These are generational goals - even multi-generational goals. Unstoppable advances in weapons systems mean these goals must be achieved. Weapons advances make terrorists horribly dangerous.

I don't believe there is much difference between terrorists generated in the West vs. terrorists generated in the East. In neither case do I believe the major cause of terrorist generation is "oppression, suffering, revenge, or desperation". In both cases I believe the major cause is: "the individual is looking for an identity and a cause."

A last note, from Daniel Pipes:
[L]iberal commentators repeat inaccurate claims about "all Americans" suffering from "a huge and profound ignorance about Islam" (as the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, just put it...)
Radical Islam is not an unfathomable black hole which exists in some mysterious universe. Radical Islam is simple, and easily understandable. If an average American pays attention, he or she will understand it well enough - as many Americans already do. These Americans understand the threat is more profound than the latest terror plot; and the threat is more profound than the next 50 terror plots. Melanie Phillips:
It's the ideology, stupid.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Embrace Failure?


Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson, blogging at Lone Star Ball:

to a degree the physical tools or minor league stats go completely out the window the first time you face Vlad Guerrero or Mariano Rivera. Only guys who can learn and use failure as a tool succeed in baseball long term.
it takes some guys 2 weeks to make their adjustment that lasts a career, while other guys never get it. Juan Dominguez had better stuff than [Robinson] Tejeda
Not to be overlooked is the body language of players while they're in the element. You can tell who is comfortable in their role by how they stand, walk around, fidget, breathe, and stare down the situation. Looking at Gabbard pitch through a bit of discomfort (and be really effective meanwhile) is an example of that- he's not intimidated by any situation- and a testament to his personal competitive drive.
Re: the guys who never get it

Could they be afraid to admit they are not fully ready to succeed on day one in the major leagues? Could they be trying to protect either their self-image, and/or their spot on the major league roster(which they [wrongly] fear they would lose if they are not ready to succeed on day one)? And could this fear induce them to never accomplish the learning and the growth which is necessary for them to fully reach their potential?

Dr. Albert Ellis died a couple of weeks ago. He was giant in the field of psychology, as he invented Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. Thankfully, REBT eclipsed the primitive Freudian therapies which were being used in the mid twentieth century. A story of Dr. Ellis using failure as a learning tool:
Even more important to the young Albert Ellis was his shyness around women. He flirted with them in Bronx Botanical Garden near his home, but he never approached them. Instead he made up all kinds of excuses to avoid doing so because he was scared of rejection.

At the age of 19, he gave himself a homework assignment when he was off from college. He went to Bronx Botanical Garden every day that month, and whenever he saw a woman sitting alone on a park bench, he would sit next to her, which he wouldn't dare do before. He gave himself one minute to talk to her, calming his fears by saying silently to himself, "If I die, I die. Screw it, so I die."

He didn't die.

He found 130 women sitting alone that month on park benches. He sat next to all of them, whereupon 30 got up and walked away. He spoke to the remaining 100 — for the first time in his life — about the birds and the bees, the flowers, books, whatever came to mind.

Al later said, "If Fred Skinner, who was then teaching at Indiana University, had known about my exploits, he would have thought I would have got extinguished, because of the 100 women I made one date — and she didn't show up!

"But I prepared myself philosophically, even then, by seeing that nobody took out a stiletto and cut my balls off, nobody vomited and ran away, nobody called the cops. I had 100 pleasant conversations and with the second 100 I got good and made a few dates.

"I used techniques I later developed into Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy on myself by thinking philosophically and differently. Nothing [such as the pain of rejection or failure] is awful or terrible, it's just a pain in the ass. That's all it is.

"There's no horror in being rejected. I forced myself uncomfortably to do what I was afraid of, the opposite of what phobics do, because whenever they're afraid of innocent things, they beat it the hell out of there and then never get over their fears.

