Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Good Halloween Post

One burning question: how in the world is Texas not green in this graphic. Oklahoma will be tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Inside Game

A little villanelle I just wrote to mark the passing of the season and the long, dark, and cold winter until the pitchers and catchers report to spring training in mid-February next year. Enjoy.

The Inside Game

It’s more than just pitcher throws the ball
The game is subtle, fluid, & intricate
He must paint the black to get the call

Almost all the hitters will try to stall
With fussing, adjusting, a spit, a fidget
It’s more than just pitcher throws the ball

One mistake and it’s off the wall
If not over . . . and now he’s a culprit.
He must paint the black to get the call.

Those batters think they know it all
With their laptops, coaches, & special diet
It’s more than just pitcher throws the ball

He has to ponder, plot, and must recall
How to shove the batter to his limit
He must paint the black to get the call

Because effective hurlers stand real tall
Win the head game with spunk & spirit
It’s more than just pitcher throws the ball
He must paint the black to get the call

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wisdom Break

Let's take a break from worrying about storms, how the World Series turned out, the possibility of Mitt Romney being elected president. Let's take a wisdom break. My friend Montag over at his always-erudite blog once in a while hits the true heights. He did with these words a few days ago. I have to share them with you.
How many people today are in prison? How many whose lives are lived in a grim, dank dungeon? How many desperately yearn to escape?

We are imprisoned just as the soul of Jacob Marley was, doomed to drag the chains of our assumptions, belief systems, and world views to our graves.

Contrary to the opinion of many people, we are not best served by striving to create coherent "belief systems", for any coherence we achieve is on the surface; we do not go deeply into the realms of the soul.

Faith is better.
Faith is tougher.(Source)
And all the assembled said "AMEN."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Not Necessarily Yummy, & Even Less Likely Nutricious

You know how I like lists. I'm going to give you another one I ran across mainly because I don't really feel like talking about the two really big things in the news. First, and everlastingly, the damn presidential campaign. Glory be to God a week from tomorrow and the damn thing will be done. And then there's Sandy, a truly big, bad storm bearing down on the mid-Atlantic and New England states. I feel sorry for those people. Apparently, the hurricane is going to be juiced considerably by some other curious weather events taking place at the same time and area. It's going to be bad.

Hardly clucks: #8 in fact
But no, my thoughts today are really running to the mundane. A list I can across of the most valuable fast food franchises. (Here's the source.) Now, my guess is the presence of any of these corporations on this list is not going to surprise you. The fun is in covering up the list seeing if you can guess them. And if you're a real pro at this sort of thing, try to guess them in order. The order . . . that's what might surprise you. Mickey Dee is going to be first. (Wanna take a gander at the numbers? Are you sitting down? McDonald's has 14,000 locations worldwide. In 2011, it turned a profit of $34.2 billion dollars. And the net worth of the burger place is $91 billion. The question is who comes after.

So here they are, ta-da--the most valuable fast food outfits around:

1. McDonald's
3. Wendy's
4. Burger King
5.Taco Bell
6.Pizza Hut
7. KFC
9. Sonic
10. Domino's Pizza 

Okay, who's surprised to see Chik-Fil-A on the list?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Most detailed view of the Milky Way ever

This composite image shows more than 84 million stars in the Milky Way galaxy. (European Southern Observatory-10/25/2012)

Utterly fantastic!
Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory have released a striking new image of the Milky Way galaxy that shows more than 84 million stars, 10 times more than previous studies have provided. The zoomable image, constructed by computer-merging thousands of individual images, contains more than 9 billion pixels and would, if printed at the resolution of a typical book, measure 30 feet long and 23 feet tall.

The individual images used in the composite were obtained with the 4.1-meter (161-inch) Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile. The survey was conducted at infrared wavelengths because visible light emanating from the stars near the center of the Milky Way galaxy is obscured by dust and gas surrounding the cluster of stars. VISTA is the largest telescope ever used to explore the central core of the Milky Way and it was used, in part, because that portion of the galaxy is visible only from the southern hemisphere. A team led by Chilean astronomers Roberto Saito and Dante Minniti reported their findings in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The team identified 173 million individual objects in the photo composite. Eighty-four million of them could be positively identified as stars; the remainder were more distant objects, such as other galaxies, or could not be unambiguously identified.

