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This Will End Badly…

[ 5 ] July 10, 2010 |

Kinda exciting. Wish the Reds could score a damn run so he doesn’t have to pitch 13 innings.

…C’mon guys.  1 run.

Sheehan asks whether it made sense to hit Wood in the eighth, given that the Reds are in a race.  First, Dusty has set a bad precedent by batting Mike Leake in crucial situations.  Second… just no.

…This would be a good time to be dramatic, Joey.

…Wood is obviously tiring.  Got hit hard last inning, but lucky.

… Yup.  Still, hell of a performance.  Tip of the cap to Travis Wood.

…They cannot seriously be considering letting him continue.  The last three hitters have crushed him.

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Semi-Apology

[ 5 ] July 9, 2010 |

While pride prevents me from fully withdrawing my critique of Dusty Baker for letting Mike Leake hit last week while Scott Rolen sat on the bench, I will concede that Leake is rather on a hot streak with the bat.

That is all.

….oh, for crying out loud.

James Hudnall seems to have forgotten about the other 51 percent of the population.

[ 39 ] July 9, 2010 |

I get mail:

If this combination of two of your favorite topics doesn’t rouse you from your blogging doldrums, nothing will.

To which I replied:

My my.

Then I started writing this post, which is, as per the title, about James Hudnall’s remarkably unselfconscious rant about Wonder Woman. Hudnall’s not interested in her costume change, which was apparently a topic of no small interest while I had my head in the sand, and about which all I have to say is this: if you attended a meeting and were the only one there wearing a swimsuit, would you feel uncomfortable? Enough said. For Hudnall, though, the debate about her costume merely provides him an excuse to attack her character. Like many a spurned misogynist, he does so by accusing her, and by proxy all feminists, of misandry. He begins:

The problem with Wonder Woman isn’t her look. It’s her personality. She has never been a warm, appealing character. She comes from an island populated only by immortal Amazons who hate men. And men aren’t allowed to set foot on the island. This island of super-women send her to “the man’s world” where she brings the baggage of this sexist worldview.

You want to talk about baggage? Consider what Hudnall brings to the table: women who are not “warm” are also not “appealing.” The first question, obviously, is what does he mean by “warm”? The second, of course, is “appealing” to whom? That he failed to notice that his definition of “warmth” entails that she must be “appealing” to men like him is a remarkable, albeit typical among his lot, feat of argumentative blindness: women who possess characteristics that he finds unattractive hate all men because they fail to cater or conform to Hudnall’s needs.

In addition to his inability to distinguish the universal from the particular, he simply misunderstands the character. Wonder Woman does enjoy giving those who underestimate her because she’s a woman, be they thugs or comic villains, their comeuppance—a category that by extension includes readers like Hudnall, but more on that in a bit. But notice what Hudnall fails to: the comic universe is predicated on the logic of a vicarious enjoyment of comeuppance.

Consider this scene in The Dark Knight. The nifty camerawork helps ratchet up the tension on a formal level, but on a narrative one, the tension comes from the viewer knowing what the Joker doesn’t: the implications of having crashed Bruce Wayne’s fundraiser. The viewer anticipates the comeuppance, because the Joker underestimated Wayne on account of his being a wealthy playboy. Same thing works in any situation in which Clark Kent is threatened. It even girds works that demonstrate the limitations of the genre, as that last panel neatly illustrates.

In other words, despite being the motivating force behind the genre, the logic comeuppance only bothers Hudnall when men who underestimate women receive theirs.

I wonder why that is?

Read more…

Lazy Friday Blogging: Cliff Lee, Austerity Budgets, England in the WC Final

[ 6 ] July 9, 2010 |

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to this, and like Rob, I’m delighted — even though it’s a rare deal within the same division.  This seems to be a better deal than the mooted Yankees offering.  It’s only a shame that the M’s couldn’t put together a season that justified keeping Lee around all year.  He’s had an amazing year.

I wonder what the Miami Heat put forward as an alternative to the Rangers’ package?

I had been trying to cobble together a piece on the UK Coalition Government’s austerity budget, but found it all a bit too depressing.  The New York Times does a decent job of aggregating the grim, and they’re not impressed.  Oddly enough, the kids over at adamsmith.org think 40% cuts are fantastic (in a good way).  I’m not sure if my daughter would agree, with I being ostensibly a public sector employee, and her police officer mother very much an employee of a department that is not ring fenced.  Yes, even the Conservatives admit it: Cameron is little more than a Thatcherite — with one small exception: Thatcher relied on the cops a hell of a lot to quell the concomitant riots that her policies ensued.

