Saturday, February 28, 2015

Who Knew?

The story Cinderella was written in 1699 by a Frenchman named Charles Perrault. In the original story, Cinderella wore slippers made of squirrel fur but when the book was translated into English the word "vair" (squirrel fur) was mistranslated as "verre" (glass) and the rest is history.

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (99) Superman by The Kinks.

The History of Business Cards

When playing cards (i.e. ace, king, queen, etc) started being produced in England centuries ago - the backs were left blank because the printing technology was not quite to the point where a uniform back could be printed at a reasonable cost. This blank space on the backs of "cards" was a convenient place to write notes and it became very common for a "caller" to leave a note on a card if the person they were visiting was away. Thus you could stop by someones house and leave your "calling card" with all your pertinent information if the person was out.

Card players weren't fond of that blank space on the back of cards because it made it fairly easy to cheat by marking the cards and so according to Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, "In the 1830s, London printer Thomas de la Rue devised a new process of aligning colors that enabled him to print patterned backs." From that point on cards had a uniform colored back to go with the front which told you which card you held. By then, however, people had grown so used to leaving cards that they often had "calling cards" specifically printed up and it was just a short step away then to our modern business cards.

Friday, February 27, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (98) Sail by Awolnation.

Linky Links

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

- RIP Leonard Nimoy. Here was his last Tweet from a few days ago. Makes you wonder if he knew the end was near.

- Nice article on what the Pawtucket Red Sox have meant to the city. I'll be sure to catch a few games there this season.

- Can't help but think of all the missed shots. Great idea but I'd hate to have to clean that floor.

- Not to jinx anything but Abe Vigoda is still alive

- Interesting - little girl receives gifts from crows as thanks for feeding them

- How much do Keynote Speakers make?

- This is one beautiful car

- How sanctions are effecting the Russian economy

Top 5 - Ways to Speed Up MLB Games

How to speed up MLB games seems to be a big topic on conversation on Sports Talk Radio. With MLB games averaging 3:02 hours last season - the concern is understandable. Here's my recommendations for speeding up the game while trying to minimize changing the game itself.

1. Get rid of the 7th inning stretch. Back in the day when the action was in comparison "quick" I can understand why fans would need a break (biological or otherwise) in the seventh inning. Today with games averaging 3:02 - there are already plenty of breaks including long commercial breaks every half-inning. I'm as patriotic as the next guy but getting rid of the singing of God Bless America would by itself get the games back under 3 hours in length (we already sing the National Anthem to start games). Also ban playing any other crappy songs (looking at you Red Sox - real fans hate Sweet Caroline). I would, however, grandfather the Cubs and the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame from this rule.
2. Limit walk-up music - not essential to the playing of the game and it is a delaying factor as players style up to the plate to hear "their" song. Only allow walk-up music for the first time through the order. If you are a rookie - no walk-up music even if you are a starter. If you are hitting below .250 after the All-Star break - no walk up music for you either.
3. Make umpires responsible for teams being ready to play coming out of commercial breaks between innings. Make it part of their review process. Penalize umpires who can't get teams ready to play. Empower umpires with the ability to charge teams with a ball or strike to start inning if a team isn't ready to go. Batter not ready - he starts with an 0-1 count. Pitcher or defense not ready - count is 1-0 before first pitch is thrown.
4. Limit number of times catcher can go to the mound. Catcher gets 3 mound visits per game. After the 3rd visit if he goes to the mound the delay costs his team a ball. If pitcher has yips - too bad. If pitcher and catcher not on same page - too bad. Catchers would limit mound visits early in games to make sure they can go to the mound late in a tight game when the count is full and they want to make sure pitcher is on same page. Exception would be to check to make sure pitcher isn't injured but the umpire would have to agree to allow that visit prior to catcher going to mound.
5. Stop beer sales after the 8th inning not the 7th. This has nothing to do with speeding up the game but the last 2 innings are the longest and to make fans like me sit there without a cold brewski dampers my enthusiasm for the game. Almost cruel.

