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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Baseball Books

Tim McCarver, baseball sportscaster and former player, lists his picks for the five best books about baseball on OpinionJournal. I went to the page wondering if my favorite baseball book would make his list, and, indeed, there it is at number 1 with a bullet:
"1. 'Ball Four' by Jim Bouton (World, 1970).
Jim Bouton's 'Ball Four' was a terrifically revealing book, and for writing it he was ostracized by the baseball establishment--both by the players and by Bowie Kuhn, the baseball commissioner at the time. He'd kept a diary about his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots and the Houston Astros--material filled with locker-room stories and other forbidden topics. It was hilarious stuff. Now here it is 35 years later, and it all seems so tame--so innocent! The innocence is one of the book's charms today. But back when it first appeared, and this says something about where we've come, it was like 'Peyton Place.'"
I absolutely loved this book when I read it in the early 70s. I got it from my brother, who got it from a friend. It was huge fun. I still have a copy of the sequel, "I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally," which is what everyone in baseball did when he wrote it. While not as funny as the first, the sequel held its own.

I'm really going to have to read "Ball Four" again.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Salman Rushdie

There is an interview with author, Salman Rushdie, in the August/September issue of Reason magazine, which is now available online. Readers of a cedrtain age will remember Rushdie as the author of The Satanic Verses, which earned him a death sentence from Iran's nutbag and Jimmy Carter nemisis, Ayatollah Komeini. Since the dear Ayatollah went on to his just reward without lifting the death fatwa, it remains in effect today. Here's the intro to the Rushdie interview:
Reason: The Iconoclast: Salman Rushdie discusses free speech, fundamentalism, America's place in the world, and his new essay collection: "Salman Rushdie is a political novelist whose political and novelistic instincts have long been in tension with each other. From age 15 he was drawn to the Marxist left, an attraction that eventually led him to the jungles of Nicaragua as a guest of the Sandinista regime. The result was 1987's The Jaguar Smile, which issued an overly optimistic account of Nicaragua's future under its socialist rulers. The book made Rushdie a darling of the left and a pariah among conservatives."
We almost skipped this article when reading the print edition this summer, but we were curious about how living in hiding had affected his views. He turned out to have a lot of interesting things to say. We wouldn't say he's become a libertarian or thoroughly embraced the virtues of capitalism. However, he has certainly acquired a reality-based view of the true nature of radical Islam.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

We're All Keynesians Now

Thus spake President Richard M. Nixon, defending his foolish economic policies, just before events completely discredited Keynesian economic theory. Today, with a Republican president and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, it's clear there is absolutely no interest in creating (we can't really say "restoring") any fiscal discipline. None. Not in Congress, and certainly not in the Whitehouse.

Peggy Noonan lays out the case in OpinionJournal, but this has been clear for quite awhile. President Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill, even as new records for taxes and spending continue to be set and with both growing well above the rate of inflation. He doesn't even threaten to do so, or make any case for controlling spending.

How about Congressional leadership on the issue? Mark Tapscott finds nothing there either:
"Why? Consider House Majority Leader Tom Delay’s stunning assertion the day before Bush spoke from New Orleans that 11 years of GOP control of Congress has 'pared [government] down pretty good.'

Here’s what he said when a puzzled reporter asked if Delay really was suggesting there is no fat to cut in the federal budget to help pay Katrina recovery costs: 'My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet.'
If that's the best Delay can do, then obviously sending him into retirement is a great place to start if we are to get spending under control. In another recent column Tapscott asked if it's time for conservatives to dump the GOP:
"What I am saying is this: The rebirth of limited government will remain a conservative pipedream as long as the people in charge of the GOP refuse to sober up.

Put another way, it's time for an intervention. That's when the family and closest friends and professional associates of an addict confront the abuser with an ultimatum -- get sober and get help now -- or else. The presence of the spouse with suitcases packed and the boss with pink slip in-hand helps the abuser realize the consequences of not getting help will be immediate and unpleasant. More than a few lives and careers have been saved over the years by such interventions.

