Monday, December 03, 2007

Base Ball: Another Perspective

A coupla-three years ago I attended an old-timey base ball game between the New York Gothams and the Providence Grays. I even went in costume, sorta.

Here's Conan O'Brien's version:

First Biennial Grainfield 5K

Sponsored by the Grainfield Athletic and Zythophilia Society

Grainfield, Kansas
November 26, 2007
Conditions: 45º F, Clear

Official Results

1. The GrZA 23:45
2. Cthulhu, Destroyer of Worlds 29:20

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Heckscher-Ohlin Model: Interpersonal Edition

The Heckscher-Ohlin Model is one of the foundations of International Political Economy. It holds that a country tends to export goods that match its factor endowment. For example, a capital-abundant country, like the United States, exports capital-intensive goods, like Boeing 7E7s. While a labor-abundant country, like China, exports labor-intensive goods, like lead-frosted baby teething rings.

But what if we applied the HO Model to Interpersonal Political Economy? I find that my personal factor endowment is that I am cynicism-abundant. Were I not so devoted to autarky, I would export more of this cynicism. I would rain on others' parades whenever possible. However, given the fact that I am a relatively closed economy, I do the bulk of my parade-raining on my own self.

So: what are your personal "abundant factors?" And do you export them?

International Political Economy Thesis Statement

After 1918, the United States rather suddenly became the world’s most powerful nation. Unlike Britain, which achieved economic leadership gradually through the 17th and 18th centuries, the U.S. found international leadership thrust upon it by the devastating effects of the First World War on Great Britain and the other European powers. Having attained world leadership not so much by design as by default, the domestic economic and political characteristics that might have supported free trade in the U.S. were weak or underdeveloped compared to the characteristics supporting closure. As a result, over the course of the 1920s the U.S. turned inward, a move that cascaded throughout the international system.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Beckett misses out on AL Cy Young: No prob.

So C.C. Sabathia pitched 40 more innings than Josh Beckett in the regular season, a differential that earned him the Cy Young but also tired him out so much that in October (there is only one OCTOBER!) he had juuust enough gas in the tank to beat the Yankees once and then turn in two terrible starts against the Red Sox, thereby making it possible for Beckett to go to and win the World Series. Works for me.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mike Lowell, Most Valuable Player

I know I should just be basking in the moment, but I'm concerned about what happens to Mike Lowell now that he is a free agent.

Now that Alex Rodriguez is leaving New York, Lowell will probably get a 4-year offer from the Yankees, and I don't think the Red Sox will offer him more than 2 years with an option for year 3. The Sox front office is cold-blooded that way...and it was the right choice to let Pedro Martinez go after the 2004 WS, and Johnny Damon after the 2005 season.

It's really going to be up to Lowell -- does he want to play in Boston, where he'll be loved, or take more money to go to a Yankees team in disarray.

This free agent stuff is the one part of baseball I don't like. I don't begrudge the players getting what they can given the system, but I do wish there was more roster stability, like in the NFL or NBA.

OK -- resume basking!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I felt like a Joba-Chamberlain-sized aphid today while on the old painting ladder. Swarmed by a phalanx of ladybugs enjoying the warm rays of sun on the wall I was working on.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Banana Dance Challenge CANCELLED

Due to obviously poor mojo, given the Red Sox' struggles against Cleveland, the Banana Dance challenge has been cancelled and the Banana Dancer returned to his previous location.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pretty Darn Good: Reaper

Hey, here's a new TV show that's actually worth checking out: Reaper. It's from Kevin Smith and stars Leland Palmer from "Twin Peaks" as the Devil. The show is about a slacker who finds out that his parents sold his soul to the Devil before he was born. Such an obvious premise; amazing no one has done this show before.

On the radio, Smith called it "derivative in all the right ways," which is true. There was DNA from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ghostbusters, plus a Seth-Rogin-type character and a "Forty-Year-Old Virgin" workplace milieu. Plus, it's on the C-Dub!

