Subscribe via RSS Feed

A Bad Weekend for Blogging

[ 6 ] May 25, 2008 |

When it’s 45 degrees and pissing rain — or when you recall that Ted Stevens represents your state in the Senate — the healthy response is to fill a styrofoam cup with Mad Dog and hide in the closet. But on a weekend like this, you begin to think that most of the forces in the universe aren’t actually conspiring against you.

Share with Sociable


[ 0 ] May 25, 2008 |

Well, why not? Armstrong’s the idiot who brought them aboard in the first place. (Normally, a “vote of confidence” would be a good sign, but I have the sinking suspicion it’s serious.)

One more thing: if you think (inexplicably) that you have a championship quality roster and it has the worst record in the league, how can this be a defense of the manager? Aren’t managers aren’t, you know, supposed to get teams to achieve what, or ideally more, than they’re capable of? This really is Bavasi in a nutshell.


“In my 23 years, I have never ever seen anything like this,” Armstrong told “We saw it the other way in 2001. I mean, you have to ask yourself, ‘How did the Mariners win 116 games that season with that roster, compared to this roster?’ This is just as inexplicable the other way.”

Ahem. And ahem. And this doesn’t take into account the fact, of course, that the 2001 Mariners were one of the finest defensive teams in the history of baseball.

Share with Sociable

I Come Not to Bury Caesar, But to Jeterate Him

[ 0 ] May 25, 2008 |

Joe Posnanski, on how he wants to like Derek Jeter, but..

So why is it that I’m often writing negative things about Derek Jeter? I realized Friday that it has absolutely nothing to do with Jeter himself. No, what drives me batty is that Jeter — maybe because of his star power, or maybe because he’s a Yankee, or maybe because he’s made some very big plays on the national stage, or maybe because he dated all the supermodels, I honestly don’t know what it is — Jeter brings out this quality in people, this superiority, this … it just drives me insane I don’t know if there’s a word for this quality so, as we do here, I’m going to invent a word.

Jeterate (verb) meaning “to praise someone for something of which he or she is entirely unworthy of praise.”

Example: “The father could not but jeterate his daughter for coloring on the wall because she looked so cute.”

Or: “The employee, knowing his job was on the line, jeterated his boss for almost making a 3-foot putt. ‘That was an incredible putt,“ the employee said. ”With that intense break, I doubt Tiger Woods would have even lipped out like you did.“

Or: “The doctor jeterated his patient for not actually gaining any more weight since the visit four days earlier.”

This requires some mild edits; I write negatively about Jeter because I hate him, and “because he dated all those supermodels” should obviously be replaced with “because he infected all those supermodels with herpes”, but otherwise I think I concur with the gist of the argument.

Share with Sociable

Sunday Battleship Blogging: HMS Victoria

[ 23 ] May 25, 2008 |

In 1861, HMS Warrior set the state of the art in Line of Battle Ship, combining steam engines, advanced guns, and an iron hull, she was substantially superior to her ironclad counterparts in France and the United States. The Royal Navy developed on the ironclad type for the next twenty years, with the Colossus class of 1882 being the first to resemble what became known as the classic “pre-dreadnought”. Experimentation on the battleship form continued until the Royal Sovereign class of 1891, which essentially set a new state of the art for battleship construction. Between 1891 and 1905, pretty much all battleships in all navies followed the pattern set by Royal Sovereign; four heavy guns in two turrets, one fore and one aft, with a heavy secondary armament, reciprocating engines, and a speed of around 16 knots.

HMS Victoria preceded Royal Sovereign by four years, and was originally intended to carry the name HMS Renown. In a decision that would become heavy with irony, she was renamed Victoria on the occasion of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Commissioned in 1890, HMS Victoria displaced 11000 tons, could make 17 knots, and carried 2 16.25″ guns in a single twin turret forward. She also carried a single 10″ gun turret aft. Victoria was the first battleship to use vertical triple expansion engines, which significantly reduced her coal consumption. The 16.25″ guns were enormous weapons, but were not directly comparable to later naval artillery; the expected range of engagement was no longer than a couple of miles. The guns were also difficult to load, taking five minutes for each shot. In any engagement involving movement on both sides, this would have been a critical handicap, as primitive rangefinding equipment meant that gunners had to rely on splashes. The 16.25″ gun was replaced by much smaller weapons in later battleship classes.

Upon commissioning HMS Victoria was designated flagship of the Royal Navy Mediterranean squadron, which included an overwhelming concentration of naval power. The Mediterranean squadron was intended to offset the growth of the Italian Navy, which had recovered from the embarrassment of Lissa to field a squadron powerful enough to threaten British communications (via Suez) with India. In 1891 the Mediterranean Fleet fell to Admiral George Tryon, an innovator whose main enthusiasm was signaling. The Royal Navy system of signaling, the Admiral felt, had ossified since the days of Nelson, leaving the captains of individual ships little room for initiative, and threatening an entire system collapse in response to unforeseen events during battle. Accordingly, Admiral Tryon pursued a much simpler system of signal that relied on the ability of captains to do their jobs.

