Thursday, June 30, 2016

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thoughts I'd share.

- Interesting Vegas casino heist story

- Heh heh

- Simple recipe for financial well-being

- Fantastic profile of Howie Long from back in 1985

- 70 years later, red seat HR still awes

Gettysburg Remembered

One hundred and fifty-three years ago to this very day Confederate forces under the command of General Robert E. Lee were massed on one side of a small Pennsylvania town called Gettysburg while Union forces under newly appointed General George Meade were amassed on the other side of the small town. Over the next three days these forces were to fight arguably the most important battle in the history of the United States. Yet today you will hear very little mentioned of the battle in either the newspapers or on TV. 

Why was this the most important battle in the history of the United States? 

General Lee had come North out of Virginia to find the Army of the Potomac and to beat it in open battle. If he was able to accomplish this – then Confederate President Jefferson Davis was to give Abraham Lincoln an offer of peace. 

If Lincoln accepted this offer of peace then the country would have forevermore been divided into two nations. If Lincoln refused the offer of peace (which he would have) – then chances are that Lincoln would have lost his bid for re-election to the Presidency. His opponent General McClellan would have accepted the peace plan if elected and again – the nation would forevermore have been divided. 

Think of the implications: 

· How much longer would slavery had survived? Would it still exist today? 

· Would a Spanish Mexico and an English Canada have taken over what are now the Western States? 

· Would Nazi Germany been stoppable in WWII without a “united” United States? 

· Would Communism have been defeated without a “united” United States? 

Luckily we did not have to find out because Jeb Stuart did not return in time to inform General Lee of the Union’s strength; because General Heth ignored Lee’s order to not engage the enemy on the first day; because General Ewell lost his nerve and did not attack and take the high ground when he had the chance and because Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine made their heroic stand on Little Round Top. 

The North won the battle and went on to win the war. For that – we are thankful. 

Months later after the battle, on November 19, 1863, a somber President Lincoln made the following speech: 
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.
Now it’s a 153 years later and you would be hard pressed to find mention of the battle anywhere. Funny – Lincoln thought we would remember the battle and forget his speech but the opposite has occurred. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The United States has always been a forward-looking nation. We tend to dream of the future instead of dwelling on our past. It is one of our strengths. 

Still - we should remember the sacrifice men made today and the next three days 153 years ago to preserve for us the great Nation we have today. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Happy 90th birthday to comedy genius Mel Brooks... Heh heh... Watched a Dennis Miller comedy special from 2003 called The Raw Feed last night. Let me just say Miller's comedy doesn't stand up very well... Heh heh... Just a reminder - live every week like it's Shark Week!... Is this a subtle swipe at Baseball Prospectus or Baseball America?...

Monday, June 27, 2016


It's that time of year again for me to break out my well worn copy of Michael Shaara's masterpiece The Killer Angels. The book is a slightly fictionalized account of the Battle of Gettysburg which began June 30, 1863. One of my favorite books of all-time and a I book I think every high school senior should required to read.

Once done with The Killer Angels next up with be Michael Herr's classic Dispatches. Normally I don't read books I have already read back-to-back but with the passing of Michael Herr I feel the need to make an exception. Even if you haven't read Dispatches you may be familiar with Herr's work as one of the screenwriters of Full Metal Jacket.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Some interesting perspective on Brexit from Gary Kasparov

- Heh heh - speaking of Brexit

- An uncertain future for Earth's largest telescope

- This is a problem elected officials should make a priority instead of their hissy fit sit-ins - mental illness and civil liberties. What can you do for a person with obvious mental health issues but who refuses help?

- I LOVE this story! Maine's First Lady gets a summer job as a waitress to help with household income. Good for her (although Maine really should pay their Governor more)

- It's official - Switzerland now has the best coffee shops in the world!

Secrets of Quantum Physics

Recently watched the two-part BBC science documentary The Secrets of Quantum Physics. I highly recommend it. Fascinating - especially the discussion on quantum biology. The show is available on Amazon Prime. Fascinating!

Jim Al-Khalili may just be my favorite science host. 

