Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mitchell Report

Initially it appears that the study raises more questions than it answers.  Now we’re faced with filtering out those that may have had a lapse in judgement, such as Andy Pettite, from the chronic offenders, such as Barry Bonds and those who used certain substances as part of a medical regimen, such as Jay Gibbons.
Frankly I really don’t care who injected/rubbed/ingested what into their bodies.  What bothers me is that some people, Bonds is a prime example, apparently think the collective IQ of baseball fans hovers somewhere around the freezing point of water.  Look at the evidence, compare Bonds to his contemporaries, how many players even come close to the curve of pure physical development he has achieved?  I’ll reiterate – I don’t care what he did – but I find it patently offensive that he thinks we’re stupid enough to think he’s stupid enough to have been an unwitting participant in doping.  This behavior would be a stark contrast to the meticulous, well-prepared Barry Bonds that has been portrayed in the past.
I’ve never liked the way Barry Bonds handled himself off the field, the chip on his shoulder has simply been too large.  I used to love to watch him play – he was a Hoover in left field with a cannon of an arm, a threat at the plate and a dangerous baserunner – but off the field I was almost embarrased for him.  Now he’s in such complete denial it’s simply pitiful, and he wants us to join him.
There are stories yet to be written on other players in the report.  Roger Clemens will undoubtedly be the next one held under the microscope for a prolonged period.  There are superstars of the past who will step up and acknowledge their level of participation, more names will certainly surface, and then there will be the group of players that few of us have heard of that simply wash out with the tide of scandal.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Say What?

OK, either I'm confused or we've discovered another rip int he space-time continuum.

OK, either I’m confused or we’ve discovered another rip in the space-time continuum.
 As I was driving to the post office this morning (has anyone noticed that a lot of my epiphanies start this way?) I found myself faced with a multi-layered oxymoron.  The situation is so befuddling in so many ways I’m not sure which end I should start from, so I’ll just let it roll.
I was behind a vehicle with a license tag supporting a wildlife organization.  I fancy myself a bit of an outdoorsman (I count SCUBA diving, snow skiing, hunting, fishing and riding horses among my leisure activities) so I immediately felt a bit of comraderie with the driver of this vehicle.  Then I noticed it was a big, shiny, never-seen-anything-but-the-pavement Hummer.  What’s up with that?  In the interest of disclosure I drive a Ford F-250 (BIG pickup) with a diesel engine that I usually feed a steady diet of Biodiesel as opposed to Petroleum based diesel.  I’ll not belabor the environmental benefits of Biodiesel, I’ll leave that to others.  To be concise, he’s way below me on the Mother Nature karma scale.  So, to summarize, we’ve got someone driving one of the most environmentally un-friendly vehicles available with a license tag supporting a wildlife organization.
Now, the real puzzler.
Here’s the license plate;          
Elk License Plate

Notice that this is, in fact, a North Carolina license plate.

Now, here’s the range of the Elk in North America;
Elk Range Map
The relevant point to notice here is that NC is conspicuously absent from the shaded area.
To further illustrate the point, here’s the area commonly known as the “Rocky Mountains”
Rocky Mountains
Now, to complete the picture for those of you who may be geographically challenged with respect to the United States, here’s North Carolina;
Enough said.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Children's Movie Warning!

I received this in email the other day.  It represents precisely what I consider the lobotomization of society.  Don’t bother to actually educate yourself on the topic, merely regurgitate whatever other people tell you. 
Subject: children’s movie warning Be prepared for this one:Received the followed post from another loop. This is  important since the marketing for this movie has already started. It looks a lot like “Narnia” but is so far from it. BEWARE! There will be a new Children’s movie out in December called THE GOLDEN COMPASS. It is written by Phillip Pullman, a proud athiest who belongs to secular humanist societies. He hates C. S. Lewis’s Chronical’s of Narnia and has written a trilogy to show the other side. The movie has been dumbed down to fool kids and their parents in the hope that they will buy his trilogy where in the end the children kill God and everyone can do as they please. Nicole Kidman stars in the movie so it will probably be advertised a lot.This is just a friendly warning that you sure won’t hear on the regular TV.Pullman, a prominent British atheist, has acknowledged that this is in fact his goal. He has claimed that “it is my goal to go after Christianity, I want God to be dead in my works. I want to undermine Christianity”
While the overall content of the message is accurate the quote at the bottom is a bit strong compared to what I’ve found attributed to Pullman.  Of course many people will make a big stink if the content isn’t strictly “biblical” in nature (you can fill a library, and many are, with books that have gathered similar criticism over the years.)  My opinion is that knowledge and understanding can’t be achieved in a vacuum – how can you ever really understand a two-sided concept if you are only ever given one side of the story?
Does “hot” have much meaning without understanding the concept of “cold?” Frankly I never gave a moment’s thought in the first book that amounted to “hey, they aren’t very Christian here.”  It’s a work of fiction and is clearly not an accurate representation of our world.  Bears that talk that wear armor ought to be enough for most people to figure it out, but I guess others need it spelled out in simpler terms. The theme of the first book is a little girl exhibiting great courage and common sense to right a wrong that she eventually discovers is being perpetrated by her absentee father.  In the meantime she learns a lot of other things that are difficult to accept for anyone, but she deals with it.
Along the road she learns about the dangers of stereotypes and the importance of cooperation, honesty and loyalty.
Yep, a direct ticket to hell, this one is.
I can’t comment on the second book since I’ve only managed to read the first couple of chapters so far.  When I finish it I’ll certainly let you know it follows the map to spiritual demise. 
Oh, and did I mention that in the universe described by the book humans all have a little critter of some form that runs around with them?   They’re called daemons and they’re connected to their people telepathically.  Yep, that’s something you see on the street every day, surely this alone will result in the collapse of civilization as we know it!
In short, I’m sure we could find all kinds of things to object to if we wanted to distance ourselves from specific components of society.  What if we only wanted to read authors who were vegans?   The same “moral” argument could just as easily be made on that front.  Harry Potter got the same hype and negative press, people just need to get over themselves and quit trying to come across as pseudo-intellectuals.  That should be left to the pseudo-professional-pseudo-intellectuals, like yours truly.  If they haven’t even bothered to read the book I have no interest in entertaining further discussion with them.
That would be tantamount to asking  a nun or a monk for advice about sex.
No, they’re not bible stories.  Most things aren’t.