"They increase their phobias, as I at first did. In Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy I combined thinking and philosophy for the first time with feeling — emotion — and also with behavior therapy, which I got from John B. Watson, Fred Skinner and others.
Dr. Ellis could've fearfully and stubbornly insisted he was already as interpersonally competent and desireable as a smart woman might ever want. Thus he might never have accomplished the learning and growth, and he might have blamed an entire gender for failing to notice his wonderful qualities. And he might not have lived as full a romantic life as he - in his actual, rejection-filled life - did.

In Judaism, using failure as a learning tool can be a spiritual concept: Teshuva. Yanki Tauber explains:
It is our spiritual self that persists in the belief that the past can be redeemed. It is our connection with the spiritual essence of our lives that grants us the capacity for teshuvah--the capacity to "return" and retroactively transform the significance of past actions and experiences.
[For example,] you have an argument, lose your cool, and speak those unforgivable words. The next morning you're friends again, agreeing to "forget what happened." But you don't forget. You're horrified by the degree of your insensitivity; you agonize over the distance that your words have placed between the two of you. Your horror and agony make you realize how sensitive you truly are to each other, how much you desire the closeness of the one you love. You have reached back in time to transform a source of distance and disharmony into a catalyst for greater intimacy and love.

On the material surface of our lives, time's rule is absolute. But on its spiritual inside, the past is but another vista of life, open to exploration and development with the transformative power of teshuvah.

So, if I understand this:

You intend a fastball go to the outside part of the plate. Instead, it goes over the middle, and is hit for a game-winning, walk off home run. You were on the mound at the moment your team was defeated.

The next day, feeling a dose of guilt which a Rabbi could appreciate, you endeavor to learn from your mistake via analyzing the physical flaw in your delivery; and/or the flaw in your concentration; and/or the philosophical/religious/narcissistic flaw which led to tensely "guiding" your pitch - as opposed to naturally cutting it loose - and thus trusting the physical instincts and gifts God gave you, as well as trusting the plan God has for your life and for all existence. Hmmm. I believe that about covers it.

You correct the physical flaw; then improve your concentration; then revamp your purpose in life: from a narcissistic "what will other people think" fear of not receiving love and attention from others, to a grounded religious belief that God's love is always enveloping you - including an understanding that you express love for God via using your God-designed gifts to meet your God-designed challenges - and while having faith that God doesn't give us challenges we cannot handle.

This lifts the narcissistic plague which was causing you to - in complex sporting language: choke, ahem - just as bad as Doug Christie ever choked an open jumper. However, no longer! The pressure is lifted: you either have the God given talent to naturally throw pitches on the corner - which is wonderful; or you don't have that talent because God didn't actually intend you to conquer this challenge - which is also wonderful to know, because now you can get on with discovering the challenges God actually intends you to conquer.

Either way: the pressure is off. You get to play freely and naturally - without worry. Your enlightened state aids competitive concentration, as well as aiding the learning and perfecting of fundamental pitching techniques. Excellent! Or, rather: Praise God!

If I'm still understanding this:

You have reached back in time to transform a source of tension and failure into a catalyst for enlightenment and love.

on its spiritual inside, the past is but another vista of life, open to exploration and development with the transformative power of teshuvah.
Judaism rocks - at least as much as Tony LaRussa. It would be excellent if you could accomplish this exploration and development and transformation in the twenty-four hours before the next game, as you might again be called on to pitch to Manny Ramirez in the ninth inning. L'Chaim!

Alice (the mad [semi-Jewish?] housewife living in Austin, TX) discusses using failure as a tool of learning and growth:

little good ideas #6: fail

One of my favourite ideas is, if you don’t know failure then why have you been aiming so low?

Why, indeed?

Can we wholeheartedly embrace failure? Can we enthusiastically seek it? Can we welcome it as a gift? Can we welcome it as a pathway: to learning; to growth; and even to accomplishment, fulfillment and satisfaction? Or even as a pathway to a deeper sense of the infinite?