Once again, I must emphasize: LELAND PALMER FROM TWIN PEAKS IS THE DEVIL in this show.

Ah, College Radio

Long day of scraping and priming on the east side of the house, during which I enjoyed listening to the eclectic musical offerings of our local college radio station, WERS, broadcasting from Emerson College.

Then came the half-hourly news break, when I was brought up-to-date on the military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in..."Miramar."

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hub on Wheels

Ideal day for this ~45 mile bike ride through the neighborhoods of Boston. Started at about 8:15 on a car-free Storrow Drive, finished four hours later. Met up with Loan Shark right fielder Karla G. at Arnold Arboretum; we rode together until Carson Beach.

I was on the Zipcar team; earned a free day of driving credit, then spun the mystery wheel at their booth on City Hall Plaza and won an additional free day in one of their BMWs. Plus other assorted swag, including a water bottle, T-shirt, face cleanser (?), space-age energy drink, and so forth. Whole thing a benefit for the Boston Digital Bridge Foundation.

Mayor Menino is promising better bike facilities in Boston, but we've heard that before.

Interactive map from Bikely:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bike Ride: Hub on Wheels Preview

Checked out the last segment of the Hub on Wheels ride scheduled for this Sunday. Looked at the segment starting at Cummins Highway in Mattapan, through Forest Hills Cemetery and Franklin Park, and then to Codman Square and down to the Neponset River Bike Path, which I'd ridden before.

Came home via Morrissey Blvd and finally stopped to check out the white Victorian tower on Fort Hill in Roxbury that I had seen from the Orange Line trains for years but had never seen up close. The tower is a water standpipe that stands at the site of one of the fortifications that were used during the Revolutionary War in the Siege of Boston, which ultimately lead to the departure of the British from Boston.

Distance: 24 miles. Interactive map:

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Bike Ride: Soldiers Field

A quick errand at Harvard today. Does this even count as a "bike ride?" Anyway, here it is.

Distance: 13.9 miles. Interactive map:

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bike Ride: Hemlock Gorge

Rode up to Newton today. After a stop at International Bicycle Centers to pick up a crank puller, checked out Hemlock Gorge, site of 130-year-old Echo Bridge, which supports an aqueduct that once carried the bulk of Boston's fresh water. More shopping stops on the way home at Home Depot and Village Market in Roslindale.

20.8 miles. Interactive map:

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Bike Ride: Great Blue Hill

After climbing up Washington Street to the summit of the Stony Brook Reservation, I zoomed down through the Reservation on the paved path, winding up eventually at Mother Brook. Circled through Dedham and then went over to the Blue Hills Reservation to climb Great Blue Hill (all of 635', but supposedly the highest point within 10 miles of the Atlantic Coast in the U.S. south of central Maine). Checked out the Blue Hill Weather Observatory (oldest in the U.S.) at the summit before heading back home.

20.7 miles. Interactive map:

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Mr. November

My alter-ego, Arby Trajj, is featured in the Billionaires for Bush 2008 calendar for the month of November.

Scraping By

The past few days I have been preparing the east side of our house for repainting. That means scraping. The process has turned out to be one of near constant economic calculation and forecasting.

Certainly the large flaps of loose paint must be removed, and they detach easily and float to the ground. Places where the paint film is still intact but has bubbled up must be lanced like a boil and scraped out, which is a bit more laborious but still clearly worthwhile because bubbly paint film is not a suitable substrate. In both cases, the investment of time and effort will undoubtedly pay off with a paint job that lasts much longer than it would if I didn't do this preparation.

But then there are the marginal areas. Draw a good tungsten scraper across a painted clapboard and some paint will come off. Does that mean that that paint definitely had to come off? Just because I can remove paint doesn't mean that I ought to. Before scraping this marginal paint, I must consider: To what extent does removing this marginal paint lengthen the life of the overall paint job, and by how much?

It's sort of like drilling for oil. At some point, it becomes uneconomic to continue lifting the oil out of a given well. There still might be oil down there, but the cost of lifting it outweighs the return. Obviously that point changes with the price of oil and the costs of production.

