Saturday, May 31, 2008

Heh

Not Barack Obama h/t :
I did not have spiritual relations with that church......Trinity United.
Kate h/t :
"There goes that historic, transcendent, life-changing, not since the Gettysburg Address, "I have a dream," must-be-taught-in-every-school race speech
Yeah, that speech stood the test of time, didn't it?

Barack and Michelle resign from their church

Update: After writing this, I saw video of Barack making the announcement. He played it as if both he and TUCC have been victims of unfair media. Barack has gall. Playing the victim will not save him with general election voters. He's in crisis, and doesn't seem to know it. If he doesn't campaign as laid out below: he is toast.

Musing: Is it possible Obama wanted out of the church, and had his ally: Rev. Pfleger, make controversial remarks in order to give Barack cover for leaving the church? Could that have happened?

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In leaving his church, Barack is admitting he sat for 20 years in a racist church. Many voters who did not believe it before will believe it now. Barack cannot say: "Gosh, TUCC went wrong in the last 12 months." Voters, properly so, would not believe that lie. Barack's only chance is to say:
Because the church did many good things in the community, and because the staff and members were beloved good friends to us: Michelle and I glazed over and ignored the misguided opinions of some persons in the church. We were wrong to have done that. We are humbled. We apologize, and we ask forgiveness.

It's ironic Michelle and I have spoken out about the evils of racism. We may have felt - in some instances - as if we were teachers, and as if we were standing up for principle. However, we now see we are still students. We now see we did not stand up as often as we could have. We are humbled.
Such a statement would help with two of Barack's problems:

1. The perception - fueled by his associations ("White folks' greed runs a world in need" *) - that Barack blames white people, as a race, for some of the ills of our society.

2. The perception that Barack and Michelle are elitist snobs. The "humbled" part of the above message would help here.

Being a member of a Black Liberation Theology church ought disqualify a candidate in the minds of voters. Barack ought be beyond saving - unless he repents.

If a church keeps religion separate from government: theology over here in church; policy out there in the world ... then a candidate ought not answer questions about his church, as such questions are irrelevant to his political principles and his governing principles.

However, Black Liberation Theology overtly mixes religion and politics. BLT openly advocates Marxist economic policies. BLT openly blames white people - as a race - for the problems of black people around the globe. Part of the BLT message, simplified: "When white people gain money and power, they do things which hurt black people." The message is not: "When fallible people or bad people gain power ...." It is: "When white people gain power...."

Barack's only chance is to repent, then lead a parade of condemnation against Black Liberation Theology. Every time he condemns BLT, he needs to say: "Michelle and I have seen the light!" This is his only chance.

It is said less than 10% of black churches believe in BLT. Barack needs to persuade some of that 10% that BLT is the devil sneaking up on them. They, like him, can now see the light and repent.

Some say only persons in power can be racist. Barack needs to boldly speak out against this horse manure. He needs to run around the country saying: "Black people can be just as racist as white people! Racism is always wrong - in all its forms!"

This should be part of Barack's outreach to the Reagan Democrats who voted for Hillary in the primaries. He needs to show he detests what they detest: elitist horse manure theories about victimology. He needs to show he values what they value: self-reliance; "an honest day's work"; good citizenship; love of God and country.

Finally, branching out, Barack needs to return from Iraq and announce he has seen the light: the Iraqi Government is succeeding; it is and will be viable; it is and will be a beacon of freedom and moderation in the Middle East. He has seen the light - just as he saw the light about TUCC - just as he saw the light about the elitist horse manure theory about power and racism. Barack can say he has the nimbleness to change policy when conditions change. He can draw a contrast with Bush' and McCain's stubbornness. The contrast will be illogical, but - with MSM helping him: it will work okay for Barack.

These are radical steps, yet they are Barack's only chance at victory. If he takes these steps, he is more savvy than I suspect, and he may turn a potentially huge November loss into victory.

Ditching his church is crisis. Voters understand this means Barack sat in a racist church for 20 years. Barack cannot blithely shrug this off. If he sees both the crisis and the opportunity; if he acts boldly: he has a chance.

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* "White folks' greed runs a world in need." - Rev. Jeremiah Wright

In his book: "Dreams of My Father", Barack cited this as one of the statements which originally drew him to TUCC. Powerline has audio of Barack reading this quote.

Encouraging youth baserunning aggressiveness

I agree with this article about runner reluctance: runners try to take extra bases far less often than they should. When a runner is thrown out, either the runner or the coach who sent him typically receive far more criticism than they deserve.

In youth league coaching, as I moved to new age groups, I intentionally spent the first couple of games testing out when the particular age group was likely and unlikely to throw out runners. At each level, I was shocked at how difficult it was to consistently throw out runners. I was sending runners, and was sorta kinda trying to get them thrown out (just so I could discover the limits of the age group I was coaching in), and my doomed runners were coming in safe time after time. This opened my eyes.

As a consequence: we ran and ran. Running bases was the best thing we did. By my second year of coaching the 11-12 age group, playing on 70 foot bases: we averaged 19 stolen bases and/or extra bases taken (aka aggressively risky bases taken against outfielders and basemen) per game.

Who cares about modesty: we were awesome! We took by far the largest leadoffs in the league. On leadoffs from first, our front feet were a minimum 13 feet off the base (we marked 13' during practice, and demanded it). We were out there probably 4-6 feet further than other teams' baserunners, and still I'm not sure we ever got picked off that season. I tried - purely out of curiosity about what would happen - to get our best baserunners to venture further off of first base. They were already so far out there, and it was already so easy for them to steal second: they just weren't interested in getting further off the base.

And yet: on the occasions we got a runner thrown out while stretching for an extra base, our team's fathers would gather on the cyclone fence and talk bad about me for sending the runner.

The fathers failed to realize the opportunity cost of not being aggressive would've been definite and noticeable. Our team spirit and verve would have lessened. We would've lost some edge. We intimidated opponents with our baserunning, and that would've been lost.

When a kid got thrown out, those fathers would say: "Why couldn't Greg SEE that kid would get thrown out? ANYONE could've seen it!"

What they said was true - insofar as anyone could've seen our runner would get thrown out with a perfect throw and a perfect tag. Our team fathers didn't take time to realize those conditions also existed during a significant proportion of our successful running attempts - it's just that the perfect throw and the perfect tag failed to materialize in those successful instances. Look at the baseman in the photo above: he's likely 13 or 14 years old, yet he's making a suboptimal tag attempt. 11 and 12 year olds usually do no better.*

If a coach is going to send a bunch of runners: he will benefit from understanding he is playing odds, and he will sometimes get burned. Good. It is proper to get burned once in a while. A base coach is not trying to be perfect. Instead: he is trying to play smart odds. This understanding will help a coach stand up under the scorn of the cyclone fence fathers. If a coach never gets anyone thrown out, he is costing his team runs via being too timid. If an 11-12 age group coach goes a couple of weeks without getting a runner thrown out: he needs to consciously coach more aggressively.

Players, at all levels, rarely understand the strategy of playing smart odds, and rarely stand up well to scorn. This is why players, especially, are reluctant to be as aggressive as they ought to be. To encourage aggressiveness, we did these things:

1. All runners had green light at all times. I did not give signals to runners. Get the players' brains thinking about when they can make it and when they cannot. They'll figure it out - and probably better than you would.

2. During every practice, we had players take one rep of leading off against a pitcher who might try to pick them off. We used kids as the pitchers and the basemen. Adults would've given the runners a false read vis a vis kid effectiveness. The runners would continue the exercise until the pitcher made a move towards the plate; then the runners would take their first four or five steps as if stealing the next base.

3. We used a formula (and zero coach input) to determine batting order. The more effective a players' OBP + baserunning (stealing, plus taking extra bases, minus a strong penalty for being thrown out)**: the higher that player got to hit in the batting order. This encouraged players to be focused both on batting success and on baserunning aggressiveness. If a player was not taking extra bases, his formula score and then his batting spot would go lower. I made the call as to when players were credited with aggressively taking extra bases.***

4. If all else fails - for instance: if your runner on second is too scared to try for third ... then: stand in the coaching box, blatantly point at third base, and demand - for God and the pitcher and the catcher and the opposite dugout and all parents to hear: "Steal this base. On the next pitch."

For your runner, this maximizes the pressure and wonderfully focuses the mind. It is the equivalent of Cortez burning his ships upon reaching the new world. It is the equivalent of Jimmy Johnson's "Put it in 3 inch headlines: WE WILL WIN." It eliminates all excuses. EVERYONE heard your demand. Your runner is mortified. Everyone knows! He must steal. He must make it. His adrenaline skyrockets. I love it.