Unless we bump against failure, how can we know the maximum we can accomplish? If we bump against failure, we can embrace the end of our day with satisfaction. We can say: "This day, we accomplished all that we could." We can be fulfilled, and be content with our day's work.

More Alice:
Failure is a normal part of life. Life is about growth. The only way you can avoid failure is by only doing things you already know how to do. Hence, no growth.

Another of my favourite ideas is, you haven’t failed until you stop trying. Obviously with that one it’s important to have another skill, knowing when to give up. Some people don’t even realise that’s a skill.

It’s a good idea to consider the implications of failure before doing something.

Alice's words remind me of something Steven Den Beste wrote about intentionally engineering failure as a pathway to success. Den Beste wrote that young engineers are sensitive about failure, for they are sensitive about being successful engineers who can be promoted to higher pay grades. Conversely, veteran engineers appreciate any other engineer for pointing out a failure or a glitch. Veteran engineers understand that failure is the pathway to success.

Failure is the pathway to success for major league baseball players; and for shy future famous psychologists; and for Rabbis; and for mad Austin housewives; and for enlightened engineers. Is failure the pathway to success for all of us?

Monday, September 10, 2007


This weekend, I wrote this (sort of) about a youth sports team:
Primary goal: do your best.

Victory is a secondary goal.
The vision thing:
You accomplish your primary goal if you perform at or near your best possible level of performance.
Or, if best possible performance if not the optimal goal, you can tweak:
Your primary goal can be to exceed your previous best performance. Failing this primary goal, your secondary goal can be to perform at or near your best ever level of performance, and you might still accomplish the secondary goal. Or not. It's challenging to perform at or near your best ever level of performance.
These are moment to moment goals. In football, each play is an opportunity to exceed your best previous performance. Yet, if you miss a tackle, you might still execute your best ever recovery, via chasing a runner down and tackling him on your second try. The goals are about focus, and accomplishment, in the moment.

At 12 years of age - as a Single Wing formation Wingback on my school's 7th grade football team - I executed 4 blocks during our Tailback's winding, 99 yard touchdown run into a stiff wind. The wind turned our jerseys into sails, causing us to run into the wind in super slow motion. Our sublimely named tailback: Tracey Cutright (I'm not making that up), ran about 200 yards on the play. He went off right tackle, swerved sharply to the left sideline, meandered to midfield, went all the way back to the left sideline, then covered the final 40 yards on a diagonal towards the right flag, during which he back and forth slow-motion dodged opponents at about 10 yard intervals. They slow motion fell to the ground during their final grasps at him. The entire play went on for maybe 30 seconds +. I'm quite certain it was both high excitement and high comedy for the parents.

During the play, I would make a block, maybe fall down, then get up and run downfield. Sure enough, Tracey Cutright would soon be meandering his way towards me, so I would look around and target someone else. I made 4 blocks on the play. I want to claim 5 blocks, but maybe my memory is overenthusiastic. An oddity is that I missed my initial opportunity to block someone. I looked for someone on the LB level, and no one was there. Everyone was already blocked. Then Tracey zoomed right by me, and I began my long run up the field, blocking, sometimes falling down, then running up the field and doing it again. I moved up field mostly on the outside of the left hash marks, and loosely parallel with them.

About 6 McLean tacklers chased Tracey down the field. About 3 blockers chased the tacklers. Tracey evaded various of those 6 tacklers again and again - all the way down the field. Tracey evaded approx. 10 individual attempts at tackling him - and that estimate might be low. Tracey benefited from at least 8 to 10 downfield blocks. Those poor, dogged McLean defenders. Their unrewarded efforts remind of my long ago efforts to get my own 7th grade son to do his homework.

At the end of the play, because I gave playcalls in the huddle, I had to jog near our sideline (on the left side) to get the extra point play from our coach. On the way, I took a look at the field: players were scattered over 60-70 yards. A few were trudging towards one sideline; a few towards the other. Most were slooooowly jog-walking towards the goal line, for the extra point play. Everyone was too winded, and too hot, to be moving very fast. The opposing coach was sending in fresh players, and they were yelling at their counterparts to get to the sideline.