So what are the relevant factors in my case? The analog to the cost of oil is the economic value added to the house by having it freshly painted. Given our sideways housing market in Boston, this is probably pretty stable at the moment, but I don't know what the dollar figure would be. I guess I'd need before-and-after-paint-job appraisals. And anyway, I wouldn't be realizing this gain right away. I have no plans to sell the house now. So this factor would diminish over time, requiring some sort of depreciation calculation. On the other hand, I could possibly capture the enhanced value immediately by borrowing against the increased value of the home and investing the money elsewhere in search of a higher return.

The analog to oil production costs is the value I assign to my time. I guess this would be the amount I could get paid doing something else. With a bit of effort I would probably be able to wangle some sort of writing, editing, or graphic design work that would pay $X per hour, so $X per hour is the value of my time. I estimate I can move the scraper back and forth 500 times per hour, so each scrape-stroke costs $X/500 in foregone income.

For a given scrape-stroke, if the present value of the increased future cash flows due to enhanced exterior appearance and maintenance exceeds $X/500, I proceed with the scrape. If not, I move on. During scraping I am constantly calculating and re-calculating, deciding on a scrape-by-scrape basis whether or not to execute the scrape. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I don't know the first thing about opera and I have no idea what Puccini's "Turandot" is even about, but they've been playing this aria on the radio all day and I really do like it. In the words of Nigel Tufnel speaking about the key of D sharp minor, "It makes me weep instantly."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Proposal to Restrict Names in Venezuela

For some reason the Venezuelan electoral ministry is proposing to limit first names of newborn children to a list of 100 government-approved names. From the New York Times:
Goodbye, Tutankamen del Sol.

So long, Hengelberth, Maolenin, Kerbert Krishnamerk, Githanjaly, Yornaichel, Nixon and Yurbiladyberth. The prolifically inventive world of Venezuelan baby names may be coming to an end.

If electoral officials here get their way, a bill introduced last week would prohibit Venezuelan parents from bestowing those names — and many, many others — on their children.

The measure would not be retroactive. But it would limit parents of newborns to a list of 100 names established by the government, with exemptions for Indians and foreigners, and it is already facing skepticism in the halls of the National Assembly...

Whimsical names can also be found in other Latin American countries. Honduras has first names like Ronald Reagan, Transfiguración and Compañía Holandesa (Dutch Company), according to the newspaper El Heraldo. In Panama, local news media this year reported name-change efforts by an Esthewoldo, a Kairovan and a Max Donald.

But Venezuela’s naming tradition rivals or exceeds that of its neighbors, many people here say. Some first names in Venezuela include Haynhect, Olmelibey, Yan Karll and Udemixon, according to a list compiled by the novelist Roberto Echeto...

Software searches of the voter registry find more than 60 people of voting age with the first name Hitler, including Hitler Adonys Rodríguez Crespo; eight Hochiminhs, among them Hochiminh Jesús Delgado Sierra; and six Eisenhowers, including Dwight Eisenhower Rojas Barboza.

Unusual names in Venezuela are often grist for awe or humor, but the issue is also politicized, given President Chávez’s gusto for renaming things, with critics of the bill claiming it would enhance his government’s naming authority in a realm where the fancy of parents still holds sway...

The authorities may yet bend to public will. Germán Yépez, an official with the National Electoral Council, said the measure originated after children were given names like Superman and Batman. Still, he said in comments broadcast on radio, he welcomed “this type of positive reaction and suggestions.”

I believe that Chávez is the subject of a lot of unjustified scaremongering from the U.S. foreign policy elite (including the New York Times) but this 100 names proposal is just loony.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bike Ride: Cutler Park

Halfway through last week's Boston Logistics and Industry Ride, I decided to see if I could follow the Charles River all the way around to West Roxbury. But I only got as far as Charles River Canoe and Kayak on Commonwealth Ave. in Newton before having to head straight back home.