But sometimes interventions work and sometimes they don't. There is no guarantee that the GOP leaders will get the message, either. Quite frankly, I am not optimistic because I've seen the Stan Evans Law in operation for too long. Evans is the retired conservative activist/journalist who years ago said: 'When one of our people gets elected, sooner or later he [or she] stops being one of our people.'"
We're inclined to think he's right, but what's the alternative? Vote for Democrats hoping for fiscal discipline? That makes about as much sense as hiring pyromanics into the fire department. True, they are good at finding new fires quickly, but that's just because they already knew where to look.

So that really leaves only voting for small government conservatives in primaries, when they can be found, and third parties. We've voted for third party candidates numerous times in the past, and we're well-prepared to do so again. Both the Libertarian and Constitution parties are possibilities. We've never found the argument that such votes were "wasted" persuasive in the least. By contrast, a vote cast for someone you don't like just because he's not quite so bad as another guy is really a wasted vote. Keep voting for the "lesser of evils" and you get: evil.

Who knows, the way the Democrat Party is determined to drive itself off a cliff with a self-indulgent dive into pure, unadulterated moonbattery, perhaps one of the third parties of today will be the second party of tomorrow. It's been a long time since something like that happened. The Whig Party fell apart in 1860, replaced by the Republicans. Will the anti-war movement splinter the Democrats the way slavery did the Whigs? Or perhaps the Republican Party will split on the issue of small government.

Whatever happens, we need at least one of the major parties to give more than lip service to the concept of limited government, and we're not getting that now.

Bat Family Values

Mrs. Abe pointed out this story to us in the Lincoln Journal Star Online. Everyone loves to anthropomorphize animal behavior, but this is ridiculous:
"Female bats are faithful to their mates
Female horseshoe bats are family-minded creatures, coupling with the same male bat year after year, scientists have found.
Now isn't that sweet; they mate for life. But wait the families are even closer than that.
To keep their kinship links even tighter, mothers, daughters and grandmothers often pick the same male bat to mate with.
So they're bat versions of those renegade Mormon polygamist colonies.
The findings, published recently in the journal Nature, emerged from a study of a population of greater horseshoe bats residing in the British countryside. The colony, which has been monitored since the 1950s, consists of dozens of breeding females that live in the attic of a Victorian gothic mansion, raising their young together and sharing foraging sites and roosts with their kin. Each fall, the females fly out to mate with solitary males that reside in caves in the surrounding countryside, then come back to the mansion.
Mrs. Abe suggests that if the female bats can develop artificial insemination they won't need to visit these dank caves at all. We note, however, that the females all live in the mansion, while the males are stuck in caves. Without the male bats, who would support these females in the style they have become accustomed to?
The close genetic relatedness probably helps fuel cooperation between the bats, Rossiter said. The study also suggests that many male bats are passed over in favor of a few bats that -- for reasons unknown -- are considered more desirable and get the lion's share of the mating opportunities."
Those would be the football players, no doubt.

Nebraska Weather

We often tell non-Nebraskans that the climate here is excellent on the average. For example yesterday's high was 102F, and the current temperature is 69F and dropping. Balancing out that string of 100F+ days in the summer, we can count on some winter days below 0F to maintain that pleasant average.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Untold Story of Hurricane Rita

We're evidently pretty slow on the uptake here at DLMSY. We still can't figure out how race is an "issue" in Hurricane Katrina. It never occurred to us that money we contributed to disaster relief might go more to one racial group than another. In fact, we still don't know whether it did or not or why we should even care. We suspect that, like us, most Americans who contributed (and continue to do so) took little or no notice of the race of those in need. Our countrymen and women need our help. Who cares what race they were/are?

Apparently, some people see everything in racial terms (or see advantage in portraying everything in racial terms). Jonah Goldberg takes a satirical look at the next "perfect storm" of interest group politics:
"The press was blindsided again. As Hurricane Rita barreled toward Key West, television news executives were unprepared to deal with the lamentable divide this storm would undoubtedly reveal between gay America and straight America.

You'd think the media would have learned their lesson. After Katrina, the press corps waited a full two days after the storm hit before it was able to report that one of America's poorest and blackest cities was full of poor and black people. Surely, this time around the Fourth Estate would hit the ground running with up-to-the-minute exposes on the 'Other' Other America and trenchant-yet-lachrymose essays on What This Says About America, that one of America's zestiest gay resorts was left to twist in the wind.

