The New Commissioner

Rob Manfred has officially taken the reins as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. He inherits a sport that is in better shape than a lot of people seem to realize. Financially, baseball as a whole is doing very well. Attendance is high and steady, even at a time when fans have many more ways to follow the sport than showing up in person. A lot of the griping one sees is from people who don’t appear to be fans anyway.

But there are a few issues that need to be addressed, and it looks like Mr. Manfred is willing to jump right in and get down to business.

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Book Review: Mars Girl by Jeff Garrity

The United States’ first attempt at colonizing Mars is in big trouble. The lander has been damaged – somehow – and is drifting off course. Worse, sixteen of the seventeen people aboard are dead, leaving only a teenaged girl alive.

Will she land safely? Will she be able to make it to the prefab, pre-landed restaurant/shelter? Will a rescue mission be able to reach her in time? How will the corporate sponsors of the mission be able to profit from this? How will the news network with exclusive coverage of the landing keep people glued to their screens, and keep the merchandise moving? How will the government spin this disaster to their advantage?

Can our intrepid…er, hero, the ace reporter Ray Barker, while stuck in a small lakeside town in Michigan, find a story that’s big enough to keep his name and face on the news?

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Review: Project: Potemkin

These are the voyages of the starship Potemkin. Her five year mission: Explore strange new worlds. Seek out new life, and new civilizations. To boldly go where….

Oh, let’s cut the nonsense….

Project: Potemkin is a series of Star Trek fan films made by a group based in southwestern Georgia. What sets them apart from almost every other fan film is that there is some real talent involved. No one you are likely to have heard of (of course), but people with some real acting and production experience. For example, Jeffrey Green (Captain Alec Grigory and Director of Photography) is the Chair of the Dramatic Arts Department and Artistic Director of Rylander Theater Partnership Productions (among many other things) and has been acting since the 1980s.

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Charlie or Ahmed?

If you notice at all the international news, by now you must have heard about the assassination of editors, cartoonists, and staffers at France’s Charlie Hebdo. The attack must be considered an assassination, since some of the victims were specifically targeted by name. It’s also appropriate to use the term “assassination”, given the origins of the word.

For the record, the dead are:

  • Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier, 47, the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo and one of its top cartoonists.
  • Bernard “Tignous” Verlhac, 57, a member of a group of artists called “Cartoonists of Peace” and also belonged to the Press Judiciare, an association of French journalists covering the courts.
  • Jean “Cabu” Cabut, 76, established himself as one of France’s best-known cartoonists over a career that spanned 50 years.
  • Georges Wolinski, 80, another of Charlie Hebdo’s veteran cartoonists. He was awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration, in 2005.
  • Bernard Maris, 68, wrote a weekly column in Charlie Hebdo called “Uncle Bernard,” was a regular commentator for the France Inter radio network, and taught economics at a branch of the University of Paris.
  • Michel Renaud, the founder of the Clermont Ferrand-based festival of travel journals “Rendez-vous du Carnet de Voyage” who was visting the offices at the time.
  • Police officers Ahmed Merabet and Franck Brinsolaro
  • Three other staffers and a maintenance worker were also killed, but I haven’t yet been able to find their names.

The assassins identified themselves as members of one of the Al-Qaeda offshoots, and cited the paper’s “insults” to Islam as the reason for the killings.

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The Hall of Fame Class of 2015

Today, the Baseball Writers Association of America formally announced the apotheosis of four players: Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz. All four are worthy players, deserving of the honor. This is only the fourth time that four or more players have been elected at one time – and one of those was the inaugural class, so that one probably doesn’t count. It is the first time that this many players were selected under the current voting rules, and the first time that seven players (six of them on their first appearance on the ballot) were selected in two consecutive years.

As always, there are a number of writers and a great many commenters who take issue with the voting. Very little has changed since I wrote about the election process last year, so I won’t belabor those points.

There have been a few changes, though….

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2014 in Reveiw

Well, here it is. I’ve been at this for a year now, and like almost everyone, it’s time to take a look at the year just ended. It’s nice that WordPress sent me a summary of my blogging activity, though like all others in the media, they didn’t actually wait until the year was fully over to compile it.

I understand that news magazines need to go to press well before the end of the year in order to have their issues out on the newsstands in time, but it’s got to be annoying that any major news items that happen in late December won’t get included. Forget about making the lists of “Celebrity Deaths of the Year” if you die in the last few days of the year. Of course, you cannot be included in the lists for the next year, so you’re stuck.

Anyway, here’s what WordPress has for my annual report.

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Wassail!

One of the lesser holiday traditions is that of Wassail. Not just the warm apple-based drink, but the old Anglo-Saxon tradition of communal visits, drinking, and well-wishing. These days, our communities are a little too spread out for the door-to-door visits and the requisite drinking, but there’s no reason you can’t do it safely at home with your friends.

 

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Scoring the Holiday Displays

By now, you should be seeing plenty of holiday light displays out on people’s lawns. While it should not be a competition, one does get the sense that there are still a few people who try and outdo their neighbors. In any case, I do like seeing the different displays chasing away the darkness. And it is kind of fun to argue over whose is better.

So I’ve come up with a scoring system.

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