Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Set Back

Braves lose, Colorado wins, three games back, five to go.

5-0 and 0-5 gives us the wild card by 2, though I'm not standing by those exact numbers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Belief comes to Atlanta (I was tired of the picture anyway)

If you're like me you don't pay much attention to the title of a blog, the stuff underneath it or the author stuff on the side. If you're like me, look around a bit.

Though you might wish for a bump in content quality, all that's going to happen for this week, and it is hoped for a couple of weeks to come, is that you will know what the Braves are doing in their current quest to make the post season, mixed within the usual wildly varying stuff you read here.

More detail than you probably want on where the boys are to set the stage (see, I'm writing like a sportswriter):

The Phillies, leading the division, are out of reach, four games ahead with six to go.

But,the Bravos (sportscaster talk) are only two games behind Colorado (boo) and have two more games with the Marlins (here at Turner Field) who are playing like they are looking for some time off. Then we have the worst team in baseball in for the final four games, the Washington Nationals.

Colorado (boo) has three games with Milwaukee, not a bad team, at home, and then play the NL West leading Dodgers, who have ripped them all year, for their final three games of the year on the road.

Pitching, you ask about pitching? Nothing shaky (other than Hudson, less than a month back from elbow surgery, who worries me as games progress, and Lowe, who always worries me). Hanson is a possible NL rookie of the year, Jurrgiens is sporting an ERA about .7 for the last five games and Vasquez who just methodically pitches deep into games and gives up two or three per.

Hitting, the bane of the Braves in the previous decade of post-season mediocrity, is not too bad. Jones and McCann are coming out of slumps. LaRoche is a hitting machine. Escobar, Diaz and Prado plug along over .300. No really weak pieces around them.

One game at a time, starting in about an hour and a half.


Season Change - Wait Just a Minute

Here in Atlanta we’ve finally hit Fall. It was in the fifties this morning and will stay that way for the rest of the week with highs in the mid-seventies.

Georgia, Georgia Tech and the Falcons are well into their seasons. All are less than perfect teams, too often giving their fans more heartburn than they want.

But, we’ve had a hitch. Out of nowhere, another team has re-emerged from a years long Fall disappearance. The Braves have won 7 in a row, 15 of their last 17, have the second best record in baseball since the All Star break and are improbably only 2 games behind Colorado in the wild card race with 6 games to go.

It’s like we were magically transported to 1991 and 1993 - worst to first and winning on the last day of the season to make the playoffs. Unlike in those years, the stands aren’t filled with fans chanting and tomahawking. We’re much more jaded this decade, the stands were about half full last night. But, those that were there were making some noise.

The Braves are giving out little signs that say “Believe!” to patrons. We did believe way back when, almost arrogantly after awhile. Then we kept on believing and were disabused of our notions of greatness. After all, 14 years in the playoffs and only one world championship to show for it.

Now, here they come again.

You invest all your emotions and ask the girl to the prom, she says no - where does that leave you? Dejected, a little hurt. But admit it, it was a bit of a rush leading up to the let down, wasn’t it?

Believe? Hell, why not!

Monday, September 28, 2009


If you have an HD TV and an HD source, there are some amazing pictures on the new Ken Burns documentary on national parks. It started last night on PBS. Of course it will be replayed for the next four years, interspersed with do wop and "Philly sound" concerts, all broken up by funding pleas, so get it now without the begging.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Soup Season

I think it started with reading something somewhere, progressed with last weekend’s monsoon and continued with this week’s somewhat cool weather; but, it’s soup season here.

Last weekend I started with clam chowder – there’s only one as far as I’m concerned – New England. I really wish I would pay enough attention to just what I’m putting in the pot beyond the basic recipe; whatever it was it was really good.

This weekend it was crab bisque, an example of an early almost failure given my wont to put things in that maybe shouldn’t be there. Last night it was too peppery, not enough smoothness. Good but not bisque. So today I fixed it adding some heavy cream, some clam juice and a stick of butter. Tonight will be some un-heart-healthy goodness.

