Your Thoughts Exactly: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Those kind, gentle French

Jacques Chirac, President of France, is attempting to put a one dollar levy on all airfares. The revenue collected from all flights will go directly to African foreign aid, and is Chirac’s method for taking initiative on the issue that was the focus of the last G-8 summit (G-8 being the 8 wealthiest “western” countries) which was African debt and poverty. As France is part of the European Union, any levy it chooses to put on flights will probably have to be negotiated within that framework, and reaction appears to be mixed. The United States, whose cooperation in the program has been sought by Chirac, has of course rejected the proposal, keeping with their general pro-free trade (at least when free trade helps big business,) stance. The airline industry is also against any rise in costs of tickets, as they are already in a fuel and competition crunch that is leading to strikes and cutting meals out of transcontinental flights.

As a Congressional candidate, I love this kind of initiative. In my mind, it has to do with about what the role of government should be. And one of those roles is enabling income transfer and correcting flaws in the system of capitalism. If capitalism enables human society to produce the greatest amount of total income, which is what basic micro and macro economics tries to teach us, it also concentrates that income in the hands of the few. You can see this in the United States of course, but also compare the United States and the developed world’s income and purchasing power to that of Africa, or the general populations of the Middle East, parts of South East Asia, and Latin America. That’s disparity. Whether Chirac and the French feel an obligation to correct this disparity through post-colonial guilt or the goodness of their little French hearts, I think he is making the right choice morally.

Raising money through airfares is in my opinion brilliant, because it secretly focuses the income transfer towards the very rich and the corporate. Poorer people generally don’t travel as much as rich people, so they will be giving less money to the cause. Moreover, any traveler, me or you, is not going to notice the one dollar levy when they are flying for personal reasons, pricing tickets to Chicago or Miami on Expedia for example. The maximum net loss for a personal consumer throughout the year may be twenty dollars, tops.

Who will suffer are the corporations that send employees off to consult every week; at some point, those dollars of airfare will aggregate into real costs. But does anyone really mind if Deloitte or whomever has to give a little bit of their profit margin to foreign aid to Africa? I certainly don’t.

To get initiatives like these passed in France or the United States, progressives need to sell them as populist issues. Emphasize the low cost to the individual, and the importance of the general cause. Everyone is giving a small part that will make a great difference. Enough support can overcome the pro-business lobbies, which have more concentrated power and influence onto Congressmen. I support Chirac in his creativity, and wish that someone in the U.S. could jump on the bandwagon.


The sky is falling! (Part 2)

So, here's part two of the 'We're doomed' series. I realize that I didn't give any real good reasons about why what's going on in the US is going to lead to our demise. I simply pointed out some things that were wrong with the US, and there always are and always will be things wrong with the US. Why is it that we're doomed this time?

Well, first of all, I'm not saying that we're going to die off in the next 100 years. That seems highly improbable. After all, the British thought that the American Revolution would last a few years and then we'd be begging to have british support again. Well, sure, we rose to power after that, but I still think that the total trajectory of the US's power is one that ends in failure. Looking back in hindsight, we can look at past civilizations and say "well of course they were going to fail, they were doing X all wrong". Well take a look at the US (and much of the world) and try and convince yourself that we aren't doing it all wrong.

The war in Iraq and the debate over intelligent design in my last post only tried to illustrate two things: that the administration has recognized the country's need for resources (in this case, oil) outstrips its reliable supply. Yes, there are countless other reasons like the ones Marmar alluded to- power, misdirection, and even peace in the Middle East. But those are proximate reasons, and I think the ultimate reason is still oil. Peace in the Middle East supports our interests, because it will enable us to more freely get our oil. Peace in Africa doesn't necessarily support our interests, because Africa is a much less resource-wealthy land. Of course, there's the terrorism issue. I could argue that terrorism and WMDs were just an excuse to get the public geared towards war, but I'm not going to here. At this point, I think you'll agree that it's not too much of a stretch that stabilizing the oil supply out of the unstable Mideast was at least a good part of the logic.
Secondly, The ID debate just simply illustrates the human fear of change- and that resistance to change will be strong, no matter how irrational that fear may be.