The first time you do this, your own players will believe you are a psycho. I love that, also. You won't need to do this more than 2 or 3 times a season. The players will get the idea.

Players - and human beings in general - can always accomplish more than we believe we can. It's a coach's job to open players' eyes about what they can actually accomplish.

I recommend this overall system. Maybe you shouldn't publicly demand your players steal a base unless you share my particular (peculiar?) personality traits. However, I recommend the rest of it. The cost is the extra effort needed for record keeping. The reward is players who are more focused at bat, and more aggressive on the bases. It eliminates all but the most creative parent anger about batting order. If you hand out player stat sheets in the dugout just before a game: that concentrates players' focus more effectively than anything else you could say or do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Teach your basemen:
1) tag at ground level (the glove literally brushing the dirt)
2) let your tag softly give with the runner's momentum.

Unless instructed, kids will
a) tag midair
b) try to fight the runner's momentum with the brute force of their fielder's glove.

**We also accounted for extra base hits in our formula. If I coach again, in order to simplify the record keeping: I will count a double as a hit + an extra base taken. A triple = a hit + 2 extra bases taken, etc.

***If your team is truly aggressive at baserunning, situations arise where the runner on second or third doesn't have time to look for the basecoach:

  • bobbles by catcher or infielder or outfielder: should the runner try for the extra base? (Also, pitcher bobbles of the catcher's return throw.)
  • grounder to pitcher or other infielder: should the runner advance on the batted ball? Should the runner advance on the throw to 1B?

If it's a close decision, there is no time to look to the basecoach. Therefore, the runner needs to make all these decisions - whether close or not. It's part of playing the game; it's part of growing up. Runners should be rewarded for making aggressive and correct decisions. They should be punished for being either passive or over-aggressive.

My pleasant experience is that the runners do far better at decision making than I expected. But, it's my personality to be willing to live with some kid mistakes. You have to be, or doing this will drive you crazy.

If a kid makes a mistake:

1. Neither chastise nor allow disappointment or scorn to creep into your tone. It helps if you actually are not disappointed or scornful in your own mind. There's no reason to be. You knew this would happen when you decided to let kids make their own decisions.

2. Sit with the kid, and allow him to explain how he could've better handled the decision. When he finishes, pat him on the shoulder: "Timmy, you are a smart player. I have confidence in you."

Remember: sometimes a kid will make a proper decision and still get thrown out by a perfect throw and tag. In this instance, be sure the kid understands he made the proper decision, and you stand behind him 100%, and you want him making the same decision again, if it arises.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Welcome Home

Olbermann

at the end of his interview with Scott McClellan:
OLBERMANN: Scott McClellan [...] I think this a primary document of American history and I'm very impressed with it. At some point people will be teaching history based on it.
With his next guest, John Dean, Olbermann wondered if there was still time to use McClellan's book as a basis for Congress to impeach President Bush. h/t

Bulldog zen

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Scott McClellan: initial impression

upon watching Scott McClellan's interview with Keith Olbermann:

1) Scott McClellan doesn't understand conservative principles or logic.
2) McClellan doesn't understand the threat posed by fundamentalist Islam.
3) Scott McClellan is a liberal. He was a horrible choice for Press Secretary. President Bush blew the selection; his Administration suffered as a result.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When watching Scott McClellan as White House Press Secretary, I'm not the only person to have thought:
Why does he accept the false premise underlying that question?! And underlying that question? And underlying that question? WHY does he meekly agree with every false premise which is proffered?
And the answer - which was already guessed by most who watched: Scott McClellan doesn't know any better. He doesn't understand conservative principles or logic.

This is why it was a new day when Tony Snow (God Bless him and watch over him) became Press Secretary. Tony Snow understands the logic underlying conservative principle. Tony Snow thus recognized a false premise when he was whacked upside the head with it. Tony Snow did not put up with the same horse manure. The difference with McClellan was night and day.

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McClellan's book seems actually benign. It's only value is as a media sensation. Dick Morris (quoting from memory):
There's nothing there[in the book]. The Bush Administration is crazy to respond as they have, because they make it look as if something is there. What is in this book which is a grave revelation about George Bush?
The answer is: nothing. The book is not about inconvenient facts. The book is about McClellan's political opinions, interpretations, and even suppositions about what happened in meetings he did not attend. McClelland has said the book is "my truth". "My truth" equals "my opinion". "My truth" does not equal either "truth" or "facts".

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McClellan:
I went into this very much believing the President was going to be a bi-partisan leader, and that he was going to reach across the aisle, and he was going to change the way things worked in Washington, D.C.

Greg's comment:
1) How does someone this naive become Press Secretary? Pres. Bush blew it when he chose McClellan.
2) At least in this interview, McClellan ignores the Dems role in any partisan divide. Wha?

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McClellan on Iraq:
The President didn't have to "box himself in" vis a vis invasion.

Greg comments:
Wha?! Details, please. Yet, details are not forthcoming. This is an example of the types of undetailed, unmade arguments which McClellan levels. McClellan says he personally does not believe we should go to war except as a last resort; and that Iraq was not a "great and gathering danger". McClellan and Olberman treat McClellan's personal opinion as proof of Bush' bad intent. Well, I think Iraq, the ME, and fundamentalist Islam were all "great and gathering dangers". I don't think McClellan understands the nature of the threat. So there.

I am baffled and amazed McClellan was chosen to be Press Secretary during a war he did not believe in, and which is fought against a threat he does not understand.

Tony Snow may have saved Iraq via effectively communicating during the Surge. During Snow's time, there were a lot Senate votes taken about ending war funding. If Scott McClellan had been Press Secretary during those months: would McClellan have stood up and effectively communicated in the face of that national and political mood? Of course not. Would additional lack of support have swayed a few Repub Senators to break ranks and side with the Dems to end the war? Tough one. I'm glad we didn't have to find out. Thank God for Tony Snow.

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McClellan on Plame:
I was disillusioned when the President told me that he authorized Libby to leak Plame's name. At that point, I realized I could no longer continue in this administration.

Greg's comment:
McClellan says Libby and Rove lied to him, yet doesn't fully explain how he deduces this. I am suspicious.

McClellan appears not to care that President Bush had legal and moral authority to release any info or any name he deemed relevant. McClellan appears not to care about any White House need to defend against false charges. McClellan appears to agree with media and political opposition premises about Plame/Wilson/Niger. This seems an incredible statement to make, but: I am uncertain if McClellan fully understands what Plame/Wilson was about.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

McClellan on NIE(from a different interview):
Even after we criticized leaks of national security secrets, the President authorized Cheney and Libby to leak parts of the 2006 NIE.

Greg comments:
McClellan's logic is faulty: POTUS is elected to determine what information should be made public; other government employees are not. When POTUS puts out information, it is policy (in this instance it was policy during wartime). When other government employees put out information on their own, it is illegal.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greg's comments: McClellan appears still bitter over how Cheney handled the accidental shooting of his friend (another Cheney friend broke the news to a local Corpus Christi media outlet). Even though Cheney could've and should've handled the media situation better, it's instructive that an accidental, non-fatal shooting was more than McClellan was able to effectively handle as Press Secretary. McClellan should've been fired over his incompetence and weakness in this situation alone - or McClellan should've resigned over not getting the cooperation he needed from Cheney. Then McClellan could've allowed the shooting incident to make up half his book. His interview with Olberman could've been about "the real story" of the mishandling of the shooting incident.

Scott McClellan was incompetent. I've never felt such lack of confidence in Pres. Bush ... as I do in realizing he chose Scott McClellan to be Press Secretary, then stuck with him for interminable months.

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McClellan on who he will vote for in November:
He is "intrigued" by Obama.

Greg's comment:
Isn't that precious - and ill-informed. It perfectly sums up McClellan.

Remembering the greatest horse ever

The excitement surrounding Big Brown is wonderful fun. Mike Hindman remembers the greatest horse ever: Secretariat, aka Big Red.

When Secretariat died, his heart was found to be larger than normal. It seems almost unfair to compare normal horses to his greatness. Secretariat in action:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This stuff has to hurt Obama

Doesn't it?

How attractive is SPC Kate Norley, Combat Medic? She's courageous, capable, and attractive. Whillakers.



