13 November 2008

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Fire Joe Morgan, one of the funniest bits of the intertubes, is shutting down*:
After 21 years, and almost 40 million posts (we'll have to check those numbers, but it's something like that), we have decided to bring FJM to an end.

Although we have not lost our borderline-sociopathic joy for meticulously criticizing bad sports journalism, the realities of our professional and personal lives make FJM a time/work luxury we can no longer afford.
Apparently they're too busy writing TV shows for a living, or something. I expect a noticable slip in the quality of sports journalism in this country, now that coloumnists don't have the FJM guys left to fear anymore.

Gentlemen, for your wit and the entertainment you provided, I salute you!


*They say they're going to leave the site and the archives up. You should go read it. Now. Yes, all of it. Go. I'll wait.

30 October 2008

All that therapy was useless...

Ray Ratto opened his post-World Series column with the following nugget:

If you believe Scott Eyre, who lived through it, Pedro Feliz, who lived through it too, came up to him after the seventh inning of Wednesday night's World Series finale and said, "This time, we're going to get those five outs."

...




...




I just threw up a little bit. I think I need a drink or 12....

25 October 2008

Hooray!

I love Apple:
Apple announced it is donating $100,000 to the “No on 8” campaign, citing its history as one of the first California companies to offer equal benefits to its employees’ same-sex partners: “We strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights—including the right to marry—should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.”

...as if I needed another reason.

20 October 2008

La da da da da La da da da da daaaaaa.......

I'm always intrigued by music choices for commercials. Today, Gogol Bordello, in an ad for some racing game, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift*:


*If you watch the trailer, it looks like a pumped-up ripoff offroad version of a classic.

Powell endorses Obama

Growing up during the first Gulf War, Colin Powell was always one of those familiar names, even if I didn't know who or what he was. Later, as perhaps the most respectable member of W's cabinet, I learned more about him as a politician. This week the former Republican Secretary of State threw his political weight behind his party's enemy, Barack Obama:



I particularly appreciate his comments at about 4:01 of that video, especially this:
"...not about who's a muslim and who's not a muslim...We have got to say to the world, 'it doesn't make any difference who you are, or what you are. If you're American, you're American!'"


Here's the reaction from the pundits:


Perhaps the best quote from Powell's endorsement came from his appearance on Meet the Press:

The best quote comes at 4:31 when he says:
"I'm also troubled by, not what Sen. McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said such things as: 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well, the correct answer is: he is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is: What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is: No, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she can be President? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion: he's a Muslim, and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America."*

Now, there are certainly issues with Colin Powell, especially regarding his part in the Iraq war. But this kind of thing, especially the quote above, makes me think that at the very least, while I'll never agree with him on most things, I can respect him as a human being, something I can't say of quite a few republicans.

*For more on that story he referenced about the soldier near the end of the clip, head over to Shakesville.

19 October 2008

I wish I had money on this....

The World Series starts on Wednesday, and the following teams will NOT be participating (among others): the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Mets, the Dodgers, the Cardinals, the Cubs, or the White Sox. Tim McCarver will be so disappointed*! If you guessed that the Series would be Philadelphia vs. Tampa Bay, and you put money down on it, what kind of private jet will you be buying? If you picked them, and DIDN'T put any money on it then please, slowly step away from the ledge. It will be ok.

In all seriousness, I'm really glad to see teams in the Series that haven't been there in a while (Philly hasn't been there since '93, hasn't won since '83. Tampa has never been there. We'll get to that in a minute.) I was glad to see the Dodgers lose (because I'm ALWAYS glad to see the Dodgers lose), and I was really glad to see the Red Sox lose, both because I am tired of hearing about them, and because the Rays are such a great story. Seriously, in the last three drafts, the Rays have picked 3rd, 1st, and 1st meaning that they have had one of, if not the worst record in the league. To go from the worst record in the league last year to the world series this year (with two of those last three draft picks playing a big part in getting them there) is amazing. Whoever wins (and my money is on TB), it won't be one of the usual suspects, and that has to be good for baseball. I know I'm a lot more likely to watch the games with the Rays in the series than I would have been with the Red Sox, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way.

*Seriously, I don't understand why Fox continues to employ Tim McCarver to cover national games. He always comes across to me as if in his mind there are only a handful of real teams (NY, NY, Boston, LA, St. Louis, and Chicago), and everyone else is just filler for the schedules. Of course, Fox does have a very questionable track record, when it comes to choosing on-air personalities...

07 October 2008

Am I lazy?

As soon as I come up for air, I'll try to get back to posting on a semi-regular basis.

Beer Review -- Coronado Idiot IPA


I reviewed the other IPA by the Coronado Brewing Company a few weeks ago, so I'll dispense with the background on this one.

These two IPA's couldn't be much less alike. Where the Islander was clear and clean, the Idiot is cloudy, with a floral, earthy undertone. In this regard it's almost reminiscent of some of the fresh-hop ales out there (for instance, Deschutes Hop Trip), albeit to a lesser degree. A little darker, and a whole lot cloudier in appearance than the Islander, Idiot has more of a craft-brew feel to it. The final comparison is less bite, more depth, earthier taste, with a sweeter finish, and stands up better as it creeps up toward room temp. If you're only going to try one of their brews, try this one.