Why is this important? Well, assume you take an average American and look at their consumer habits. We use far too many resources- and we don't recycle them back into the supply side. I'm not talking only about literal recycling of plastics and glass, I'm talking about everything we consume- oil, which is burned and not returned to the earth. Plastics, also made from petroleum. Electronics, made from trace metals. Paper, made from trees which IS recyclable, yet there's still a net loss of trees every year. As an American consumer, I can tell you myself that there's a fundamental gap in our thinking about the environment and what really should be done.

Intuitively, just think to yourself about what the US populace does to the environment, consuming something like 50% of the world's resources for less than 5% of the population. We just know that it isn't sustainable. Of course, if you don't like the intuitive argument, more empirically, we're clearly running out many resources- oil, the ozone layer, coal, trees, etc. Of course we are not at the tipping point yet, so I'm not trying to sow panic (the title of this post notwithstanding).

Even many environmentalists (myself included) may be paying lip service to the idea of saving our resources, but we can't do it without a radical change in our priorities. How many environmentalists are riding their bikes to work instead of driving? How many commit to not using plastic products? How many try to make sure that their net effect on the environment is around zero? The reason is that there are too many other demands on ourselves (and many of them are self-imposed)- we have to make money, we have to save time, we have to have fun, and we have to be cool and have nice stuff.

We laugh when we see someone driving a Hummer and saying that they support the troops, because we find it secretly hypocritical that perhaps a better way to support the troops would be to not use as much oil. But really, every one of us is guilty of the same hypocrisy- we don't want to destroy the environment, but we'll buy individually wrapped M&Ms and fill up landfills full of garbage that we really don't need. We aren't all rushing out to buy hybrids because it would cost us too much money to trade in our cars. We aren't recycling because it takes too much time. We run the A/C because it's unbearably hot in the summer, and burn oil because it's unbearably cold in the winter.

I'm not saying we're all evil because of this-- it's just the way we've been wired. Just like the people on Easter Island were wired to build giant statues and use up all their trees. By the time they realized they had made a serious error, it was too late. Perhaps, yes, we can learn our lesson. But I think what's much more likely, and what history has shown us to be mostly true, is that we'll crash and burn as a civilization and then rebuild, with a new set of values, one in which those citizens learn to be more responsible stewards of their resources. Just like our values have evolved to the point where we laugh at the Easter Islanders and are disgusted with the kind of hunters that kill sharks for their fins and throw the rest of the body back, so too will our descendants laugh at the kind of spend first, ask questions later mentality that we have now.

There are a few caveats that I want to address. One, as we've moved to a more global society, there's a much better chance of our society surviving to the next generation even factoring in a civilizational collapse. Perhaps the US will collapse, but it won't be a deleted civilization- it would be much more like the Roman collapse, in that Roman influence is pervasive in human culture nowadays. Secondly, technology is a key deciding factor.

Technology is the double edged sword in that it may well be what saves us, but it may also be what is driving us to our behavior. People are confident (and I probably am too) that even if oil runs out, that will simply drive capital into alternative energy sources and we'll be ok. But what if we run out of copper? Or trees? And what are we going to do about plastics? But because we have seen the miracles of technology, we're overconfident? What if we can't find a good manufacturing process for plastics once oil runs out? What if the toxic waste we're dumping into the ground isn't fixable? Then we're really screwed, right?

I think we are, but like I said, I don't think we're talking about the end of the human race here. The future almost certainly holds some rough times ahead, but as long as human knowledge survives, then it's probably that we can survive as a race, even if it's not the 6 billion strong that we're accustomed to now. And maybe that might be a good thing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


War, Who is it good for?

Deep into the third year of the Iraq war, and coming up on the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the War on Terror (I mean global struggle against extremism,) the nation has adapted to a constant state of conflict. Tolerance for the War in Iraq is based on the fact that 1) not too many people are dying 2) of those that are dying, they come from the faction of the divided United States that supports the War, 3) if you think the policies of the President and company are ludicrous, you can sit at home and avoid getting killed, if you happen to be a young male such as myself.

Most importantly, of course, the American people pledged support for four more years of war by voting W back into office. Bush’s greatest weakness, and the characteristic that makes him so scary to people like myself, is his unwavering support to his own ideology and self-belief in his people’s policies. Some people see this as a key strength in uncertain times, and Bush’s campaign policy was based on selling this characteristic as a strong point. But an inability to admit fault, combined with increasing power, is costing people lives. Even as support for the war and the President deteriorates to all time lows, the President refuses to budge from his team’s stance on Iraq. Nothing will stop him from changing his current policy.

