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"and I think he’s a very good player."

[ 0 ] July 12, 2009 |
Landon Donovan, on his English teammate, the latter of whom is admittedly the second best player on said team.
Oh, and England miraculously held out for a draw in the first test.  

"Jack Zduriencik managed to cure cancer, end world poverty, and bring peace to the middle east."

[ 0 ] July 12, 2009 |

As I said when I introduced myself here on LGM, I have been a fan of the Seattle Mariners since 1977.  Which means I’ve happily watched a lot of truly dreadful baseball, in a setting that perhaps only compared to the Stade Olympique for grimness.  I believe Scott has been to both, so at least he has a comparative framework from which to make such claims.

A commenter in reply to my cricket post yesterday wanted some analysis on the Yuni trade.  It’s all good according to the guys over at USS Mariner, whom I’ve been reading religiously before they were USS Mariner.  
BTW, England might just pull out a draw.  235-9 at the moment.
I was an early adopter of proper sabermetrics, but then it appealed to me automatically given my statistics (lite) training.  That’s how I think as a social scientist, and I’ve been a baseball fan all my life (first game: 27 April 1975, seventh birthday, Candlestick Park, Dodgers v Giants.  With my dad and my grand dad.  And, bonus, it was bat day).  The Mariners as an organization have been relatively late adopters of this new math.  So when I quote Dave Cameron over at USS Mariner in my title about the new regime, I couldn’t agree more.

You Get a T-72! And You Get a T-72!

[ 0 ] July 12, 2009 |

It turns out that the T-72s carried by the MV Faina (the Ukranian vessels that was seized and held by pirates for several months) weren’t destined for Kenya after all:

But one mystery lingered: the true destination of the Faina’s cargo. Kenya’s government said the weapons and munitions were for its military, but observers speculated that they were intended for the breakaway government of South Sudan.

With the aid of some satellite analysis, Jane’s Defence Weekly has the answer: The weapons were part of a series of weapons shipments bound for South Sudan. JDW Middle East/Africa editor Lauren Gelfand and Jane’s imagery analyst Allison Puccioni drew on extensive satellite imagery to track the movement of the T-72s from the port of Mombasa, Kenya; while Jane’s does not conclude definitively that the tanks from the Faina ended up in South Sudan, the analysis does show a pattern of tanks making their way north to Sudan. Jane’s also confirmed previous arms shipments from Ukraine.

Some brief thoughts:

  • I don’t know enough about the conflict in South Sudan to say what impact the delivery of the T-72s will have, but in general the purchase of major heavy weaponry by a sub-state actor can’t be regarded as a good thing for national stability. I also don’t fully grasp what it means that the Kenyans are willing to run interference for actors in South Sudan.
  • The ability of private civilians to use publicly available satellite images to track weapons shipments is one of the things which makes me doubt the “Saddam was about to escape his cage” arguments that are so common in pro-Iraq War circles. Such arguments typically run as such: Oil for Food corruption-perfidious Frenchmen-fully rearmed and hegemony threatening Saddam! The Underpants Gnomes would blush at the argument, but apparently it makes sense to neocons. Saddam would have needed to rebuild his hopelessly degraded conventional capability in order to threaten anyone, and even a decaying sanctions regime is likely to have remained robust where heavy conventional arms were concerned. Unless Saddam could someone sneak huge amounts of heavy, modern military equipment into the country without anyone noticing, rearmament seems pretty unlikely.
  • The fighter wing of Kenya’s air force apparently consists entirely of 25 F-5s. Now you know.
  • The Patterson School still needs a T-72.

Friendly Fire in South Ossetia War

[ 0 ] July 12, 2009 |

Via FP, a new independent Russian report indicates that three of the six Russian aircraft lost during the South Ossetia War were shot down by friendly fire. The report also suggests that cooperation between Russian ground and air forces was less than fruitful. While the Russian Army has denied the friendly fire allegations, I don’t find them particularly surprising. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that the uncoordinated Georgian air defense “network” could shoot down six Russian aircraft, but it was certainly the most impressive element of Georgia’s military performance. That both the Georgians and Russians were less effective than advertised seems entirely plausible.

And here’s one thing that I don’t really understand about journalism:

But the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says losses sustained by the Russian side in just five days have led analysts here to question how Russian troops would fare against a bigger, better-equipped and better-trained enemy.

No shit? Did the BBC need to pay someone to come to the conclusion that the Russians would do less well against a “bigger, better-equipped, and better-trained enemy”?


[ 0 ] July 11, 2009 |

"There’s nothing wrong with losing. It’s the capitulation that is so embarrassing."

[ 0 ] July 11, 2009 |

This is a quote by one Michael F Watts, on the BBC web page, in response to the first innings of the first test match of the 2009 Ashes series.  I was going to blog a bit about cricket, English cricket, and the Ashes, but why bother?  I’ll leave you with my facebook status from Wednesday, when this test began: 

David Brockington notes that England won the toss in the first Test, which means it’s now all downhill.

