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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hall of Fame and Trade Deadline thoughts 

Latest Baseball Takes

Read an interesting article in the New York Times last week about cheater Mark McGwire’s upcoming Hall of Fame candidacy. He will be on the ballot for the first time when they are mailed out December 1st. Obviously, the Clarion and other supporters of a strongly anti-cheating platform do not want to see McGwire get into the Hall. The New York Times has good news, a rare occurrence in these stark days. In their straw poll of fifty of the writers eligible to vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame, only 16% said they would vote for McGwire, whereas 52% were outright opposed, and the rest were some hue of undecided. This bodes well if one is against McGwire's elevation, players need 75% of the vote to get into the Hall. With two other sure fire first ballot Hall of Famers eligible at the same time, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr., McGwire’s selection appears unlikely, for now. Stay vigilant.

NY Times McGwire article

ESPN agrees McGwire HOF prospects are dim

Guys currently on the Clarion’s list of the Screwed (eligible and should be getting into the Hall of Fame…but haven’t as yet)

Bert Blyleven link to Blyleven's career stats

Jim Rice link to Rice's career stats

Davey Concepcion link to D. Concepcion's career stats

Forgot to mention the other day in the comments on how the Yanks ought to trade with the N.L. East, a couple other guys, besides Smoltz and Soriano, that I think they ought to pursue. One is Bobby Abreu, the Clarion likes his talent, his on-base-percentage, his speed and defense. Might even be willing to part with a young player for Abreu. Also would be interested in getting “Flash” Gordon back from the Phillies. I would be much, more comfortable with him, rather than Farnsworth, in the 8th inning role the rest of the season. With Scott Proctor and Ron Villone pitching so well, Gordon and Mariano would be well rested going into the playoffs. Gordon’s acquisition would change the Yankee bullpen from being an area of concern to being a strength. (just whisps and thoughts...know Yanks may get no more than one or even none of these players.)

Also would add that I am not interested in the Yankees pursuing Barry Zito. When I have heard him on the Jim Rome show he sounds like an engaging personality. However, I think he is weak in a big spot on the field. He is the classic non New York guy, would rather win 15-18 for no pressure, and little shot at winning it all in a small market, than compete for the World Series in a big market. Reminiscent of a Jamie Moyer or Kenny Rogers…

Speaking of the big market, how’s about the Yankees fielding a line-up at one point during Wednesday night’s big comeback win that would have been worthy of the Florida Marlins. During a win that gave the Yanks the Wild Card lead in the American League and drew them within a game and a half of the BoSox for the A.L. East division lead the Yanks line-up simultaneously included such familiar luminaries as Nick Green, Aaron Guiel, T.J. Beam, Andy Phillips, Sal Fasano and Melky Cabrera. WOW. And they won! How’s about the job Joe Torre is doing this year?!? It is nothing short of amazing, what with the fans turning on A-Rod, now Cano’s injury, Randy Johnson’s relatively inconsistency, the list goes on and on. However, I am also most impressed with the way he and Cashman have been patient and haven’t pushed the panic button in the face of the corner outfield injuries.

Box Score from Wednesday

One more trade thought…with Tod Jones showing his edge and melting in the Summer heat, wouldn’t hurt the Tigers to get Flash Gordon, either. Have him and Jones to go combo closer.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Israel and Hizbollah 

Challenged on Israel and Hizbollah, a semi spontaneous response…

Responding to first comment attached to this post, sent to me in a private email, reposted with the emailer’s permission.

Israel and Hizbollah?

My initial reaction is that I don't think the Israeli response is likely to be effective. I don't think it is likely to quickly bring back their kidnapped soldiers alive. I don't think it is likely to significantly disrupt Hizbollah's ability to launch rocket attacks into southern Israel.

That leads me to:

If it is not going to be effective in either of those aims, what will it achieve then? Lots of casualties on both sides. Lots of destruction of civilian infrastructure. Further enmity.

That said, what was Hizbollah expecting? Was it a horrible miscalculation of the scale of Israel's response?