I recall this play because - during it - had I been thinking in a "best possible performance" fashion: I would've recognized four opportunities to make "best possible" blocks. Our opponents - McLean Middle School players - might've each had 4 or 5 opportunities to make "best possible" tackles.

"Best" ought be an expansive concept. My best blocks might encompass a large variety of situation-specific blocks. In open field, as Tracey Cutright approached, I might've gotten in only a forearm shove on an opponent. It might've been exactly what Tracey Cutright needed from me at that moment. It might've been my best forearm shove while shifting balance in open field in a stiff wind. The athletic maneuver might've been an outstanding accomplishment, of which I could justifiably be proud.

If a McClean Middle School tackler had lightly grazed a hand across part of Tracey Cutright's shoe, thus tripping Tracey to the ground and ending the play, it might've been that tackler's best tackle in that type of desperate, open field situation.

The point is: "best" is an expansive concept. It helps us focus on the moment. It helps us recognize we are achieving and accomplishing. If we limit the concept to only our most violent block, or only our most perfect form tackle, we are missing the point. We are also missing God's point - which is that our lives are filled with a multitude of unique opportunities for accomplishment. The particular circumstances and challenges of those moments will never be replicated.

We often, maybe even usually, do not recognize challenges God presents us. We believe our challenges are A & B; we do not recognize our challenges are also X & Y. We believe our lives are boring repetition; we do not recognize we are experiencing moments of unique circumstance and challenge, i.e. moments of unique opportunity.

This is what I love about "do your best": not only does it focus on the moment; not only does it inspire a sense of achievement/accomplishment/victory; it opens eyes to a multitude of interesting and fun challenges.

This is my best possible blogpost about this subject (given everything I understand at this moment in time). I am infused with a sense of accomplishment! And victory. And wonder.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Best TV commercial of the day

This cracked me. This guy is so white - so ... lovably and magnificently and virtuously organized, tidy, symmetrical, and infused with rectitude.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

2nd Bloom County cartoon censored. Opus Akbar.

(double click to see larger image)
This cartoon teases America - represented by Steve Dallas - more than it teases Islam. The only teasing directed at Islam occurs in the very last line, from Opus:

"A Burqini!"

A Burquini, btw, is hooded yet "Dynamic Swimwear for today's Muslim female". It offers "50+ UV Protection", and comes in "Slim-Fit" or "Modest Fit".

Despite the tameness of the Bloom County cartoon, Washington Post - along with 25 other newspapers - refused to print it. These newspapers are capitulating - ceding their own free speech rights - to radical Islam.


1) media hissy fits directed at a Bush Administration they know will do them no physical harm


2) media refusal to tweak Islam in the mildest possible fashion.

Notice WaPo goes to extreme lengths to protect employees from direct threats by radical Islam, yet is only modestly concerned with protecting general American citizens from direct threats by radical Islam. WaPo consistently minimizes the threat represented by "a tiny minority" of Islamists - until that threat appears at their front door. Suddenly: "Holy geez!" - the "tiny minority" seems a ferocious threat, and WaPo dives their derrieres into the sandbag bunker.

Why is WaPo playing this inconsistent and immoral double game? At root, whether they admit it to themselves or not, WaPo's dualism is about defeating Republicans at the polls. That accounts for pooh-poohing "a tiny minority" whilst diving for the bunker if the tiny minority comes anywhere near WaPo staff. WaPo's actions demonstrate true fear of the tiny minority. If a Dem were in the Oval Office, WaPo words would be consistent with WaPo actions. WaPo would be hawks - as they were in 1998, when President Clinton spoke words as inflammatory as anything President Bush has said. WaPo fell in beside President Clinton. WaPo only abandoned their hawkish stance when political winds changed. We news consumers would do well to keep this in mind.

And please spare us the pap about "brave" media "speaking truth to power." Snigger. Snort.