Using the data on which the image was based, the team was able to construct a diagram that charts the individual stars' brightness versus their colors. That allows the researchers to draw more information about the age and size of each star. The chart, for example, identifies red dwarf stars, which are thought to be valuable targets in the search for low-mass extrasolar planets. A separate study of the images, not yet completed, will search for pulsars, binary stars, starspots and other variable objects. (Source)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romney Pants a Conflagration

Matt Taibbi has it so right about Romney in a recent blog post. He was in the process of dissecting what Mitt's performance during the second presidential debate, which, by the way, he heaped generous and deserved amounts of scorn upon. But the quote I want to bring to your attention is this one:
Romney's finally all the way to the endgame, and he's just letting go. No more being careful, and weighing himself down on debate stages with painstakingly parsed positions (this was frequently the situation in the primaries, where Romney's performances were always restrained and cautious, even when he "won"). Now there's no more future to worry about and he's just casting off from his moorings and being what he basically is at heart, which is a salesman and bullshit artist of the highest order.

What's the man lying about? Everything. He's just making stuff up as he goes along. 12 million new jobs he's going to create? Where's that number coming from? Moving towards a balanced budget by cutting everyone's taxes by 20 percent and spending $2 trillion more on defense over ten years? HUH? Keeping all the stuff that's popular about the health care reform but killing "Obamacare"? He's been pro-gay, now anti-gay, pro-choice now anti-choice, centrist on guns, now a right wingnut on the subject. (List of all his flip-flops here.)

This guy's so much of a liar that the president of the U.S. is recently on record as calling him a "bullshitter." (Which I'm sure is going to raise the righteous hackles of the whole Republican bullshit brigade. I can hear the screeches already.) Which pretty much brands Obama as a fearless truth-teller, at least in this instance.

Liar, liar! Pants on fire? Hell, Romney's are a conflagration.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Something New and Extraordinary

A couple of weeks ago, completely out of the blue, I got an email from the CEO of a publishing house Savas-Beattie, a guy named Ted Savas. Here's their website. Savas-Beattie is a going concern which has published many books. It's no mom and pop operation. So to get back to the story. Basically what this guy wanted was to recruit me to work for them as a writer/editor on a book project. To wit: a complete rewrite of a book co-authored by a couple of guys who . . . well, let's put it this way: their strong suit is not writing. The book is about the second day of the battle of Gettysburg, the attack on the left center of the Union line. If I agreed to do this work, I would be listed as a co-author with the other two guys and share equally in royalties.* I jumped at this chance to not only get my name on the spine of another book, but a Civil War battle book at that. To be identified with that particular genre is a desirable cachet for a historian of the Civil War, because interest in the battles is steadily considerable and battle books sell.

In the course of the email he indicated that there is a lot more work for me where this came from. A lot more. So I'm basically hired on as an employee of this company for as long as I care to be. 

This is an amazing thing that's happened. First of all, I am an excellent editor/writer, it's probably one of the few things I do really well. In fact, this kind of stuff, reworking other people's stuff (not to mention writing history) is something I've done for my whole working life: in my regular job as historian in the DoD and as a friend and colleague to other historians who get me to edit their stuff. People keep coming back to have me do it for them again, so that's pretty good indication that they are pleased. Ted Savas is thrilled with the 25-page sample I've submitted on my work for this book.

So, bottom line: I'm just tickled plumb to death with this. Fantastic that something like this just falls into my lap. If I were to design a job for myself, this would be it. And I have to mention that I have my dear friend Larry Hewitt to thank for this. He mentioned me and my work to Savas. Thank you, bro! I really owe you for this one.