Next week will be either some late summer tomato or mushroom, to be followed as it gets colder with bean and chili.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When is the magical moment? And Why?

I went to Kroger today to shop. A mistake on a Wednesday as the Kroger is in Toco Hills, the epicenter of geriatric upper middle class people in Atlanta, and today is the 5% off for Seniors day.

Wednesday at Kroger, you move slowly, everyone moves slowly. Many people stop moving slowly and stop – in the middle of an aisle, intensely discussing the merits of the house or national brand of something, whether they have or don’t have something at home, or often, saying and looking at nothing. I always think about the people I see in front of me, stopped and then veering one way or another in the aisle (they never just go straight from their position) and the fact that most of them drove to the store – is their driving any different? I’m always very careful driving in the area.

But that’s not the point of the post. For years now there’s been a caricature of the elderly guy with his high belt line, just below the sternum and knee high black or white socks with shorts (black is much worse than white). So, the guys I saw today with this look, years ago were in their late thirties, forties, or maybe their early fifties. They didn’t dress this way then. When was it that they made the sartorial shift? And why?

I know you shrink as you grow old. Did they shrink enough that the socks that used to reach just below their calves now reach their knees and the beltlines of their pants now cover their bellys?

More likely there’s something else that causes old guys to go this way; but, I’ll be damned if I know what it is. A favor: if it happens to me, just shoot me – I’ll give you a note that confirms that you killed me at my request, I’ll make a DVD that explains why I need killing.

A future shoot me offense post: the comb over.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Is what's good for the Internet good for health care?

An opinion writer at the Los Angeles Times wrote an interesting article. He tells the story of one of the inventers of the Internet (not Al Gore) and his view that government plays a big role in societal progress.

His views on government control of the Internet seem to be relevant to the current debate about government involvement in health care.

Something to think about.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Showers

Golf is a no go today given the rain that according to radar reaches back west to Alabama. So, I have nothing to do, other than things I don't want to do, cleaning, laundry, etc. Instead, I'll drink coffee, surf and listen to Weekend Edition.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Type and maybe I'll say something

I’m suffering from an inability lately to read and listen and say what I think about what I feel. The feel is there, the words to describe it and translate it in to coherent commentary are lacking.

So, I’ll try just typing and see if it comes to anything good.

All this race and public incivility stuff in the last month or so bugs me; but, I don’t know what to say about it.

Is the Wilson guy from South Carolina a racist? He may be; but, I can’t conclude that from his stupid outburst last week.

Are Rush Limbaugh and/or Kanye West racists or clowns based on their respective recent segregated school bus rant and interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech? My thought is that they are both; but, again I can’t prove anything.

Is Jimmy Carter getting a bit long in the tooth? Yep.

Is there racism in America? Damn right there is. Are we too often less than polite to each other? A big yes.

Does race play a part in the backlash, as reported by the media, to Obama’s initiatives? Yes, but the more important motivations for our incivility are the economic instability we are experiencing and healthy doses of fear and ennui.

The causes of the doses? Most of us just try to live our lives and we see our lives spinning out of our control.

What do our “leaders” do? Spit out sound bites. Liberal Democrats see this as their moment to go where they haven’t been able to even think about since the New Deal. Conservative Republicans having no real plan, resort to digging in and “railing against the machine.” Both poles attack the people in the middle who are trying to figure out the best thing to do.

Health care is only the current focus of our national dysfunction. The dysfunction that paralyzes us is unwillingness on our part and the people we elect to rationally analyze and attack our problems. It’s easier and more entertaining to snipe and demonize.

Until we get over our fascination with ping pong politics and media we will never solve our problems. We’ll put a band aid here and there, every few years changing political doctors for their failure to cure us.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Late for one thing, and early for two other things.

I don't check much anymore. It's a bit of a downer as my stats have fallen all this year.

I just checked and I'm averaging 19 visits a day and a bit over 30 page views a day, down from something over 30 and 50 at the first of the year.