At least Labour are devouring one another rather than fielding a credible opposition, as David Miliband goes out on a limb and critiques Gordon Brown.  Only a year too late, mate; I’d link to my several posts on the subject, but the archives link under my name doesn’t seem to be functioning.

And, yes, the English have made the World Cup final.  The refereeing team, that is.

Whew

[ 7 ] July 9, 2010 |

Apparently, Cliff Lee not going to the World’s Greatest Manifestation of Evil. Particularly since the Yankee offer wasn’t overwhelming (if Montero could actually catch, maybe), this must be considered an unequivocal good.

The DOMA Invalidation

[ 7 ] July 9, 2010 |

Obviously, in the short term ruling the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional is an improvement in public policy.  Unfortunately, one of the arguments used in the rulings was a 10th Amendment argument that is both specious and dangerous, and I think it’s unlikely that the better argument will survive appeal either.

When the Evidence Confirms What You Always Kinda Knew…

[ 13 ] July 9, 2010 |

Huh. I guess I always suspected that Tony La Russa was evil:

St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa on Tuesday said he’s a “supporter” of Arizona’s immigration law and welcomed local Tea Partiers who were inside the stadium to show Arizona solidarity — even though his team was facing off that night against the Diamondbacks.

La Russa, talking to reporters, addressed the subject because dozens of St. Louis Tea Party members were at Busch Stadium to demonstrate in support of the Arizona law.

The Cardinals manager, who attended Florida State University’s School of Law and is one of only five lawyers ever to manage a Major League Baseball team, said he thinks the Tea Partiers are “correct” on “a lot of things” and welcomed competing points of view into his team’s stadium.

“I’m actually a supporter of what Arizona’s doing. … The national government doesn’t fix your problem, and you’ve got a problem, they’ve got to take care of it themselves,” La Russa said.

Wonder what Albert Pujols thinks…

USS Olympia

[ 12 ] July 9, 2010 |

This is a depressing story:

The Olympia was a successful museum vessel, at least according to the numbers. More than 100,000 visitors annually paced the same decks where Dewey uttered the immortal fighting words, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.”

In 1996, the museum, flush from a six-year $15 million capital campaign, took control of the Olympia. The future looked bright. But now, 14 years later, the nearly broke museum is giving up the distressed vessel, claiming her maintenance poses an insurmountable fiscal challenge.

What has been steadily sinking the ship? Not disinterest. Instead, more modern American vices-greed, corruption, and civic disengagement-may have overpowered this monument to the strong, optimistic America of old.

As the Olympia sat deprived of basic maintenance, the Independence Seaport Museum’s chief, John S. Carter, enjoyed perks far above compensation provided at peer institutions. In 2004, his salary exceeded $350,000, and he lived rent-free in a $1.7 million executive mansion bought, maintained, remodeled, and even furnished with museum funds, according to news reports.

The criminal complaint against Carter claimed that by 2006, the museum had been billed more than $335,000 for work on the director’s Massachusetts home. While Carter charged the museum over $280,000 for personal purchases of jewelry, home electronics, designer clothing, and rare artwork, almost $200,000 dollars in maritime artifacts-including a rare print of Dewey-went missing.

Rather than support the Olympia, Carter defrauded the museum of more than $900,000 dollars in a scheme to restore and resell-for personal gain-several antique pleasure boats.

The museum faltered. Between 1999 and 2005, its endowment went from $48 million to a mere $7.7 million. Admission receipts tumbled by half. And all this time, the final arbiters of fiscal management, the museum board, did nothing.

This is What Happens When You Hand the Wheel to Dire Fanatics…

[ 4 ] July 9, 2010 |

Fred Kaplan and Pavel Podvig show Mitt Romney why it’s a mistake to let the morons and fanatics at the Heritage Foundation write your op-eds for you….

