Vacationing in the Time of COVID

One should still be hesitant about traveling these days, for obvious reasons. But I had plenty of vacation days at work that I needed to use, I didn’t want to sit around my home all day (one can only do so much housework), and I also felt I needed a “practice trip” to see if I could mentally handle going outside my local area for a few days.

Was there a place that I could easily drive to in one day, one that I was reasonably familiar with so I wouldn’t feel too weird, and one that was also far enough away so I’d feel like I was actually going somewhere?

Atlantic City NJ fit the bill. Continue reading

On the 2021 All Star Game

Let’s get the most important thing out of the way first.

Those uniforms should be collected, brought to an isolated area, burned, cast into concrete, dumped at the bottom of the ocean in an undisclosed location, and never spoken of again.

Their utter blandness is terrible not just from a sartorial standpoint, but from a marketing one. The ASG is supposed to show off the game’s “best and brightest”. But how can you do that when everyone looks the same? In a regular game, it’s okay for everyone on a team to wear the same uniform. You’ll be given plenty of chances to see them and have the announcers talk about them. But in the ASG, a player may be in there for just one inning or one at-bat. How can you show off any player when everyone looks the same? You don’t want fans to be wondering “Who is that guy in right field?” At least when they are wearing their own team’s uniform, fans can ask “Hey, who plays right field for the Cubs?” and narrow things down somewhat.

FOX did OK with their coverage. Continue reading

A Close Run Thing

When thinking on the American Revolution, it’s generally a matter of national pride to see that the outcome was inevitable. A plucky militia, with Right on its side, handily defeated an Evil Empire who couldn’t be bothered to listen to the concerns of the rebels.

It’s always nice to have a happy origin story – or at least one that couldn’t have gone any other way.

Too bad that’s nowhere close to the reality of the American Revolution. It was one close call after another.

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Watching the Grand Final

Thanks to the Peacock streaming service swinging the deal at the last minute, the Eurovision Song Contest is available for watching here in the US.

The events all happen in the afternoon on US time, and since they’re not going to let me watch the show at work, I can only see the Grand Final – held on a Saturday – live. I’ve been to a couple of “watch parties” before, but there’s none that I’m aware of this year. So I get to watch it at home – and comment on the show as I watch!

This will NOT be a “live blog” – I don’t think I can type and post that quickly. But it will be my impressions in order of the entire show. There are a bunch of “professional snarkers” like the legendary Graham Norton out there who can and will do a better job at this than I ever could. I’m not a professional music critic / pop culture expert, so….
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Are You Ready For Some Baseball?

It’s that time of year again – and this time even more hope is springing eternal in the human breast. A full 162 game season of major league baseball is approaching!

Fans will be allowed in the stands – at limited capacity to start, certainly. But there will be games, and there will be fans present.

The season looks to be a real barn-burner (admittedly, that can be said about every season – but so what). The Dodgers have a really good chance at repeating as World Series Champions – though the Padres are going to have something to say about that. While the Yankees stand a good chance of ending their pennant drought, the Twins are hoping to just win a playoff game. The Pirates are hoping that Ke’Bryan Hayes will be enough of a reason for people to care about them.

Speaking of rookies, there’s the usual crop of young studs that bring excitement to every game they’re in. Juan Soto. Fernando Tatis Jr. Randy Arozarena. Francisco Lindor. Shohei Ohtani. And the veterans that are always worth watching. Are the Angels good enough to get Mike Trout to the playoffs? Can Jacob de Grom win a third Cy Young Award? How good will Clayton Kershaw be now that he’s off the “can’t win in the playoffs” schneid? Will the tweaked ball have any effect on Aaron Judge’s power output? When will Miguel Cabrera hit career home run number 500?

I suppose I should make some predictions, er, best guesses.

The Dodgers and Padres will fight to the last day of the season, but Los Angeles will emerge as division winners. The Braves will come out ahead in a crazy scramble in the NL East. No one cares about the mediocre NL Central. The depth on the Dodgers’ roster will enable them to return to the WS again.

In the AL, the Yankees and Twins will be the teams to beat – and they will face each other for the pennant. The Twins will have already ended their streak of playoff futility, but they will still lose to their October nemesis.

Dodgers and Yankees in the World Series is as far as I want to go here.

Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get to a game or three this year.

Play ball!