Happy Birthday Ralphie

Today is Ralph Nader's 81st birthday and I for one would like to wish him a happy birthday and thank him once again for taking those votes away from Al Gore in the 2000 election. Nader got 3% of the vote nation-wide and who knows how many votes in the closely contested (to put it mildly) Florida vote.

Thanks Ralphie. Don't hold your breath for a birthday card from Al Gore though.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The number 1 overriding reason Boston should not get the Olympics is Logan Airport - the worst major airport in the United States... The Daytona 500 is one of the last major sporting events to use trough urinals. The Masters is the only other one I can think of... Have you seen the "octopus jumps out of the water to eat a crab" video? I know octopus are badass. What I'm curious about is that video has close to 6 million views on YouTube - did the woman who took the video make any money from posting it?... 20 things you might not know about the Miracle on Ice... If President Obama says ISIS is not Islamic shouldn't we just call them SIS?... Heh heh - I would prefer my cause of death be motorboated by Wonder Woman... Non-roster invitee Dana Eveland was given Jon Lester's old number 31...

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (96) Black Betty by Ram Jam.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A French Soldiers View of US Soldiers

This is must reading. American combat team will rush to support ours [French] before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.
...Current everyday conventional boring 'leg infantry' units exceed the PT levels and training levels of most Special Forces during the Vietnam War. They exceed both of those as well as IQ and educational levels of: Waffen SS, WWII Rangers, WWII Airborne and British 'Commando' units during WWII. Their per-unit combat-functionality is essentially unmeasurable because it has to be compared to something and there's nothing comparable in industrial period combat history.
...This is 'The Greatest Generation' of soldiers.... They may never be equaled.
Where do we find such men?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (94) Pepper by Butthole Surfers.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

So last week I re-read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and one thing bothered me throughout the whole book. If Fred and George Weasley had the Marauders Map the whole time Ron was at school and Peter Pettigrew showed up on the map - how come they never said anything? I mean if you saw someone sleeping in the same bed as your younger brother pretty much every night wouldn't you ask said younger brother what the heck was going on and who Peter Pettigrew was?

I know British boarding schools get a bad rap but to the degree that fighters like Fred and George wouldn't check on their brother Ron to make sure he wasn't being molested? I know this is a minor plot hole but what was it - some sort of don't ask don't tell deal going on among the Weasley brothers?


Today marks a very important date - the anniversary of one of those things that changed the world forever. On February 21st in 1916 - the Battle of Verdun was begun. This battle was to change the course of Western Civilization. 

The idea for the battle was from German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn. He believed that if he could take-out France with a major set battle and discourage England to a point that Germany could be in a position to negotiate very favorable terms. To accomplish his goals - Falkenhayn proposed unrestricted submarine warfare to starve Britain and a knockout blow against France at Verdun. With this major battle at Verdun, Falkenhayn hoped to "bleed France white".

It was an ambitious plan - an aggressive plan. Falkenhayn knew that to attack at Verdun he'd have to take resources away from the Eastern Front and that unrestricted submarine warfare ran the risk of bringing the U.S. into the war. Falkenhayn reasoned that Russia was on the brink of revolution and internal civil war in Russia would allow them to take those resources from the Eastern Front and that the decisive blow to France would come before the US was dragged into the war. He was right on the former but wrong on the latter.

Verdun seemed the perfect place to attack. It actually jutted out into the German lines - so it could be attacked from three sides. It was also of historical and psychological significance to Frenchmen (somewhat akin to what the Alamo is to Americans).