First and Last Word on Lebron…

[ 36 ] July 8, 2010 |

If you watch carefully, in slow motion, you can see his heart break…

UPDATE [By SL]: Although this tastefully fonted missive is also pretty entertaining.  I generally defend players from attacks when they leave as free agents, and in this case you can’t even say he’s doing it for the money.   James can dispose of his talents as he wishes.  But I can’t avoid the fact that blowing off your hometown team’s better offer via a cheesy hour-long ESPN special is pretty colossally dickish.    I also wonder where this puts the Heat in the hierarchy of loathsome sports franchises.  If I cared more about the NBA, I’d guess pretty high.   Certainly, anyone who would root for this soulless experiment to succeed is the kind of person who would cheer for the Yankees and Cowboys despite having no geographical connection to either city.    Like a certain star whose name escapes me right now…

The Incompetence of Democratic Political Advisors

[ 41 ] July 8, 2010 |

It’s true that we dodged a bullet during the Democratic primaries when the prospect of Mark Penn running the White House political shop didn’t come to pass.   Unfortunately, Obama’s political team seems about as incompetent. As DeLong says, it’s especially remarkable that Obama’s political team is urging a focus on cosmetic, short-term deficit rather than stimulus and job creation.   Political science can’t resolve a lot of questions definitively, but this is one of them: any political advisor who thinks that spending cuts matter more to the electorate than employment and economic growth is a complete incompetent who is stealing his or her employer’s money.    And this all has to come back to Obama; if he can’t find political advisors who are familiar with even the most basic research relevant to their field, he’s getting exactly the advice he deserves.

Unfortunately, while many elite Democrats deserve exactly what’s going to happen to them in the 2010 midterms, the country (and especially its poor and unemployed people) doesn’t.    And I assume the gravy train that ensures that overpaid Democratic political advisors are never punished for failure will continue unabated.

The Tudors

[ 13 ] July 8, 2010 |

So, we finally struggled through the final season of the Tudors.  It’s been clear for some time (say, early in season one) that this was not a series that deserved attention in the same family as the best of the HBO and Showtime series, but it’s remarkable how weakly the series ended.  Some thoughts:

  1. Whether because of the writing or because of Jonathan Rhys Meyer’s limitations as an actor, it became apparent by the end of the first season that Henry VIII as depicted in this series was just not a very interesting character.  Comparison with the Sopranos is instructive; we become aware in season six, through Dr. Melfi, that Tony isn’t really going to grow or change as a character in any productive way.  He was a sociopath in season one, and he was a sociopath in season six; the experience and analysis weren’t going to change that.  In Tudors, the deficiencies of the main character become clear pretty early on, and yet the series continues for another three years; unsurprisingly, when nothing of much interest can happen to the main character, the series gets fairly boring.  What we were watching, essentially, was the court of Saddam Hussein; that could be somewhat interesting, but the focus then needs to be on the interesting characters and machinations in that court.  This leads to the second point…
  2. With a few exceptions, the producers were unable to produce any useful supporting characters around Meyers.  Part of this was due to necessity, of course; there could be no Carmela in this series.  Nevertheless, the inability to make the supporting cast interesting is inexcusable.  There were exceptions; Sam Neill did a fine job as Cardinal Woolsey, James Frain did good work as Thomas Cromwell, Sarah Bolger was solid as Princess Mary, and Alan Van Sprang produced a lively Francis Bryan.  Unfortunately, the great bulk of sidekick time was handed to Henry Cavill’s Charles Brandon, who had an almost singular ability to say and do nothing of any interest at all.
  3. The Tudors had an absurd number of side characters and side plots that had no meaningful impact on the course of the overall storyline.  Several times during the series, the wife and I would watch a murder or seduction scene, then openly wonder who the characters were and why we should care what happened to them.  Payoffs for these incidental asides would be rare; who really cared about the saga of Reginald Pole?
  4. For some reason, the producers believed that signing big name actors then giving them nothing to do and failing to integrate them into the storyline was a great idea.  We get Peter O’Toole as the Pope for some reason, and Henry Czerny as the Duke of Norfolk with three lines in an entire season, and Max Von Sydow as some guy who was somewhere for some reason that was utterly peripheral to the main story.  Producers should sign actors with some sense of what those actors are for; nobody watched the Tudors in order to see Peter O’Toole shamble about and make proclamations on a sound stage miles away from the rest of the cast.

I’d like to say that I’m looking forward to the Borgias, which is apparently by the same producers, and stars Jeremy Irons. I’d like to say that..