Saturday, September 28, 2013

Go Rangers!

Finally, in the last week of the season, I got down to Arlington to watch a couple of baseball games. I had thought when I bought the tickets weeks ago that Ranger fans would be basking in the glow of a post-season appearance in which our chances of taking it all would be good. Fast forward to last Thursday night, September 26, when the Rangers were hosting the first of a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, one game out of a chance to get into the post-season playoffs behind the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians. Texas has to win virtually all of its remaining games to have a chance at all.

The night before the Rangers had beaten the hapless Houston Astros, sweeping the 3-game series. The Angels are another story. They were looking to be spoilers, and all Ranger fans had good reason to bear them a special animus. For two former Rangers stalwarts, pitcher C.J. Wilson and outfielder Josh Hamilton, had gone for the money and signed fat contracts with these hated rivals in the AL Western Division.

I'm going to make a long story short. (You can follow the play by play in the link below.) It was a great baseball game. The Rangers came back to tie the game, surviving an inning in which they committed four errors, and then go ahead by a run . . . which they promptly gave back at the top of the very next frame. The game was tied going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Texas sent a pinch-hitter, Jurickson Profar, to the plate, and on a 1-1 count, he blasted the ball deep into the right-field stands. The crowd, as they say, went nuts. There is no sweeter treat in the game than a walk-off win. This was one of the best games I've ever seen. It was worth the wait. So the Rangers are still alive, even as I type this. They have won six in a row at this point, and we're now at the last game of the season. They have pulled into a tie for the playoff spot with Tampa. Fingers crossed all around.

Jurickson Profar hitting his 9th inning walk-off home run to beat the Angels
Boxscore and play-by-play of this glorious game is here.

Chomsky on One of My Favorite Themes

And that would be the real danger we face from stupid people.

Don't know about you, but I find this hard to argue with. And it's not without humor either.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hi . . . I'm Back

Unclear If Fountain Is The Type You're Allowed To Run Around In

Had a great couple of days in Dallas, saw the Rangers win twice, and reconnected with an old friend whom I have not seen in 41 years. More on that elsewhere . . . meantime, here's all the major news you missed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Really Bad Day

I'll be brief: today Susan and I had to put our dear little Boston terrier Prozac into the permanent sleep. While we were gone out of town for a wedding of a beloved niece in Colorado, Pro stayed with her usual humans while we're away. I thank heavens for Kay and John Pillow. I would not have wanted my little dog with anybody else in the world to deal with what happened: about a dozen seizures between Saturday evening and Monday evening, some pretty serious, all messy and distressing--they turned out to be harbingers of her demise. For they destroyed her little brain. (Likely it was a brain tumor of some kind that brought the seizures on.)

We can back early from our trip and got to our friends' a little after midnight on Tuesday morning. It was obvious when we first saw Pro that she was not near herself. No signs of recognition of us at all. No energy, mostly blind, totally unsteady on her feet. When we got her home and observed the next day, she continued to exhibit signs of total disorientation. Still didn't know us, although she did allow us to cuddle her.  She would not eat or drink, not even ice cream or peanut butter, her most favorite things in the world. Would just wander aimlessly around. At one point, she circled a sofa and table for about ten minutes.

We could not get her to the doctor till this morning . . . and we found out later as we talked that neither of us thought there was going to be anything the doc could do for our little dog. We knew this was the end. But of course we didn't share these thoughts at the time.

I will bury her in the backyard. I'm not in good shape at all. I loved that dog beyond all measure. She was, we think, ten years old, but understand now it was likely more like 13-15.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bang! Bang! For the Umpteenth Time . . . this year

Ain't It the Truth?
You've heard about the Washington Navy Yard. This commentary needs little commentary. This country is crazy insane. And we have not seen the end of it. We're not even close. Let's distract ourselves and go bomb something.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Politics Turns Off Conservative Brains

What you see above is a graphical depiction of the world's temperature over the past 110 years. Any idiot can see that it's a hell of a lot hotter now than it was 30, 50, 80 years ago. Right? Wrong! A recent study has indicated that "whether or not people got the question [involving fairly complex math] right depended on their political beliefs — and whether or not the correct answer supported their preconceived notions of [an issue, such as climate change]. . . . Conservative Republicans were much less likely to correctly interpret data suggesting that [global warming was happening]; for liberal Democrats, the exact opposite was true. The people who were normally best at mathematical reasoning, moreover, were the most susceptible to getting the politically charged question wrong."

Now ain't that interesting?

Burning Man 2013

Pretty damn cool . . . the video and the sounds.