On June 22, 1893 the Mediterranean squadron was engaged in maneuvers of Tripoli (part of modern Lebanon). Deployed in two columns, the fleet was returning to anchor when some confusion arose. The exact details remain unclear; Robert Massie suggests that Admiral Tryon was attempting a complex maneuver that involved the two columns weaving into one another, while Andrew Gordon makes the altogether more plausible argument that Tryon simply miscalculated the distance between the columns. In any case, the maneuver set HMS Victoria on a collision course with HMS Camperdown, the lead ship of the second column. Several officers on both Camperdown and Victoria suggested that the maneuver might be quite dangerous, but Admiral Tryon was inattentive, and Admiral Markham (commander of the second column) did not wish to cross Tryon. By the time that Tryon realized what was happening, a collision was unavoidable.

HMS Camperdown, equipped with a ram bow, struck HMS Victoria on the starboard side, then reversed engines to disengage. This doomed Victoria, as Camperdown left an enormous hole below the waterline. Thirteen minutes after the collision, Victoria rolled over and sank, carrying 358 sailors with her. Admiral Tryon did not survive, and his innovative system of signaling was discarded following the accident, even though it had not contributed to the collision. HMS Victoria now sits in 500′ of water just off the coast of Lebanon, with her bow buried in the sand and her stern pointing towards the surface. As far as I know, she is the only ship ever named after a sitting monarch to sink during the reign of that monarch.

Commander John Jellicoe escaped the sinking Victoria seconds before her loss. Just short of twenty-three years later, Jellicoe would command the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland, where poor signaling would contribute to the loss of three British battlecruisers and to the escape of the High Seas Fleet.

Share with Sociable

Presidential Statement of the Day

[ 0 ] May 25, 2008 |

George W. Bush, speaking about Osama bin Laden at a press conference, 24 May 2007:

Why is he at large? Because we haven’t got him yet, Jim. That’s why. And he’s hiding, and we’re looking, and we will continue to look until we bring him to justice. We’ve brought a lot of his buddies to justice, but not him. That’s why he’s still at large. He’s not out there traipsing around. He’s not leading many parades, however. He’s not out feeding the hungry. He’s isolated, trying to kill people to achieve his objective.

Share with Sociable

For The Defense

[ 72 ] May 24, 2008 |

To play against recent type somewhat, and since they seem to have been the final straw for a lot of people, I should probably say that I don’t actually think that the RFK comments are a big deal at all. The example was poorly chosen, but I think the point she was trying to make is obvious enough: primaries going to June isn’t an especially big deal. Granted, while I’m sympathetic to the point the example on the merits is stupid and illogical; you can’t compare primaries in 2008 to years in which they started much later on a more spread-out schedule, and in the case of force majeure I’m confident that Clinton has already won enough delegates to prevent Dodd or Kucinich from taking the nomination if she drops out tomorrow.

But illogic pretty much comes with the territory when you’re coming up with rationales for a campaign that has no reasonable chance of succeeding. I find her comparisons of trying ex post facto to count votes no rational individual could think even approach a minimally acceptable measure of voter intent to abolitionism and the fight to enfranchise African-Americans under apartheid infinitely more objectionable.

Share with Sociable

GI Bill

[ 0 ] May 24, 2008 |

I’m no democratic consultant, but if I were I’d be putting together some 30 second spots about McCain’s vote on this one.

Share with Sociable

Eternal Mysteries of the Universe

[ 17 ] May 24, 2008 |
  • The popularity of American Idol (which, according to today’s Times recap, took a major uptick in subtlety and musicality when one of the third-raters essayed a Collective Soul cover.)
  • The baserunning of Jose “Miguel Dilone was my mentor!” Reyes
  • Bloggers who decorate filler posts about trivia with use ultra-obscure references that 0.00001% of their audience might understand
  • How John McLaren keeps his job.

Although I suppose on one level the last one is all too explicable; any team that had the slightest idea what it was doing or interest in winning would never have hired him in the first place. And I should probably be careful what I wish for; if he does get cannned I fully expect him to be replaced by a committee of Bill Virdon, John McNamara, Buddy Bell, and Maury Wills.

The Gods of Sabermetrics must be smiling at the fact that both Washburn and Bedard got torched for nine runs after being assigned their Comfort-Building personal catcher…

Share with Sociable

Presidential Statement of the Day

[ 16 ] May 23, 2008 |

Gerald Ford, delivering the commencement address at Warner Pacific College, 23 May 1976:

Our national life has reached a point where we must recover transcendent qualities of spirituality and morality. I know of no better way for Americans to achieve personal and social regeneration. Franz Kafka wrote earlier in this century that “the fathers of the church were not afraid to go out into the desert because they had a richness in their hearts. But we, with richness all around us, are afraid because the desert is in our hearts.” As you today begin a new phase in your lives, I count on you to discover a spiritual richness in your hearts. America relies upon such an inward quest far more than an outward reach to the moon or even to the stars.

Share with Sociable

Obama Should be Safe…

[ 37 ] May 23, 2008 |


“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it,” [Clinton] said, dismissing calls to drop out.The tongue slips, of course, but is she really arguing that she shouldn’t drop out because Obama might get shot? What kind of argument is that?