Fixing the Olympics – II

Less than one year from now, Beijing is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Needless to say, there’s much talk about boycotting them over China’s miserable human rights record.

There’s been the usual suggestion of a boycott, but we all know that doesn’t work. It only harms the athletes who don’t get to participate, and the host country gets to control the narrative as well as get bragging rights from winning all the medals.

Mitt Romney, who organized the Salt Lake City Olympics, so he has some experience in these things, suggest we should participate – but counter all the Chinese propaganda by telling and showing the truth about what they are doing in Hong Kong and with the Uighurs.

But that isn’t a permanent solution to the problem. The scale of hosting the Games means that more than likely, a totalitarian state that can ignore the cost will wind up as a host. Some suggest moving the Olympics to a permanent site, but that just places the costs onto a single country – and the same country every time.

There might be a better solution.

Spread the Games out.
Continue reading

Happy Videos

Because we can always use something to make us feel good….

Matt Harding was a video game designer who decided he needed a break from making games were the goal was to kill things. So he traveled the world, and put together a clip reel of him doing a goofy little jig in interesting places. It went modestly viral, and was seen by someone at Stride Gum. They approached him with a marketing idea: “How about a second trip? We’ll deal with the logistics and permissions, you just be there and do that dance, and stick our logo in your video.” He agreed (hey, more travel to interesting places!), and that video went even MORE viral. Fans commented that they would have LOVED to dance with him if only they had known about it. So Harding asked the people at Stride if they’d be interested in sponsoring another trip – this time with other people dancing, and a blog where people could follow the journey. Stride said, “OK, sure!”

A few more videos followed. FIFA helped him make one for the World Cup in South Africa. He returned to game design, editing, and writing. Presumably, he and his family are doing fine.

It helps if you know how long Cubs fans have been waiting for this, but you don’t really have to know much about baseball to feel the sheer joy on display here. This has got to be the Best Reaction Video Ever. I double-dog-dare you to find a better one.

By the way, if there are any other videos (no cute animal ones, please; those are too easy) that you’d like to share, give the link in the comments – and I just might add it!

 

Overrated-Underrated: Medieval Battle

Warfare in Medieval Europe is a bit of an odd duck. Wars, such as they were, were rarely about acquiring territory or expanding the national geopolitical reach. Instead, they were more about personal or family politics, and ransoming prisoners. On the tactical level, things were barely and rarely more than massed frontal assaults. Most “armies” were around the size of a modern brigade, and forget about grand campaigns. It was more about who could get the most trained troops to the battlefield first. And there was rarely anything epic or glorious in the fighting.

But a few battles from that era still stand out – so of course some are overrated, and some are underrated.

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Between the Dynasties

I was musing recently on World Series of years gone by. In the 1950s, it was all Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, with a few interruptions from the New York Giants and Cleveland Indians. Then the Milwaukee Braves, with Henry Aaron, Eddie Matthews, and Warren Spahn came in for two years while the Dodgers and Giants were moving to California.

Then suddenly it’s the 1960s, and you’ve got the Mickey Mantle Yankees in their twilight, and the Bob Gibson Cardinals and Sandy Koufax Dodgers (with the Willie Mays & Willie McCovey Giants in a brief supporting role).

But there’s an interesting gap of three years in there – where three teams that almost always get left out of the discussion managed to win pennants while playing exciting baseball.
Continue reading

Censure and the Insurrection

I just sent this off to my senators (both Democrats, naturally). While I cannot expect them to personally read it, someone in their offices might….

Dear Senator:

Like you and all decent people, I was appalled at what happened yesterday (January 6). I am relieved to know that neither you nor any of your colleagues or staff were harmed in the insurrection.

However, I have a feeling of dismay that the entire disgraceful and shameful day may be passed over without any action being taken to punish those who, if they did not incite the events, at least aided and abetted them.

By supporting and even promoting the baseless claims of a fraudulent election, these Senators can be legitimately accused of seditious conspiracy (18 U.S. Code § 2384):

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN)
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN)
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)

I understand that it requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate to expel a member. I am too pragmatic to expect that to happen.

A Resolution of Censure, however, only requires a simple majority. I STRONGLY encourage you to pursue that option.

At the very least, the senators listed above should be stripped of all their committee assignments. I don’t think you need a vote to do that.