Something else: Barack, in his ill fated Memorial Day address, said returning U.S. personnel would be ravaged by PTSD, and the government must do more to address their needs. Barack especially pointed to the large number of female personnel who will be ravaged by PTSD suffered as a result of sexual harassment.

Barack's first instinct is not to view military personnel as noble, honorable, and heroic; but rather as victims (PTSD sufferers + crazy uncles in the attic) and as abusive harassers (including harassers of women).

Second, Barack has zero basis for making sweeping assumptions about the upcoming prevalence of PTSD. He pulls this stuff (and a lot of other stuff) out of thin air. Barack consistently makes ridiculous statements which are premised - not on good science or data - but, rather, on leftist fantasy of the day. I'm with Powerline's John Hinderocker: "Why is Barack Obama not a laughingstock?"

Third, what kind of gall (and lack of perspective) does it take to equate combat stress with stress from sexual harassment?

Fourth, does SPC Kate Norley, Combat Medic, look as if she has been debilitated by sexual harassment? What rational person looks at such woman and sees overtly damaged victims?

I suspect the left is largely cut off from personal interaction with personnel in our volunteer military. If the left interacted with our soldiers, if the left ate potato salad with our soldiers at family reunions: the left would neither make nor believe their own sweeping assumptions about victimhood and pervasive harassment.

The problem with the NBA

The problem with the NBA is fans are asked to pay big money to watch "Refereed Basketball".

One of my early blogposts wondered about moral behavior when playing a sport which is refereed. I admit I still do not know what is just and righteous - especially in the instance of high school age sport. Do Team A and Team B implicitly agree they are playing "Refereed Sport", and therefore anything (short of injuring an opponent) which is done to influence or obscure a referee is understood to be fair inside the context of "Refereed Sport"? Or, are Team A and Team B playing "sport", and therefore effort to influence or obstruct the referee ought not be made?

I won't do it now, but I could easily jot off 1000 words on this subject. For instance: if you are sliding into a base, and you know you are tagged out, yet the umpire calls you safe, should you then call yourself out and jog to the dugout? This happened to me in a high school game, and I always felt dirty that I did not call myself out. Was my feeling silly and misguided? Or, was it moral, just, and inspired by God?

But: morality is not my point today. The problem with the NBA is fans are asked to pay big money to watch "Refereed Basketball".

This was additionally driven home at the intro press conference of new Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. Answering a question about personnel changes which need to be made on the Mavs, Carlisle said(paraphrasing) "because of the way the game is refereed today, you need athletic players who will drive into the lane and draw fouls." Carlisle was not saying the Mavs need players who are more skilled at basketball. He was saying the Mavs need players who are more skilled at "Refereed basketball".

Now comes the noncall on Derek Fisher during Brent Barry's last second shot attempt. Let it be known: it was a clear, indisputable foul. If Brent Barry were Kobe Bryant, he would've gotten that call 127 times out of every 100 occurrences. He would've never been denied that call. Ever.

Let it also deliciously be known: no other sports team has fans who are as paranoid as Spurs fans. Over a dozen Spurs fans, infused with lava-hot paranoia, spontaneously combusted during the night. I know it without even checking the papers. That Joey Crawford was the closest ref actually tripled the death toll ... and will lead to untold fan combustion catastrophe in the future.

But: the star system is (mostly) not my point today; and possible NBA/referee collusion/corruption is not my point. The problem with the NBA is fans are asked to pay big money to watch "Refereed Basketball".

My point is, after the game, identical reaction came from all these voices - Reggie Miller, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli:

1. It was a foul.
2. Barry did not properly sell the foul.

When Fisher leaped: Barry made a tiny, semi-evasive dribble, then leaped up into Fisher's left side and launched the shot. The proper maneuver is: no dribble + leap squarely into the middle of Fisher's airborne body. Miller, Smith, Barkley, Duncan, and Ginobli were unanimous that Barry would've gotten the call if he had implemented the proper maneuver. Miller, Smith, and Barkley were unanimous that both Kobe and Ginobli would've leaped squarely into Fisher 100% of the time, and would never have made Barry's "mistake". Barkley avowed that he tells players all the time to leap squarely into defenders when they are in the air. Barkley said Barry's initial reaction was to make an evasive dribble, which is also Dirk Nowitski's initial reaction when defenders leap near him, which is another reason Dirk and the Mavericks will never win a championship. Barkley said this type of poor play drives him crazy.

Notice: no one talked about basketball. No matter Barry's proper or improper maneuver: everyone agreed Fisher nevertheless fouled Barry, and everyone agreed Joey Crawford blew the call.* The problem is: everyone focused on how to properly play "Refereed Basketball". Brent Barry didn't make a bad basketball play. He made a bad "Refereed Basketball" play. NBA fans pay large sums of money to watch "Refereed Basketball".

Although watching basketball is fun, beautiful and inspiring: watching "Refereed Basketball" is less fun, less beautiful, and MUCH LESS inspiring. THAT is the problem: value vs. cost. Less fun, less beautiful, and less inspiring = less value.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If I only point out the problem - if I fail to suggest a solution - then I am part of the problem. The solution:

1. Triple referee salaries, to: a) increase the pool of qualified and motivated applicants; b) justify additional workload of off the court video study and other work with league officials.

In every calendar year there are 200 talented yet short and slow guards who dream of making the NBA. When their dream eventually dies (on or about age 21-28), 50 of them should gleefully leap into their secondary dream of making $750K per year as an NBA referee. The NBA should provide them a $50K income while they matriculate through the rigorous NBA referee university. The NBA should farm them out to the CBA. The NBA should farm them out to travel with NBA teams and call practice drills, practice scrimmages, and post practice one-on-one sessions. Their efforts should be videotaped and graded and critiqued. Individual players and teams should grade and recommend and criticize those practice and scrimmage efforts.

Huge effort should be made to develop and maintain outstanding referees. Since most trainess will fail to make the league, the NBA should help them find careers both inside and outside basketball. NBA referee training - which will have included background investigation, physical exams, psychological training, displine and rigor, and performance under stress - should be considered favorable resume material by American corporations, and by schools looking to hire coaches. The military might consider offering officer training to any NBA referee trainee.

This is a radical (and expensive) way to think about things, and yet: the credibility of the NBA depends - not on it's specific players - but on it's referees.

2. Vastly increase size and scope of league oversight of referees: grading, study, conferencing with, replacement of or discipline of less effective referees. Many current referees should be graduated to the league oversight office.

The future financial success of the NBA depends on increasing emphasis on basketball, plus decreasing emphasis (as much as possible) on "Refereed Basketball".

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*After the game, both Popovich and Barry said Crawford made the correct call for the situation. However, this was post-game, NBA insider spin. Immediately after the call, on the court, both Popovich and Barry were obviously, unquestionably furious with Crawford.

Should a baseball defense

guard the line and deepen the outfielders in the final inning?

Assuming a one run lead and no one on base: what is the defense's best chance of preventing anyone reaching second base?

Therefore: what are the offense's odds of hitting a double ... vs. ... the odds of stringing singles together; or of a single and an extra base hit; or of a single and a walk or a HBP; or of a single and an error during a second batted ball; or of a single and a batted out which advances the runner; or of a single plus an advance to second base via: error during the original hit, stolen base, passed ball, wild pitch, balk, error during a pick off attempt?

It seems logical these odds would change when one out is made, then change again when a second out is made. However, if odds with two outs dictate guarding more strongly against a double: why not guard the line and deepen the outfielders - throughout the game - during each situation in which you have two outs and no runners? Should - throughout the game - defenders play far off the foul lines when none are out; then move a bit towards the foul lines when one is out; then move a bit more towards the foul lines when two are out? Should outfielders play shallow with none out, a bit deeper with one out, and a bit deeper still with two out?

There's a good chance a sabermetrician has studied this issue. Maybe Google can help me ............................................... hmm: I've temporarily struck out. I did find this interesting article, which posits that runners should try to take extra bases far far far more often than they do - especially when two are out and the runner is trying to take home plate. Exceptions:
  • when none are out and the runner is trying to take home plate,
  • when two are out and the runner is trying to take third.

Base coaches and runners should continue being careful during those situations.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Marvin Gaye National Anthem

When Marvin Gaye sang at the NBA All Star Game, no one had ever sung a version remotely resembling .. his ... Greatness.

His performance came out of the blue. There wasn't any national conflict going on. There wasn't any particular anything going on. We expected just another rote performance; and here came Marvin Gaye; and then, out of the blue: he electrified the arena with something totally fresh and heartfelt. People talked about it for the longest time, and still do.