First a question; what is the process if a presidential nominee dies between the convention and the general election? Does the VP become the nominee? Or the second place at the convention?

Second, I’ve heard a lot of talk about how Barack Obama might get assassinated because he’s black, but I can’t understand why. Every single President who has been assassinated in the history of the United States has been a white male. Every. Single. One. In fact, I have it on good authority that every single attempted assassination has been directed against a white male President. If history is any guide, Obama should be safe.

…indeed, with an assassination rate exceeding 9%, President of the United States would appear to be an extraordinarily dangerous job for white men. It would almost be irresponsible to elect someone other than a woman or non-white man.

Share with Sociable

"It’s true what that Eschatros guy says on his blog"

[ 0 ] May 23, 2008 |

Good post.

“And now Lieberman is out there playing that ‘toughness’ card for John McCain. I just can’t believe it. Back in 2006, I looked at Ned Lamont and I saw George McGovern. I looked at his supporters and I saw thousands of Abbie Hoffmans–almost like a pack of crazed, ignorant ideological cannibals. And you know what’s really trippy about that? I was only eight years old in 1972. But that’s the way I was taught to see liberal challengers to people like Lieberman, and that’s the way all my friends in the industry were writing. There’s something deeply wrong with all of us, no question. So today I say: up against the wall! If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And I have definitely been part of the problem.”

Weisberg immediately rejected his call for his resignation, however, explaining that it would only embolden America’s enemies and that the next six months would be a critical time for Slate.

Share with Sociable

National Suicide, My Ass

[ 33 ] May 23, 2008 |

It’s difficult for me to express just how moronic this column is:

THIS MAY sound like an extreme conclusion but, as Ari Bar Yossef, retired lieutenant-colonel and administrator of the Knesset’s Security Committee, writes in the army journal Ma’arachot, such cases of Islamist national suicide are not uncommon. He cites three such examples of Arab-Muslim regimes irrationally sacrificing their very existence, overriding their instinct of self-preservation, to fight the perceived enemy to the bitter end.

• The first case is that of Saddam Hussein, who in 2003 could have avoided war and conquest by allowing UN inspectors to search for (the apparently non-existent) weapons of mass destruction wherever they wanted. Yet Iraq’s ruler opted for war, knowing full well that he would have to face the might of the US.

• The second case is that of Yasser Arafat in 2000, who after the failure of the Camp David and Taba talks had two options: continue talking to Israel – under the leadership of Ehud Barak, this country’s most moderate and flexible government ever – or resort to violence. He chose the latter, with the result that all progress toward Palestinian independence was blocked. The ensuing loss of life, on both sides, testified to Arafat’s preference for suicide over compromise.

• The third case is that of the Taliban. Post-9/11, their leadership had two options: to enter into negotiations with the US, with a view to extraditing Osama bin Laden, or to risk war and destruction. The choice they made was obvious: Better to die fighting than to give up an inch.

OKKKAAAYYYY…. I have trouble believing that anyone, anywhere, still honestly holds to the first; everything we know now indicates that there was, literally, no way for Saddam Hussein to avoid the US invasion. He surely must have known this, too; the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction would necessarily have been interpreted as a failure on his part to cooperate, and consequently just cause for war.

The second is equally idiotic. Arafat didn’t believe he was committing national suicide; he was perhaps incorrect in his assessment of the situation, but mistaken and suicidal are entirely different concepts. This isn’t hard to understand, and again I’m befuddled that anyone not intentionally obtuse would by into the logic.

The best case can perhaps be made for the third. The Taliban was certainly over-matched, but there are three problems with the “suicide” argument. The first is that turning over Al Qaeda may, itself, have been tantamount to suicide; Al Qaeda made up a considerable portion of the combat strength of the Taliban, and might well have engaged in a campaign of assassination against Taliban officials in case of betrayal. The second is that it was not wholly unreasonable for the Taliban to think it could win the conflict; they may have believed they had reason to doubt the resolve of the United States, and they had a clear memory of another case in which Afghan guerrillas had defeated an invading superpower. Finally, Rubinstein might want to take note of the fact that the war in Afghanistan isn’t actually over; the Taliban continues to exist as an organization, has much of its leadership intact, and has made significant gains in the past three years.

So no, there is no impulse towards “national suicide” in Islam, or anywhere else; Drum concedes far too much to Rubinstein and to Jeffrey Goldberg. The key point, of course, is that what appears to be suicidal in hindsight rarely appears so at the time; in almost every case of purported “suicide” actual examination of the costs and benefits facing actors indicates that the choices made were not, in fact, suicidal. Now, it might be fair to note that certain constellations of cost and benefit, combined with certain cultural tendencies, may work to get close enough to “suicidal” behavior that the distinction doesn’t matter overmuch, but for my part I’m pretty sure that the Iranians (and both Rubinstein and Goldberg are essentially, here, laying the groundwork for an attack on Iran) understand that the nuclear annihilation of their regime by Israel and the United States would, in fact, constitute suicide.

Share with Sociable