The kind of good news, I missed my 30,000th visit by a bit over a thousand. I'm just over a thousand short of 50,000 page views. And, I'm a month or so short of a thousand posts.

I think part of the reduction in traffic is due to quality, it's lower here as I tend to dash things off, even more quickly than I used to. I also don't respond for the most part to comments and don't leave as many comments at your places as I used to leave.

I'm not promising any improvement in any of my failings; but, I really appreciate those of you that have been here for the long haul (since late 2006) and others that have come and stayed since. I do read what you have to say at your places and here, I just seem to have a thing about regular feedback and considered posting.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Dad

If you watch any of the sports networks, you've seen a clip of a guy at a baseball game who catches a ball in the stands. He does the normal stand, raising his hands above his head to the applause of the people around him. He then hands the ball to a little girl next to him, I assume his daughter. He and she smile. Smiling at him, she throws the ball back on to the field. With a bit stricken look on his face, he leans over and down and hugs her.

Words don't capture it, it's worth a trip to or one of the other video sites.

UPDATE: Don't go to YouTube, the clip is gone due to a copyright claim by Major League Baseball.

SECOND UPDATE: The only place you can see the clip is at It will not let me copy and past the URL, sorry.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brain Dead

I spent the last few days getting ready for and trying a case.

I'm sitting in a quite acceptable, cheap room at the Baymont Inn and Suites in Flint, Michigan. WiFi, but no PBS, History, Discovery or Science type channels on the TV.

Brain dead in the title doesn't refer to my condition due to the last couple of days, though I'm a bit tired. Rather, I apparently was brain dead back on the fourth of the month when I made my plane reservations, since I made a reservation to go back to Atlanta at 5:40 a.m. in the morning. I have no idea what I was thinking.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight years ago, right now

Eight years ago right now, I was finally able to check into the Sheraton Hotel at Newark Airport (about the fourth or fifth place I tried) after spending the morning in a cab making my back to the airport from the Lincoln Tunnel after seeing the first building fall.

If you are new around here, go to my July 10, 2007 post, with a bit of scrolling up and down, you should find the several posts I did about my week in New Jersey in September 2001.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

This and That

I’m really tired of the computer I’m typing this on since I have the Mac at work. It takes forever for it to start up, for a program to load, to shut it down, to move to another website on occasion. But, do I really want to spend the money for a Mac Book? If I do, anyone want a cheap Dell Inspiron 1505?

I’m going to watch the big health care speech in about a half hour and wondering what I’ll think.

My middle brother’s birthday and 9/11 coincide on Friday.

While global warming is probably a real thing, this is about the coolest summer I remember since I’ve lived in Atlanta. The windows are open, a ceiling fan is on and I’m quite comfortable. It will be nice and cool in the morning.

I have a feather pillow that is leaking its feathers. I bought a feather pillow “surrounded by the softness of down” today with the plan to relegate the current pillow to propping my body while watching TV., the other pillow now to be reserved for guests. I love “real” pillows; but, I’m not sure what I just bought; and, it only cost $20. Can you get a good pillow for that price? More later if it’s interesting.

We have three football teams playing here in the ATL this coming weekend, all are favored. Tech is rated above UGA in the ratings. How’s it feel Fermi?

It’s time for “next year talk” for the Braves.

There’s a 17 year old girl from Marietta playing in the U.S. Open right now that is getting a lot of attention. You go Oudin! (I think that’s how it’s spelled.)

Five till eight.

It's about 8:30 p.m.

President Obama is noticeably grayer than he was last time I paid attention.

Republicans just stood up and applauded when he said that under "this plan" you can't be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition or canceled for the same reason. Think they really mean that?

While I'm watching and listening, you might not know, the Wall Street Journal just published today a Sarah Palin piece about "death panels" again.

The President just said that if you can "afford insurance" you will be forced to buy it.

Most of the Republicans didn't stand and applaud when he said there would be no death panels and some booed when he said that illegal immigrants wouldn't benefit from the plan. Bad PR it seems to me.

