Sunday, 20 July 2008

Yankee Watch

The New York Yankees are as close to last place as they are to first. Snort.

Twenty Years Ago

7-20-88 . . . Anyone who both watches television news and reads a newspaper must have concluded long ago that the former is inferior to the latter. (It does not follow that the latter is good, let alone perfect.) I watch television news for the following: (1) Breaking news stories, such as the recent downing of an Iranian airliner by a United States naval vessel. (2) Sports. (3) Weather, especially if I have a bike ride planned for the next day. As for the rest of the so-called news, it amounts to human-interest stories, exploitation of emotional situations, and silly banter. The funny thing is, television news personnel think of themselves as serious journalists, when in fact they’re no more than entertainers and ambulance-chasers. Their conception of news is anything out of the ordinary that is likely to capture the attention of the viewing public. Actually, it’s not solely the fault of television news. In part, it’s the fault of the viewing audience, for they, ultimately, are the consumers of this trite material. I watch television news in spite of its stupidity and superficiality, certainly not because of it. [I was going to love 24-hour cable news.]

Odds and ends: (1) . . . (2) Michael Dukakis was nominated for president this evening, as expected. The most interesting event of the day, to me, was the roll call of states. Here’s a typical example: “Madame chairperson, the great state of Idaho, home of the potato and beautiful mountain ranges, casts X votes for Jesse Jackson and Y votes for the next president of the United States, Michael Dukakis!” It was great theater. Tomorrow night Dukakis and [Lloyd] Bentsen make their acceptance speeches. (3) Pedro Delgado of Spain leads the Tour de France. Seventeen of the twenty-two stages have been completed. The only multiple stage winner so far is Jean-Paul Van Poppel of the Netherlands, who yesterday won his third stage. He must be a fantastic flat rider. [He was a sprinter.]


Here is a scene from today’s grueling stage of the Tour de France. Tomorrow is a rest day. Here is Tuesday’s stage.

Addendum: The Tour has a new leader: Luxembourgian cyclist Frank Schleck, whose brother Andy did much of the pacemaking on the final climb. (They’re teammates.) Earlier in the Tour, Luxembourgian Kim Kirchen wore the yellow jersey. That’s more than half the total number of Luxembourgians! Here is the New York Times story. Here is Frank Schleck’s horrifying crash in the recently concluded Tour of Switzerland.


Here is your entertainment for this Sunday evening.

Addendum: You’ve been good today, or at least not bad, so I’m going to let you listen to one more song.

Addendum 2: Here is my favorite U2 song of all time. What is yours?


My adoptive Texas Rangers are a high-scoring team. They always have been. It’s lack of high-quality pitching that keeps them out of the playoffs (or causes them to lose quickly when they make it to the playoffs). A few minutes ago, the Rangers completed a three-game series in Minnesota against the high-flying Twins. The Twins outscored the Rangers, 20-3, in the three games. The Rangers had only 11 hits in 27 innings. You guessed it: The Rangers prevented a sweep. They won today, 1-0. Rookie catcher Taylor Teagarden of the University of Texas (and a member of this year’s U.S. Olympic team) hit a home run to make the difference. Vicente Padilla pitched seven scoreless innings. Everyday Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless eighth inning against his former team. The indefatigable C. J. Wilson shut down the Twins (including their big boys: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau) in the ninth. It was great to see Twin fans go home sad. I hate the Twins; I hate their fans; I hate the city. (Sorry, Peg.)

From the Mailbag

Hey Keith:

In all of your over the top ravings about the Yankees, nothing stands out more than your claim that Mariano Rivera is embarrassing himself. He has 24 saves in 98 games, thus heading for 39 or 40 for the year, and an ERA of 1.22. If the other Yankees were ’embarrassing themselves’ like that, the Yankees would be ten games ahead.

Next you’ll be asking whether the guy belongs in the Hall of Fame. News flash: he and Rodriguez are already guaranteed entry, as a look at their lifetime statistics leaves no doubt about.

Maybe you could explain to your readers the rational basis of your claim, although I will not wait up for one.


Note from KBJ: Rivera and Rodriguez need half a dozen good years apiece even to be mentioned for the Hall of Fame, which requires sustained excellence. What is it with Yankee fans?

A Year Ago


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

It is indeed sad that many of the workers picked up in the Postville, Iowa, raids were jailed, but to characterize the arrest and jailing of illegal immigrants who violated our immigration laws and committed document fraud as “abusing and terrorizing” them does not reflect the realities of our legal system.

The law does not automatically bestow compassion and forgiveness on lawbreakers based on the underlying motives for their crime. There is no difference between stealing a Social Security number to commit identity theft or using it simply to obtain employment. Both actions are crimes, deserving of the same punishment.

Last, “under the old way” of immediately deporting the illegal immigrants, they would have been treated to a free, American taxpayer-assisted one-way ride to Guatemala, most likely followed by their eventual return here via the coyote express.

Henry C. Clifford III
Wainscott, N.Y., July 15, 2008

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) on Insignificant Speech

There is yet another fault in the Discourses of some men; which may also be numbred amongst the sorts of Madnesse; namely, that abuse of words, whereof I have spoken before in the fifth chapter, by the Name of Absurdity. And that is, when men speak such words, as put together, have in them no signification at all; but are fallen upon by some, through misunderstanding of the words they have received, and repeat by rote; by others, from intention to deceive by obscurity. And this is incident to none but those, that converse in questions of matters incomprehensible, as the Schoole-men; or in questions of abstruse Philosophy. The common sort of men seldome speak Insignificantly, and are therefore, by those other Egregious persons counted Idiots. But to be assured their words are without any thing correspondent to them in the mind, there would need some Examples; which if any man require, let him take a Schoole-man into his hands, and see if he can translate any one chapter concerning any difficult point; as the Trinity; the Deity; the nature of Christ; Transubstantiation; Free-will, &c. into any of the moderne tongues, so as to make the same intelligible; or into any tolerable Latine, such as they were acquainted withall, that lived when the Latine tongue was Vulgar. What is the meaning of these words. The first cause does not necessarily inflow any thing into the second, by force of the Essentiall subordination of the second causes, by Which it may help it to worke? They are the Translation of the Title of the sixth chapter of Suarez first Booke, Of the Concourse, Motion, and Help of God. When men write whole volumes of such stuffe, are they not Mad, or intend to make others so? And particularly, in the question of Transubstantiation; where after certain words spoken, they that say, the Whitenesse, Roundnesse, Magnitude, Quality, Corruptibility, all which are incorporeall, &c. go out of the Wafer, into the Body of our blessed Saviour, do they not make those Nesses, Tudes, and Ties, to be so many spirits possessing his body? For by Spirits, they mean alwayes things, that being incorporeall, are neverthelesse moveable from one place to another. So that this kind of Absurdity, may rightly be numbred amongst the many sorts of Madnesse; and all the time that guided by clear Thoughts of their worldly lust, they forbear disputing, or writing thus, but Lucide Intervals. And thus much of the Vertues and Defects Intellectuall.

(Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, rev. student ed., ed. Richard Tuck, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, ed. Raymond Geuss and Quentin Skinner [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996], chap. 8, pp. 58-9 [italics in original] [first published in 1651])

Note from KBJ: Hobbes had no patience for the obfuscations of Scholasticism. I have no patience for the obfuscations of Continental philosophy.

Safire on Language