Memorial Day



Sunday, May 25, 2008

Josh Hamilton's workload


I thought, when Hamilton came to the Rangers: given that 2007 was his rookie season, and that 162 games is a heckuva grind, and that Hamilton's mental and emotional health is primarily important ... I thought Rangers management would give him a lot of off days - not for physical health, but rather just to keep him mentally and emotionally fresh and rested: to keep everything about his situation balanced, rested, and pointing in the right direction.

Instead, the Rangers are working him like a Clydesdale on a farm: constantly, every day, working him, working him, working him. Working hands are happy hands.

Now, the Rangers have Jerry Narron and Johnny Narron watching Hamilton. They are from North Carolina. They know his parents. They've known Hamilton virtually all of Hamilton's life. They, as well as anybody, ought to know what's best for Hamilton. It could be that keeping Hamilton in a steady and grinding routine of farmwork is what's best. I don't know for sure. I do appreciate that routine and habit is a very good thing.

Still, are Ron Washington and Jon Daniels and all involved losing sight of the big picture? The 2008 Rangers are a wonderful, plucky story ... yet there is not going to be a playoff series win for this team. Those might come in future seasons - IF Josh Hamilton is mentally and emotionally healthy.

Alba suddenly marries Cash

before their child is born. I hope the couple will be wonderfully happy. Jessica is sweet as bread pudding ... if bread pudding were dancing in an art deco cartoon movie come to life.



A year or so ago, some ostensibly scientific study of the human body found Jessica Alba had the most perfectly proportioned hips and buttocks of any woman in the world. You'll get no argument from me.

Rangers rookie is a learning robot

The Rangers just started 3 consecutive rookies, in Cleveland, against Fausto Carmona, Cliff Lee, and C.C. Sabathia, and the Rangers came away winning 2 out of 3 in the series. That is not nothing. And (!) the Rangers have four pitchers between AAA and AA who are frothing at the bit to start in major league games(Murray, Mendoza[as soon as he is activated off the DL], Tejeda[consecutive outstanding starts], Harrison). That, also, is not nothing - and does not even account for Nippert(who's started 3 times at OKC, with medium results), the scuffling Hurley, and the still injured McCarthy.

The Rangers have a better season record than Cleveland, Detroit, and the Yankees. The Rangers, after having one of the best records in baseball over the last half of 2007, now have the best record in the American League over the last three weeks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In "The Incredibles", Mr. Incredible is instructioned as to how to go out and fight a robot on the evil guy's island: The robot is a learning robot. The more you fight it, the more it learns about you and adapts. So, disable it quickly.

Rangers rookie pitcher Doug Mathis is like that robot. He's a ways away from being a good major league pitcher. Five of the first eight batters reached against him - several via well struck line drives - yet he dodged fatal bullets. He loaded the bases in the second - with only one out - then danced around and escaped. The important thing is: Mathis was better in the third inning than he was in the second. He was better in the fifth inning than in the third. He's a learning robot. He completed six innings and miraculously gave up only one run.

As he ran off the field after innings, the camera would zoom in on his relieved expression. He looked like a man who was getting away with something: Whew! One more inning down. They haven't figured out yet that I'm not any good!

I think, however, Doug Mathis might become something good. Baseball is all about being a learning robot (as well as all about being 6'4", throwing 91, and controlling 4 pitches).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dang you Marlon Byrd

I have advocated - since all through the offseason, for the Rangers to trade Marlon Byrd. I still advocate that. Marlon is not part of the Rangers long-term future.

But, what makes me so mad about Marlon is that he keeps on making me love him: he does all the little things; he's got a leadership personality in the clubhouse and in the dugout. When Brandon Boggs came to take his job, Marlon gave Boggs playing tips and encouraged him along every step of the way. Dang you, Marlon Byrd.

Just now, I hear Tom Grieve say Marlon gets the best jumps of any Rangers outfielder. I go to watch the replay. It's a well hit line drive: directly at Marlon and sinking in front of him. A line drive directly at an outfielder is difficult: he must ascertain if it is going short of him or over him. If in doubt, his first step has to be back. For some reason, even though the line drive is well hit, Marlon instantly knows this is in front of him. On the crack of the bat he is heading in. Five or six full speed strides, and he hauls it in knee high - no muss no fuss: a difficult play which looks easy. Of all high school outfielders in America, maybe 30% (at most) make that play which Marlon made look so easy. If that ball were hit at me, I would back up and take cover.

Then Marlon leads off the Rangers next inning, against a Cliff Lee sporting a 1.66ish or something ERA, and Marlon drives the first pitch off the centerfield wall.

Dang you, Marlon Byrd. Dang your .265 hitting soul and your Ewok body and your frequent smile. I can't stop loving you.

PS: this season, Cleveland Indians are wearing throwback jerseys during all weekend home games. They look fantastic. All franchises should do this.

PPS: Marlon just threw an Indian out at Home Plate. I am hatin' life. Marlon doesn't even have that great of an arm. He just ... throws it ... exactly ... on target. I am so mad.

Supporting the troops

Giving yourself over, wholeheartedly, to the cause.

Texas Rangers are plucky

This season, the Rangers will not go away in the pennant race. Because I respect the Angels, I will not predict the Rangers will win the pennant. I do predict the Rangers will doggedly hang around in September. What if Vlad Guerrerro goes down...?


What helps the Rangers is their depth: it creates competition. Everyone knows they must excel, b/c everyone can name their replacement who is kicking derriere at either AAA or AA. Everyone HAS to be plucky, or they get to be unplucky in OKC.

What also helps is the unheralded yet outstanding job Ian Kinsler is doing as the leadoff hitter. The Rangers have almost never had a true leadoff hitter. Kinsler is that guy. He's making an important contribution.

Also not as praised as it should be: Milton Bradley is coming up huge as the clean-up hitter.

I did not expect Josh Hamilton to be this good. I think he's legit.

I did not expect David Murphy to be this good. I don't know what to think about him. I need a larger sample size.

I did not expect Ramon Vasquez to be this good - either in the field or at bat. I don't know what to think about him. Again need a larger sample size.

I've suspected, for a long time, Chris Shelton might be a serious hitter. After a slow start, he is showing his ability. I will spout profanity if he is sacrificed on the altar of Ron Washington's obsession with Marlon Byrd.

Catalanotto is unquestionably one of the top 9 hitters on this team. And yet, if they are going to keep Marlon Byrd, they should trade Catalanotto for a low minors prospect, and let Chris Shelton's career play out in Arlington. You do not yet fully know what Shelton is. He might be Frank Thomas-ish ... with a better glove ... and the flexibility to back up at both Catcher and Right Field.

Lookaround 4: Barack ignorant of history

Charles Krauthammer:
Another unmistakable sign [that election-year discourse has gone surreal] is when a presidential candidate makes a gaffe, then, realizing it is too egregious to take back without suffering humiliation, decides to make it a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

Before the Democratic debate of July 23, Barack Obama had never expounded upon the wisdom of meeting, without precondition, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers. But in that debate, he was asked about doing exactly that. Unprepared, he said sure -- then got fancy, declaring the Bush administration's refusal to do so not just "ridiculous" but "a disgrace."

After that, there was no going back. So he doubled down. What started as a gaffe became policy. By now, it has become doctrine. Yet it remains today what it was on the day he blurted it out: an absurdity.
While I was away - in defending his improvised doctrine of counseling with Castro, et al - Barack launched a series of invalid, ahistorical comparisons with previous Presidential meetings.

If Barack simply had good people around him (to pull him back from the edges of both intemperate and ahistorical cliffs): much else could be forgiven. Instead, the necessary impression is of historically ignorant ideologues surrounding historically ignorant Barack.

Here we go with:

Barack Obama's Review of History Which Only Occurred in Liberals' Dreams...


Barack, in defending himself against Pres. Bush, said JFK met with Khrushchev in Vienna "when we were on the brink of nuclear war with the USSR".

We were not on the brink of nuclear war until Khrushchev - during that very Vienna meeting - judged JFK to be weak. JFK's meeting with Khrushchev was a disaster(for both the U.S. and Germany). Nathan Thrall and Jesse James Wilkins in NYT:
Senior American statesmen like George Kennan advised Kennedy not to rush into a high-level meeting, arguing that Khrushchev had engaged in anti-American propaganda and that the issues at hand could as well be addressed by lower-level diplomats. Kennedy’s own secretary of state, Dean Rusk, had argued much the same in a Foreign Affairs article the previous year ... “Are not these two men who should be kept apart until others have found a sure meeting ground of accommodation between them?”