23 September 2008

Finding (more) good philosophy in unexpected places

In August I wrote briefly about a bit of good philosophy, gleaned from a cooking show. Well, i continue to find nuggets of wisdom in unusual places. Maybe it shows that a good writer is a good writer, no matter the subject. Anyway, today's episode features one of the best baseball blogs out there, U.S.S. Mariner. While they're nominally a team-specific blog for the Seattle Mariners, the writers are very intelligent, and really seem to understand baseball. In one of today's posts, they showed a chart displaying how far off different writers were in their preseason win total predictions, vs. a prediction of 81-81 record for every team*. Near the bottom of the post, Dave offers up this nugget of wisdom:

People who think that their positions entitle them to have their opinions respected are likely not worth listening to. If they actually had something of value to share, they wouldn’t have to lean on their employment status, but could stand on their track records instead.

I'm not sure what I can add to that. This is exctly what I want to say to people who tell me I'm unpatriotic for criticizing our monkey president/governor/government in general. Essentially, respect is earned, not given, and is based on actions and content, not a title. What do you think, internet? Is there some inherent wisdom in the words of those in charge? Is their lofty position indicative of some natural wisdom or authority? Or are they just as full of shit as the rest of us?

*shockingly, only 2 of the national baseball writers they compared scored higher than this arbitrary guess. 2! And surprise, surprise, it was the two "Sabermetrics" guys, Keith Law and Rob Neyer. Remind me to write a post some time on the value of modern statistics in evaluating baseball players/teams, and the ridiculous backlash from those that don't understand them. I might even make a connection to conservatives!

22 September 2008

Beer Review -- Coronado Islander IPA


The Coronado Brewing Company is a small brewpub in (you guessed it) Coronado, California. They have regional distribution of their beers, primarily in 22oz. bottles, and offer selections such as an "Islandweizen" Heff, "Coronado" Golden, and (most exciting to me) two different IPA's: the "Idiot" IPA (described as an 'all-natural' IPA with a hefty 8.5% ABV and 3 lbs. of hops/barrel -- I hope to have a review of this one for you as soon as I can get my hands on a bottle), and the "Islander" IPA.

The Islander IPA, described as a 'West Coast IPA' by their website, has a solid hoppy bite, but was surpisingly clean in its finish, despite a high alcohol content (7.5%), which in my opinion can sometimes lead to an overly sweet taste at the end. A full mouth-feel and a full flavor made my first few sips surpisingly good. The only real downside of this beer came as it warmed up from fridge-temperature to room-temperature, when a slight aftertaste delivered. While not overly unpleasant, in did detract a little from the bright hoppiness and clean taste this ale featured early on. The verdict: Good, solid, very hoppy. Keep it cold and at it ranks up with the top SoCal IPA's; let it warm up and it loses a little bit of luster, although remains very decent.

Pleasant Surprises, revisited.

The Giants' season is lost.  Hell, this season was lost before last year was over.  They haven't been in contention all year.  That being said,  as I said back in June,  I've been about as happy as you can be with a team that wins 45% of it's games.  The Giants are 70-86 with 6 games to play, in 4th place (1 game behind 3rd place Colorado), and are finishing on a decent note, going 11-9 (.550 winning percentage) thus far in September, after a 15-14 (.517) August (which may not sound like much, but consider that the division leader in the NL West is playing at a .519 clip for the year, it shows that they've been competitive to end the season), and recently taking 2 out of 3 in LA to make the Dodgers sweat a little (although thanks to Arizona's collapse, it didn't matter all that much).  This minor resurgence has corresponded with management handing the keys to the young players.  Pablo Sandoval, for example, is hitting .346/.360/.508 which will look even better if he can learn to walk occasionally.  Emmanuel Burriss has a .357 OBP (.283/.357/.329 overall), good for a young top-of-the order guy.  Nate Schierholtz is hitting .302/.362/.434 since being called up post-Olympics.  I won't even mention Cy Lincecum.  Even if (as is likely), some of these guys never develop into bona fide major leaguers, there's some young talent on this team, and more coming up the pipeline (Conor Gillaspie, Angel Villalona, etc.).  

Are the Giants going to win the World Series next year?  No.  Will they make the playoffs?  Not likely, although given how weak the NL West is, it is possible.  But that's the nice thing about having a young team:  their window is just starting to crack open, and I have to say that given the roster they had to start the year, they are definitely ahead of schedule. 

17 September 2008

The words! THE WORDS!

I don't think I have a whole lot to add to what Cuttlefish has to say about the new California gender-neutral marriage form:

The bonds of holy matrimony
Must be seen as wholly phony
If, instead of "Bride and Groom" (or else, of "Man and Wife"),
It's "Party A and Party B"
(That's plainly not the same, you see!
That's no way to address the one who's going to share your life!)

Our Fellowship (Abundant Life)
Says marriage joins a Man and Wife
Forever as a couple, in Our Lord’s Most Holy View
As is, this form disparages
The sanctity of marriages—
(We ought to know—for each of us, it’s marriage number two)

We cannot enter wedded bliss
With such a godless form as this
A wedding contract, clearly, is between a bride and groom!
This stupid governmental form
Makes abnormality the norm—
A sign of the Apocalypse! A harbinger of doom!