Today I picked up a bit more Charles River shoreline, negotiating the surprisingly rugged glacial drumlins and then gliding over the marsh boardwalks of the DCR's Cutler Park in Needham and Dedham. After a quick zip through West Roxbury's Millennium Park, I didn't have enough time to fully explore the neighboring Brook Farm site, an 1840s Transcendentalist experiment in communal living that only (or maybe that should be "actually") lasted seven years, but I'll be back.

Interactive Map:

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Boat Trip: Georges and Spectacle Islands

Finally took the ferry ($12) out to the Boston Harbor Islands on a warm and dry Labor Day. Explored Fort Warren, a Civil War era star fort on Georges Island, sharing the parade ground with a swarm of ultimate-frisbee-playing Boston University freshman winding up their orientation week.

Then to Spectacle Island, a former Boston city dump newly capped with clay excavated during the Big Dig and now re-seeded with grass and trees. The artificially enhanced island is now the highest point in Boston Harbor. Here and there are vertical pipes topped with spinning wind vents. Stand in just the right place downwind from one of these vents, and the faint aroma of the garbage decaying below reaches your nose. But don't let that scare you off -- you have to stand in just the right spot, and really concentrate, to smell anything. The expansive 360 degree views of the harbor, shipping lanes, departing and arriving Logan traffic, birds, insects, and waving grasses makes Spectacle Island a fascinating place to visit.

Interactive map:

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hike: Middlesex Fells Reservation

Made our first trip ever to Oak Grove, the northern terminus of our own Orange Line. From the station, Middlesex Fells Reservation is a half-mile walk up Washington Street -- and a left turn on Goodyear (named for Woburn native and tire-vulcanizer Charles Goodyear).

Views to the south and southeast from White Rock, on the Circuit Rock Trail.

Interactive Map:

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Bike Ride: Wollaston Beach

Distance: 21 miles. Interactive Map:

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UPDATE: In response to Eve's Apple's comment about getting thirsty at Wollaston Beach: The DCR is renovating the beachfront with new sidewalks, stairs, and pavilions, but so far there is still an appalling lack of drinking fountains ("bubblers" in local parlance). Not sure what's going on here -- all of the other DCR land I've biked through lately has had ample drinking water. Like Eve's, I ended up having to pay to quaff, buying bottled water from a vending machine at a restaurant.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bike Ride: Neponset River and Carson Beach

Another warm and dry day and this time I was prepared for a swim at Carson Beach, after checking out the Neponset River bike path along the southern edge of Boston, and the Harborwalk Path starting at Tenean Beach.

Distance: 16.5 miles. Interactive map:

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bike Ride: Boston Logistics and Industry

Started at South Boston's Carson Beach with airliners gliding into Logan over Dorchester Bay. Then around Pleasure Bay and past the Conley container terminal to the South Boston piers — a couple of Navy ships in port today, one in drydock undergoing repairs. Followed the still-discontiguous but improving "Harborwalk" to the North End and walked the bike over the Charles River Dam and Locks.

Followed the bike path along the Charles River, crossing here and there as needed, all the way out to Waltham and the site of the first power loom in America, the prototype for the giant Merrimack River textile mills of Lowell and Lawrence.

With time running out and quadriceps barking, hauled my way back home over the hills of Newton and Brookline.

Distance: 43 miles. Interactive map below:

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Bike Ride: Stony Brook Reservation

Milwaukee Who? In the years before Prohibition, Boston had more breweries per capita than any other American city. My neighborhood of Jamaica Plain hosted as many as 17 breweries at one time, all clustered along Stony Brook, known for its exceptionally clear water.

Prohibition killed off brewing in Boston. But in the 1980s, Jim Koch founded Boston Brewing Co., locating it in the old Haffenreffer Brewery on Germania Street in Jamaica Plain. Using an old family recipe, he created Sam Adams beer, launching an entirely new market segment in U.S. brewing: the craft beer. Nowadays, Sam Adams is brewed in industrial quantities in giant breweries in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, but there's still a small working brewery at the Haffenreffer site, where brewmasters test new formulations. Plus there are the inevitable brewery tours and tastings.

