Saturday, June 30, 2007

Babe Hank and Barry

There is a certain controversy these days about the eminent breaking of the lifetime home run record. Currently held by Hank Aaron, the record is threatened by Barry Bonds. Before Mr. Aaron held the title, Babe Ruth was the owner.
Controversy about the Lifetime Home Run Record is nothing new. In 1974, when Hank Aaron was about to break the record, the admirers of Babe Ruth said that Mr. Ruth had fewer at bats than Mr. Aaron did. Many attributed this criticism to racism, with a black man besting a white man's record.
The current controversy is two fold. There are allegations that Mr. Bonds took steroids to make him stronger, and that he "cheated". There are also some concerns about the overall personality of Mr. Bonds.
I do not think steroid use is a big deal. Ballplayers are abusing their bodies to perform, and if they take the risk of using steroids, that is their business. This is not a majority opinion. But I suspect there are those who agree with me.
A good question to ask is, would Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron have used steroids if they had the chance? Mr. Ruth was a wildman, who drank during prohibition and was known for his undisciplined behavior. Mr. Aaron played in an era where steroid use was not as common as it is today. The answer to the first question is (Mr. Ruth) Probably and (Mr. Aaron) Who Knows.
While you are keeping hypocrisy statistics, Mr. Aaron and Mr. Bonds played on television, where beer commercials were constant. While alcohol is legal, it is a very damaging drug, deadly and addictive. But it is legal, and any ballplayer who plays on television promotes its use. This is both steroid users and steroid non users.
As for personalities, there is the widely circulated story about the college team that Mr. Bonds played on voting 22-3 to kick him off the team. Apparently, at the very least he does not charm sportswriters.
In 1917, Babe Ruth was suspended for hitting an umpire. He was known for his outlandish behavior throughout his career. It should also be noted that he played in an era when the press did not scrutinize the behavior of players as much as they do today. How would today's reality show media have dealt with Babe Ruth?
On a local talk show, I heard a caller say that Hank Aaron was a mean racist who would just as soon cut your throat as look at you. While I had never heard this said out loud before, I had heard hints about his personality over the years.
Mr. Aaron is the only one of the three that I have met, however briefly. In the summer of 1965, the Milwaukee Braves came to Atlanta to play an exhibition game at the newly finished Stadium, which would be their home the next season. After the game, Daddy and I were allowed to wait outside the clubhouse, to get autographs from the players as they left. Joe Torre saw the crowd, hid behind a truck and made a quick getaway. Hank Aaron came out, patiently signing every autograph requested of him, while smoking a cigarette.
The fact is, all three men played in different eras. Babe Ruth never played at night, never flew to California, and only played against white players...many of the most talented players of his era were in the Negro League. Hank Aaron played before free agency, interleague play, the DH, and widespread use of steroids. The only way to determine who is the home run champion is to count how many homers are hit, and award the prize to the man who hits the most.

Which of the three made the most money? Barry Bonds, by a wide margin. He played in the free agent era.
Babe Ruth had the best line about his salary. In 1930 Ruth was asked by a reporter what he thought of his yearly salary of $80,000 being more than President Hoover's $75,000. He replied " yea, but I had a better year than he did"
Lest anyone worry, Hank Aaron owns a BMW dealership now, and is doing very well.
Who played on the most teams to win a World Series? Babe Ruth 7, Hank Aaron 1, Barry Bonds 0.
While the career of Babe Ruth is before my time, I have heard about the impact he had on the game. He was one of the first sports superstars, as America emerged from the carnage of World War One as a prosperous superpower. When he broke the single season home run record, he hit 29 homers. The next year, (1920, his first year with the New York Yankees) he hit 54. There is a possibility of a livelier baseball.
Babe Ruth captured the imagination of America like few personalities ever have. Playing in New York ( which dominated the press) did not hurt. He was a man of his is unlikely than anyone could have that kind of impact on today's superstar saturated America. While his record has been broken, his place in the history of baseball is the same.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Jury Selection