If "Party B and Party A"
Is what the license now will say
The parties are both equal, which is not what God would say!
This new form is a disaster
If it doesn't name me "Master",
And it doesn't state specifically, the missus must obey!

*
*
*


There are some who, even if they tried,
Could not—as yet—be Bride and Bride;
And could not even (yet) be Party A and Party B;
But still I hope that soon, some day
That any couple—straight or gay
Is given equal treatment here… from C to shining C.


So, there're the obvious points that the new form is simply another step toward equal rights, etc., and that these assholes are just mad that their mythology is losing its grip on our culture, blah blah blah, [insert my usual rant here]. What gets me, though, is the extent to which people get themselves worked up over a couple words. IT'S JUST FUCKING WORDS!* It makes no tangible difference whether the form says "Groom and Bride" or "Party A and Party B", you're still goddamn married! And more than that, it's just words on a government form. It's like getting mad about the wording on your tax return: who cares? It's just a piece of beauricratic red tape. The function is all that matters, the form is irrelevent, as long as it records your marriage!** It's the same as the people who are all for civil unions, as long as gays aren't allowed to use the word 'marriage'. It's just a goddam*** word! Function is what matters! Words are just labels! Of course, I obviously have no appreciation for the importance of specific words. I to this day can't understand why 'shit' is a bad word, while any number of other four-letter synonyms for fecal matter are acceptable. Why is 'fuck' bad, while 'screw' (which, to me, has a much more aggressive, even sexist connotation) is ok?

*I'd say 'no pun intended', but there is no pun here, as we all know (even if the fundies won't admit it) that marriage and fucking are two seperate things that may or may not overlap.

**Geez, look at that. I started out by saying I wasn't going to add anything, and yet here I am...

***I'm trying to keep religion out of this blog -- well, society ideally -- entirely (see the giant red 'A' in the sidebar), but I consider an explative to be an acceptable, non-religious use of the letter-sequence g-o-d, especially since their mythology expressly forbids that usage.

07 September 2008

McCain in front of a blue screen?

...BRILLIANT! (via Pandagon)




Also from Pandagon, one of my favorite quotes of the year:

And conservatives wonder why they can’t get movies made. There was an original conservative script for Jurassic Park II, but it mainly involved Richard Dawkins getting pooped on by a brontosaurus for half an hour. Nobody got it.

06 September 2008

A horrible call

An entertaining day in college football today. There were upsets, several near upsets, and then there was one of the worst endings to a game I've ever seen. Washington, a young team with a fair bit of talent who nonetheless are not expected to achieve much this year, were hosting BYU, one of the trendy picks to be a "BCS-buster" (a non-BCS team that secures a spot in one of the major bowl games, a la Hawaii last year and Boise St. the year before). With :02 left on the clock in the fourth quarter and down by 7, Washington's young QB ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. Elated, he threw the ball into the air and embraced his teammates. Now, I've seen the video clip several times now, and I've yet to see anything excessive in his celebration. Every commentator and analyst for all of the games I've watched this afternoon said the same after that clip was shown: nothing wrong with his celebration. Nonetheless, a flag was thrown for excessive celebration, causing a 15-yard penalty assessed on the PAT. The kick (which was attempted from the 17 yd. line rather than the 2, due to the penalty) was blocked, and BYU won 28-27. After the game, the ref had this to say:

"After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty," Pac-10 referee Larry Farina said in a statement give to Washington officials. "It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It was not a judgment call."
Reading between the lines, it sound's like the refs didn't want to call this one, but felt compelled by the rules. If that's true (and I gotta say, refs let celebrations go at the end of the game all the time; I'm not sure why it was called this time), then this is a rule that BADLY needs to be rethought. To expect a kid not to be exuberant in a situation like that is ridiculous. Again, I've seen the video several times. He wasn't taunting anyone, he wasn't being lewd or offensive, and he didn't throw the ball at anyone; he was just jumping up and down. These kids are amature athletes, they're not pros. Most of them are playing simply for the love of the game, and sadly today they were punished for it.

An interesting assessment of Palin's impact

Zeno of Halfway There has a very interesting take on Sarah Palin's speech, and its impact on the presidential race:

Like the English professor that I am not, I would give her both grades: an A for the composition's technique and a D for its content. In the short term, the A aspect of her speech stirred up the troops, who are now enjoying their temporary high. As the weeks progress, however, the D aspect of the speech will alienate fence-sitters who might have been drawn by less specious content.


You really should click through and read the whole thing, as Zeno is one of the best out there. In this case, it's a hopeful assessment, and I'm cautiously optimistic that he's right. It's going to be a very interesting november...


Also at Halfway There, he points out the flaws in one person's statement about Palin: that she both supplements and complements McCain.

01 September 2008

"...One nation indivisible, with liberty and justice..."

Over at Pharyngula, PZ posts some of Sarah Palin's responses to a questionnaire she was given while running for governor of Alaska. One of the answers, in particular, jumps out at me:

11. Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?
SP: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
Wow. Either she doesn't realize that the offending words were added in 1954, or she considers Eisenhower and McCarthy to be founding fathers. I'm not sure which scares me more.

There is no dissent to McCain. There has never been any dissent to McCain.

In order to protect the poor, delicate people at the RNC, Minneapolis is conducting police raids on suspected protesters, charging them with "fire code violations". From Salon.com, as posted on Pharyngula:

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.
What do you expect from the party who, during the DNC in Denver, styled themselves the Ministry of Truth?