I think it was pretty obvious that a guy, sans military background, who got elected by a razor thin margin, on the promise to unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank (Olmert) was going to have to show tough guy credentials, especially after the previous week's Gaza soldier kidnapping.

I am befuddled tactically, why did this seem like a wise move to Hizbollah? Especially with Lebanon's economy modestly reviving with some geopolitical stability, I tend to think they made a massive miscalculation.

Still I see no gain from Israel's side. They are sacrificing tons of blood and treasure. Even if they make Hizbollah pay way more, via this methodology there is no chance they will persuade Hizbollah to simply quit. I think exterminating/massacring all Shia Muslims in southern Lebanon is repugnant genocide that neither the Israeli people, nor their leadership, nor any right thinking folks period, support. However, short of genocide, massive killing rarely, if ever, deters retaliation. This is especially true when an extant political state is facing a non-state foe.

Israel's own experts indicate that based on: 1) how small rocketry has gotten these days; think: multiple rockets could fit in the trunk of a Geo Metro, a single rocket could be launched from a bicycle or on foot. And 2) how fast these rockets move, from 4-5 miles inside southern Lebanon to Israel's northern towns in 2-4 seconds from launch to impact. (Israel's own experts have concluded) that there is NO practical way to stop them. The American provided Patriot missile system is designed for ballistic missile interception. As are all anti-missile, missile systems of its ilk. They are for knocking down the big ones. The American government and the Israeli's are innovating as fast as they can, trying everything from lasers to sonic walls, but as yet, there is nothing remotely close to an effective interceptor. (remember we're talking about a target just bigger than the size of a baseball bat that goes from launch to impact in under five seconds, packing 40 odd pounds of explosives---this may sooner rather than later become a serious strategic concern in the lower forty-eight.)

see analysis in the Washington Post "Missile War Is a New Challenge To Israel's Long Rule of the Sky"

Once one has committed to War, agreed that proportionality goes far down the list of priorities...however, I am simply very, very hesitant, to employ War as a policy making tool, much more hesitant the Bush II team, and the Israeli government.

(Perhaps easier to pen this from Durham, where it seems as though I am not on the front lines.)

See this for a fascinating view from someone who is. The comments folks are posting as interesting as the blog itself.

a blogger in Israel

Temporarily setting aside the utility of War in general, in this specific case I don't think there is an effective way to suppress Hizbollah via high intensity conflict. I think engaging in high-intensity conflict costs Israel far more in lives and shekels than it is worth. I think Israel's leaders retaliated in this manner for base political motives.

I think it is hard to find any hope. (But that is not to say there is none.) for instance see: combatants for peace

I would rather see Israel attempting to engage moderate peace loving people anywhere in the world who support a two-state solution.

A hard road, the hope for peace based in a two state solution, has taken a turn for the worse, would be my assessment.

Obviously things are going from bad to worse in Iraq….

from AP Correspondent in Iraq

Sober commentators say a state of protean civil war already exists. Unfortunately.

See today’s announcement that the Pentagon is not going to rotate home 5,000 troops who were originally scheduled to see their already year long tours in Iraq end this month. Human beings who had weddings and vacations scheduled, hopes to see their wives and children for the first time in a year, are now slated to spend four more months on the front lines in Iraq. Instead, trying not to get killed or crippled, while standing in between conflicted groups Iraqis who resent them as much or more than they resent each other. Awful.

a heart wrenching read from an Alaskan newspaper where the brigade in question is stationed...Anchorage Daily News

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Practical Advice: Identity Theft 

In the manner of Practical Advice

on Identity Theft

Recently I have heard two personal narratives of people having their identities stolen. In both of these stories the identity thefts were perpetrated by relatives. I haven’t done wide-ranging research to see how common this, but I would imagine that these aren’t unique cases. On some level, it is easier for a relative to steal your identity because they know you better. They can fill-in details and answer questions when pressed. Recall, desperation is often the root of motive.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Recent Political Quick thoughts 