Custer's Last Stand

Yesterday was the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn also known as Custer's Last Stand.

The lasting image I have when I think of Custer's Last Stand is the comic portrayal of Custer by Richard Mulligan in the greatly underrated movie Little Big Man.

My favorite historical oddity about the Battle of Little Big is the fact that the Battle also marks the death of George Custer's young brother Thomas Custer. What's odd about that? Thomas Custer was one of the few two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winners in US history. Nobody remembers Thomas Custer though.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

What if the drop in the British Pound was not due to the Brexit vote but due to the Led Zeppelin verdict instead?... Heh heh... On this day in 1916 the Battle of the Somme began. Over 1 million shells would be fired... Half Digested Peanuts would be a good name for a fantasy baseball team or band... Another reminder that things are different in Russia... "In the future everyone will be Oakland's Chief of Police for 15 minutes" - Andy Warhol... So does this mean Global Warming is over?...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

John Harvard, Ungutted Mackerel and Goat Dung

You may recognize the name John Harvard as belonging to the man for whom Harvard University was named. Did you know that he had no real connection to the school? He wasn't a founder, he wasn't a teacher, he wasn't even a student.

John Harvard's connection to the fledgling university in Cambridge, Mass. was via Nathaniel Eaton who was Harvard's schoolmate back in England and a friend with whom Harvard had sailed to "the New World". John Harvard died in 1638 of tuberculosis and because he liked what his friend Eaton was doing as the first "master" of the newly formed college in Cambridge - John Harvard bequeathed his library of 400 books and a pretty good sum of money. Because of the size of the gift - the good people of the Bay Colony named their university after him.

If Harvard died a year later - everything might have been different because his friend Eaton was fired.

Nathaniel Eaton was fired in 1639 in part because he was a stern taskmaster who beat his students but he was fired mostly because his wife was a lousy cook.

Like today - students paid for not just an education but also for room and board. Back then all the students and the teachers lived under the same roof and the wife of the master provided the meals. Eaton's wife was a lousy provider.

At the hearing there were allegations that Eaton's wife provided no beef and instead served ungutted mackerel (an allegation she denied) and that there was goat dung in her hasty pudding (another allegation she denied). Personally I think Eaton's wife would have been all set if she just served the students more beer (students haven't changed all that much).

So if Harvard died a year later - would he still have bequeathed the money to the college that fired his friend? Would the school have a different name today? Wouldn't "Ungutted Mackerel" be a good name for a band? Will you be able to think of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Award without thinking of the words "goat dung" from now on? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Sadly the movie Finding Dory and cyanide bleaching may go hand in hand

- I have newfound respect for JR Smith

- A deep dive into Silicon Valley and the show Silicon Valley

- Speaking of Silicon Valley - interesting profile of tech investor / CEO Ev Williams

- This commentary may be my favorite thing that Ben Affleck has ever done

The Bubbler

Do you know what a bubbler is? If you do - there's a good chance you're from New England. And over a certain age because bubblers are going the way of floppy disks.

For those not in the know - a bubbler (pronounced "bub-lah") is what you'd probably call a drinking fountain. 

Bubbler is one of those words or phrases that are particularly New England. Others include "packie" (short for package store - what you would call a liquor store), "basement" (growing up - kids in school all asked if they could go to the "basement" instead of asking if they could go to the bathroom or restroom) and of course "a large regular" (which is a large coffee with cream and sugar).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam NBA Championship Edition

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Congratulations to LeBron James and the Cavaliers for bringing a chmpionship to the long-suffering City of Cleveland... Chad Finn has a nice appreciation of what this win means for LeBron James... LeBron James in now 4-2 in playoff game 7's. I need to remind people the Bill Russell was 10-0 in game 7's. It bugs me that Russell always seems to be left out of these conversations... Good question...  It can be argued that Kevin Love had a much better game last night than Steph Curry. I wonder how the Cavs winning the championship effects all the "trade Kevin Love" talk... Fence Jumping Alligators would be a good name for a band... Now that the Finals are over the NBA world turns to the upcoming Draft. I'm really curious what Danny Ainge ends up doing with all the assets he's stock-piled. My guess is that he keeps the 3rd pick and takes Buddy Hield from Oklahoma. It is also worthy to note that their's not a single player on the Nets that would be worthy trading the 3rd pick for straight-up. Think of that...