Why is their such strong support for the War from this camp? Are their larger forces at play that benefit from the state of War, and the state of the Middle East? I aim to answer the question in the title of the post, to try and understand why we continue this fight.

First the cynical, that the war is being fought simply to gain access to Iraq and subsequently, the Middle East’s oil, which of course will satisfy Dick Cheney and his Halliburton cohorts. This is probably not the ultimate reason for the war, but simply a convenient corrolary. It’s clear that the administration didn’t understand the difficulties of extracting oil from a war-torn country, remember Wolfowitz’ statements that Iraq would be able to pay for its reconstruction through oil exportation. How’s that going? Not so well? Of course there is a chance that Wolfowitz knew this was crap at the time he made this statement. Regardless this is just another example of the Bush Administration either being incompetent or misleading. I can’t decide which is worse.

Regardless higher oil prices as a result of the war should stand to benefit oil companies. However I don’t see this as necessarily a bad thing. Gas prices may be high, but people keep buying, showing that low prices may have been in need of a market correction. As gas becomes more expensive, other fuel sources, ones that are more environmentally efficient, become relatively more affordable.

The real reason for our state of war derives from the additional power such a state gives to our leaders, in terms of an ability to accomplish their goals. We are at war because the state of war gives power to the machinery of the executive branch of the government, particularly the department of defense, the department of homeland security, and the state department. The idea of War captures the human mind, especially when one doesn’t have to fight in it. There has been a shift within the public eye from the post-Vietnam culture of war as chaos and absolute horror back to the post World War II mythology of war as noble, where men show absolute courage they cannot in any other situation, the enemy is faceless, evil, and eminently killable, and none of the main characters we fall in love with end up underground. Look at the war movies being made, even before 9/11: Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, your generic prison rescue movie…what happened to the Apocolypse Now’s and Platoon’s? How have we forgotten the dark side of conflict?

This idea of the nobility of war, and the abstractness of the idea of a War on “terror,” allows those that control war to propogate it indefinitely and use it as a justification for whatever they desire, be it removing Sadaam Hussien from office or drilling for oil in Alaska. President Bush, when he wants to make himself look good, often remarks that “we are succeeding in the War on Terror.” But the war on terror is a straw man, for it is an immeasurable quantity, since the enemy we are fighting is incapable of surrender, since it has no physical form. How does Terror surrender to the U.S.? How does the War end? It can’t and it won’t. Of course the Bush Administration cannot say we are at war with Al Qaeda, since its leader and organization remain out there, which implies a failure on the part of the Bush Administration.

But moreover, it is not in the interests of the Bush Administration because the state of War allows them to excuse themselves from accountability and act as a blanket justification for any policies they wish to pass. Everyone knows that in times of War, we must all make sacrifices, and most importantly, support our government and leadership, as they must know what’s best for us. In War, we must see ourselves as part of a struggle greater than any individual, even as War continues to benefit some (oil companies,) over others. In the spirit of “togetherness,” that followed 9/11, Congress was hoodwinked into passing destructive measures such as the Patriot Act and entering into Iraq. And the inertness of America makes it extremely difficult to revoke laws once they are passed.

If we as a people, a mass of fat, lazy, entitled Americans obsessed with celebrity and wealth, can recognize that there is no glory in war for those who sit at home, and that death and destruction are the realities of those that fight, and that the state of war we think we live in has not been forced upon us by a shadowy enemy, but by the leaders that we rely on to protect us, we can change the tide of where our country is going. For as long as it is beneficial to our politicians and leaders for them to tell us we are at War, then we will be. Even if, we really aren’t.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Hell, a handbasket, and you

It seems like it's been a while since we've been up on current events here at YTE, but I thought I'd bring it back with a tried and true look at the state of the globe.

Right now I'm reading Collapse by Jared Diamond. I can't say that I've finished it, but the basic premise is that societies and civilizations have historically collapsed because of environmental pressures combined with other pressures, such as war and politics. This agrees with what I've said about environmental damage- that we're doing possibly irreparable harm to the environment, and by the time we feel the effects it may be too late to fix them, much like what happened on Easter Island.