But Kennedy went ahead, and for two days he was pummeled by the Soviet leader. Despite his eloquence, Kennedy was no match as a sparring partner, and offered only token resistance as Khrushchev lectured him on the hypocrisy of American foreign policy, cautioned America against supporting “old, moribund, reactionary regimes” and asserted that the United States, which had valiantly risen against the British, now stood “against other peoples following its suit.” Khrushchev used the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to warn Kennedy that his country could not be intimidated and that it was “very unwise” for the United States to surround the Soviet Union with military bases.

Kennedy’s aides convinced the press at the time that behind closed doors the president was performing well, but American diplomats in attendance, including the ambassador to the Soviet Union, later said they were shocked that Kennedy had taken so much abuse. Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense, said the meeting was “just a disaster.” Khrushchev’s aide, after the first day, said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.” Khrushchev agreed, noting that the youthful Kennedy was “too intelligent and too weak.”
[...]
Kennedy went on: “He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”

A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.
In extricating the U.S. from the specter of Soviet missiles in Cuba, JFK agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey. JFK demanded Khrushchev keep the agreement secret. Hollywood spent ensuing decades lionizing JFK for standing up to Khrushchev.

Barack, in defending himself, referenced FDR and Truman meeting with Stalin. (Stalin is apparently the reference - as no one can remember any other controversial leader which either FDR or Truman met with)

Barack seemingly discounts that Stalin was America's ally at the time. If Ahmadinejad were helping us fight Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Mahdi Army (as opposed to what he is doing: helping Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army fight us) then a Presidential meeting might arguably make sense.

Barack, in defending himself, referenced Nixon going to China.

First, Nixon needed China as a counterbalance to the USSR during the Cold War. Nixon going to China was strategically brilliant.

Second, Nixon's career long anti-Communist credentials inoculated him - both domestically and internationally - against any criticism or perception that he would not stand up to Communism. This is why it was said: "Only Nixon could go to China." Barack, ahem, doesn't have the same credentials.

Third, there were not exactly "no preconditions". Karl Rove, in a WSJ op-ed:
I recommend [Obama] read Henry Kissinger's book, "The White House Years." Mr. Obama would learn it took 134 private meetings between U.S. and Chinese diplomats before a breakthrough at a Jan. 20, 1970 meeting in Warsaw. It took 18 months of behind-the-scenes discussions before Mr. Kissinger secretly visited Beijing. And it took seven more months of hard work before Nixon went to China. The result was a new relationship, announced in a communiqué worked out over months of careful diplomacy.

The Chinese didn't change because of a presidential visit. In another book, "Diplomacy," Mr. Kissinger writes that "China was induced to rejoin the community of nations less by the prospect of dialogue with the United States than by fear of being attacked by its ostensible ally, the Soviet Union." Change came because the U.S. convinced Beijing it was in its interest to change. Then the president visited.
Barack, in defending himself, referenced Reagan meeting with Gorbachev.

As discussed in this post, Reagan was making a strategic effort to crumple the government of the USSR. In contrast, Barack would be making a direct Presidential effort to beseech Ahmadinejad: Please don't hurt us! We'll give you stuff.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More Krauthammer, for the road:
A meeting with Ahmadinejad would not just strengthen and vindicate him at home, it would instantly and powerfully ease the mullahs' isolation, inviting other world leaders to follow. And with that would come a flood of commercial contracts, oil deals, diplomatic agreements -- undermining precisely the very sanctions and isolation that Obama says he would employ against Iran.
[...]
What concessions does Obama imagine Ahmadinejad will make to him on Iran's nuclear program? And what new concessions will Obama offer? To abandon Lebanon? To recognize Hamas? Or perhaps to squeeze Israel?

Having lashed himself to the ridiculous, unprecedented promise of unconditional presidential negotiations -- and then having compounded the problem by elevating it to a principle -- Obama keeps trying to explain. On Sunday, he declared in Pendleton, Ore., that by Soviet standards Iran and others "don't pose a serious threat to us." (On the contrary. Islamic Iran is dangerously apocalyptic. Soviet Russia was not.) The next day in Billings, Mont.: "I've made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave."

That's the very next day, mind you. Such rhetorical flailing has done more than create an intellectual mess. It has given rise to a new political phenomenon: the metastatic gaffe. The one begets another, begets another, begets ...
Now Obama is saying his detractors are "obsessed". Balderdash. Obama sprung the new doctrine of Presidential level engagement. Obama mischaracterized U.S. efforts as "not talking" - then labeled that strawman "a disgrace". Obama serially asserted invalid comparisons involving 5 U.S. Presidents. When his doctrine and assertions are found wanting; when he cannot defend himself on merit: he falls back on "obsession" + "this is a distraction". Horse manure.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The government we deserve

In House Subcommitee Hearings this week...

John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil:
I can guarantee - to the American people - because of the inaction of the United States Congress: ever increasing prices - unless the demand comes down. And the $5 [per gallon] will look like a very low price, in the years to come, if we are prohibited from finding new reserves, new opportunities to increase supplies.
Maxine Waters, D-CA, in reply:
And guess what this liberal will be all about? This liberal will be all about socializing, uh, uh, would be about ... basically ... taking over, and the government running all of your [oil] companies.
Video:
Maxine Waters threatens to nationalize America's oil industry.

Powerline takes a look:
Oil Executives Try to Educate Senate Democrats, But Democrats Appear Hopeless.

Baseball public service message

Josh Hamilton is the best player in baseball. He's a threat to win a Triple Crown - this year.

Offense. Defense. Baserunning. Threw 95 when he pitched in high school. He even sounds like Mickey Mantle during interviews. Understands the strike zone - does not just wildly hack away.

If the drug factor did not exist, you wouldn't trade Josh Hamilton for any other player.

Public service message 2:

There's a rookie CF in Minnesota: Carlos Gomez, who could soon give Josh Hamilton a run for his money as a talented player with awesome physical gifts. Gomez looks like one of the top 5 or so fastest players in baseball. He plays hard. He fields his position. He steals bases. He bunts for hits. He hits home runs. He is 6'4" 195. Awesome player; awesome physical specimen. He needs time to learn the league. But he doesn't need that much time. I doubt the Twins would trade him away for too many other players.

Telling off some hippies + videos

Hank Hill, telling off some hippies:
If I believed in kharma, I'd be really worried about you guys.

Below: Videos I like. Language and content warning.

All the talk of Iran and nukes reminded me of this video. It's old, but I still like it. "Ze End of Ze World":



John Mayer: Makin Music

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Baseball announcement

concerning a Mr. Sidney Ponson:
Dude can pitch.

Senator Lieberman weighs in

in the pages of WSJ:
activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.
[...]
what Mr. Obama has proposed is not selective engagement, but a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.

Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.

If a president ever embraced our worst enemies in this way, he would strengthen them and undermine our most steadfast allies.

A great Democratic secretary of state, Dean Acheson, once warned
"no people in history have ever survived, who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies."
This is a lesson that today's Democratic Party leaders need to relearn.

Defeating an enemy vs ... um ... not

Point #1: There's a difference between diplomatic talks and direct Presidential talks.

Many world leaders crave the legitimacy a direct Presidential visit bestows upon them. Consider the words of this Russian mathematician who is a frequent commenter at neoneocon's blog:
Sergey Says: May 21st, 2008 at 2:56 am

It is very hard to assess popularity of any terroristic totalitarian regime. It can look monolitic even when popular resentment fills every pore of society. But one thing is certain: its leadership strive for international recognition and legitimization to keep its grasp of society. So to undermine it from within it is crucial to deny it such recognition, so all direct talks and official contacts with Western politicians would be used as propaganda tools to prolong its life. They should be officially prohibited by West, if we are serious in attempts to isolate and denormalize it.

Point #2: There's a difference between A) strategic determination to defeat an enemy, and B) ... um ... appeasement (the most accurate description).

When Pres. Reagan met with Gorbachev, the meeting was part of a strategic effort to defeat and destroy Gorbachev's government.

Conversely, a Barack meeting with Ahmadinejad would be Fred Rogers diplomacy: attempting to nicey-nice Ahmadinejad into being a good neighbor. The left seemingly imagines Barack will chat up Ahmadinejad just as a new age guru chats up Oprah: Get centered, Ahmad ... feel the loving energy ... we .. are the change .. we've been waiting for.

