September 29, 2015

Vox can eat its heart out

September 27, 2015

Slow Death on Amazon

September 26, 2015

With baseball drawing to a close...

From the estimable New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, completely revised in 2003, still available in fine bookstores and also here:
Nicknames in the thirties got nasty. There have always been a few less-than-complimentary nicknames around, sometimes more than a few. In the thirties, under the pressure of economic catastrophe on the one hand and hero-worship journalism on the other, nicknames emerged as a way of accenting limitations. Harry Davis was called “Stinky.” Frankie Hayes was called “Blimp,” Red Lucas was “The Nashville Narcissus,” Ernie Lombardi “Schnozz,” and Eric McNair “Boob.” Hugh Mulcahy, who lost seventy-six games in four years, was therefore called “Losing Pitcher Mulcahy” (from the box scores: Losing Pitcher— Mulcahy), and Lynn Nelson was called “Line Drive Nelson” because everything he threw up there came rocketing back at him. Walter Beck, a pitcher with a career record of 38– 69, was called “Boom Boom.” George Grantham, who led National League second basemen in errors whenever they let him play second base, was called “Boots”; that actually began in the twenties.  
You didn’t want to be fat in this climate, or it became part of your name. Freddie Fitzsimmons, a fine pitcher, was called “Fat Freddie.” Babe Phelps was also called “Blimp,” Walter Brown was called “Jumbo,” and Alfred Dean was called “Chubby” Dean although he actually wasn’t chubby at all. Bob Fothergill was called “Fatty,” and a couple of players were called “Porky.” Johnny Riddle was called “Mutt,” and Bob Seeds was called “Suitcase” either because of his huge shoes or because he changed teams so often. Nicknames tended to call attention not to the player’s strengths, but to his weaknesses. Leo Durocher was not “The Peerless Leader” or “The Little General” but “The Lip.” Nick Cullop, whose face was beet red, was called “Old Tomato Face.” Harvey Hendrick was called “Gink.” Sammy Byrd, a defensive replacement for the Bambino, was called “Babe Ruth’s Legs,” Dom Dallessandro was called “Dim Dom,” and Bill Zuber was called “Goober Zuber.”  
In this context, even nicknames that were intended to be complimentary, or at least innocent, start to sound suspicious. Morris Arnovich was “Snooker.” Harry Danning was “Harry the Horse.” Marv Breuer was “Baby Face.” Odell Hale was “Bad News.” Dick Bartell was “Rowdy Richard”; actually, at the time he was called “Rowdy Dick,” but that’s been dropped from the encyclopedias for reasons of taste. George Selkirk was called “Twinkletoes”; try hanging that one on a majorleague player today. Merrill May was called “Pinky,” according to his son, because “he had the red ass.” I’m sure no harm was intended, but would you want the nicknames assigned to Vernon Gomez (Goofy), Dick Porter (Twitchy), Lloyd Brown (Gimpy), Atley Donald (Swampy), Link Blakely (Blinky), or Mel Harder (Wimpy)? It sounds like the Seven Dwarfs against Popeye the Sailor Man. Roy Mahaffey, by the way, was called “Popeye.” Bill Dietrich, who wore glasses and was slightly pop-eyed, was called “Bullfrog Bill.” Alan Strange was called “Inky,” but got even by tagging his teammate Harlond Clift with the nickname “Darkie.” Hazen Shirley Cuyler, who stuttered as a youth, was called “Kiki” because that was what he would say when attempting to pronounce his last name; at any odds, I’m sure he preferred that to being called Hazen Shirley. Another player, Johnny Tyler, was called “Ty Ty,” but I don’t know why.

September 22, 2015

The Polish tv clock

Here is a clock for your browser (Javascript).  I personally consider it to be exceptionally well-proportioned and tasteful:

Here's the story:
In Poland, in the 1980s, the dead space in between programs was filled with… a clock. 
Or, to me, The Clock. 
This was still before the digital age, so The Clock must have been put together by hand, hung on one of the walls of the television headquarters at Jana Pawła Woronicza Street in Warsaw, and assigned the saddest of cameras which permanently, year after year, kept pointing at its face. It was a minimalistic clock, with three off-white hands, and — for today’s standards — an oddly small Telewizja Polska logo. The background was dark blue. There were no sound effects or music.


September 19, 2015

Tonight's entertainment

September 17, 2015

I dig the Comma Queen


I had to read that twice

More Pell-grant eligible students (a proxy for students from low-income families) attend Berkeley than attend the entire Ivy League combined.  - Robert Reich


Flavian notation

September 12, 2015

Return of the James Droids

"A large acquaintance with particulars makes us wiser than the possession of abstract formulas, however deep."

Remembering a non-publishing philosopher

Frank’s point is that our society is deeply confused by the occasions when a blue pill is required and not required, or when we need a causal explanation and when we need a further description, clarification or elucidation. We tend to get muddled and imagine that one kind of explanation (usually the causal one) is appropriate in all occasions when it is not.