He waffled on the "public option." It's a good thing; but, not at all necessary.

I'm tired of live blogging. The Goppers are not at all happy. I'll leave it with, the President can talk.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Further AJC Confliction

I'm pretty sure confliction is word though Blogger spell check doesn't think so.

I bought an AJC on the way to lunch today. The nice lady told me, for what ever reason, that the seventy-five cent paper would be going to a dollar next month: "I got letter today!" She was shocked and so was I.

Since I read the online version a couple of times a day in short spurts, the paper paper is just enough, usually but not always, to get me through a twenty minute lunch. It's terribly thin, hell there aren't very many ads in it to skip anymore.

But, they've been doing some decent reporting in the last couple of months.

Am I going to pay a buck starting next month? I don't know. My first thought is that I can read it on the little Google phone screen while I eat. But, that isn't satisfying. I got over not reading a paper paper on Sunday mornings, making do with the laptop screen. I scan five or six papers online in spurts during the day on the big office computer screen. But, I don't know that I can give up a paper paper at lunch.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Jerry Lewis, a bit long in the tooth

I'm surfing, the MD Labor Day Telethon is on a local independent station which says something I suppose.

Jerry is in the final hour, when from the last time I watched say ten years ago, it gets ratcheted up a bit. He's getting "final checks" from the corporate people.

He just got $11 million from Citgo, whose representative announced that it was a subsidiary of the State Oil Company of Venezuela (as opposed to its local ads that stress that the station owners are just local folks trying to make a living like the rest of us rather, than publicizing Chavez' hate for the U.S.). Jerry then said, in so many words, he'll take money from anyone, pretty much dissing the puppet guy.

He then sang "Mammy."

I'd love for the MD diseases to be cured; but, I'm thinking that Jerry needs to retire.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Obama's Vietnam - A History Lesson

Big countries have this blind spot when it comes to spreading their version of society around the world.

The Western powers created the current Middle East out of whole cloth after World War II, jamming different ethnicities and religions together into “countries” creating ethnic and religious instability in the region that lasts through today.

The Soviet Union “stabilized” Eastern Europe until it’s collapse immediately following the Soviet Union’s failure in the early nineties when the area “re-balkanized” along ethnic and religious lines.

The Soviets tried the same thing in Afghanistan with similar results.

The French left Indo-China with their tail between their legs.

We Americans have experienced no better results spreading the gospel of democracy. Johnson quit the Presidency largely due to a failed Vietnam policy. Nixon would have been known for his failure there (and not for opening China) had he not played fast and loose with domestic law.

Bush the Elder at least limited his folly by not invading and occupying Iraq after the Gulf War. But, his crippling of Iraq led to increased Iranian influence in the area as it did not have to focus effort and resources on defending itself against Iraq.

Then W, due to some sort of father/son complex, or imperial ambitions, or maybe he’s a true believer in making the world safe for democracy, take your pick, remembering Americans parading in Paris from Saturday afternoon black and white WWII documentaries and jubilant liberated Kuwaitis throwing flowers at soldiers on CNN, invaded Iraq expecting the same results, having no plan for governance or rebuilding.

That was some six and a half years ago. He had forgotten that the Marshall plan had spent billions of dollars (at a time when a billion meant something) rebuilding Europe. He had forgotten that the Soviet Union’s domination of Eastern Europe was the functional equivalent of Saddam’s domination of Iraq. He had forgotten that Iran had been building up its influence and funding terrorists. He didn’t know that Shiites don’t like Sunnis who don’t like Kurds who don’t like Shiites….

Then he left it for Obama to play with.

So, Obama is playing the cards W dealt him in Iraq, slowly drawing down troops, still pumping money into its dysfunctional economy with the end result that we will have a planned presence for a decade or so overseeing fights among the residents that have been fighting each other for centuries, continuing to spend money to prop up the economy.

Meanwhile, and I don’t understand it, he’s ramped up our involvement in Afghanistan and apparently will continue to do so. I had thought that he was using Afghanistan during the campaign to give him some foreign policy “cred” – “I’m no wimp we’re going to do this one the right way, not like W did in Iraq.”