Uniform Atrocities

Look at these sad, sad uniforms. The current explosion of wacky uniform design reminds of the 1970s explosion of polyester: lime green suits; hot pink golf slacks; wacky stripes, polka dots, paisleys; anything and everything goes. Designers could do more with polyester colors and patterns than they ever could before, and they went crazy.

Fifteen years later, we looked back and said: What were we thinking? We were tragic victims of 1970s fashion.

Fifteen years from now, football players and coaches will look back just like we did. They will say: What were we thinking? Current players are tragic victims.

Only a couple of years ago, SMU had classically simple throwback uniforms. They were pristine and beautiful.
Current SMU uniforms are jarring to the eye - like modern artwork which intentionally attempts to assault your aesthetic sensibilities.
The old, pristine uniforms directed your attention toward the wonderful helmets, with their suggestion of fleet forward motion. The effect was thrilling.
The current, busy uniforms draw your attention away from the helmets, and into a fabric of confusion. The helmet is no longer the focus. The effect is jarring. A shame.
Texas Tech?
Uniform atrocity. Texas Tech needs to pick a color, then use the other color for modest accent. A uniform cannot serve two masters (if those masters are black and red). And whatever that fungus is growing out of the back of their knee.... and on the fronts of their shoulders..... They need antibiotics, is all I can say.

Monday, September 03, 2007

SMU's Classic Helmet

SMU has one of the great helmets in college football. As a child, I was transfixed by the pony.

When SMU first went to a Navy blue helmet and a classic, no frills uniform look; the red pony on the blue helmet was intriguing, yet not quite as wonderful as it deserved to be:

SMU soon enough added a white background to the red pony(top picture), thus restoring their decal to it's deserved glory.

As I type this, Texas Tech is stomping SMU. SMU coach Phil Bennett is in at least his 4th season, and this is a case where a school should be patient with it's coach. Coach Bennett is a proven coaching talent who walked into a horrid situation. He is also perfect for SMU. He loves SMU. He would likely stay at SMU for 20 years if he had the opportunity. He simply walked into pig sty of a football program. When he arrived, SMU Football could not possibly have been more run down, nor more demoralized. Coach Bennett said the SMU job was more difficult than he expected when he took the job. I'm sure he is shocked at the number of recruits who refuse even to consider SMU.

An AD with wisdom and guts would give Phil Bennett a 10 year contract, to make a statement, and then the AD would hang in there. You know Phil will get it right, eventually.

It would be the first time SMU Football had gotten it right since, really, their 1967 Cotton Bowl team, and their 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl team. I don't consider the corrupt Pony Express era to be "getting it right."

Sunday, September 02, 2007


... you have to let brilliant art flow over you.

Brilliant advertising, also.

(FYI: I declare this = sport)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

FB Deion "Cricket" Anderson

who was living in an oncampus equipment building at UConn last fall, makes the Dallas Cowboys Opening Day roster.


Appalachian State defeats UMich in Ann Arbor

Football season is ON.


Mark Teixeira

The trade might truly benefit both teams.

Atlanta has tough ground to make up in the playoff race. Teixeira is the kind of special talent who can help a team do that.

Atlanta is the most natural long-term destination for Teixeira. He played at Georgia Tech - so fans consider him a home boy. His wife is from the Atlanta area. Atlanta would be nice.

Mark Teixeira has said, several times, that money is not the prime consideration for him. Until he proves differently, I give Teixeira the benefit of the doubt on this. In spite of Scott Boras; in spite of Teixeira's union activism; in spite of the union's history of pressuring big free agents to hold out for ground breaking contracts: I'm expecting Teixeira to choose a team based on factors other than money.

It raises red flags, however, when Teixeira says he wants to play somewhere he "can win". Winning and high payrolls are synonymous. High payroll = big bucks for Teixeira. Teixeira could be making a clever statement which will provide him cover.