28 August 2008

Bad Scooter Searching for his Groove

Walking through Whole Foods today, a song comes on over the sound system.  A familiar intro, and that memorable horn part, and then "Tear drops on the city..."  

For the longest time, I not only didn't like Springsteen, I actively disliked his music.  It seemed cheesey, like something out of a bad '80's police movie, and "10th Avenue Freeze-Out" (the song mentioned above, for those not familiar) was no exception, although I think you could probably say that it also had a hand in changing that.  

In college, I took a course in the History of Rock and Roll as part of my music minor.  One of the optional proects was to audition for and play in one of the three bands formed from the class, playing a mix of music written by our classmates, and covers.  Myself and a two other gentlemen (one of whom is likely reading this) formed the horn section for one of the bands (well, horn/viola section.  "Let's Get It On" has a violin part.  Who knew?)  (What?)  Anyway, these covers proved to be a bone of contention.  We, the horn section, wanted to play something with an interesting part, like a ska cover.  Something fun.  The hipsters who comprised the rest of the band, formed before we were added, had already decided on a shortlist of covers to choose from.  Guess what, no ska.  What do we (they) end up choosing?  The aforementioned "Let's Get it On"*, and "10th avenue".  We didn't quite revolt, but let's just say things were a little testy for a while.  Funny thing, though:  I think it ended up being our most successful song.**  It sounded good, it ended up being decently fun to play, and the audience really seemed to enjoy it.  

The point that I'm getting at is that my dislike for Bruce Springsteen began to erode during that experience.  It took a couple years before he made it on to my playlist, but it was that experience that got me to stop rolling my eyes whenever I heard one of his songs.  

*Which we decided upon after our guitar player reproduced that crazy guitar effect perfectly while fuckin' around before practice.

**Ok, "Let's Get It On" was our most successful song, but that's just because the crowd (well, the guys at least) really enjoyed hearing our two female lead singers sing it together.

ps.  For some very interesting and over the top (way way WAY over the top) covers of Springsteen songs, check out an album called Darkness On The Edge of Your Town by Paul Baribeau and Ginger Alford.  

26 August 2008

Good Eats, and Good Philosophy as Well!

Alton Brown has been my favorite TV chef since I first saw his show.  He blends science with cooking in a very entertaining way, and makes the food accessable to your average home chef.  On top of that, he (despite being from the south -- sorry, was that uncalled for?) seems to be a very intelligent and rational person.  My new favorite AB quote?
"We've got science, and science kicks voodoo's butt, any old day"
Now, sure, he was talking about how serious bbq'ers are overly protective of their "dry-rub voodoo", but I think this is a philosophy that applies well to plenty of things (evolution, perhaps?).

24 August 2008

The Newest (and Best) Holiday!

One of my favorite bloggers, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, has created a new holiday: Repeal Day!  Why celebrate?  He lists some compelling reasons:

1.  It's the perfect time of year.  Conveniently located halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- at a time when most Americans are probably not spending time with family -- Repeal Day presents a wonderful occasion to get together with friends and pay tribute to our constitutional rights.

2.  We have the constitutional ability to do so.  Unlike St. Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo, Repeal Day is a day that all Americans have a part in observing, because it's written in our Constitution.  No other holiday celebrates the laws that guarantee our rights, and Repeal Day has everything to do with our personal pleasures.

3.  It's Easy!  There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, rivers to dye green.  Simply celebrate the day by stopping by your local bar, tavern, saloon, winery, distillery, or brewhouse and having a drink.  Pick up a six-pack on your way home from work.  Split a bottle of wine with a loved one.  Buy a shot for a stranger.  Just do it because you can.
So remember, when December 5th rolls around hoist one to the sky and toast to your rights (the ones we have left).



23 August 2008

A knife in the back

From a post over at Pharyngula, talking about the Interfaith Gathering planned for the DNC:
"Democrats have been, are and will continue to be people of faith - and this Convention will demonstrate that in an unprecedented way," said Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee.

I'm starting to have more sympathy for the socially-liberal fiscal-conservatives out there. It's a bad feeling when your party abandons you. Democrats are supposed to be the secular party. The progressive party. The party to fight AGAINST the religious right, not become the religious not-quite-so-right. Oof. This one hurts. The sad thing is, they know that I'm still going to vote for their candidate, because he's way better than this guy. I wish there were a viable party out there that would LEAVE RELIGION THE HELL OUT OF IT!

22 August 2008

Beer Review -- Firestone Union Jack IPA

So here's a new feature, I thought I might try out: beer reviews (hey, the title of the blog lists beer, you should have been expecting this...). Up first? Firestone Union Jack IPA.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company (motto: Passion for the Pale) makes pale ales. They only make pale ales. That's all. You know what? There's something to be said for the idea of doing one thing, and doing it damn well. Based out of Paso Robles, California, they are best known for their British-style, oak-barrel-fermented flagship, DBA Double Barrel Ale, which has wide distribution (and is worthy of it). They also make Pale 31 California-Style Pale Ale, and at least one specialty brew that I've seen (Walker's Reserve).