He could have easily let the rhetoric die a slow death, just like he’s done with gay rights and is doing with the most liberal views of health care reform.

So why are we in Afghanistan? Bush went in on the cheap to hunt down and kill off al Qaida, the perpetrator of the 9/11 bombings, and to push out the Taliban, the provider of al Qaida’s safe haven, oppressor of women and foe of democracy.

Neither goal is in sight, yet Obama seems to think that with a bit more attention, money and troops, they are attainable.

Both Bush and Obama ignore that the Taliban is only one faction in an alien culture. Afghanistan is a tribal society with no democratic traditions and no economic viability unless we encourage them to expand the poppy crop. Hell, Saddam’s Iraq was centuries more modern and closer to a twentieth century norm before we destroyed it.

Think Lord of the Flies with grown ups rather than Neverland that can be saved from Captain Hook by Peter Pan rallying the Lost Boys.

Obama can send in some more troops to “advise” the Afghani army and police. (Heard that plan before?) He can spend billions, they don’t mean much these days. At the end of the day or in a decade, we will be the French abandoning Indo-China, the Soviets leaving Afghanistan or Nixon’s America flying helicopters off the Saigon embassy roof.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Awards with no Prizes and Pans with no Punishment

The Los Angeles Times website gets an award for a fairly recent big upgrade of its layout. It’s clean and graphically pleasing, none of those blue underlined lists of hyperlinks to stories (see the Las Vegas Review Journal's website for possibly the worst layout I’ve ever seen, cluttered, duplicative, often with bad links).’s mobile site is great too, for different reasons. It loads really quickly, as do the page links. The stories are transcripts of the day’s radio pieces (poor typing and all). There aren’t a lot of them, eight or nine at any given time; but, they’re great quick reads.

Some minor pans of other mobile sites: Google News on a mobile device has a glitch in it that doesn’t always take you to where you were when you hit back. has a similar problem, you go nowhere but a continuously loading IP number when you try to go back to a page on a mobile device. I suppose these are the results of me not going to their mobile sites; but, their mobile sites suck.

If you design websites, check out the LA Times, lots of good stuff to steal. One last pan, don’t copy the Huffington Post, it’s incredibly cluttered.

Finally, sorry there are no links. Blogger will not let me transfer them from Word lately, I guess Sergei and Bill are squabbling.

Another reason I'm not a good movie reviewer

Another in a sporadic series of movie reviews:

I watched a movie from the late nineties last night, The Negotiator. Samuel Jackson, Kevin Spacey (great actor, watch The Cooler if you haven’t seen it) and David Morse, among others. Morse is the putative bad guy till the end. (And I suppose saying that is also not a good thing for a reviewer to say; but, anyone would know that Morse’s character was the straw man a third of the way into the movie; I’m not really giving anything away.)

Anyway, I watched some of the bonus materials afterwards, including interviews with the director and the production designer. They went on and on about how their decision to shoot in Chicago (rather than LA or NY) was crucial to the art of the film. The PD was quite pleased with his transitions from a squalid opening scene to the office building and its interior where most of the movie takes place and finally to a house and its interior where the movie ends. He said something like “the strikingly different looks of these locations juxtaposed…….(you get the idea)……….add depth and character to the story without getting in the way of the movie as a greater whole. Huh?

I’d have never known that. I don’t know that I now know that.

In a land far away and long, long ago, I took American Literature my last year in college. The professor didn’t care what she thought about a novel, she didn’t care what we thought. William Carlos Williams was the first and last word as to what was to be thought about when reading a novel. (Being a savvy college student, I fed WCW to her on the final exam and got an A.) The production designer for The Negotiator reminded me of my dim memories of Williams’ critical pieces: A lot of self-important talk about stuff that got in the way of the important stuff, be the important stuff a novel or a movie.

My review of the Negotiator, not bad. It kept my attention. Can’t dance to it though. C+.