In the world as it actually exists, Ahmadinejad would effectively be the schoolyard bully: I'm going to beat you up. Barack would effectively be saying: What can I give you to not hurt me? Is my lunch money enough?

Barack has already announced he will cut back on investment in the "unproven" SDI which Reagan began(do we like irony?). Take a sharp listen to this 52 seconds of Barack:



In schoolyard terms, Barack has announced he is sending his protective big sister home. Barack fully expects the schoolyard bully to appreciate his gesture, and to respond like a person who has Western values and is sitting on Oprah's couch.

Update: Ace of Spades comments under this heading:
Obama's Nuanced Position on Ahmadinejad Nuances to the Point of Incoherence
Aw ... what the heck:
No preconditions, but there will be "preparations."

He's reversed himself on meeting with Ahmadinejad (maybe), but will meet with "leadership" which may or may not include him.

He's unwilling to say what he's willing to concede to Iran.

He's also unwilling to explain how his plan of diplomacy without threat of force will do any better than Bush's six year strategy of diplomacy with threat of force.
[...]
And, whatever his current position may (or may not) eventually turn out to be, you shouldn't question him too closely on any of this, because it all is, yes, once again a "distraction" from the things we should be talking about,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

With Catalanotto on third,

and Saltalamacchia on second, play by play announcer Josh Lewin noted:
"A base hit drives in eleven syllables."

Lookaround 3: Barack and appeasement

Instapundit
MEMO TO THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN: When somebody condemns appeasement, it doesn't help things to jump up and yell "Hey, he's talking about me!"
The first root of Barack's reaction is the left's conviction: "War is never the answer."

While it is true that every disagreement can be solved via discussion: sometimes you might be killed before discussion has sufficient opportunity to resolve things. In such situations, you have the right and the duty to defend yourself.

The second root of Barack's reaction are the dueling perceptions of the threat faced by the U.S.

The right believe Iran and Jihadis threaten Israel and the U.S. (and the larger West) due to Muslim fundamentalist religious conviction. The left believe a) Iran doesn't threaten us, and b) Jihadis only threaten us out of anger at misguided U.S. foreign policy, and c) Jihadis only number in the thousands, or maybe the tens of thousands.* The American left cannot fathom a mindset which values conquest and subjugation over mutual accommodation.

From these roots spring the left's belief that the Bush Administration has not properly negotiated with Iran. It does not matter to the American left - if they even know it - that the E.U. Three have negotiated with Iran for four years, and that the E.U. Three have already offered Iran the exact carrots Barack says he would offer Iran. It does not matter to the American left that American diplomats have taken over negotiations from the E.U. three, and that American diplomats are attempting to negotiate agreement with Iran. The left cannot fathom that death may come to us before discussion has had sufficient opportunity to resolve disagreement.

Therefore, Barack can grandly announce he will offer Iran the carrots which have already been offered, and the media and the left pretend Barack is bringing some new idea to the situation. That Barack would weaken both American bargaining power (via taking the American military threat to Iran off the table) and internal Iranian dissent (via legitimizing Ahmadinejad in the eyes of both Iranians and the world) is either not understood or not acknowledged.


* Gallup recently completed a four year survey of worldwide Muslim opinion. Gallup announced that 91 million Muslims are radicalized. Though Gallup doesn't specifically make this claim, we may assume - based on how these Muslims answered poll questions - these radicalized Muslims would, in the right situation, help to attack the West.

Gallup misrepresented their own results ... via arbitrarily terming all other Muslims "moderates." Under questioning, a Gallup spokesperson admitted an additional 360 million Muslims believe the 9/11/01 attacks on America were justified. We may assume these 360 million Muslims would willingly provide some type of logistical assistance to the 91 million Muslims who are willing to actively attack the West. 360M + 91M = 451M fundamentalist Muslims (out of a worldwide population of 1.1 billion Muslims).

Our strategy is to use democracy to help the 649M moderate Muslims de-radicalize or de-legitimize the 451M fundamentalist Muslims. To prevent U.S. nukes from some day falling on Middle Eastern cities: moderate Muslims must decisively prevail over fundamentalists in the struggle for the soul of Islam. Moderate, peace-loving Muslims must decisively dominate the religion.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lookaround 2: pathos to surround Senator Kennedy's death

My heart goes out to Senator Kennedy and his loved ones.

And yet, I must work to keep perspective ... as the MSM and the Dems will use Sen. Kennedy's illness as an excuse to lionize liberal ideology. It's appropriate to celebrate Senator Kennedy's lifetime love of, and devotion to, liberalism. It's inappropriate to slander conservatives in the process.

But, slander they will - gleefully - b/c they have a free pass from media: any liberal ideological push will be tolerated(such as at Sen. Paul Wellstone's 2004 funeral service); any conservative pushback will - properly so - be criticized. The Democratic Party will orchestrate a propaganda event disguised as a memorial service. The media will gleefully disseminate. Dems will say Senator Kennedy would've wanted it that way, and - who knows - they might be correct!

Return to blogging lookaround: Chinese Earthquake

I'm happy to be back, and to have things to express.

Chinese earthquake

There are no words - of either comfort or explanation. Maybe 70,000 are dead. If so: how many injured? The mind boggles. The heart breaks.

Searching my mind ... I find no comforting words or thoughts. I think of C.S. Lewis (paraphrasing)
Christianity is not about comfort. It is about truth. If one searches for truth, one may find comfort.
Tough. Existence is tough. Hard as nails. Harder, actually.

Shoddy construction is being blamed for part of the death and injury: corrupt government officials took bribes to sign off on shoddy construction. If true, this is an indictment of communism's attempt to impose morality via law.

The U.S. Constitution recognizes both free will, and pervasive immorality. It sets up an adversarial system in which everyone is accountable either to the law, to the voters, or to the voters' elected representatives. We are susceptible to corruption - it is a true threat to us. Yet, we are not as hopelessly susceptible and threatened as communist nations.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Evidence of things not seen

"The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." h/t



Blog vacation for 6 or 7 days.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A taste of our national future

Jim Geraghty at NRO's Campaign Spot:
It's ... strikingly acceptable to declare Hillary's voters racist lately, isn't it?
Related: 1, 2

Oh Foxnews

you mercilessly taunt with the belly button piercings of your Foxbabes.

Above: Courtney Friel, some TV guy, Shira Lazar


Courtney Friel's famous observation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rangers' Hamilton interviewed by Galloway

Mostly quoted, some paraphrased:

Ham: They're not going to pitch me inside too much. When they do, I've gotta take advantage of it.

Galloway: Ron Washington talk?

Ham: We can't listen to that. Wash is doing his job. We had team meeting, and we said: "let's start the season over."

Galloway: adjustments? is it looking easier for you than it is?

Ham: My dad told me, last year: "if you swing at pitches out of the zone, they're gonna throw pitches out of the zone." So, that's the approach I'm taking. I'm not gonna swing at pitches out of the zone. Rudy Jaramillo is probably the best guy in baseball. He tries to get me in the cage more than I'd like to sometimes, just b/c he loves it so much. We'll adjust to each other.

Galloway: do you keep up with Edinson Volquez and the Reds?

Ham: "To be honest, I don't watch baseball, period. I've heard he's doing good. If it works good for both sides, I'm all for it."

Mavs' Carlisle interviewed by Galloway

Mostly paraphrased, some quoted:

Galloway: Last week I said you were an awful hire, b/c Donny and Cuban want an uptempo offense.

RC: One of the things that attracts me is that it is a different kind of offense than I've had in the past. Compared to what I've had, this is an uptempo offense. I've had a history of being able to adjust and adapt. In the playoffs, the opponents are so familiar, each team has to be able to adjust and freelance more, and my teams have done that.

Galloway: J'accuse! You are slow play!

RC: 1) Give me a chance. 2) "The complexion of this roster could change significantly between now and the end of the summer." Mid-level exception.

Galloway's assistant: What did you learn from studying D'Antoni's offense this season?

RC: before the Shaq trade, they left the middle of the floor open all of the time. The PF: Sean Marion, ranged all the way out to the three point line. The thing about this, in most cases, teams don't have Steve Nash. With Jason Kidd, we will certainly do some things similar to Phoenix. We cannot and will not do it all the time, but we will do it some.

Galloway: your opinion of Mavericks talent and overall situation?

RC: 2006 was a great run. 2007: an awkward match up. Future: players must be willing to run floor with Kidd; we must focus on defense. Those two items are in opposition to each other, but we must find a way to make it work.