What's really got me excited, though, is their newest offering, Union Jack IPA. Those who know me know that I'm a hop fiend. Can't get enough of the good stuff. Well, Union Jack certainly delivers the hops: a whopping 70 IBU's. Couple this with 7.5% ABV, and this one is not for the faint of heart. Definitely one for the hop-heads, although I will say that while Firestone's website claims both pineapple and citrus notes, I didn't pick up much in the way of subtle flavors from this one (probably due to the overwhelming bite from the hops/alcohol).

Grade: A very solid B+. This is one of the better IPAs I've tried in the last year. It falls a little short of the top tier (Lagunitas, Deschutes Inversion, Stone Ruination, etc.), mainly due to how much the hops/alcohol wash out any flavor depth, but a quality offering, and something that should move Firestone Walker up the west coast brewery food chain a couple notches. One to try for the IPA lovers out there.

20 August 2008

Vaccines save lives.

Want to know just how dumb the anti-vaccine crowd is?  Read.

(Thanks to Brillo for posting this last week)

18 August 2008

The worst Prop. 8 argument ever. Ever.

From the LA Times:
In any case, one Prop. 8 supporter said, gay rights are not as important as children's rights, and it's obvious that same-sex couples who married would "recruit" their children toward homosexuality because otherwise, unable to procreate themselves, they would have no way to replenish their numbers. Even editorial writers can be left momentarily speechless, and this was one of those moments.

I have to believe that anyone who's reading this doesn't need me to explain to them the insanity of this statement*. The gays are going to "recruit" their children? Yes, because everyone who is homosexual right now was stolen away by the evil gays of yesteryear....

I'm still amazed by how ridiculously stupid the fundies in this country are.

*if you don't see what's wrong with this statement, who the fuck are you? Why are you reading my blog?

17 August 2008

Cody Ransom. Really?

It's always funny to me when a baseball player pops back into the spotlight after his career seemed to be over.  Usually these are guys who bounced up and down from the bigs for a season or two, had a few pinch-hit appearances, and then were released/traded/sent down, seemingly never to be seen again.  For some reason, some of these guys have been among my favorite Giants in the last decade.  They always seem to be a little closer to your average fan than to their superstar teemmates.  Guys like Damon "Tiny" Minor, Calvin Murray, Justin Knoedler, Edwards Guzman, and Tony Torcato.  The kind of players where you don't really realize they're gone for a few years, until you suddenly say "huh, whatever happened to Tony Tocato?"  Guys like Cody Ransom.

From 2001-2003 Cody Ransom got into 36 games with the Giants, usually as a middle infield defensive replacement.  He went 8-37 (.216) with 2 XBH and 1 RBI.  In 2004 he got into 78 games with the Giants, hit .250/.320/.382 and was gone after the season.  From 2005-2006 he didn't appear in a major league game.  He seemed to be the perfect example of this type of player.  So you can understand how surprised I was when leading off SportsCenter today was a shot of Ransom hitting a two-run homer out to left in Yankee Stadium.  I thought, "where the hell did he come from?  What's he doing in the bigs, I thought he was done years ago!  And what the hell are the Yankees doing with him?"  So here's to you, Cody Ransom, for reminding me of one of the small pleasures of being a baseball fan.

12 August 2008

Poetry

Over at Pharyngula, a commentor named Mothra posted this great poem, in response to a story about a court tossing charges that the UC descriminated against some christian schools by not accepting their crazy fake-science classes for the a-g requirements. Enjoy:

A Christian and a Golden Bear,
A Lamp of learning shown the pair.
Said Bear to Christian, 'would you care,
explain to me why I'm a bear,
and live in California fair.'

The Christian smiled and made reply,
'what need of yours' to wonder why?
Your far parents in the Ark did lie,
in waters adrift under rainy sky.'
You were born a bear and a bear you'll die.'

This answer did the bear resent.
Devoid it was of true content.
'You have failed to address the why,
I am a bear, not fish nor fly
and why I live under Californian sky.

'The Ark aground on Arrarat,
Your parent's cubs they did begat.
and traveled way across the earth,
to California, land of your birth.'

'But lands are separated by sea,
To cross by water, too far for me.
Your explanation falls a wee,
bit short of known reality.'

The Lamp of knowledge chose to speak,
of Beringia and sundered peaks.
Of ice and time, progenitors,
The bear with a smile, let out a roar!

The Christian looked a bit bemused,
at length perplexed and more confused.
said a bear is but of animal kind,
only as different as he defined.

Dandelion, thought bear, with eyes aglow,
this Christianity's a show.
a sham, concocted as you go,
and what if I choose to define,
what kind of being that is mine?

The Golden bear became a lion,
A Christian soul still bliethley lying.
Then, one bear, golden, in light divine,
The lamp of knowledge on did shine.



31 July 2008

A Nice Surprise, and a New Found Respect

The news from yesterday:

"Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has made a quarter million dollar contribution to the No On Prop 8 campaign to defeat the ballot measure that would single out same-sex couples and exclude them from marriage.

In a news conference held Tuesday, PG&E Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Nancy McFadden also announced the corporation would become a founding member of the Equality for All Business Council in support of the No On Prop 8 campaign and called on other businesses to follow their lead in supporting fairness, freedom, and equality for all Californians."