*Indeed, this book manuscript is going to undergo a huge make-over. Let's put it this way. I will fully earn the right to be on that title page.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Who Song I've Never Heard

I thought I had heard every Who song there was . . . wrong. Here's one that I just discovered. Below in the Rolling Stone commentary on it. It's one of the supposed ten best Who songs. I don't know about that, but it ain't bad.

Pete Townshend was thinking beyond the confines of short pop songs even in the Who's earliest days. Released on their second album, A Quick One of 1966, "A Quick One While He's Away" is a nine-minute song in six separate parts. The story itself is rather simple: a woman has grown tired of waiting for her man to come home after he's been gone for over a year, so she has an affair with Ivor the Engine Driver. When her lover returns, she confesses the whole thing and is ultimately forgiven. The music is far from simple, and some claim it laid some of the groundwork for progressive rock. One section called for a cello, but when they couldn't afford one, they band simply chanted "cello" over and over again.
The song was a highlight of their concerts through 1970, and their version from The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in 1968 was so amazing that the Stones felt they had been upstaged and opted to shelf the whole film. The Who haven't performed the song since 1970, but Pete Townshend has played it at some of his solo shows.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not Again!

Well, boys and girls, tonight is the third and (thank you, Jesus) last so-called debate in the presidential campaign. Almost since the beginning "debate" has been a misnomer for the spectacle of two guys standing (or sitting or striding around) spouting campaign talking points for 90 minutes, largely ignoring the question, and posturing for the huge national audience that somehow through all these years have never felt moved to rise up in protest over this farce.

But there I go again, positing an educated electorate, which is the furthest thing from the voters of this country. One of the things that makes the so-called debates so crucial is how the candidates play on television. And indeed, one of the truly loathsome aspects of the debates is the endless "analysis" that one must endure after the things end. And a lot of this chatter is about appearances, mannerisms, expressions, and all kinds of other nonsense that has nothing whatever to do with the issues of the campaign. Not that these get any kind of coherent airing out. But this is the kind of nonsense that the airheads out there can understand.

Jim Kuntsler says the whole process makes him sick. I concur. I cannot wait for this farce to be over. I've been sick of it for months.

Update I: I went to sleep during the so-called debate.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Four More Years?

If it's four more years of Obama, that's about as exciting as watching ice melt. It's for certain that the country will endure yet another crippling postponement of having its very serious problems addressed. You don't seriously believe that a Republican House, and that's what it's going to be, is going to advance the slightest iota of the Administration agenda, do you? Which means all the issues that are terrible now are going to just get worse. The environment, infrastructure, distribution of wealth, reform of the tax code, energy, decline of education, and on and on. None of these problems will be dealt with so the pols can posture and bloviate and raise money for their reelections. And where do you think that is going to put us as a people?

All this screeching about restoring America to its former greatness. You hear it from both sides. It's all bullshit. This country is in irrevocable decline. It's been in decline in all of the areas above for years now and all the politicians can give us is more noise. This election is not going to matter in the long run, or even the short run.

But matters can get worse faster. I don't even want to contemplate what the disaster of the election of Mitt Romney would mean for the country. Whatever resistance to the complete ceding over of federal power to the corporations will be gone. They already own the Congress and the Court. Our fate will be sealed for good. We'll be headed for serfdom and nothing will stop it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Just a Taste

. . . of a thoroughly enjoyable, but totally serious read at The Smirking Chimp. (Here) It's worth the whole read, of course.

So, shall we review:

The Catholic Church is anti-gay
The Mormon Church is anti-gay
The Boy Scouts are anti-gay.

The Catholic Church protected pedophiles
The Boy Scouts protected pedophiles
The Mormon used to protect polygamist-pedophiles

The Catholic Church represses women
The Mormon Church (LDS) represses women
The Evangelicals repress women

The Boy Scouts .. "Hey, who needs women? We have young boys."

I'm sick of the lot of them. Republicans who shout "voter fraud," and are then caught engaging in voter fraud.

