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?