Stony Brook rises in the Stony Brook Reservation, which straddles Enneking Parkway on the Hyde Park - West Roxbury border. It then flows northward and empties into the Muddy River in the Back Bay Fens, and from there the short distance to the Charles River. Unfortunately, today Stony Brook is completely "culverted," routed through concrete pipes buried six feet under.

Distance: 10 miles. Fully interactive, zoomable map below:

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bike Ride: Blue Hills Reservation via Hyde Park Ave.

Living at the end of a subway line, I thought I resided on the fringes of Boston. But Boston extends miles and miles to the south along Hyde Park Ave, terminating in something called "Readville," which has been rumored not to even exist. To the south of Readville lies the Fowl Meadow wetland, part of the Neponset River Reservation. (Here in Massachusetts, "meadow" means "swamp" and "Reservation" means "Park.")The meadow was saved from certain destruction in 1967 when grassroots activists blocked plans to extend I-95 through the meadow and straight into the heart of downtown Boston.

Distance: 19 miles. Fully interactive, zoomable map below:

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Bike Ride: Houghton's Pond via Blue Hills Ave.

No time to go swimming at the pond — too bad because it was a very hot day. Returned via Truman Highway. 19 miles.

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Iowan Dance No. 5

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gagne with a Spoon

Eric Gagne blew it again. AP reports:
"Obtained from Texas on July 31 to fortify the back end of the bullpen, Gagne endured another damaging performance. Seeking to hold a 3-1 lead in the eighth, the right-hander entered with a runner on and promptly yielded a tying home run to Tejada on a 3-2 pitch.

"Gagne retired the next two batters, but he has allowed seven runs in four innings over five games. On Friday, Gagne got one out while blowing a four-run lead in a 6-5 defeat."
The Sons of Sam Horn heaped a lot of scorn on manager Terry Francona for insisting on replacing ace set-up man Hideki Okajima with the shaky Gagne in the 8th with the tying run coming to the plate. It was the sort of by-the-book "matchups" move that, when it blows up, is especially frustrating to the armchair managers at home.

The Sons were also frustrated with Francona's practice of refusing to use ace closer Jonathan Papelbon late in road games until after the Sox have the lead. They don't like the fifth or sixth best pitcher in the bullpen (in this case Kyle Snyder) on the mound with the game on the line while a better pitcher like Papelbon sits in the pen waiting for the Sox to take the lead. Especially after Snyder allowed the first two batters to reach with no outs, creating a situation where the Sox needed strikeouts. This wasn't second-guessing, either -- in the online game thread, the Sons were questioning Francona's moves as he made them, not afterwards.

I suspect that Francona, and managers in general, take an outsize share of the blame for controversial decisions that don't work out. When they do work out, the players generally get the credit. When they don't, it's the manager who is blamed.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

All Hail Hideki Okajima

Hideki Okajima (3-0) pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings for the victory. The rookie left-hander, who struck out Orlando Cabrera in the sixth with the potential go-ahead run at third, has stranded 18 of his 19 inherited runners.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Andruw Jones

What happened to Braves centerfielder Andruw Jones?

He is a ghost of a shadow of a shell of a husk of his former self.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

First Lolcat Submission

This is "Sugar," a cat that Helen fostered a couple weeks ago, starring in my first attempt to submit a lolcat to the website I Can Has Cheezburger?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Baseball Geekdom

A couple of years ago I heard about Sons of Sam Horn, a Boston Red Sox fan website. Initially, I would occasionally check it out to read the "game threads" -- real-time message exchanges between viewers that played out as a game progressed. It was great, for example, in the winter of 2004-05 to go back and read the game threads from Boston's improbable comeback in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.

This year I've gotten into the habit of following the game thread during each game. The folks who post to the game thread are fairly knowledgeable, and fairly funny, so it is like watching the game with a group of humorous, savvy fans. I've definitely improved my baseball knowledge by following along with the threads.