Which was prescient when one considers that Australia responded to England’s pathetic 435 all out with a massive 674 for 6 declared.  England’s best hope is a lot of rain, and soon.  A draw is possible, however unlikely.

Each test match can last five days.  The Ashes features five tests during the summer.  As England lost the 2007-08 series 5-0, it promises to be a long, depressing summer in England.  As it usually is a long, depressing summer in England due to the weather, this only makes one reach for a drink first thing in the morning rather than waiting until the socially acceptable (in England) time of noon.
I can’t wait to be back in the PNW for two months, where I’ll watch the Mariners a few times, the Portland Beavers, and even the Eugene Emeralds in their final season at beautiful, old Civic Stadium.

Don’t Smoke ’em if You Got ’em?

[ 0 ] July 11, 2009 |

This is bullshit.  I’m thinking if there ever is a time when it is OK, permissible, socially acceptable, and indeed, preferable to smoke, it’s when you’re bloody getting shot at or bombed.

I say that as an unrepentant, happy smoker who has been a bitter and angry non smoker now for 4.5 weeks, so I may be biased and over-reacting.
Got a problem with that?

Carriers and Trident, or Body Armor?

[ 0 ] July 11, 2009 |

This is well out of my normal terrain, but a couple weeks ago a high profile commission reported on the future priorities of UK defense spending.  The commission, operating out of the Institute for Public Policy Research and led by a couple Lords (in this case Ashdown, the former LibDem leader and all purpose go-to guy, and Robertson, a former Defense Secretary) argued against big ticket items, such as the Trident nuclear deterrent and the two planned aircraft carriers.

There is a lot about this that is logical.  This island I live on is running a bit short on cash, the MoD is perennially underfunded, and stories are common that the soldier on the ground is under-equipped, (though see here for a counterpoint), to the point where it now may even be considered criminal under EU Human Rights law.  If more money can be shifted to offering these guys and gals better kit, then all the better.
However, it’s an open question, and well beyond my expertise (even when I fake it), as to whether or not the UK requires a nuclear deterrent, and I’m interested in hearing opinions on this matter.  On the carriers, I have a more emotional reaction: I grew up in a navy town (from which I understandably fled as soon as I could), Plymouth is a navy town, and FFS this is the Royal Navy we’re discussing.  Replacing their current three fake carriers with two that are almost real carriers makes sense in terms of both my emotional well being, and the admittedly far less important criterion of force projection.
That said, there’s not a lot of money floating around the UK these days (even though the Bank of England is trying to make up for that through the beautifully termed quantitative easing), and these are my tax dollars not at work.  It’s probably best to outfit the front line soldiers with proper kit than invest in big ticket items.
But what do I know?

“Maybe two or three visitors become contaminated every year”

[ 0 ] July 11, 2009 |

If the odds of contamination are that low, I’m pleased that I ultimately chose to spend my two months of holiday in the PNW for quality time with my better half, and not Chernobyl.

It was touch and go there for a while, however, and at only £95pp out of Kiev, seems like an excellent deal.  And I’ll leave for others the obvious jokes about glowing.


[ 0 ] July 11, 2009 |

Sad, but true:

Kansas City Royals – Acquired Nothing from the Seattle Mariners for P Daniel Cortes, P Derrick Saito, and the right to not have IF Yuniesky Betancourt on the team.

The Royals clearly overpaid here. 28 other teams have also acquired the rights to not have Yuniesky Betancourt play for the teams and none of them had to give up any prospects. Betancourt will continue to not field or not hit for the Royals and push the team into having a de facto 24-man roster. If the Royals wanted to continue to recall positive aspects of the 80s, a process they started with the return of powder blue in the alternate jerseys, they should’ve signed Kurt Stillwell, who is probably a better player right now.

And I think it remains true even given the lack of alternatives on the current roster.

Mariner fans can take solace of being on the other end of these trades in the post-Bavasi era, anyway. Mets fans can at least take solace in the fact that they didn’t quite make the worst trade of the day.

[ 0 ] July 11, 2009 |

Friday Cat Blogging… Nelson, Starbuck, and Ripley

That’ll Solve All Your Problems

[ 0 ] July 10, 2009 |

Yep, nothing will address the fact that your team is running 4-6 replacement-level players a night out there like adding an OF with a lifetime .308 OBP and mediocre power. While trading a better player to a division rival in the meantime.

I suppose you can defend the move by noting that Frenchy is younger an as recently as 2007 projected as a good player, but…I’m not really inclined to. Particularly given that he’s coming a park that’s not going to give up a lot of marginal homers to right-handers.

At least the Mets didn’t have to trade for Yuni “If You Liked Angel Berroa” Betancourt