Sick of "super-patriot" groups like the Boy Scouts of America, touting their "American values" getting caught, not just breaking the law, but protecting the perps and violating the trust of parents and society.
And I am sick of holier-than-thou religious folk who endlessly try to impose their beliefs on those who don't share them, don't want them or believe in them. But then also change those beliefs like dirty underwear whenever it suits their need for money, power and their tax-exempt money-making rackets.
[He's referring here to the evangelicals of America embracing the Mormon Mitt Romney. Until now Mormons have been considered an unholy "cult." But of course--there's that black guy in the White House. We can't have that. God is definitely against that.]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

God is Just

Those creatures of hell, the New York Yankees, have been eliminated from the American League playoffs. The Detroit Tigers beat their butts off four games in a row. Yankees looked like Little Leaguers and were humiliated in the process. Everything is completely right with the world for the moment.  A just God is in His heave.

See here for box scores, stats, etc.
See below for write-ups and this Wall Street Journal article is delicious on just how bad these guys were. They were really, really bad.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I learned a new word today--the title of the blog today. Courtesy of my increasingly learned 3rd-year law student son, Bernard. Who alerted me to a continuing series in the New York Times called simply "Draft". Here's how the series describes itself:
Draft features essays by grammarians, historians, linguists, journalists, novelists and others on the art of writing — from the comma to the tweet to the novel — and why a well-crafted sentence matters more than ever in the digital age.
How I didn't latch on to this a long time ago, I don't know. But I'm onto it now. If the column I read today is any indication of the overall quality of the series it's going to take me a while to get caught up, because apparently it's been going on for a while.

Oh, nominalizations (which the spell checker didn't recognize). Well, let's let the fine writer of this week's column, Helen Sword, tell you:
Take an adjective (implacable) or a verb (calibrate) or even another noun (crony) and add a suffix like ity, tion or ism. You’ve created a new noun: implacability, calibration, cronyism. Sounds impressive, right? 

Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings . . .
 So now you know what they are too. What they do is kill clarity. Never a good thing.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Clown Monuments

Jame's Kuntsler's weekly blog entry this Monday concerns itself for the most part with an unusual subject, very unusual for him. But here let me let him tell it:
I am reflecting this week on Stephen Greenblatt's book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, which concerns itself with the mood of Europe in the early 1400s, but in particular the career of one Poggio Bracciolini, a poor boy whose beautiful handwriting took him to the center of power as secretary-scribe to the first Pope John XXIII (deposed and de-Poped), and later as key agent to unlocking the lost secrets of classical antiquity. 
So then he goes on to tell the story in his inimical style . . . And he ends like this, which is the point:
I mention these old and arcane matters because the mood of humanity lately seems to be darkening again, and to some large degree for understandable reasons. Between the melting of the polar icecaps, the destruction of all edible life in the oceans, and the vulgar spectacle of the paved-over American landscape with its clown monuments mocking all civilized endeavor, and a long list of other insults to healthy life on earth, there's a lot to be depressed about. We stand to lose a proportional amount of human capital accumulated over the past five hundred years as the benighted people of post-Roman Europe lost, and it may take us a thousand years or more to recover - if we recover at all.
It's especially disturbing to see the infiltration of the latest version of Jesus mumbo-jumbo - Southern Republican Nascar Evangelical orthodoxy - take over the collective mind of the USA. The poverty of ideas this represents can't be overstated and the timidity of any opposition to it is a disgrace to our heritage. Maybe that's an argument for electing a Mormon president, since that peculiar branch of the church is so self-evidently childish and ridiculous that it will probably do more to defeat religious fanaticism than all the humanist dissertations ever written - or a thousand clones of Madonna Ciccone dancing in stadiums under laser beams in titanium brassieres.
I love this guy!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Harpooned--A Continuing Series