Top 5 - Movies Based in Massachusetts

Here are what I consider the Top movies based in Massachusetts.

2. Good Will Hunting
3. The Thomas Crowne Affair (w/ Steve McQueen)
4. The Verdict
5. (tie) The Departed (tie) The Town

The Paper Chase, The Boondock Saints, The Perfect Storm, The Brinks Job and The Last Hurrah almost made the list but I gave no consideration to Love Story. A lot of good movies based in the Bay State.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Jack Handy - Deep Thought for the Day

Thought of the Day: Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, "It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver" -- Jack Handy 

Have a good weekend!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Kevin Love to Boston? Not for the 3rd pick in the draft but for other picks - sure - sign me up... Visible Radiation would be a good name for a band...  Heh heh... One of my favorite bits of baseball trivia is the fact that Tris Speaker actually had more triples (222) in his career than strikeouts (220)... Hard Hat Jesus would also be a good name for a band... Have you seen those Heineken commercials where they brag about only having three ingredients? Is one of those three ingredients urine? Sure tastes like it to me... Getting close to that time of year for me to re-read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. The book is a retelling of the Battle of Gettysburg. Highly recommended... True story - before picking Dan Quayle to be his VP - George H.W. Bush briefly considered picking Clint Eastwood to be his running mate... Some excellent news from the field of Alzheimer's research... If lab grown meat technology is perfected - will that allow McDonald's to offer the McRib year-round?...

War on Terror

I think it was Napoleon who said that the inevitable result of a defensive war is surrender. George W. Bush was on the offensive in the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan and we were winning big time. People who argue a defensive posture just don't get it.

After 8-years of a defensive (at best) posture by President Obama ISIS is now bigger than al Qaeda ever was according to Obama's own CIA Director John Brennan.

History won't be kind.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Japanese Donald Trump Commercial

I have no words.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Have to give credit where credit is due - classy move by ESPN having Craig Sager work the sidelines of tonight's NBA Finals game. Surprised that this will be Sager's first NBA Finals...  Should we be sleeping twice a day? And by "we" I mean "you" because I already nap during the day... Goldfinger vs Trump... One of the reasons I stopped going to church (among many) is that I'd find myself sitting there ranking the women by how hot they were. That just seemed inappropriate...   Heh heh... Wages of Sin Minus Taxes would be a good name for a band... Heh heh...

Top 5 - Songs with the Word "Time" in the Title

Here are what I consider the Top 5 songs with the word "time" in the title:

1. Time - Pink Floyd 
2. Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce
3. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) - Green Day 
4. Got the Time - Joe Jackson 
5. (tie) As Time Goes By - From the movie Casablanca (tie) Closing Time - Semisonic 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Boston Bruins Win Stanley Cup Championship

Sure it was five-years ago. But it was on this very day five-years ago!

Heh Heh - Clinton Skips the Tab

From the chapter on Bill Clinton in Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House, edited by James Taranto and Leonard Leo - a quick story about Clinton out of office in England: 
In Notting Hill he was not running for office. The locals were not his voters. But he behaved as if they were and they loved it. The old con master was in his element. He found himself in a pub and ordered drinks all round. All cheered. The news spread to the vast crowd outside, and it cheered too. Adrenaline racing, fists thumping chests, hugging and handshaking, wisecracking and slogan swapping, Clinton worked that crowd for twenty minutes, leaving it hoarse and exhausted, delighted and deeply impressed when he swept off in his limo. The only unhappy man was the bartender, who was never paid for ol' Bill's round.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Top 5 Robert DeNiro Movies

Here are what I consider Robert DeNiro's Top 5 movies. 