I have to say, this took me totally by surprise. First of all, as a semi-public utility PG&E seems like about as non-political a corporation as can be (well, except maybe when it comes to energy policy.) I'm really impressed by this decision, though. It's nice to see a high-profile organization like this step forward and set an example for other companies, making a statement that it's not acceptable to sit by and allow the fundies to deny our fellow human beings equal rights. So cheers to you, PG&E; I hope you are the first of many!

30 July 2008

Leno rules!

People who know me know how much I like old vehicles.  They also know that I very much dislike Los Angeles.  Now, I've never really been a big fan of Jay Leno.  He's always come across as a little too Hollywood, a little bit fake, embodying (for me anyway) some of the worst parts of what I associate as LA culture.  I don't think I've watched a minute of his talkshow in 10 years.  That being said, I have recently gained a new admiration for him.  The reason?  His other show.  I first ran across the web series about his garage when Jake von Slatt linked to it, first to his awesome 1938 Tatra (an air-cooled V8, how cool is that?) and more recently to his amazing 1925 Doble Steam Car.  Poking around the website for Jay Leno's Garage, he has some of the most amazing vehicles I've ever seen, and his videos about them are really very interesting, at least to a vehicular nerd like myself.

Christmas in July (for someone else)

I know it's been awhile since I posted.  Sorry.  Somehow while sitting around my folks house on vacation, I didn't feel particularly motivated to post, even when bored out of my mind.  Anyway, on to business:

As has become usual for the last few years, I have no reason to care any great amount about the trading deadline.  Short of trading for a whole new lineup, top to bottom, there is simply no way for my team to improve enough to matter.  I'm left hoping that they DON'T make any big trades.  That said, I find myself glued to my computer, neurotically refreshing ESPN's Trade Deadline Blog, waiting to see which lefty-specialist is going to which midwest city.  I mean, Will Ohman?  Really?  Yet here I am, waiting to see what happens.  Does this say something nice about baseball, that it can keep someone like me hanging on every move?  Or does this say something about someone like me, that I have to know RIGHT AWAY when the Yankees and Tigers trade underachievers?  What do you think, internet?  

15 July 2008

On the Josh Hamilton and the Home Run Derby

Ok, so first let me say that Josh Hamilton is one of the best sports stories of my lifetime.  Going from 3 years out of baseball to leading the league in RBI's at the break in his first full season in the bigs is amazing.  It's great to see a guy recover from his addiction and get his life back on track.  Watching him destroy the competition in today's Home Run Derby* just added another chapter to his comeback story.  

As much as I enjoy his story, however, I hate watching him, especially in a format like the HRD.  Why?  Because it affords him the opportunity to speak to a wide audience.  The problem?  Every other word out of his mouth is 'jesus'.  It's not that I have any objection to him being a christian.  I don't even mind someone crossing themselves or pointing to the sky after a big play.  That's fine.  Really, it's not fair of me to dislike him for this, as his faith is his business, and it's not really Hamilton that bothers me.  The issue for me is that more and more I am noticing exactly how much the religious presence in this country has permeated our society.  Sports had (at least for me) long been a retreat from the constant bombardment of religion.  Now when I see Hamilton being interviewed, as he was about 18 times during the HRD today, I have to mute the volume, lest his delusions intrude further into my world.


*Ok, ok, so TECHNICALLY Justin Morneau won the derby.  Right.  Even though Hamilton out-homered him by more than a dozen.  And what exactly does that tell you about the way the HRD is formatted?  Morneau even said as much when he was being interviewed afterwards.  You think maybe it's time to rethink the format a little?

10 July 2008

On the All-Star game

Is there anything in sports more ridiculous than the current state of the MLB All-Star game?  I just don't know what to think any more.  When MLB announced that the players would get to help fill in the reserves, I thought it was a good idea.  I mean, that way Joe Torre couldn't put 50 Yankees on the roster every year.  But after this year, I'm just not sure.  I mean, Jason Varitek?  Jason ".220/.300/.360" Varitek?  If it were just an exhibition game, I wouldn't care.  I mean, boo-hoo, some millionaire has to go on vacation for a few days rather than play ball.  But since Bud Selig* completely overreacted to the tie game a few years ago and decreed that there should be stakes for the all-star game, it actually makes a little bit of a difference.  As I have yet to hear any idea that would actually work to fix the selection process, I think the only option is to turn it back into a true exhibition game, with no lasting consequences.  Thoughts?

*All in all, I think Selig has been a very successful commissioner.  While there are still a few people that bitch, I don't think there is any way you can honestly say that the Wild Card has been anything but good for baseball.  It may not be quite as clear cut, but I think that interleague play has also been good for the game.  The high stakes all-star game though?  Not so much.

26 June 2008

Great news

Whew, I think I can breath again.  I know K has finally stopped holding her breath.  We found out today that her father's recently diagnosed prostate cancer (the source of our anxiety this week) has NOT spread outside of the prostate.  This is very important, as the survival rate when it's caught before the cancer spreads is in excess of 95%, while those diagnosed after it spreads into other parts of the body only have about a 1/3 chance of survival.  Hence the panic this week.  While all is by no means well (her dad still faces hormone therapy and surgery to remove his prostate in the coming months), things are not nearly as bad as they could have been.

Stress is a bitch.