Bullets from the latest "Harper's Index" in the November 2012 number of Harper's. Given as usual with little or no comment.
  • Portion of the total U. S. corn crop that goes to make ethanol: 2/5
  • Average number of square miles by which the Arctic sea ice decreased each day this summer: 36,400 [how often have you heard "global warming" during the current political debates?]
  • Estimated number of gallons of raw sewage spilled off the coast of Tijuana following an August pipeline break: 5 million
  • Portion of U.S. workers age 50 or above who plan to delay retirement because the financial crisis: 1/2
  • Projected worldwide surplus of low-skill workers by 2020: 93 million
  • Projected worldwide deficit of high- and medium-skill workers by that time: 85 million
  • Portion of people residing outside the United States who say they like American pop culture: 2/3
  • Who say it is a "good" thing that American ideas and customs are spreading: 1/4
  • Percentage of Americans in 1992 who believed gun laws should be stricter: 78
  • Percentage who believe so today: 43 
  • Rank of "I don't know" among the most common answers Republicans give when asked why black voters support Democrats: 1
  • Rank of "government dependents" want "something for nothing": 2

Saturday, October 13, 2012


May God send the St. Louis Cardinals to the deepest pit of hell and there may they roast for next century.* I never liked the Cardinals. They are not in the same class as the Yankees, but they have been in more post-seasons than any other National League team. And of course they are in this year as a result of a change in the rules this season that allows not one but two so-called Wild Card teams into the post season. I've read a bunch of commentators on what a great thing this new system is for baseball.

Well, say I, it sucks. Now instead of just one pretender team in the post-season with a chance to go to the World Series, there are four, two from each league. And the Cardinals are the pretender team par excellence. They finished 9 games--9 games!--behind the division winning Cincinnati Reds. They had the worst W-L record among all the playoff teams--I should say it was the same as the Detroit Tigers, but the Tigers won their division. And now here they are again winning a chance to go to the World Series in a fashion so eerily familiar to the disaster of Game 6 last year in the World Series, it's creepy. Down six runs, they chip away but going into the top of the ninth, they are down by two runs. With two out, one on, and two strikes on the batter, this frigging team manages to score four runs. Four frigging runs! Naturally, the Washington Nationals, truly a storybook franchise in the post-season for the first time representing the nation's capital in post-season for the first time since 1933, cannot overcome this.

The whole sorry story is below . . .

*If you suspect my vehemence may have something to do with the way the Cardinals stole the World Series from the Texas Rangers last October, you would be correct.


Playoff Series: Game 5 of 5

8:37 PM ET, October 12, 2012
Nationals Park, Washington, D.C. 

123456789 R H E
STL 000120114 9 11 0
WSH 303000010 7 11 0

W: J. Motte (1-0)
L: D. Storen (1-1)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Drug Lesson

I didn't know about Schedule I and Schedule II drugs. I just always assumed that the Fed classified them into some kind of schema that basically translated to: I. Bad, and we're gonna get you for using them; and II. Also Bad, and we're gonna get you for using them. Well, it turns out there is a little more to it than that. Schedule I drugs have "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment." Marijuana, heroin, and LSD are so classified. I would argue that all of these have potential medical uses, but let's lay that aside for the moment. Just to complete the circle, Schedule II drugs as you might suspect also invite abuse, but have "some accepted medical use." Opium, methamphetamine, and cocaine are in this category.

So here's the story. Marijuana is finally going to get its day in court. 
It started with a coalition of disgruntled Americans, then a handful of governors took up the cause last year, and now -- for the first time in nearly 20 years -- a federal court will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the classification of cannabis as a dangerous drug without medical benefits.
In the case, Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, the court will be presented with scientific evidence regarding the medicinal effects of marijuana, and is expected to rule on whether or not the Drug Enforcement Administration acted appropriately in denying a petition to reclassify cannabis, filed by a collection of public interest organizations back in 2002. (Source)
For years, the DEA has stonewalled all attempts by the sane to get pot officially reclassified to a schedule II drug. But it appears they are not going to be successful this time  in at least the issue getting a hearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit next week. The list of prestigious backers is impressive: "The American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, support medical access to the drug or its reclassification, while the California Medical Association has called for full legalization."