Galloway: does Mavs talent suck?

RC: roster tweaks are needed; there may or may not be quick fixes available. I turned around Indiana w/o roster changeover; maybe I can do something similar here.

Galloway: Mavs need to thug things up. Ron Artest?

RC: He's under contract. I can't talk about him. He's a real difference maker in this league. I love him. I love his family. He's one of the most physical, intimidating players I've ever seen at the SF position.

Galloway Asst: From previous stops: what did you learn that you would do differently?

RC: hoping to hire staff w/head coaching experience, and that have experience with diff types of systems and personnel in the league. A lot of times, you learn more from your players than you do from coaches. I will be in information collecting mode from players and coaches.

Galloway: Josh Howard?

RC: I don't like the word "handle". I'm getting with Josh tomorrow night for dinner, and we'll have a long talk about a lot of things. People make mistakes. I certainly have. Josh Howard is one of the guys in this league we as opposing coaches really feared. I hope Josh feels he has something to prove.

Galloway: Avery: Misused Kidd? Used Dirk well?

RC: It's hard for me to comment on that. It's hard to integrate new players in mid season. Kidd came to a team that was a mid to medium tempo team. It was hard for Kidd and the team to adjust to each other. Avery and I had a long talk yesterday. He and I have gotten to be pretty good friends, actually. He said he wasn't sure what he was going to do next.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Answering "Why?"

Above: part of Palo Duro Canyon, in the Texas Panhandle


I have searched, much, for the answer to "Why"?

C.S. Lewis explains the Christian answer to "Why?" in "Mere Christianity" (paraphrasing): each of us has a supernatural, guiding sense of right and wrong. Lewis:
"There is more than one kind of reality;... there is something above and beyond ... which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us."[1]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"a Something which is directing the universe, and which appears to me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong."[2]
I shall stop Lewis' argument, here, for now. There is a longer conversation which further defines Lewis' assertion about the supernatural sense, and which delineates such sense from impulse, and from cultural mores. I shan't open that conversation now. I will say: even when that conversation is opened at the logical level at which C.S. Lewis opens it, how each person ultimately answers the question is not about logic, but rather is about spirituality and faith.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This was my my sense - growing up - of my family's beliefs: we did not believe what we could not see, touch, and/or scientifically verify. We did not believe in ghosts, extra sensory perception, chakras, energy fields, auras, demon possessions, exorcisms, healings, or any other tripe - including that God personally moves or communicates with regular people as they go through their days. Our family motto could've been: The Lord helps those who help themselves. The End. Maybe my brothers and my parents remember differently. I am only saying this was my sense of things.

Later, when I searched, much, for the answer to "Why?": I conducted a logical search - devoid of spirituality. My logical search was hopeless. "Why?" cannot be answered - to my satisfaction, at least - at a logical level. I was able to shoot down (with logic) every logical answer I temporarily hoped might answer the question. The question can only be answered at a spiritual level, aka at a supernatural level.

I sought out "Mere Christianity" (227 short pages; $11.95) because so many persons recommended it as a clear and powerful explanation of why Christians believe as we do. I join those persons in recommending the book. Whether or not you ever become a Christian, you will gain a better understanding of Christian belief from the book(which is adapted from a series of BBC radio lectures Lewis gave during WWII, when he was teaching at Oxford). It's valuable to fully understand what the wacky Christians believe.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post was prompted by a Mother's Day comment from my Mother-in-Law-in-Law: Jewel. Her comment was directed, warmly and lovingly, to me and my son(Jake): "I know Jake's going to make something of himself", she said.

Jewel is one of those soft-spoken Texas ladies with big hair, perfect make-up, and an iron will. I love those ladies, and I love Jewel - even though I am still getting to know her fully. Jewel is the mother of the new husband of Jake's mother. So, we are family. My Mother-in-Law-in-Law, sort of.

Anyway, when Jewel said "I know Jake's going to make something of himself", I thought to myself ... well, first I thought:
"Make something of himself" is not the perspective I would most ideally choose as motivation, but, close enough(!)
and second I thought:
For the first time, I know exactly why Jake is going to make something of himself: he has a spiritual sense of right and wrong which will guide and encourage him! If he doesn't do right, he will feel responsible and uncomfortable.

Always before, if Jewel had said this, I would've wondered "But, WHY is he going to make something of himself?" Now, for the first time, I truly know the answer!
This post was also prompted b/c I have yet to speak of this with Jake. Therefore, if I am killed, tomorrow, by a sequence of unforeseen and seemingly random and coincidental bad luck events: at least Jake can read this post and then receive a hint of why he is going to make something of himself(!), just in case he doesn't already know.

This was additionally prompted by the prudence of dry running any potential conversational characterization of C.S. Lewis' writings(in case I survive tomorrow, and eventually have this conversation with Jake). I understand things better if I write them out. "Spiritual sense of right and wrong" does not easily leap to the front of my consciousness, and thence off of my tongue.

Just tonight, I failed to quickly explain the characteristics of extreme narcissism. The listener was clueless. I therefore blundered through an expanded explanation, and ... disaster. Conversational Titanic. So, maybe narcissism will be a future post. Can it be cogently described in 15 words? 50 words? 125 words?

Shall I go back - for your benefit - and reduce this post to 15 words, or to 50 words, or to 125 words? Heck no! I'm too sleepy to go back now! You are out of luck. Hitting "Publish Post"...

[1] Book 1, Chapter 3; pg 20 of HarperCollins Edition 2001(paperback)
[2] Book 1, Chapter 4; pg 25 of HarperCollins Edition 2001(paperback)

Cooking/food meme

from Alice. My answers:

What would you have for your last supper?

Fried chicken - hopefully home cooked in an iron skillet; biscuits; thick cream gravy; iced tea.

What’s your poison?

My poison is Blue Bell Ice Cream, which is easily available, and is creamy delicious. I like all flavors. At this moment, some Mint Chocolate Chip would be nice.

In liquor: I like Glenlivet Scotch - the older the better.

I once lived in the backyard guesthouse of a lawyer who collected expensive single malt Scotch - as some people collect wine. He loved to invite me up to taste through various of his collection. Those whiskeys were divine - and amazingly expensive, as I remember. We drank them neat, as one would not dare pollute such fine Scotch with meltings from an ice cube.

Name your three desert island ingredients.

Onions, tomatoes, peppers.(assuming I already had access to fresh water)

What would you put in Room 101?

Can't immediately think of anything. Radishes pretty much suck eggs. Heh.

Which book gets you cooking?

I don't cook much, so I'm a quirky choice for this meme! The cable TV Food Network does, however, get me fired up and desiring culinary adventure. I like Bobby Flay's food challenge show, and Iron Chef, and the one where the guy travels and eats odd foods, and the one where the rude New York chef who grew up in France travels the world and smokes cigarettes. I can't make it through even 60 seconds of Rachel Ray. She may be genuine, but she reminds me of ungenuine people I have known, which sets my teeth on edge.

What’s your dream dinner party line-up?

Buxom and beautiful women who like to laugh and had not been around any man for months, and thus would be quite delighted to share the table with me. Any of this group would be wonderful: Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelley, Hedy Lamarr, Kate Winslett, Babe Didrickson, Jane Austen, Georgia O'Keeffe, Margaret Thatcher, Unsinkable Molly Brown, Dolly Parton, and of course: my Mom, and my lively and fun Aunts, and my dearly departed cousin Margaret - who always doted on me, and would greatly enjoy attending such a dinner.

What was your childhood teatime treat?

No teatimes in my neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas. We did like chocolate chip cookies in the afternoons.

What was your most memorable meal?

The first thing to mind was a comfort meal, when I was 10 years old, after a horribly cold and wet and miserable and disappointing football loss, when my Mom took me home and seared a simple steak. I really needed some comfort.

I'm running through my memories of meals: French, Italian, expensive, quirky, unusual, homey, ... and maybe I need more work on how to appreciate and experience exquisite tastes ... b/c I can't pinpoint a favorite meal which was about the food. It was always about the guests. I will say this: all food tastes better when you are camping. Even a sandwich.

What was your biggest food disaster?