Recent Political Quick thoughts

The United States applauding Alain Garcia’s election in Peru would have been like applauding a PRI win in Mexico. It just goes to show how bad Bush II has made the American name and model in South America. And how cynical and dishonest his team is…

Those of you who said there wasn’t any impact to the type of evil spin and disassembling done during the Clinton years, well this is it. Now a much more nefarious leader is able to get away with spinning on humongous world issues, ala Iraq, Israel, Russia, Libya, etc. because the Clinton era legitimized the culture of spin with the flip reply, “Well, we all do it.” Still chasing the multiple wrongs make it okay to do wrong fallacy. Before and up to that point, American politicians at least had to issue the standard “I don’t recall,” denial. Not only Reagan, but Bush I, had to do so. Recall, he had to deny, deny, deny, any knowledge of the terms of the Iranian hostage crisis ending. He and the CIA had scheduled the timing of it around Reagan’s inaguration. Bush I couldn’t spin his role in it, he had to deny he had one. Hell, Bill Casey was killed during Iran-Contra because there was going to be no plausible way he could have gotten away with the old, “I don’t recall routine.”

Clinton did recall, and admitted it, but decided he could disassemble to the American public in a way that politicians post Johnson’s Vietnam debacle and Nixon’s red handed, caught on tape Watergate, had briefly assumed was taboo. A bad standard was set, and America is paying a wicked price.


World Cup thoughts 

More and final for now, World Cup commentary

How different is the World Cup practice of diving from the way of American football heroes? For instance, Ronnie Lott, who once during a regular season game, gave the trainer the okay to cut the tip off of his little finger and tape it up, so he could keep playing. Or Jack Youngblood, who in a playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys continued to play on through what he and the doctors both knew was a fractured leg. (nothing major just the femur coming through his uniform pants, so legend has it.)

see the video of the Italians practicing diving, hilarious

Yet it is not as simple as just European versus American mindsets, for this North-North perspective excludes many. For example, what about South American mores and views, and how they play out in this schema of football as sport and society?

Another way soccer (the world’s football versus America’s version) exemplifies differences rather than sameness would be how Americans are exacting enough that we have replays for the spotting of the ball in our football. Instant replay to decide exactly where to spot the ball, literally to a matter of inches. Whereas in the world's football, one is allowed to take a free kick from the general area of the foul. Getting exact only when it is in the penalty area, and even then not using replay to second guess the on-field officials judgment. But if the foul occured in the middle of the pitch, well so long as one is taking the free kick within a couple of feet of where the foul happened, it is good enough. Close enough for this game. Part of the gamesmanship of soccer is to try to scooch the ball forward just a bit. Take the kick from three, four, five feet in front of where the foul actually occurred.

Another difference is the Super Bowl kickoff, American football's biggest game, which is always listed in the television guides, even on-line, as 6pm, and thanks to massive hype and commercialism actually occurs on or around 6.18pm. Whereas from the World Cup opener, right on through the final, if the guide said the match starts at 3pm, they were kicking off by no later than 3.01pm, occasional as early as 2.59pm. I am quite confident I wasn’t the only American who missed the beginning of a few big games because of this difference.

Of course, World Cup Football/Soccer turned out to be at least not so different from its traditional self. Despite the promise of the opener between Germany and Costa Rica, the rest of the World Cup was very low scoring!! And once more, a former winner won again. Four European teams in the final, at most, little noted Portugal was available for supporters of the underdog. For a brief moment there were hopes of Mexico ousting the Italians in the elimination round…ahhh what might have been. But, this is why we watch, nu? And I’ll be back, next time around in South Africa.

next World Cup, 2010


update on "Everything in Moderation" 

Richly ironic, an update on "Everything in Moderation"

Interestingly enough, shortly after the publication the Clarion Content, Vol. One piece, "Everything in Moderation" that used the potential harms of cell phone usage as a somewhat facetious model/gimmick of the difficulties and perils of attempting to judge moderation in post-post modern society, a Swedish group published a study about the potential harms of cell phone usage. Links are below...

see this link for a specific sum up

see this link for an article which includes more notes on other cell phone harms studies

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Golf Takes 

Golf Takes (professional/recent)

I rarely ever have watched women’s golf. Remarkable, because I am a big sports fan, but I plead cultural victim-hood.(1) That is to say, women’s golf did not get any exposure or much respect in the era, when I was weaned on sports. So a few weeks back, curious about my speculations from afar on Michelle Wie, I was watching women’s golf, specifically the U.S. Women’s Open. It confirmed my opinion about how good Anika Sorrenstem is…but it changed my opinion on Michelle Wie. I had underrated her.