The questions raised by unlovely Rita are as painful as they are obvious. Will gays stay behind in disproportionate numbers in this disproportionately gay city? If so, Why? If gay marriage were legalized, could some of this disaster be avoided? Would George W. Bush have responded more quickly if the victims were just a tad less stylish? And, of course: Will the federal government help keep Key West festive?"

Skiing Down from the Moral High Ground

Mike S. Adams, not your average college professor, gives an hilarous account of his encounter with one of the intellectual heirs of Abby Hoffman. You'll need to read the whole article to really get the flavor, but here's a nibble:
"Last winter I went to an actual place in North Carolina called Sugar Mountain. The occasion was a youth ski trip organized by a local church. I was a chaperone. One of the other chaperones was a former hippie from the 1960s. He's not really a hippie anymore, although he's still a liberal. Now he's raising four kids.

I learned a lot about both the 60s and liberalism, just by spending four days in the mountains with that former hippie. I wrote this column to pass on what I learned. I would hate for my readers to have to experience such a trip firsthand in order to get the knowledge I obtained through so much frustration."

Random Thoughts from Thomas Sowell

At the redoubtable Thomas Sowell delivers these pearls:
"Each day, as I take various pills, I realize that without those pills I might not be alive -- and, if I were, life would not be worth living. Yet those who produce these medications are under constant attack from people who produce nothing.

Students can graduate from even the most prestigious colleges and universities wholly unaware that there are not simply different opinions about particular issues but a whole comprehensive framework of ideas and analysis through which those issues can be seen in a way that leads to very different conclusions from the ones their professors have taught or insinuated.

Do the people who are making so much noise about the difficulties of creating a constitution in Iraq have any awareness that it was 13 years after the Declaration of Independence before the Constitution of the United States was created?"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Parking in Europe

With narrow roads and sky-high gas prices, Europeans naturally gravitate towards smaller cars than Americans. See the "pint-sized" vehicle below ("Smart"). Note that, when the car gets small enough, new vistas in parking opportunity become accessible. I took the picture below on the streets of Lisbon this month, but I've seen similar cars in France.Lisbon Car
In fact in France you can own and drive an even smaller car with a tiny engine, a voiture sans permis ("car without license") without even having a driver's license. This one, for example, has a 505 cc, 5.4 hp diesel engine, bigger than a lawnmower or small motorcycle, but not by much.

Update: A really tiny voiture sans permis:
Voiture Sans Permis

Monday, September 19, 2005

Best of the Web Talks Like a Pirate

Just in case you missed it, today is officially Talk Like A Pirate Day. While this revered holiday is not as widely observed as we'd like, it was gratifying to see James Taranto's Best of the Web Today column get into the holiday spirit. In the middle of the first story about the NY Times editorial on the Roberts nomination, Taranto inserts a timely "Avast!" and a link to an action figure for the Dread Pirate Roberts. I wonder how many BotW readers actually got that joke.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Poor Casey

One can't help but feel respect, admiration and gratitude towards Casey Sheehan. He volunteered to serve his country. He re-enlisted, knowing the danger, and he ultimately gave his life to protect us all.

If Casey can see what's happening in the world from where he is now, he must be profoundly embarassed by his mother's behavior and worried about her. We'll give her the benefit of the doubt by assuming she was formerly rational. The loss of a child is perhaps the worst blow a person can suffer, and Casey's death has obviously completely unhinged his mother.

As the clock ticks off the last few picoseconds of Cindy Sheehan's 15 minutes of fame, she writes on (where else?):
"One thing that truly troubled me about my visit to Louisiana was the level of the military presence there. I imagined before that if the military had to be used in a CONUS (Continental US) operations that they would be there to help the citizens: Clothe them, feed them, shelter them, and protect them. But what I saw was a city that is occupied. I saw soldiers walking around in patrols of 7 with their weapons slung on their backs. I wanted to ask one of them what it would take for one of them to shoot me. Sand bags were removed from private property to make machine gun nests."
... and this:
"George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self [sic] from power. The only way America will become more secure is if we have a new administration that cares about Americans even if they don't fall into the top two percent of the wealthiest."
This poor woman is clearly in need of help from competent, mental health professionals. Let's all hope she gets it.