1. Raging Bull 
2. Goodfellas 
3. Taxi Driver 
4. The Godfather II 
5. (tie) Casino (tie) A Bronx Tale 

Casino from 1995 is the "newest" movie on the list. Ronin (1998), Jackie Brown (1997) and Heat (1995) would be on almost any other actor's Top 5 but after 1998 DeNiro's been seemingly trading on his past roles.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Congrats to the Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup and to the City of Pittsburgh for another championship... Is Jimmy Rollins a Hall of Famer? I'm on the fence but tending toward "NO"... Wonder how people in Cleveland feel about Pittsburgh winning another championship while they are in the midst of a 52-year championship drought... For the geeky girls in your life... First Muhammad Ali then Gordie Howe. Who's next? Arnold Palmer? Hugh Hefner? Manuel Noriega? Bet that last one caught you by surprise. When's the last time Noriega's name cam up in conversation?... One of the best selfies ever... Jesus Fish and Chips would be a good name for a band... No thanks I don't need WiFi that bad...

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Secretariat - Belmont Stakes 1973

43-years ago today Secretariat ran the most incredible horse race in history. Watching the replay gives me chills. Supposedly Secretariat would have beaten American Pharoah by 16 lengths!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Vote Orange? Isn't that a subliminal way of saying Vote Trump? No thanks I love America so that's why I'll vote for the Red Sox!... Puzzled by the phrase "I don't give a rats ass!" How much could a rats ass cost? And wouldn't it be at least more than a fiddler's fart?... Is Carlos Beltran a Hall of Famer? It is company like this that make me wonder... Now that Muhammad Ali has passed - is Hugh Hefner the biggest icon left from the 1970's?... Heh heh... Whe I listen to the announcers of the Stanley Cup Final on TV - ever time I hear the name "Letang" - I think that really sounds like the title of a ZZ Top song... Heh heh...

Metallica Plays Star-Spangled Banner

This was pretty cool last night.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Ronald Reagan - Lifeguard

Recently read Ronald Reagan by Jacob Weisberg. The work is part of The American Presidents Series and based upon this work - I look forward to reading additional books in the series.

Jacob Weisberg is the former editor at Slate so it was interesting to read a biography of the Conservative icon from a view at the very least colored by a leftist slant. I found the book fair and informative although having read all the oral first person histories on Reagan from the Miller Center I would disagree on how Reagan's views on nuclear weapons and the historic events in Reykjavik Iceland are portrayed.

One thing about Reagan's biography really stood out for me. In his youth Reagan worked six summers as a lifeguard on the Rock River which flows into the Mississippi. Every time he had to save someone from the dangerous currents Reagan made a notch in a log which after six years ended up with 77 notches. I relayed that story to a friend who was incredulous. "No way that's true!" Even if the number wasn't 77 but half or a third of that - what a different time that must have been! Can you imagine anywhere in the US having a public swimming area that would require over 10 rescues per year remaining in operation today?

Make Good Art

Some good advice on a Friday - Make Good Art!

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The AFL-CIO, a group of 21 scientists and the New England Patriots all filed amicus briefs in support of Tom Brady. Filing in support of Roger Goodell and the NFL was the Church of Satan... Interesting - Epix will be producing a series based upon Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty. I'm guessing this is in part due to the success of the Elmore Leonard based series Justified... .. The Shakespearean phrase "I'll tickle your catastrophe" just tickles my fancy... TJ Miller and Stephen Tobolowski equals gold...  Mae West said it 100-years ago "Those who are offended easily should be offended more often" and it is still true today... Just saying but a belly-dancing class should be a great place to meet women. Chances are you'd be the only guy...

Don't Get Your Panties in a Bunch

Woke up this morning thinking of the phrase "Don't get your panties in a bunch". This of course is the Americanized version of "Don't get your knickers in a twist" or "Don't get your knickers in a knot". The point of all of the phrases is basically to tell someone to "relax!" or "don't worry so much about this".

I have two main issues with this phrase. First underwear today has so little material that it would be difficult to get it in a bunch, twist or knot. For example - how would one knot a thong? Secondly panties are normally associated with women giving the phrase an overtly sexist tone.

My suggestion? Replace the phrase "Don't get your panties in a bunch" with the phrase "Release your wedgie!" Everyone knows how uncomfortable wedgies are and both men and women get them. Language issue solved.

Now I may go back to bed.