Amazing things are happening. There's an increasing movement not only for sanctioning medical use of marijuana, but for full legalization of the drug, period. Colorado, Washington, and Oregon voters will all vote in November on the issue. Can I vote "yes" by proxy?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


This is a piece of amber about 100 million years old. Think about the odds of the tree sap imprisoning both these creatures at this exact moment. Fantastic. This is a gotcha on at least two levels, spider catches wasp, we capture both. I was thinking that there's no real analog to this sort of thing for humans. The closest, I would think, would be those poor souls at Pompei who were entombed in lava, but even there the connection is tenuous.

Spider capturing a wasp . . . 97 to 110 million years ago
"What makes this find so sensationally rare, aside from the fact that the amber clearly shows a snapshot of the spider moving in on the wasp, is the fact that the piece contains 15 unbroken strands of ancient spider silk within (the wasp actually sits captured in several strands)."

According to the story on CNet, both these genera are extinct, but their modern day counterparts are still at work doing the same things.

Monday, October 8, 2012

No, Not Really

PBS News tonight was all breathless about how the race is tightening up between Romney and Obama in the wake of Romney's uncontested "win" in the debate last week. Well, here's news: everybody who thinks Romney is somehow surging on the basis of that unrelieved torrent of lies and flip-flops he presented to the nation the other night had better think this over just one more time. Here's the straight skinny, covering a half-dozen swing states and the national numbers. Should note that the guy from Pew Research was on PBS tonight. Hence the big Romney puffery going on.

* IOWA: Obama 49%, Romney 47% -- Obama +5% since 2 weeks ago (Rasmussen)
* COLORADO: Obama 49%, Romney 48% -- Obama +3% since 2 weeks ago (Rasmussen)
* VIRGINIA: Obama 50%, Romney 47% -- Romney +2% since 2 weeks ago (Public Policy)
* MICHIGAN: Obama 48%, Romney 45% -- Romney +7% since 1 month ago (EPIC-MRA)
* MICHIGAN: Obama 49%, Romney 46% -- Obama +1% since 1 month ago (Baydoun)
* PENNSYLVANIA: Obama 47%, Romney 45% -- No change since 2 weeks ago (Susquehanna)

In the national trackers, Obama expanded his lead from 3% to 5% in the Gallup daily tracker and Romney's 2% lead fell to a tie in the Rasmussen daily tracker. Pew Research had an attention-grabbing poll showing Romney up 4%.

All of which means, Obama's numbers are going to be better tomorrow and the next day.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Now Here's an Idea

Hans Kung, several of whom's books I have read, is a progressive Roman Catholic theologian. I'll never forget what a huge impact his On Being a Christian (1976) had on me. I read it in the early '80s, and I have to say that Kung has probably had more influence on my thinking about church, Jesus, and matters spiritual than anybody else. (Leaving aside for the moment the question of the Spirit's influence which would, in any event, be pretty difficult to measure.

Anyway, I'm struck by Kung's latest cogent suggestion to the Catholic Church at large. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, the German priest, now 84 years old, appealed "to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church's members." He likened the "unconditional obedience" required of bishops to the pope as almost as extreme as the one German generals had to swear to Hitler. (A charge certainly to ring the chimes of the German pope Benedict XVI.)

"The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient," Kung said, "to organize themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."

Well, this is excellent, I say, as one of those who has been driven out by the Church's rigidity and increasing irrelevance to the lives of people whom I love (especially my children and siblings) but likewise to millions of just ordinary people who long for a spiritual existence that helps them make sense of their lives. But I also have to shake my head in disbelief. The idea that the sheep of the Catholic flock will ever demand anything from Rome (instead of the other way around) is too fantastic to contemplate. I think, sadly, that the Church is doomed to continue its slide into irrelevance.

But God bless Hans Kung for his courage.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Now It's Really Over

The Rangers lost the American League Wild Card game tonight to the Baltimore Orioles. At home. Meekly. 5-1. Now the season is really over, and I'm glad. Relieved that the Rangers will no longer be embarrassed this year by their continuing collapse. Counting this game, the team lost 10 of their last 14 games. It was obvious that the mojo was gone. At the end there, they didn't even seem to care much. It's all very sad. All true Ranger fans are certainly glad we can close the book on this sorry chapter. It hurts, but it doesn't hurt nearly as much as Game 6 last year in the World Series. That was a dagger through the heart. You don't recover from that quickly.