Although I'm not sure the metaphor holds up to modern society, I still appreciate Diamond's attempt and his scientific approach to the problem, and I appreciate his environmental stand. To me, he's the best kind of environmentalist- the kind that is in it to help humanity, not because nature is holy, or because we need a place in Montana to get away from the city, so it better have some trees and rivers there that are pretty for me to look at.
I consider myself an environmentalist- I'm a card-owning member of the Sierra Club, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I probably don't agree with most of the other members. I gave them money mainly so that I could stand up and be counted among the "Environmentalists". So that politicians can say "Oh, the Sierra Club gained 150,000 new members this year. (I just made that number up, please don't use it) Maybe we oughta take this environmental stuff seriously."

So, where does this all fit into the world? Well, couple the fact that America is getting stupider, and the fact that we're the largest economy in the world, and I think that spells a recipe for collapse.

Ok, so maybe we're not in for a real Malthusian catastrophe, but the facts are clear. The intelligent design debacle is proof positive that Americans are morons. As I've said before: being pro-life is not a stupid opinion, nor is believing in God. But teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution is just misinformed religious nonsense (and one reason why being religious IS stupid... ok now I've gone too far). Having faith in a creator is one thing, but using it to undermine science is another. And why attack evolution? How come they aren't attacking Newtonian gravity, which is shown to be incomplete? How come they aren't attacking the uncertainty principle, which would make it seem like God wasn't in control of the universe?

Well, I'll tell you why. Because the people behind ID are morons. They couldn't wrap their pea-sized brains around nuclear or astronomical physics if their pathetic lives depended on it. (ok I've gone too far again) But they CAN look at human eye and say "No way man! I'm sure God created that!" Never mind that if God existed, he would have created evolution and could have even... and please don't kill me for this... intelligently designed the evolution process so that it WOULD create humans. No, let's just say that evolution is incomplete. And let's definitely not point out that any good scientific theory should be incomplete.

And let's also point out that the war in Iraq is going poorly, which is to be expected. But now everyone wants out, and many liberals are trying to have Cindy Sheehan be their shining knight to lead the charge out of Iraq. But the thing is, just because you didn't want to go into Iraq (most liberals) doesn't mean you have to get out as soon as possible. We're in there, and it's done, so we DO have to make sure we didn't make it worse. Of course you know I am in trouble when I'm agreeing with the President. And the other thing is, just because you DID want to go into Iraq and did "support the troops" by putting a sticker on your car (many conservatives), doesn't mean that you can pull out now because it's turning into a quagmire. Of course most conservatives are sticking to the president's side.

I'm sure people would accuse me of ivory tower madness, sitting here comfortably at a desk while I say that American troops must die across the world to finish a mission that never should have started. But the thing I would say to them is that
1) Signing up for the armed forces means that you decided to follow the President's orders no matter whether he was right or wrong. And just because he was wrong then, and is right now, doesn't matter.
2) I would accuse those other people of nationalist racism, because by saving the lives of another 1000 American soldiers, they're almost certainly condemning thousands of more Iraqi civilians to death. And the notion that American lives, that American jobs are worth more than others is a kind of idea that needs to be put to death as soon as possible.
So in a way, I applaud the soldiers of the US for doing what they're doing. In one sense they are being as selfless as can be. But in another way I feel truly, deeply sorry for them, for having to follow the President who got them into this mess.

So does this really mean we're all doomed? I don't know. I think that clearly, the US is increasingly an unsustainable mess, and that the reason we're in Iraq in the first place is to make sure that instability in the middle east doesn't destabilize our oil-based economy. And that oil-based economy is increasingly strained by environmental pressures, and it's increasingly strained by our crazy irrational nationwide behavior. But that discussion has to be relegated to part 2, since this one is running long.