What is in play here is the classical distinction made by Max Weber between explanation and clarification, between causal or causal-sounding hypotheses and interpretation. Weber’s idea is that natural phenomena require causal explanation, of the kind given by physics, say, whereas social phenomena require elucidation — richer, more expressive descriptions. In Frank’s view, one major task of philosophy is help us get clear on this distinction and to provide the right response at the right time. This, of course, requires judgment, which is no easy thing to teach...

This is the risk of what some call “scientism” — the belief that natural science can explain everything, right down to the detail of our subjective and social lives. All we need is a better form of science, a more complete theory, a theory of everything. Lord knows, there are even Oscar-winning Hollywood movies made about this topic. Frank’s point, which is still hugely important, is that there is no theory of everything, nor should there be. There is a gap between nature and society. The mistake, for which scientism is the name, is the belief that this gap can or should be filled.


Huh - so judges who aren't that into politics tend to do a better job. Who knew?

Neither Souter nor Roberts had said much of anything.  They didn’t have a paper trail, they wouldn’t have a fight.  Whereas if you actually nominate a conservative, then you gotta spend some political capital.  Then you gotta fight. - Ted Cruz


September 11, 2015

Nate Silver: Donald Trump's Six Stages of Doom

I think this is good, because I don't like Donald Trump.  I disagree with his policy proposals, and I think he's a bad person.


September 10, 2015


Greg Cosell of NFL Films was on SF radio this week and the hosts asked him if any rookies around the league had really dazzled him.  Oh yeah, he said, the Seattle guys look great.  Anyone from San Francisco?  No, not really...

The Summer of Love came early in Japan


September 07, 2015

Order of the Stick - not half bad, with some very good moments

And, doing the 'Cheese Shop' sketch with pole-arms would have gotten 6/5 stars from fifteen year-old me, still gets 4.


September 06, 2015

Is It Too Much to Ask for a Little Style From Your Corporate Monster?

Infant Fashion for All

Also, I don't like the kerning at all.

This Photoshop of Bald Trump Looks Just like Benito Mussolini

bald-headed Donald Trump today offered President Obama $5 million if ...Mussolini biografia.jpg

PLUTOCRACY - pure and simple


A lesson from Cicero

I was in a cab once in Chicago, going through Cicero out of Midway Airport.  The driver was a black man about my age.  The topic turned to Illinois Nazis, and he said:  freedom of speech isn't valuable in and of itself.  It's not your expressing your opinion freely will make any particular difference.  It's valuable because it makes social and political discourse more public.

At the most extreme parts of the spectrum, it functions as a discovery mechanism as extremists seek to legitimize themselves.  Free speech creates an environment where you can hear the crazy things that are out there, learn who your enemies really are.

September 05, 2015

DC reporter accidentally finds America

I spent the night at the Chateau Motel & Liquor Store, which is a brilliant business idea that absolutely needs to come east. The accommodations were nice, but what I found most striking is how friendly everyone I'd met had been. They were fiercely proud of their community in a way I'd never seen before -- not even during my childhood in small-town upstate New York. "We don't welcome people like this when they come to D.C.," I kept saying to people, dumbfounded.

The next day, Burwell planned a whirlwind tour of the county on a bus with a sign that read "Welcome To America's Worst Tour." We saw the county's largest asparagus farm and sampled some amazing pickled asparagus with cayenne pepper.


September 04, 2015

This delights me in a hundred ways

What if they had a big celebration of Chinese militarism and nobody came?

Certainly, China has friends: Russia, Zimbabwe and Venezuela come to mind. But those countries lie outside the mainstream of the international community, and for good reason. They are totalitarian or semi-totalitarian states with repressive policies. In his speech, Xi Jinping boasted that China was a founding member of the United Nations, but aside from Russia, not a single major representative of the U.N. Security Council attended.


September 03, 2015

Just another 43 hours at the office

After forty-three hours of intense high-level talks, the two Koreas released a six-point joint communiqué on August 25, 2015, to de-escalate recent tensions on the peninsula...

It is common for the two Koreas to hold round-the-clock negotiations until either an agreement is reached or one side, usually North Korea, storms out in a rage. Both sides entered this meeting far apart in their maximalist demands, signaling extremely tough negotiations ahead: South Korea demanded an apology for the land mine explosion...  [T]he North Korean delegation’s marching orders—to shut down the loudspeakers—were very clear, particularly when these negotiations were also shown live to the leaders of both states through CCTV cameras installed in the meeting room. This enabled both Park and Kim to provide further guidance in a timely manner by phone, notes, or hotline. Thus, the talks can be seen essentially as a negotiation between the two Korean leaders themselves rather than by proxy. 


September 02, 2015


Seems legit

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Soviet leadership, however, was not intellectually prepared to heed lessons from the School of Salamanca. The shortest quotation about the intellectual capacity of the Soviet leadership came from the Politburo minutes: “Mr. Zasiadko has stopped binge drinking. Resolution: nominate Mr. Zasiadko as a minister to Ukraine.” 

(link)'s not gonna work

Huge hit with our exacting audience