So now, as in so many winters before, the Rangers have to get ready for next year. It will be fun watching the team retool. The Rangers have what is almost universally acknowledged as the best farm system in the country. Lots of great young players. If they cut their losses and get an piece here and piece there during the off-season, we'll be in the thick of it. Just wait'll next year!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Some Strays

Sorry to bore you with more websites. I left a couple out when I was pointing you to some in earlier posts this week. These are actually too useful not to tell you about.
  • GetHuman - This site will get you the best, fastest customer service at more than 8,000 countries (at the moment) in 45+ countries. Everybody has had the maddening experience of going through endless layers of computer "assistance" when they are calling corporate America about a problem or with a question. I don't even mess with the printed "help" numbers anymore. I just go right to this site and type in the company. Much more satisfying experience, I can tell you.
  • Newspaper Archives on the Web - Okay. This one is a little esoteric. But I'm a historian of 19th Century America. Besides original handwritten documents, there probably isn't a more valuable resource to us than newspapers. This site provides links to places that allow access these papers. There are quite a few of them such as More than newspapers can be had. There are many periodicals of all kinds. A few of the sites cost money, but the majority are free. 
  • List of Reference Desks on the Net - Last one, I promise. Just a blizzard of places you can go to hunt down stuff on the Net.
OK. Done. It's amazing what's out there on line. It truly is. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It's Over

The baseball season ended today. And on the last day of the season, the Texas Rangers lost the division championship. They had been in sole possession of the division lead for all but 3 games of the 162-game schedule. The game was ugly. The starting pitcher, Ryan Dempster, could not get any further than three innings.Three Ranger errors, including a horrendous drop of a pop fly to center by Josh Hamilton, only added to the pain of watching this once-great team stagger into a one-game wild-card playoff game. Which they will have to win if they are to continue in post-season play. I tell you right now, I'm fully prepared to lose on Friday. Something has happened to this team. They don't have the fire anymore. They don't look like they are having any fun. A team like this is not going to succeed in the playoffs. Here is the box score and play-by-play for this terrible game.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And Have to Share These

Yesterday I shared with you five websites only two of which do I actually "use" myself. Today I'm going to share a few more, the difference being that I use these websites myself all the time. Like yesterday, this is a going to be pretty eclectic stuff.

1. Coursera
A place for you to sign up to take honest-to-goodness college classes from some of the best universities in the world, such as Princeton, Duke, Stanford, University of London, Caltec, University of Melbourne, and many more. Right now its is heavily math and science skewed in available courses, but there is a goodly selection of humanities and social science courses available. This is the wave of the future in higher ed.

I'm taking a course in Modern Poetry from the University of Pennsylvania which my sister is taking with me simultaneously. I think she would agree it is challenging.

2. The Khan Academy
An entirely different kind of learning place, but just as valuable as Coursera in its way. I thoroughly enjoy their art history lessons. Check this one out on Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Frieze.

Here's a blurb from their site with links: "With a library of over 3,400 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice, we're on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace." And an explanatory video below. This is a great place.

3. CEO Express
For sheer volume of links, this site has to be seen to be believed. I cannot imagine anyone using it for a home page, but apparently that's its purpose. Claims access to news and stuff for executives, but us ordinary peons can find all kinds of useful links there too.

4. RefDesk
Even more links than CEO Express, this is a long-revered home page site. You can't see the whole thing without scrolling down, and there are a hundred places to snag you and drag you into surfing. I think my son Ben might be using RefDesk for his home page. This striking picture is the National Geographic photo of the day.

Storm near Guymon, Oklahoma
5. Musicovery
I couldn't possibly let you go without sharing one of my favorite music sites. Well, maybe that's an overstatement. But I do listen to a lot of streaming radio. That's what Musicovery is. You get to choose a mood, like "dark" or "energetic", and the radio will play that mood from any of about twenty musical genres. You can limit those, and you can also set up stations of your favorite artists. Check it out.