Friday, August 26, 2005



As we reach the climax of another baseball season, the pressure on the Red Sox continues to build, as the Yankees narrowed their deficit to two and a half games as the team was in the throes of an ultimately disappointing 10 game road trip on which we compiled a 4-6 mark. While we split with the AL West leading Angels, we blew two of three in Detroit that were easily winnable and got taken by the fracking Royals. Now, the Sox have been a .500 road team thus far, while going 38-18 at home…and 25 of our 37 remaining games are at home. Thus, confidence is still high. Our success at home, in my opinion, is mostly a function of comfort for our hitters and, more importantly, the ability to have last ups, which gives our greatest strength (our offense) the advantage when trying to cover for our greatest weakness (our bullpen.)
The 2005 Sox actually remind me of the 2002 Pats, who didn’t make the playoffs at 9-7, due to a fundamental inability to stop the run. The Sox will make the playoffs, mostly due to a weak AL, but still have a fundamental inability get people out. The return of Curt Schilling last night was supposed to be a step in alleviating this flaw, but the wanker gave up six runs in five innings. To the Royals.

But statistically, we should be encouraged from Schilling’s performance. He only walked two, gave up no home runs, and struck out five in six. He gave up 9 hits, which is how the Royals went about scoring their runs. But hits, according to many sabermaticians, are more a function of luck then performance. Balls hit in play will find holes or find fielders. What a pitcher can do is control how many balls are put in play (strikeouts), how many free batters he gives bases (walks), and how many balls he allows out of play (home runs.) These are known as the Three True Outcomes.

On balls hit in play off of Schilling, hitters are batting around 380. This is a very high figure, and would lead some to say that Schilling has been sucking simply because he’s been unlucky. As long as he keeps pitching, this number will “self-correct.” But this thesis defies the observable evidence, that hitters are getting hits off of Schilling because his pitches aren’t what they were. His fastball has lost three miles per hour off of last year. More worrisome is his off-speed stuff, which lacks its previous bite. A steady diet of hanging splitters leads to a higher percentage of line drives, and coincidently, more hits per balls in play.

Thus our season appears to hinge on whether Schilling gets it together in time for the last three weeks of the season or remains damaged goods. However, there are other scenarios that could possibly save the pitching and give us hope for the postseason. Clement could return to early season form, (he hasn’t been the same since getting hit in the face,) although his historical inability to pitch a high number of innings does not bode well. Foulke could return to the bullpen, stabilizing the end of games and allowing everyone else to fill more comfortable roles. (Highly possible; if healthy, he has been a consistently great reliever for five plus years.) One of our young pitchers, Papelbon, Delcarmen, and Hansen, could emerge to steal roles from current mediocrity. (Delcarmen, probably not, as he needs to gain more confidence in his breaking stuff. Papelbon looks like someone ready to contribute immediately, while Hansen is an unknown commodity, but hopefully the next Huston Street.) Or we could keep on sucking and winning games through our offense. As we have all year.

Regardless, the Sox are in the middle of a stretch where they play 30 straight days! While this is bad for the team, considering our lack of depth, it’s great for me. I’ll be watching. And you’ll have to hear about it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Sox Suck

OK, I admit it, our offense sucks. Can we please get back to winning now?

Friday, August 19, 2005



I took a break from faux-job searching to catch up with some old friends. A visit from Senor Dorfe, a trip to Martha’s Vineyard to meet up with one Daniel Harris, and a jaunt down to NYC where I ran into KenandSarah, and Il Duce.

Martha’s Vineyard is a quaint, secluded island, that attempts to maintain an “old-time” feel to it, through removing itself from the instant information/gratification, society that dominates the rest of the East Coast of the United States. There is almost no cell phone reception, and you have to rely on dial-up internet.

Of course to get away from such hassles, you have to give over your pound of flesh. And, as the towns of Vineyard Haven and Edgartown are rife with crowds during the summer weekends, you really need to pay through the nose to get some damn peace and quiet. How much am I talking about? One private beach, in Chilmark on the southwest coast of the island, has a gate with a padlock preventing cars from driving down the private road to the beach. The price of a key to said gate? 400,000 dollars.

If I was paying 400 thou for the rights to use a beach, I’d expect there to be unicorns prancing in the sand and mermaids emerging from the water every so often. I did manage to make it down to the beach on foot, but sadly, it was nighttime, so if there were any mermaids (or mer-men) around, I did not see them. I did successfully pee in the ocean several times, and I am able to posit that 400 grand probably would buy the added satisfaction of knowing you can pee where few others can.