It was simple and it was my first disaster: overcooking steaks. Our household of three boys going in all directions was in serious disarray, overwhelm, and momentary semi-crisis. As I was oldest boy, my Mom, in desperation, dispatched me to grill steaks. I had grilled hamburgers, but I protested that I had never grilled steaks. She only had time to say: "just do your best", then she was off to another task. I had beautiful steaks to work with; I cooked them too much like hamburgers; my poor family had to chew every tiny bite 45 times before swallowing. I was mortified. I seriously wondered if we might not dump all the steak in the garbage and eat Peanut Butter Sandwiches with our baked potatoes.

What’s the worst meal you’ve ever had?

Ham salad sandwich, on a geology field trip. Was famished, yet could not choke down even three bites. The ham salad made me gag.

Who’s your food hero/food villain?


My mom is my hero.

Nigella or Delia?

Don't know Delia, but Nigella would fit in at my dinner party - especially after Alice used Nigella and voluptuous in the same sentence.

Vegetarians: genius or madness?

both

Fast food or fresh food?

fresh

Who would you most like to cook for?

My Mom, as she deserves a bit of payback from me.

What would you cook to impress a date?

I am not a skilled cook. I would impress her via my choice of fresh and simply prepared foods: asparagus, carrots, mushrooms - all grilled with fresh herbs, add in some olive oil. Less is more.

Make a wish.

Onions no longer linger on one's breath.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Commenting available

Let's see - for a while - if having blog comments will be any fun. Maybe the blog will get a comment before the end of this month. If that happens - who knows? Maybe the blog will average a comment or so every week. Gettin' crazy now!

In past, had a problem with spambot comments. This time, comments require a word verification. I hope that will foil the spambots.

Commenters do not need to have a Google or a Blogger identity. Anyone can comment.

We'll see what happens. It's three weeks till the end of May.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rangers' Ron Washington and young players

Though Ramon Vasquez has contributed solidly to Rangers victories during the last 12 days or so, he's on the bench tonight, for the second consecutive game, in favor of German Duran at 3B. This should've happened from the day Duran arrived in Arlington. Instead, Duran sat for 3 consecutive games while Vasquez played: evidence of Ron Washington's desperation to win. It was only when Duran got a bit of playing time, and impressed Washington, that Washington deigned to give Duran any semblance of consistent playing time.

One can see - from the way Washington handles Duran - what Washington's policy is with young players, and why Botts and Cruz got yanked around as they did. Washington tends to give a young player a game, or maybe two games, to show he can help the team win. If he doesn't immediately produce - or at least give some good indication he is ready to produce - the young player sits for a few days, then gets another chance: for another game, or maybe two games. If he doesn't produce, he sits again, and the cycle repeats.

This system is fine for Duran, who controls his strike zone well, and produces feisty at bats even when he fails to get on base. It's not that Duran has been extremely successful, but rather that Duran looks like he belongs, and that he does some things: bunting, drawing bases on balls, which help the team.

The system is not so good for Botts and Cruz. Both tend to strike out a lot; and to air condition ballparks and to not look good while doing so. Botts and Cruz need time to adjust via consistent at bats. Showalter gave Cruz consistent ABs at the end of 2006, but Cruz wasn't ready. Neither he nor Botts ever got consistent ABs again. Ron Washington's is not the best system for them.

Update: Duran is hitting around .200, but he had a huge double in the 8th inning tonight - knocking in the eventual winning run. It was a well-struck hit: a long line drive to left-center field.

What the internet is for

displaying a custom made 57 state lapel pin!

I pledge allegiance to the flag, and to however many states there are now.... h/t

I'm not the least bit bothered about Obama's statement. However, do note the media and cultural and political double standard. What Obama said was dumber than Dan Quayle's "potatoe", yet you will not see Obama saying "57 states" in an endless media television loop. You will not hear Leno doing "57 states" jokes from now until Election Day in November. If Bush had said it, he would be the dumbest man in the history of the world. It would've been mentioned in his obituary. If McCain had said it, he would be the most senile man in America. It might've cost McCain the Presidency.

I don't care about Obama's statement. I just want us to notice the ways we are propagandized.

O'Keeffe: Clam


Rachel Lucas, from "How About 8 Things He Hates About You?":
it’s a very fortunate thing that men have such intense sex drives and therefore are willing to put up with so much sh** just to get some, thus continuing the existence of our species.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Josh Hamilton


Photo: Josh Gibson

Both Joshes have a legendary, larger than life feel to them: like John Henry, or Paul Bunyon. See this, and scroll a bit. And both Joshes have/had their own demons, and their own substance abuse problems. Josh Gibson died young. Pray for Josh Ham.

Urban Dad:
On the day he was born, Josh Hamilton's line was: .367/.653/1.097.

Iblum:
When Hamilton is at the plate and the call is made to the bullpen, everyone is too afraid to answer.

Clark:
Every pitch thrown to Josh Hamilton is recorded as an E1.

Josh Hamilton makes Jon Daniels look like he knows what he’s doing.(Heh)


Bro64 on Hamilton:
Hamilton's future is in RF, so let's get him there. Let's walk Josh out to RF in Arlington, show him the angles of the fences, tell him we want him to become an expert on those angles because it will be his home for 10 years, and pull out a pen and a contract for 10 years and $100M. Then we should start passing out little cloth forearm sleeves with tattoos on them to all the Ranger fans sitting in right field, so they can wave at Josh. We also should post all kinds of daily affirmation signs and biblical verses around the RF wall to keep Josh focused on the right path. At the start of every inning, as Josh runs out into RF, all the fans can stand up and salute him with their tattoo sleeves, and the scoreboard will flash that inning's affirmation for the whole crowd to read out loud.
"$100M" might not be enough. It's an amazing day when your generous contract estimates might be less than market reality.

Course, the Josh love comes at an odd time, as Josh is in a batting slump. When Josh Hamilton is in a batting slump, other batters wish they had it so good. Or something like that.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

This video sums up the Obama campaign

Poseur candidate. Adulating (s/b a word) media.

Does anyone think this was a candid moment?

Link

Woe


New Indiana Jones movie previewed and reviewed:
In short, this is the Indiana Movie that you were dreading.
[...]
seemed to be missing 'something'. That something was tension. During the whole of the movie, there was not a single moment that I thought our hero Mr. Jones ... was in any sort of peril or even significant inconvenience.
The web has been alive with rumors that the movie is dreadful. Sadly, woefully, those rumors appear true. Sigh.

Note: The linked review contains mild spoilers. As if it matters.

You could see this coming a mile away, i.e. at the exact moment you learned Shia LaBeouf was cast as Indy's son. No. No. No.

I knew nothing about Shia LaBeouf. Yet, one look at his photo told me: 1) he's a girly type boy, 2) he's doesn't have enough soul and grit.

I think Speilberg and Lucas are fabulous at special effects and moviemaking, yet not so good at understanding actors and soul and grit. They are good at movies; they would be horrible at theater.

What helped the original Star Wars was the "lets go fight the bad guys" spirit amongst the fresh and genuine and gritty actors. But look at how, years later in Episode 2, Lucas lost touch with this and cast Hayden Christenson as a Young Darth Vader. Disaster. Christenson didn't have soul, grit, freshness, genuineness, or believability. Young Darth Vader should've been one of the memorable roles of all time. Instead, Christenson tried his best to sink both films he was in.

What helped Raiders of the Lost Ark was the same soul and grit and spirit of the original Star Wars movie. Karen Allen embodied it. Harrison Ford had it, and and has since lost it.

What's happened to Harrison? Once he was an earthy carpenter fighting to have a film career. Now, he's infected with granola/west coast disease, as represented by his infatuation with the reed thin Ally McBeal actress. Are Ford and Speilberg and Lucas all infected with money and success and Hollywood mores? Have they been pulled into effete tone-deafness, like a Supreme Court justice who goes in as a minimalist and is soon seduced by the power of legislating from the bench? Are they pulled as Colin Powell and Condi Rice were seduced by State Dept. and Western hemisphere belief that jaw-jaw equates to act-act? It would be hard not to be pulled. From my end zone - judging by the casting of Shia LaBeouf - it looks as if they have succumbed.

Any Offensive Guard on any high school football team would've been a superior choice to Shia Labeouf. Any Fullback would've melted high school and college girls across America. What about the actor who plays the hard knocks FB in the TV series "Friday Night Lights"? THAT KID embodies the son of Indiana Jones. Instead, we get Shia LaBeouf. Shia is weak tea - and I can tell it from a photo! I'm laughing at my own presumption, here. But I'll be surprised if I'm wrong.

Look, in the photo in the post just below this, at the Dudley Dooright profile of Jason Botts. Jason Botts embodies Indy's son better than Shia LaBeouf.