Funny how stress and anxiety get to you.  I will be getting some very significant news today (it concerns several people who aren't me, so I don't feel comfortable sharing exactly what it is), either good or very bad.  I've been anticipating dreading this news all week, and it's been getting to me a little bit.  If you see the timestamp on this post, you'll realize that it is currently 2am local time, I've been awake for 18 hours or so, and I'm not asleep.  I'm tired, have been for the last 3 hours or so.  I simply haven't felt that I could sleep, and this isn't the first such night this week.  No matter the news, maybe I'll sleep better tomorrow night...

25 June 2008

Support the FPCMD!

I was going to post this on Seuss ex Machina as a comment, but I figured better to sully my space than John's.  Subtlety be damned...


Have you ever noticed that there are foundations to promote research for all sorts of diseases, from AIDS, to MS, to cancers innumerable, yet there isn't one to combat the most dangerous disease ever to afflict man*?  There exists a highly pervasive (estimates** set rates anywhere from 50-90% of humanity has contracted it), highly contagious, and highly damaging mental disorder that destroys a persons ability to think clearly, warps their ability to observe the world around them, and can create in them a complete disregard for the rights and wellbeing of others***.  It's called Religion and we must come together to find a cure!  To that end, I propose the creation and funding of the Foundation for the Prevention of Communicable Mass Delusion, or FPCMD.  Together, we can make the world a better place!

*Citation needed

**By estimates, I mean my personal guess.

***Seriously, how many people have been killed in the name of religious belief?  It's got to be in the billions by now, right?


I feel like maybe I exaggerated my beliefs came across a little harshly there.  Before you send off that mailbomb you just addressed to me, listen to Eric Schwartz, who said it best:  "I am not anti-christian, before you grab a rope.  There is beauty in religion, and joy and love and hope.  We're all looking for the answer, this colossal cosmic cause, but who the fuck are you to turn your views into my laws?"

Bulldogs win! (the good ones!)

I just watched Fresno St. beat Georgia for the baseball championship.  The Bulldogs (ok, that's misleading, they're both the Bulldogs) blew a 3-run 8th inning lead to lose game 1, and were down 5-0 in the 2nd inning in game 2.  From that point on, they outscored the Bulldogs* (the other ones) 25-6 to win games 2 (19-10) and 3 (6-1) and win the championship.  Hooray!  Never mind that this is the first men's championship of any kind, ever, for Fresno St., they also became the lowest ranked (#4 in their 4-team region** and ranked #89 in the nation before the tournament) team ever to win an NCAA championship in ANY sport.

*Confused?

**This means they were basically ranked in the bottom quarter of the bracket, somewhere between #49-64.  For example, some other #4 seeds in the bracket were James Madison, Eastern Michigan, Bethune-Cookman, Rider, Sam Houston St., and UC Davis***.

***I'd lay odds that baseball will be the first really successful D-1 team on a national scale for the Aggies.  No, I'm not saying they will win the tourny next year, but maybe make the CWS bracket in a couple years? 

Cake or Death!

It's been a very stressful week around here, for reasons that I don't think I'll get into just yet.  YouTube, that miracle of modern inanity, however, has provided me with some temporary cheer:  Lego Eddie Izzard!

17 June 2008

KG looks like he wants to eat someone's soul

Kevin Garnett just got called for a foul with about 7 minutes left in game 6, and looked at the referee with a smile that said "i will eat your soul!".  I think now that the title is just about in hand, he has finally snapped....

15 June 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Yeah, that's about it.  I had a great week in Northern California, and finished it off by going out to brunch with my dad before heading back south today.  So yeah, happy father's day, everyone!

10 June 2008

Pleasant surprises.

All through spring training, I kept hearing about how the Giants would lose 100 games this season, how they would be historically bad offensively, and how only Lincecum and Cain coul;d keep them from the all-time loss record.  And I have to admit, watching their performance this spring didn't seem to offer much evidence to the contrary.  Things looked bad, dear reader, very bad indeed.

Jump to June 10th.  The Giants just swept a four game series in Washington, and find themselves in the middle of the division standings, only 5 games behind the division leaders, and only 1.5 games behind second place LA.  Now, don't get me wrong.  The Giants won't win the division.  Not even close.  They may get a sniff at second place in the coming weeks, especially if LA keeps playing the way they have recently, but they probably won't even end up that high in the standings.  I will say this, though: I have a lot more hope for the future with this Giants squad than I did three months ago.  They are winning games, they're winning close games, they're getting great pitching (with Jonathan Sanchez being a surprise contributor in that department), and most importantly, they are doing it with their young players.  Fred Lewis is playing every day.  John Bowker has been getting most of the starts at first recently, and has looked like a real big-league hitter.  Burriss and Holm have contributed.  

I feel like the Giants, while still a few years away from really contending, are FINALLY handing the team over to the next generation of players.  Things are looking up.

Wow, I'm back

Wow, it's been a while since I posted anything here.  I began this blog idea while sitting around, mostly unemployed, waiting to get a substitute teaching assignments.  Then, within a matter of a few days, I found myself too busy to think.  In the last six weeks I've completed two education classes, one online programming class, and have put in about 75 hours of observation in a high school math classroom.  Oh, and I've moved.  Yeah, can't forget the big one.  Anyway, now that it's summer, I'm going to try this writing thing again.  I've had a little time to think about things, and you may notice that my posts will be a little different in tone than some of the earlier ones.  At least I hope they will be.  So, enjoy, and we'll see how this thing goes.

15 April 2008

Ben Stein is an idiot!