Coming from Australia, where few, if any, beaches are private, and all of them are probably more gorgeous than those on Martha’s Vineyard, the depths to which the rich in our country will go to get away from the rest of us stings and saddens me. This is a function of less stratification of wealth in Australia (less super-rich people), but more importantly, fewer people in general. With 1/10th the people in the same land mass as the United States, it’s much easier to get away from everyone else. But the 400,000 dollar beach doesn’t just allow rich people to get away, it lets them get away and hang out with only each other.

Of course, everyone in America wants to be one of these superrich, even if there is no chance of most of us getting there. This is why rich brats get reality shows. I am by no means innocent of thoughts of greed. I play the lottery hoping I’ll win 30 million and never have to work in my life. But I won’t win, and I’ll probably never be worth 30 million dollars. I still might be able to get away with not working however.

But whatever. Those wankers on the Vineyard can keep their damn beach and be free of scrubs like me. But I wish the mass of people who don’t have 400,000 dollars, who work hard to put food on the table, could wake up and recognize our society would benefit from a structure of government and economic redistribution that served the needs of the many, not the powerful. And moreover, I wish that the people paying 400,000 dollars would realize that they could do much more good donating 200 grand to charity, with plenty left over for a plane ticket to Sydney. Where they could see some damn beautiful beaches without having to pay a cent.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Baseball... A-OK!

I know, I know, it's been over a year since I last posted about White Sox, but isn't that really just a testament to our blog's longevity rather than a slap in the face to the White Sox?

Yes, the white sox are good. Our pitching is unbelievable (literally) and our offense, despite what some people think, is not bad. We're ranked around 10-11th in run scored home or away- so that basically means we are consistent, and that park ratings aren't a big factor for us. And runs scored is an effective measure of a team's offense, despite not being a great measure of an individual's offense. Basically, the fact that we have a bad EqA just means that we don't necessarily get a lot of hits per run. But what difference does it make if you score runs?

Anyway, I'm worried. Part of the reason that I didn't post about the White Sox was that I was afraid we would eventually fall flat on our faces. Now, it's pretty apparent we're going to the playoffs, and I think I like this team's playoff chances better than most teams I root for- we have good pitching, good defense, can win close games, and play pretty well on the road. Plus, the ability to manufacture runs will be important when we come up against a playoff pitching staff.

I'm not going to write on the predictions that we're going to the series, because there are still gaps- a 10th ranked offense is not anything to be happy about, really... and we lack playoff experience. Except for El Duque. Plus, anything can happen in a 5 or 7 game series. But I like our chances, even against those dirty A's. And after we take this weekend's series against boston, it'll be time for people to take note, that 2005 is the year of the White Sox.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Yay Baseball

Good news for the blog. I’ve been back in the United States and unemployed long enough that I’ve been able to get back into the Red Sox! Thus, I can get back into the writing mode by spewing out thoughts onto paper about the world champions. Tonight, I’ve decided that the Red Sox will win the World Series this year. If they don’t, by some fluke, don’t worry my friends. It will only be a temporary hiccup, such as the Pats in ’02, before we return to our championship heights.

Yes it’s a good time to be a Boston sports fan…how long have I been saying that now?

Ok enough gloating. Time for a serious analysis of this year’s strengths and weakness.

After some more gloating. I mean seriously. In the last 18 months we’ve had two Super Bowl Champions and a World Series winner. Who does that? No one that’s who. Except Pittsburgh.

-Big money hitters. The hitting stars, Damon, Ortiz, and Ramirez, are performing at or above expectation, and insure consistent run production. Damon, in a contract year, is pricing himself out of market for the Red Sox, which disappoints me greatly. Damon is an irreplaceable part of this offense, and a great goofy baseball character. Plus, he inspired me to grow my hair out! Manny, after a slow start, will end up with MVP numbers. Ortiz has maintained his consistent dominance, although he has slumped lately. More importantly, I suckered Stu into trading me both these players.

-Defense. The 05 Red Sox are not as good as the previous year’s team, which excelled at all three facets of the game: pitching, hitting, and defense. The current edition ranks near the bottom of Baseball Prospectus’ Defensive Efficiency ratings, which measures the rate at which teams convert balls in play into outs. The Red Sox are also poor at throwing runners out and playing error free baseball.