SoSH limits its membership as a quality control measure. Becoming a member requires that you be "noticed" for your baseball acumen on the special lurker-friendly section of the site. So I don't post to the thread myself. However, anyone can lurk on the game threads, or any of the other myriad topics, and the level of obsession is impressive.

For example, there has been much frustration concerning the poor batting so far of centerfielder Coco Crisp. In the past few days, however, Crisp has been doing much better: he is 4 for 9 with two walks and no strikeouts.

SoSH member "Marbleheader" quotes from
Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp put in some extra work before the game with hitting coach Dave Magadan. The center fielder has been looking to eliminate unnecessary "movement" from his stance and stand taller in the batter's box, Francona said.
And then Marbleheader quotes another SoSHer's request:
It was mentioned that Magadan is trying to get him to "stand up" more in his stance. It looks noticable to me. Does anyone have the ability to post a split screen shot of Coco's older stance vs. one from the last couple days?
Marbleheader obliges, providing a handy side-by-side visual comparison of screen captures from a May game next to Saturday's game against the Giants. He even took the trouble to try to get two images at roughly the same point in the pitcher's delivery:

And yes indeed, it does appear that Crisp is standing up straighter.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

AL All-Star Ballot #3

First Base: Ortiz, D., BOS
Second Base: Polanco, P., DET
Third Base: Rodriguez, A., NYY
Shortstop: Cabrera, O., LAA
Catcher: Martinez, V., CLE
Outfielder: Guerrero, V., LAA
Outfielder: Hunter, T., MIN
Outfielder: Ordonez, M., DET

Youkilis cools off a bit, Ortiz back in at first base.

Rodriguez is back on top of Lowell at 3B owing to his better batting numbers.

At shortstop, Orlando Cabrera has gotten nearly as good as Jeter at the plate and quite a bit better in the field. Plus, of the five shortstops who have played in Boston over the last four years, O.C. was the most consistent, especially compared with the current Sox SS Lugo, who has been dreadful at the plate.

And at catcher, Cleveland's Victor Martinez is second in OPS and first in RBI among AL backstops. Posada is still right there, though.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Born to Run

According to a year-old article in Discover:
Biomechanical research reveals a surprising key to the survival of our species: Humans are built to outrun nearly every other animal on the planet over long distances...
The physiological evidence: tendons in our legs not needed for walking, a special neck tendon that keeps our heads steady while running, and an outsize gluteus maximus that balances forward momentum.

According to the theory, hunting was not so much stalking or lying in wait, but slowly and steadily chasing prey animals to the point of exhaustion.

Friday, June 01, 2007

AL All-Star Ballot #2

First Base: Youkilis, K., BOS
Second Base: Upton, B., TB
Third Base: Lowell, M., BOS
Shortstop: Jeter, D., NYY
Catcher: Posada, J., NYY
Outfielder: Guerrero, V., LAA
Outfielder: Hunter, T., MIN
Outfielder: Ordonez, M., DET

Starting Pitcher: Beckett, J., BOS

Changes since last week's ballot:

Youkilis impossible to leave off. Not fair to Ortiz, but what can I do? Maybe write Youkilis in at third base -- he plays there sometimes.

Lowell has eclipsed ARod at the plate, but it's still close between the two of them because Mike leads the league in errors at third base with 9. In other ARod news, not sure what to make of the "Mine! / Hah!" incident in Toronto. Some major-leaguers say it happens all the time, others say it never happens.

B.J. Upton now sporting a 953 OPS to lead all AL second-basemen. Polanco and his zero errors could return to the list, however.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

AL All-Stars: Ballot #1

Just voted my first slate of the American League All-Stars, one of 25 votes I can cast between now and whenever voting ends. I'll try to submit a new ballot every week or so.

This is based on impressions based on the season so far, which I haven't followed closely except for Red Sox games. There's a bias toward teams the Sox have played so far.