I stand by my original critique that is a bad idea for her to focus on qualifying for Men’s Tour events over focusing on winning Women’s Tour events. As I stated at the time see that Post here I think she is more like to end up burned out that way. She is very young. Winning itself is a learned skill. Anyone who was watching Tiger and Sergio this past weekend could give you chapter and verse on that. Anyone who watches Jeter and A-Rod could tell you a litany about the same. Great gifts alone do not guarantee a winner. Bottom line, I think Michelle Wie, right now, is a prodigious talent being done a disservice by her handlers. That said, she was still compelling enough to pull me into watching the 3rd and 4th round of the US Women’s Open, which I had never done in the past. Whereas, subsequently Annika and Patty whomever in a Monday playoff, weren’t enough to pique me. By the time I remembered it was on and tuned in, Anika was 4 up and with only a couple of holes to play, maybe only one hole? They started early and something else was going on.

The ABC coverage of the British Open 2006 (men’s) was atrocious, especially early. They were going two ball strikes, commercial break. They’d come back out of a commercial, show two more shots and go back to commercial. That’s cruel and unusual. And I love Tiger, I am rooting for Tiger, he is THE athlete of our generation, but can we possibly show just a few shots of somebody else, occasionally. ABC started this trend from the beginning, too, as they missed, Els’s and DeMarco’s third shots on third shots on number #1. DeMarco’s turned out to pivotal, as he missed the green and bogeyed, down the stretch of the back nine he would have been even closer to Tiger.

DiMarco had a great, gutty tournament. I was shocked to read that not only has DiMarco not won a Major, (he’s gonna) but he has only won three times on tour. I couldn’t believe it. DiMarco's career stats

Tiger was unbelievable. Somebody on ABC said it perfectly, if Tiger had a gameplan on the front nine, he quite literally hit every shot, every shot, where the game plan called for it to go. All the pressure in the world, no mistakes. Then on the back nine, the one time all day he was challenged, he responds to by going birdie-birdie-birdie!! Ladies and Gentlemen, Tiger Woods is an athlete, a competitor for the ages.

Incidentally, with this Major, technically his fourteenth, he passed the legendary Bobby Jones, to trail only Jack Nicklaus. Whenever an athlete is wedged between two immortals like those for a career record, it is a historic achievement. Note this underlines/highlights how cheater, Barry Bonds, has destroyed his legacy. He should have enjoyed the same kind of moment passing the Babe to trail only Hammerin’ Hank. Instead his moment was reviled for its negative symbolism: in modern American culture, cheaters do prosper. See this link for a great Bonds T-shirt…

One more take on the British Open: How weird and dark was the paint bombing of the eighteenth green. I never found out who did it. But how disturbing to have police helicopters hovering over the eighteenth green as Tiger is putting. ABC's Mike Tirico was right on point here, when he called it, “a sign of the times.”

Again and again, the refrain is repeated, thank goodness, that this attack was not a life-threatening one, but Terrorism is unstoppable. There are far too many soft targets. There are no walls high enough to stop all terrorist attacks. The solution can only come through undermining motive. No number helicopters can prevent all attacks, in all forms. The methodologies are too many, too small, too mobile, compromising too many angles and too many multiple aspect changers. We were all lucky this was just purple paint. In an upcoming post, we will hit you with a bit more on the manifestations of this phenomenon in considering Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, with missiles, and missile defense.

It’s the motive stupid.


1) Everything has an element of the environmental, I am working to transcend this particular bias.

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