-Supporting players who get on base. Mueller and Varitek specifically, have high OBPs that wear down opposing pitchers and get runs out of the bottom half of the lineup. Renteria and Millar, despite there power outages relative to year’s past, also at least get on base at acceptable rates. Nixon has produced when healthy. All this has led to the Sox leading the AL in runs for the third straight year

WEAKNESS: The Bullpen. I’ve attempted to come up with a funny line about how much our bullpen sucks, but am unable to come up with anything that isn’t horribly mean. Schilling has stabilized the closer situation. Timlin is great at starting innings and terriblt at allowing inherited runners to score, deflating his ERA. Everyone else has been pretty much crap. I am a big fan of Manny Delcarmen, who throws gas, has hair similar to mine, and is from Hyde Park. Francona doesn’t trust young players, and similar to Mr. Weebles, would rather have a veteran suck than let a young player suck and hopefully develop. So we bring in Mike Remlinger. And he gives up four base runners without getting an out. And I want to implae myself with a chopstick.

WEAKNESS: Starting rotation. Well it hasn’t been that weak. Mediocre? Our four main starters ERA are between 4.13 and 4.53, with our supposed ace, Clement, having the worst of the bunch. Basically, we have four number three starters and a reclamation project: Wade Miller, who hasn’t panned out and is headed back to the DL. Which begs the question, with Keith Foulke’s return imminent, do we move Schilling back to the rotation? Much of this depends on Foulke’s effectiveness, he has sucked all year long. If his knee was what was causing his dip in velocity and he can get people out again, he should recapture his high leverage relief role. Schilling as a starter is an unknown quantity. His velocity is returning slowly, and he is striking people out. A four man playoff rotation of Wake, Clement, Arroyo, and Wells will probably not get it done. I think Schilling needs to be worked back into the rotation by mid-September.

WEAKNESS: Manager. I will never trust a Red Sox manager. Ever.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


We're all gonna die!!!

Obesity! Heart Disease! Cancer! Chances are, if you're an American, that one of them is going to kill you. Especially the first one, if you're Lee Roth! OK, seriously though- there's been talk of an obesity epidemic sweeping the nation. Which is a ridiculous use of the term epidemic, but also beside the point. But obesity does threaten to be a big problem in the future of health care- it increases the incidence of diabetes, atherosclerosis, etc. It's bad to be obese, that's for sure. So does that mean we should try and head off this problem before it gets to be really bad?

I had one teacher who wrote the following numbers (something like them, at least) on a chalkboard:
2001 2002 2003
3000 0 0
17,000 18,000 17,000
900,000 900,000 900,000

The first number was the number of deaths from terrorism, the second from drunk driving, and the third from heart disease. The point he was trying to make? I don't know. The point I'm trying to make? Eh, I'm not sure. But you know what? At some point, humanity has to have some sort of ceiling for its life expectancy- and it won't matter if they die of heart disease or something else. I suspect that heart disease is a common way to die because it's the weak link in our body- pumping every second for 70 years probably gets a little rough. So maybe the fact that a lot of people die of heart disease is a good thing- that it means they aren't dying of all the other awful things you can die of in life.

Granted, dying at 45 from a heart attack- probably not 'good'. But dying at 65 or 75? Maybe that's all you can expect. The real issue here is preventability- dying from obesity-related causes is certainly preventable, but dying because the old ticker stopped working probably isn't.

In any case, obesity is going to be blamed for a lot of things; and rising health care costs is certainly one of those things. And sure, some of it will certainly be preventable. But take the coming statistics with a grain of salt- sure, heart disease may rise, and diabetes may too. But malnutrition rates and Twinkie sales will be much better! Of course, I can't leave without a simpsons quote:

Lisa: I feel like I'm going to die!
Bart: We're all going to die, Lis.
Lisa: I meant soon!
Bart: So did I.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


John Bolton Appointed as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

On a cold, damp day in Punta Arenas, Chile, President Bush used the constitutional power of recess appointment to put in place his choice for United States Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.

"Said I loved you...but I lied," said Bolton, explaining, "'cause this is more than love I feel inside."

Bolton appeared ecstatic at the prospect of serving at the U.N., his enthusiasm highlighted by the tiny flickering of flames in his eyes. "After exhausting all my powers of criticizing and demeaning the U.N. from without, I look forward to the opportunity the President has bestowed upon me to undermine that foul institution from within. I am honored by being selected for this important task, and am, as ever, the President's humble servant."

Somewhere around the world a child dropped her ice cream cone.

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