...and he and his Expelled buddies are rediculous.

08 April 2008

Apparently in Illinois, it's OK to discriminate against Atheists.

As posted by Pharyngula the other day, an Illinois man was berated by a state representative over his atheistic beliefs while testifying before a state committee:

Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) interrupted atheist activist Rob Sherman during his testimony Wednesday afternoon before the House State Government Administration Committee in Springfield and told him, "What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it's dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!

"This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God," Davis said. "Get out of that seat . . . You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon."

What bothers me most about this story is the relative lack of national outcry. If Mr. Sherman we berated by Rep. Davis for Jewish faith, or for Muslim faith, people all over the country would be calling for her head. As it is, the outcry has mostly come from groups such as the Council for Secular Humanism. Why then is it more acceptable for her to treat an Atheist like this? A government agent treating someone this way is reprehensible no matter what the reason, especially at a public hearing. When the witness is being berated specifically for his religious beliefs, that is a clear violation of the first amendment, no matter what his beliefs happen to be, and the ONLY acceptable result is the removal of Rep. Davis from office, either by her resignation or by impeachment.

04 April 2008

Golden Bears tab Montgomery to lead hoops team

The Leader is reporting that Cal landed Mike Montgomery to coach their Men's BB team.  I remember being surprised when he left Stanfurd in the first place, and it figures that one of the most successful Pac-10 coaches in the last decade (and a guy who is very familiar with the area having coached at Stanford and Golden State) will be able to make a huge impact on a program with hopes of moving into the upper tier of their conference.

The most annoying voices in baseball?

Funny, the things you find yourself caring about.  Let me start off by saying that I'm a Giants fan.  I could care less about either the Cubs or the White Sox (aside from an intense dislike of A.J. Pierzinskclubhouskanzerski*).  However, I'm also a baseball addict, and the more games I get on TV (the Extra Innings package is not in the current financial cards), the happier I am, which makes me glad that my cable provider carries WGN.  An extra few games, even Cubs and White Sox games, a week means I get to watch more baseball, which means I'm a little less grumpy all the time.

* Many people don't realize that this is his full last name.  It's usually abbreviated so that it can fit on jerseys, box scores, hitman contracts from his pitching staff, and baseball cards.  No, I'm not still bitter about that trade at all, why do you ask?**

** Yes I definitely stole (did I say stole?  I meant borrowed) the Pozterisks idea from one of the finest bloggers on the interwebs, Joe Posnanski.

As I mentioned, I really don't care about either Chicago team, any more than I care about, say, the Florida Marlins, or the Minnesota Twins.  That being said, ever time I see a game listed on WGN I close my eyes, cross my fingers, tap my toes three times together, and wish to Aunty Em that it's a Cubs game.  Why?  Because from what I've seen, there is not a single more annoying set of commentators in all of sports than those in the employ of the White Sox ("put it on the boooooooaaaaaaaaard, YES!")***.  The Cubs' announcers are sometimes only marginally better, and from what I can tell the Yankees' guys are pretty bad too ("THEEEEEEEEEEE Yankees win!  THEEEEEEEEEEE Yankees win!").  For sheer homer-ness, for sheer annoying-ness, though, no one can match Ken Harrelson.  I don't know, maybe I've been spoiled by hearing Jon Miller call so many Giants games, but I don't think that's it entirely.  I mean, there are plenty of announcers around the league that aren't complete homers (you know, someone whose players can do no wrong, while even the best plays by the opponent barely get a comment).  Let's set aside the Giants announcers, Krukow and Kuiper (whom I think are very good), as I might be a little bit biased on them.  There are plenty of other announcers around that league that are good at providing well spoken, mostly-objective analysis (those employed by the A's, the Padre's, and as much as I hate to admit it, the Dodgers come to mind).  That's not even counting some of the legends that are still around (Vin Scully, Dave Niehaus, etc.).  

*** With, of course, the possible exception of Tim McCarver and whoever the Fox Propaganda Empire has paired him with.  Someone please inform Mr. McCarver that there are indeed teams located outside of NY/Boston/LA/St. Louis.  He seems unaware.

So, any White Sox fans out there?  Tell me what you think.  Do you LIKE having thses obnoxious homers calling your games?  Do you wish it were different?  I'm really curious.  I think that I would get really annoyed with them, but they aren't homers for my team, so it's hard for me to judge.

Welcome!

Welcome to Waiting For '54!  I decided to try my hand at this blogging thing, after finally introducing myself to the whole blogosphere idea.  I'm new to this, and still figuring out the formatting.  I would love any and all suggestions and ideas you have to improve this meager offering, as well as any feedback on my content.  Please try to keep any comments mature, and free of personal attacks.  Thanks for reading!

WTF Moment of the Day

WTF moment of the day:  One of those Geico celebrity spokesperson commercials, but instead of some random quasi-famous person (The Pips?  Really?), they had a talking Mrs. Butterworth's bottle on the couch next to the "real Geico customer, not a paid celebrity".  Now, I'm not in the habit of ingesting anything more intoxicating than Humulus lupulus, and given that it was about noon (and I'm not generally in the habit of drinking alone, at least in the AM, so I'm pretty sure I was sober), I'm forced to conclude that some ad exec thought that there is a large population of stoners in the market for car insurance.  I'm just sayin'.