See you at the movie, I’ll be the one with the jumbo popcorn.

Hang Up and Drive!

As I was driving my son to school this morning we came to an intersection with a traffic signal, a car was stopped in our lane of traffic.
The light was green.
 The driver was chatting away on her cell phone, completely oblivious to the fact that a whole world existed outside of her vehicle.
 I gave a polite “toot” on my horn.
 No reponse.
I gave a prolonged, obnoxious blast on my horn.
She woke up, lurched forward, then stopped again.
The light had turned yellow, so obviously she had to stop and wait for a green light.

Don't Age Your Beaujolais*

(or: “Just Because It’s Red Doesn’t Mean It Will Age”)
I’m sure there are still a dozen or so wine drinkers in the world who aren’t aware of the long tradition of consumption of wine so fresh from the vine that there are practically stems floating in the bottle.  With a cousin in the wine industry I consider myself somewhat more conversant on the subject than John Q. Public but far from an expert in any respect.  I know when I like a wine and can describe flavors and aromas in a respectable manner, and, just as importantly I can tell the difference between a wine I don’t like and bad wine.  I’ve had corked wine, old wine, wine that wasn’t stored properly and I’ve had commercial wines that tasted like a chemistry experiment gone wrong.
I first received a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau as a gift from a guest at our Christmas party in 1996.  At the time I didn’t have much of a taste for red wines and the bottle went in the rack along with an assortment of wines that included a couple of gems such as 1994 Chehalem Pinot Gris Reserve and a 1992 Chehalem Pinot Noir as well as the remnants of a case of delightfully fruity and crisp 1994 Riesling.  Not knowing any better I assumed that it wouldn’t hurt to age the Beaujolais just like any other red, and since reds weren’t high on my list I didn’t put much more thought in to the subject.
My second bottle of Nouveau arrived on the same occasion as the first, but a year later.  It found a spot on the rack next to the first and I began to have thoughts of how it would be to allow them to both mature a bit and then open them up with some friends and have a go at a little side-by-side vintage tasting comparison.  Once in a while, when friends were coming over for dinner, I’d consider if it were the right time to conclude my experiment.  Having gained just enough knowledge to be dangerous I always seemed to arrive at the conclusion that perhaps I should “wait a little longer” and leave them in the rack.  After all, if this isgood red wine it ought to just get better, right?
If you have to think for more than a nanosecond about the circumstances surrounding the arrival of bottle number three in the series then you are obviously more deficient in deductive reasoning than I was in knowledge of the care and feeding of Nouveau.  Of course I saw this as a perfect  complement to the two bottles already residing in the rack and started to make plans for how I would have a grand wine party the following fall, naturally featuring these three bottles as the centerpiece.  As fate would have it I moved to California in the interim and the plans were quickly forgotten.  In 2001 I moved back from California with all three bottles still in my collection and started having thoughts of my grand wine debut that would certainly impress everyone fortunate enough to be invited.
It never happened.  Fast forward through 2002 and most of 2003.  I found myself relocating to Maryland for an opportunity to help shape a startup.  In the fall of 2003 my wife and I went out to dinner and strolled through an outdoor mall afterwards.  We found a wine shop and dropped in for a visit.  They had just received their shipment of Beaujolais Nouveau and offered a taste as they told us about the tradition and how people all across the world were opening bottles at virtually the same time in celebration of the new vintage.  I started to think about the three bottles that I had at home “aging” in the rack.
We purchased a bottle and drank it the following weekend for dinner.  Not my favorite wine, but I’ve since learned that it’s acceptable (and fairly common) to treat it more as a white than a red.  Next time I’ll chill it a bit and see what happens. 
A few weeks later I finally got around to concluding my well planned, ill-conceived “experiment.”  Not being one to simply toss in the towel I boldly opened the 1996 and poured a bit into a glass.  Milky, stale on the nose, lots of sediment and crystallization; obviously not anything that was going to be appealing, but intellectual curiosity demanded that I had to at least give it a taste.  Nasty is as charitable as I can muster.  The 1997 wasn’t as milky, nor as stale and didn’t inspire the gag reflex that the 1996 produced, but there was ample sediment and crystallization.  Still, it was several continents away from drinkable.  With the discovery that things were getting better without age, I opened the 1998 with borderline enthusiasm, thinking that perhaps there was a magical five year limit that may have kept this one safe.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
With the exception of color the 1998 was every bit as wretched as the 1996.  It was just starting to cloud up a bit, but it didn’t have the milky look of the others.  But it was thoroughly disgusting.
All three bottles were then ceremoniously poured down the drain and I set out to write this little dissertation with the hope that I might redeem myself by being repentant and perhaps help someone else from making such an elementary error.

*Before you send me hate mail pointing out that Beaujolais covers more than just Nouveau, hence this isn’t an accurate statement, please realize that “Beaujolais” rolls of the tongue better in the title than “Nouveau.”