I never heard of Burning Man before. It's a music and arts festival in the Nevada desert. Naturally, Wikipedia has an article on it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hold the Phone

Well, there's a new twist in the Syrian mess today. The Russians say Assad has agreed to international control of his chemical weapons. And Obama is set to address the nation tonight on this crisis. From all appearances today, it will be a nation decidedly against doing anything in Syria, much less launch an attack. It's extremely doubtful the Congress will support the president on this, but of course he could go ahead with a military strike on his own, and he hasn't said he will or he won't. On top of that we've got the secretary of state John Kerry saying yesterday our planned action will be "extremely small". That should scare 'em.

Dunno . . . this is beginning to look like the Keystone Cops to me.

Monday, September 9, 2013

So It's Come to This

All I have to do is tell you the title of the article. Ready? "8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment." It comes complete with all kinds of numbers and a screen on methodology. So now all pretense is being dropped. Education, what used to be called "higher" education, is no longer anything more than a consumer item. Something that can be measured by the god Market for his holy marketplace. Your degree is a data point in the ongoing economic analysis of what suits the god and what doesn't. How utterly 21st century! No such thing as intangible, much less unmeasurable in dollars and cents. It's all about ROI, brothers and sisters. And you're just stone nuts if you don't chose your future without keeping your eye on the bottom line.

So sorry if your degree is on this list. It means you're worth nothing. You contribute nothing. Your value can't be measured except in microns. The god has no use for you, and if Market has no use for you, you might as well just throw yourself in front of a train right now. So sorry if you were born with these deviant talents and interests.

So here's the list of the dreaded eight. My deepest condolences if your major is here and condolences with a bouquet if you have cursed by actually earning one of these degrees because it ain't gonna earn you anything but the scorn of your peers who chose much more wisely and got on the money train.

8. Sociology (social worker, corrections officer, chemical dependency counselor)
7. Fine Arts (museum researcher, graphic designer, painter/illustrator)
6. Education (teacher: daycare through high school)
5. Religious Education/Theology (religious educator, chaplain--healthcare, associate pastor)
4. Hospitality/Tourism (meeting/event planner, hotel resident manager, catering manager)
3. Nutrition (dietician, food services manager, food scientist)
2. Psychology (human services worker, career counselor-higher education, bereavement coordinator)
1. Communications (copywriter, news reporter, marketing coordinator)

So there you have it: the abominable eight. Let's see. My daughter's a social worker, so is her mother-in-law. My wife is retired teacher; I've taught and done a lot of church work; my son has a degree in hospitality; I'd love to get a masters in Fine Arts. This family's a mess.

And five will get you ten that if you expand the list, it won't be too long before you get to historian.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Syria Again

My friend Warren preached a fine sermon today about peace . . . except he didn't answer the question he posed at the beginning of it: should the U.S. intervene in Syria? I think he may have phrased it more generically, like, what should the U.S. do about the use of poison gas by the Syrian army? Actually, I have to say I was surprised. Susan came to church with me today, and she chatted with Warren afterwards. She wanted the answer too. Actually, Warren is ambivalent. I hope that's being fair to his views. He is not four-square against it, as I understand it. She talked to him, I didn't. But I do know we heard no outright opposition to some kind of action in what he had to say.

And in the context of what a follower of Jesus should do in this situation, that was the premise. Well, I call myself a follower, and I really don't think that he leaves me much choice. I have to oppose war; I have to oppose violence; I have to stand for peace in all circumstances. How can I possibly say war is OK because someone used chemical weapons to kill people? Hell, Assad has used bombs, bullets, and tanks to kill about 71 times as many of his own people as he did with chemicals--100,000 to 1,400. And Obama and the U.S. have done nothing about that. How can a little bit of war be acceptable? He also reminded us of the "hard sayings" of Jesus . . . and the fact that you're not going to follow him without suffering. And pacifists have ever suffered, in all ages and climes. Violence seems so utterly more congenial to us, doesn't it? Peace . . . that's unnatural.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Measure of Disgust

My protracted silence of late is a measure of my utter disgust with the course of events in Syria. Or rather what our president's reaction to it has been. Where do I start with a bill of particulars? Here is a guy who for reasons not at all clear to me other than he gave "peaceful" campaign speeches was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, putting him in the same company with Ghandi and Martin Luther King. How can it be? Here's a man who's killed how many civilians with drone strikes? Who killed American citizens in the same way with no due process even considered. Who has yet to get us out of Afghanistan, and who now proposes that the U.S. launch strikes on the Syrian regime as punishment for using chemical weapons on their internal enemies, many of whom are the very jihadists we despise and fear. A man who has presided over the most horrific intrusion of into our privacy by NSA over the past several years, simply carrying on the policies of that crazy man George Bush and enhancing them.

This guy cannot be trusted. The last thing on earth the American people should be doing is even contemplating the idea of getting involved in another conflict in the Middle East? Are you crazy? I trust that Congress will soundly tell Obama that they don't approve of this proposal. Indeed, they would only be reflecting, for once, the will of the majority of the American people, who want no part of this madness.