Worse, Teixeira could be laying the groundwork to try and influence Braves management in the future, as in: I signed with the Braves b/c they promised me I could win here. Therefore, the Braves need to sign x y z free agents so we can win.

Based on his Rangers track record, that could be Teixeira's purpose for making such a statement. Wherever he plays, Teixeira might try to meddle in management's decisions.

Mark Teixeira has a whining personality. He is quick to blame team management for not acquiring the right kind of players to help a team win. He is quick to blame a team's field manager for ... whatever: incorrect in-game moves; failure to massage player egos; or, conversely, failure to crack the whip on players. With Mark Teixeira: it's always someone else's fault, and it's especially always management's fault.

Teixeira hit like a little girl in May of this year. The Rangers got avalanche-buried from the first instant of the 2007 season. By June, Teixeira was blaming Rangers' management for the team's predicament. I'm not saying Rangers' management was blameless. I'm saying Teixeira displayed some not-so-admirable and not-so-logical chutzpah.

Teixeira also had a terrible start in 2006. He blamed that on not getting enough at bats during the World Baseball Tournament. It was "the man's" fault: the organizers of the tourney; the baseball and union officials who agreed to participate in it; the manager of the U.S. team who kept putting Derek Lee in the line-up. Teixeira was a victim. You see what I'm getting at. BTW: Teixeira was a solid part of the reason the U.S. didn't win that tourney. He was HORRIBLE at the plate. But it wasn't his fault.

This is why I'm glad Mark Teixeira is gone from Texas. After watching for several years, this is my somewhat-learned-yet-could-still-be-wrong conjecture(its a dash --- day at the keyboard):

Teixeira intends to be a good guy, yet he is quietly, almost unintentionally malicious. If he was a role player, this personality quirk would be no big deal. His status as a star makes this a very big and very bad deal. If I was a player, I would initially enjoy hanging out with and being teammates with Teixeira. Soon enough, I would begin to fear he was a malignant force inside the clubhouse.

Mark Teixeira needs to be in a clubhouse where he is not the leader. He needs a team with about 5 leadership voices with more persuasive power than his own.

Further: Teixeira needs to be in a line-up where he is protected. He swings at too many bad pitches. This is a veeeeery subtle distinction. Teixeira is not an overt free swinger. He's kinda good at being selective - yet he is not as good as you ideally want your hitters to be.

There was an infamous shouting match in which Ron Washington shouted that he was not impressed with Teixeira's past statistics. Ron Washington meant that in his assessment - aka the Oakland A's assessment: Teixeira's statistics were cheap. Ron Washington meant that the Oakland A's did not consider Teixeira a consummate championship quality hitter. The Oakland A's believed they could taunt Teixeira with pitches on the edges, and get him out when they needed to. I've watched a ton of Mark Teixeira at bats. I believe the Oakland A's assessment was correct.

BUUUT: Teixeira is still a young player. He can still mature. He can still improve. In the long term, he can be a legitimate difference maker. He can be a monster who keeps the opposition awake at night. In the short term, Teixeira can succeed in a big way:

  1. if you put him in a clubhouse where his voice is no more than about the sixth most powerful voice on the team; and
  2. if you sandwich him between outstanding hitters, thus forcing pitchers to come to him.
Teixeira can be a tremendous difference maker in that situation. He can be a breathtaking star. The man brings talent, competitive concentration, and hustle - and he brings it every night. There is much to admire about Mark Teixeira. It's worth a ticket to watch him hit.

Maybe, as he ages, Teixeira will mature both his personality and his pitch selection, and thus become the complete package. He has the intelligence to do that, and maybe he has the good-intentioned desire to do that. It's possible he is merely an immature, headstrong young guy who neverthless has good intentions. He might ripen into one of the top players in the game - and you can only say that about a few players. I was sick of him in Texas. However: maybe the situation was a classic moment in time, in which all parties just needed a fresh start. Teixeira is a good wager by the Atlanta Braves. I hope he is smart enough to stay there.