First Base: Ortiz, D., BOS
Second Base: Polanco, P., DET
Third Base: Rodriguez, A., NYY
Shortstop: Jeter, D., NYY
Catcher: Posada, J., NYY
Outfielder: Guerrero, V., LAA
Outfielder: Hunter, T., MIN
Outfielder: Ordonez, M., DET

I hated leaving out Youkilis, who normally plays 1B for Boston but since this year's All Star Game is in an NL park, Ortiz is on the ballot instead. In the end, Ortiz barely edged out Youk but Kevin is right there and could show up as a write-in on a future ballot.

ARod still getting credit for his torrid April. Jeter is Jeter. Posada is leading the league in hitting, and is a Sox-killer to boot. In the outfield, Ichiro is hanging around the three guys I picked.

Starting pitcher is not up to the fans, but if the All Star Game was today the honor (if not the start, due to his injured finger) would go to Josh Beckett, and Jim Leland agrees.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

America Before the Estate Tax

Back in early 2001, at my last job, I had kind of a loopy advertising concept to defend the estate tax against abolition: images of sooty, child-labor-y America around the turn of the 20th century arrayed beneath the headline "What Was America Like Before the Estate Tax?" (The estate tax was first enacted in 1916). It was too over-the-top for the people in charge of the pro-estate-tax campaign, and became kind of a running joke at my expense, but now there is a website full of these images.

It's easy to imagine that life would be just ducky if we just got rid of taxes and regulations and ran a laissez-faire economy, but we tried that already, and I don't think most of us would really like to go back to those days.

(Via BoingBoing)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Plumber Self-Talk

Had a plumber in yesterday to replace a part of the main drain system. There was a lot of plumbing-related finagling, banging, and struggling going on. Working in my office down the hall from the bathroom, I would occasionally hear the plumber make a short comment to himself. Here is a complete transcript:

Oh boy.
Oh brother.
Boy, this is a mess.
This ain't good.
This guy sucks.
Not good.
Oh, that's different.
Oh hell.
Makin' progress.
Oh boy.
Oh geez.
What the-
Oh heck.
Well I'll be.
Oh well.

Monday, January 15, 2007

24 Live Blog: 8:00 - 10:00 am

8:10 am Bauer jacks a Cherokee Grand-Theft-Auto-style. Doesn't all the veering and fishtailing around corners take more time than it's worth?

8:24 am Shouldn't Jack be wearing his seat belt? Hey, Curtis isn't wearing his either. Now, Jack and Curtis have a moment. Great to hear a nice big helping of that stilted "24" dialogue: "hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of victims" ... "a peaceful resolution to all of this."

8:25 Suburban mom proves wily by failing to properly treat Kumar from "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle's" wound. Her also-wily son Eddie Vedder goes into kitchen to get Kumar some water, palms a knife, this isn't going to work out well....phew, he decides not to chance an attack.

8:37 The writers have done a good job of writing the dialogue in the civil liberties theme in a way to appeal to people on both sides of the issue....Whoops, a body cavity search has just been announced.

8:41 Dr. Bashir from Deep Space Nine and the suspect are both wearing their seatbelts. Kudos, Dr. Bashir.

8:44 Curtis's day is made as he gets to establish a perimeter, check that, a MOVING PERIMETER.

8:46 Memo to Tac Team: The roof is not the best place for your doughier snipers.

8:56 Jack: Fayed might have a "nucular" weapon.

8:58 "I need to speak to the president, Priority 3?" Doesn't that sound a bit low?

9:00 Good to see that Buchanan is right on time with his early-episode Exposition Phone Call.

9:05 Take your jacket off and stay awhile, Mr. President!

9:11 Come on, Suburban Dad, disable the component. And, where did he find a working pay phone?

How much do we hate the UPS whiteboard commercials?

9:14 This has been another edition of American Backstory Theatre, starring Chloe and two of her boyfriends.

9:21 President Wayne Palmer, how I love your out-of-fashion goatee beard.

9:22 As usual, international terrorists require a written contract before agreeing to an amnesty offer.

9:31 Remembering Eddie Vedder's touching offer of his friendship necklace, Kumar wishes he didn't have to kill him.
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