6/25/2007 12:15:51 PM
Jury duty is over for this window of vulnerability.
After not getting to sleep until way past my bedtime, I was up at the standard 620 this morning. Navigating Clairmont Road without incident, I got to the courthouse parking lot just in time. Standing in line to check in, I saw at the window my friend "J".
He is wearing bib overalls, and his hair is cut short. He walks by me to find a seat, and I tap him on the shoulder.
Room 102, where the jurors await assignment, was crowded. "J" walked over to where I was in line, so we could talk during the waiting to serve period. I got to the check in window just as the orientation speakers were starting, The questionaire caught my eye by asking if I had state farm insurance (yes) or allstate(no). I recall how my dad got burned by allstate in 1952 and never did get over it.
"J" was a great person to spend the morning with. I was anticipating the books and magazines in the jury room, which was not unpleasant, but a live person to tell you stories is much better. His big news was helping a friend of his redo the roof on his garage, with abundant details. I mentioned that I had been to the parade the day before, and had missed seeing him ride with the dykes on bikes, which is now co ed.
As soon as I said that, a woman with short bleach blond hair was the first speaker of the day. She introduced a Mr. Wong, who is a state court judge. ( Or was it Mr. Wang, who is a Superior Court Judge?)
There should be a law against an Asian Judge who thinks he is a comedian. He spoke...for too long...about the jury system, and said we were very important. He told us to do what he does when he goes shopping with his wife...take a deep breath, and be patient.
Next was the movie, which shows pictures of all the Dekalb county judges. We learn that we are very important to the justice system.
While we await the next speaker, "J" tells me about the renovation he is doing at HIS garage. This and several other things, until it is time for the red haired lady to read the list of names. These are the people who will be going to serve on a jury. .
After these people were ushered out of the room, chairs started to be available. We found two on the front row, with lots of leg room and no people easing by to get out.
"J" is a former legal secretary, and he knew some of the judges in question. He was excited about being on jury duty...he said it was better than reality tv.
I had my comments from time to time....about the parade, Milton Berle, blogs, picture making, and life in general. "J" was following with stories about gardening, home improvement, Happy Texas, O.Henry, and much,much more
The red haired lady got back on the stand, and read another list of names. When she got to "J", he said "I'm here for you". The red haired lady was charmed. When the people on the list were all accounted for , the red haired lady told the rest of us to go home. This included me. My feelings were not hurt.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dogs and Kids

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sir Joe Cocker

It was another lunch hour, and the week was dragging by a bit slower than usual. The usual suspects in the blogosphere were dispensed with, a picture was attempted and fell flat, I thought, maybe I should just go back to work and spend a half hour in the service of my employer without compensation.
Before such drastic measures were taken, I decided to look at slate, aka the last liberal medium in America. Lord; stop me before I go into that semantic mudpie.
But slate did come to my rescue, with a feature about the controversy du jour, the impending knighthood of Salman Rushdie.
The usual platitudes about freedom of speech, dastardly Muslims, and unreadable novels were dispensed. Very little was said about Mr. Rushdie’s personality, which apparently is not the most pleasant in the world. Back in the days of the original fatwa, there was a magazine piece about the man. One quote stuck in my memory " never mind the fatwa, there are so many other reasons to want to kill him".
And he is a friend of Christopher Hitchens.
I suppose Mr. Hitchens is waiting to comment on this. If the fatwa is carried out, he will be on the familiar turf of trashing the recently deceased. If Mr. Rushdie is still alive, then Mr. Hitchens will get into some feel good Muslim bashing. Or maybe both.
One suspects that the British government has an ulterior motive in all of this...duh. A none to subtle slap at the Muslim world is suspected...never mind that illiteracy is rampant in that world, and that many of those rioting and burning the union jack now could not read " the satanic verses" if they wanted to. They were inspired to mayhem by the clerics, who are world grade rabble rousers.
But, the details of the "queens official birthday" (I am not making that title up) shed new light on this. It seems as though on the QOB, those chosen for Knighthood are announced. This year, in addition to Salmon Rushdie, the honorees included Dame Edna, several British Jocks, "the founders of the erotic lingerie line agent provocateur", and, Joe Cocker.
Yes, that Joe Cocker.
I wonder if he will leave his hat on at the ceremony.
The Same rocker known for regularly puking onstage. (Speaking of regularity, no word on whether he did THAT onstage, although I don't doubt it)
The same Joe cocker that John Belushi channeled to perfection.
Maybe this is whom the fatwa should be against. The man with the same initials as Jimmy Carter, not Samurai dead comedian.

6/22/2007 1:56 PM
So, I missed a night posting. I got home and was dog tired, and went to bed at 7pm. Summer is here, and the heat takes all the energy out of me, and I just need to get used to it for the next couple of months.
Let’s get back to the absurdity of making a Knight out of Joe Cocker. Ok, so he was good in the Woodstock movie, and he lived long enough to perform at Woodstock 1994. I still say Queen Lizzie is scraping the bottom of the barrel for Knighthood fodder.
Maybe he was one of Lady Di’s boyfriends. Or, more to the point, maybe he did NOT date the people’s princess. This is how you get to be a member of the Order of the British Empire. ( Check the linked article for some other winners of this honor)
I once lived in spent a lot of time in a bar called the Bayou Landing. Every morning at 4am, the DJ would play “You are so Beautiful” by Joe Crocker Cocker. (Note to self, quit playing with the html). After the former apprentice gas fitter growled the last note, the fluorescent lights in the ceiling were cut on. If you have ever spent the evening getting plastered under barroom lights, the sudden appearance of enough fluorescent lighting to illuminate a K mart can be very discouraging. No doubt, many promising romances were stillborn in that moment of excess luminescence.
And this all happened after the DJ played “you are so beautiful” by Joe Cocker.
And this is the man who the Queen of England wants to call Sir. What drugs is she carrying in that purse these days?
This does put the decision to honor Salmon Rushdie in a bit of perspective. Maybe one of the jilted boyfriends from the Bayou Landing should issue a fatwa against Joe Cocker.
Spell check for this feature:
fatwa- fatty, fat, fate, fats, fatso, fatter, father
salman- salmon, salami
Rushdie- residue, reside
Hitchens- hitches
Edna-end, dna, edina, eden
Belushi- Blush, bleach, bleat
LIzzie- Liz, Lisa, Lassie, Laze. Lessee, Lese, Lose, Lazy
Di's- id's, ddi's. die's. dig's,din's ,dips,dibs, digs, dims

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ten commandments of driving

Here are the “Drivers’ Ten Commandments” as listed by the Vatican’s Office for Migrants and Itinerant People:
1. You shall not kill.
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are in a fitting condition to do so.
7. Support the families of accident victims.
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
10. Feel responsible toward others

Before we begin the commentary, why is this issued by “the Vatican’s Office for Migrants and Itinerant People”. I mean, if you are a legal citizen of the country you reside in, you can drive any way you want? That is the way man Jesus Worshippers already drive.
As the bumper sticker says, “Drive like hell and you will get there”
Now, this is not the ten I would have chosen. “Thou shalt not tailgate" comes to mind. Maybe Italy and Germany are not as cell phone happy as America, but in this country we need a reminder to hang up and drive.
"The liberating experience of forgiveness" seldom happens as the result of a lawsuit.
"Thou shalt pray with thy eyes open while driving" is a no brainer. Especially when a big haired woman is tailgating you, while talking on her cell phone. You can be certain she is not talking to G-d or Jesus.
Nonetheless, this is a step in the right direction. While I am not fond of the Catholic variety of Jesus Worship, I know for a fact that Protestants make all sorts of noise about vague sins of the spirit, and ignore driving. I have long wondered why bad driving was not considered a moral issue on the level of sex and drug use.
One of the first things I learned in drivers ed was that ministers as an occupation group have a terrible driving record. While this may be an urban legend, it does ring true.
I do know that many terrible drivers have chrome fish on their vehicles. Now, when you put a fish or bumper sticker about Jesus on your car, your driving makes a statement about Jesus. And often not a pretty one.
Jesus Worshippers think they can treat people just as rotten as they please, and it is ok because Jesus forgives them.
With over 50k useless deaths every year on the roads, and untold injuries and nerve damage, you would think the church would take an interest. But, it is more fun to campaign against gay marriage and abortion. This is a failure in moral leadership by the church.
Of course, this is the Catholic church speaking here, and many Protestants don't think they are really Christians. While I am not ready to convert, the Ten Commandments of Driving are a start.
postscript- While reading a story about Tim Leary, Hunter S. Thompson, and G. Gordon Liddy, I consulted the wikipedia article about Mr. Liddy. I found this gem.
For many years Liddy was agnostic, but he has converted to Roman Catholicism. Maybe he got tailgated by one protestant too many.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

traffic report

I don’t have anything to say, but I am going to use fancy technology to say it.
The fretting about technology goes way back. Homer is quoted as saying, “when we begin to write, we will lose our ability to remember”
It is like the time I pulled up to a red light, and looked at the car next to me. There were four people in it, and each was talking on a cell phone. Whatever happened to talking to the people that you are with?
Or maybe it is a communication thing. Recently, I have been having conversations with G-d when I am at a red light next to the Big Chicken. The other day, I turned down the radio traffic report as I slowed to the stop.
“Hey G-d, wassup?”
““Don’t worry about me, listen to the traffic report”

7:36:26 PM
Sometimes the last steps are the steepest.
There was one fed x label left to print when the computer had an attitude problem. Instead of being done at 515, I left at 600. Then, the roads were backed up, and my half hour commute took an hour.
But I got home.
There was one comment on the radio today that stuck. A talker was discussing the situation in Iraq. We have gone there and liberated them from Saddam. Why don't
they show more progress in setting up a democratic government ?
His answer:
" That is like cutting a man's legs off below the knees, and saying, hey I gave you some new sneakers, why can't you run faster?"
America has created a mess in Babylon. But you know that. If we leave there is carnage. If we stay there is carnage. Some are saying that now we will need 40k troops in there for the next fifteen years.
The situation in Gaza is similar. The people there were the subject of a brutal occupation by Israel. The fact that this is only marginally better than the way they were treated when governed by Egypt is irrelevant to the rabble rousers. Ditto the exploitation of the Palestineans by the Arab nations.
So Israel decides to pull out, after doing little to prepare these people to govern themselves. There is an election between Al Fatah ( the Yassir Arafat organization) and Hamas. The people of Gaza are tired of the corruption of Al Fatah, and they choose Hamas. Why is anyone surprised?
We gave you some new sneakers, why can't you run faster?
Spell check suggestions for this feature:
fatah- faith fatal
Yassir- easier, sassier, gasser, passer
Arafat- Aright, abaft, afar, craft, draft graft, kraft
hamas- hammers, hams, whams, hermosa, harass

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