The job of attacking Verdun fell to German Crown Prince Wilhelm. He planned to assault the town from both side of the surrounding Meuse River but that plan vetoed by Falkenhayn. After coming up with a daring, aggressive plan - Falkenhayn was suddenly cautious. Falkenhayn ordered the attack to be confined to one side of the river. Similar to a poker game, Falkenhayn was beaten on the river. Falkenhayn had pocket Aces of a plan but he failed to put enough chips at risk to drive the other player out. By not being aggressive when he should have he gave France free cards and allowed himself and Germany to literally be beaten on the river.

With so many people who eventually died in the battle, a poker analogy may seem flip but the fact is the Germans had one million troops against 200,000 defenders. They did hold Aces before the battle.

When the attack finally began, the Germans bombarded Verdun with 1,400 guns that rained Verdun with 100,000 shells every hour. The Germans failed to immediately follow up the bombardment with an full-scale infantry attack and what resulted was a stalemate which was to last for months and months.

The dead and wounded from both sides piled up so that both countries were being "bled white". The French begged Britain to open up a diversionary attack elsewhere on the Western Front to drain resources and men away from Verdun on the German side. Thus the Battle of the Somme was born. 

By the time the battle of Verdun ended almost one million casualties had been inflicted in roughly equal numbers for both sides. The Battle of the Somme resulted in about 1.1 million casualties (about 400,000 British, 200,000 French and 500,000 German). The unrestricted submarine warfare resulted in the Americans being dragged into the War (remember that President Woodrow Wilson was elected on a peace platform). The American joined the fight just as both sides were literally exhausted from being "bled white" from Verdun and the Somme and the rest is history (including the harsh terms imposed on Germany that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party).

I just wanted to make sure an anniversary this important to the course of Western Civilization did not pass without proper mention.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blake Swihart

Interesting article on Red Sox top prospect Blake Swihart. I didn't know he played shortstop in high school. Nor did I know he could throw 98 MPH in high school (rocket arm for a catcher). Even knowing all this new info - I'm still torn about whether Boston should use Swihart as the key to acquiring Cole Hamels.

Best case scenario - Swihart is the second coming of Craig Biggio, a catcher athletic enough to move to second base and center field. Biggio is a Hall of Famer - so this is a very high ceiling. Still - would I trade a young Biggio for a pitcher who might be the Jake Peavy of the last three years (low value return) or who could be the next John Tudor (who went 21-8 in his age 31 season). Probably I don't pull the trigger on a Hamels trade if I'm convinced Swihart is the next Biggio.

Still a good case scenario - what if Swihart is the next Rich Gedman (a power arm pitcher in high school converted to catcher)? Gedman played 13 years and was a 2-time All-Star. Do I trade a young Rich Gedman for Hamels? After serious consideration I probably do.

And as Rob Bradford points out - what if Blake Swihart is the next Jesus Montero who was supposed to be the Yankees' can't miss catching prospect? In that case absolutely you pull the trigger.

It will be interesting to see what the Red Sox do. I'm still torn on the question.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (92) One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head.

Linky Links

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

- NY Post's front page. Only one of those guys is guaranteed to have a job this summer. Oh just as a reminder - to date Alex Rodriguez has made over $356 million. I'm guessing that money will help him deal with the slings and arrows that will be sent his way.

- You go Gronk! (Yeah I have a thing for Amy Schumer.)

- Bill Murray on the last time he saw Gilda Radner

- Batman sarcasm

- Phil Hartman's SNL audition

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

February 14th could easily be renamed National Shave Your Legs and Pubics Day sponsored by Lady Gillette instead of Valentines Day... I pretty much agree with Chad Finn on what the Red Sox Opening Day roster will look like. The only thing I disagree on is I think Shane Victorino will be the one traded not Allen Craig... Tommy Heinsohn was just named to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach. He was already in the Hall as a player. Both of these honors, of course, pale in comparison to having his number retired by Holy Cross... Joe Biden would make a great replacement for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. The unintentional comedy would be off the charts... Did you know that Tris Speaker actually had more triples in his career (222) than strikeouts (220)? That's amazing!...

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (89) Seasons of Wither by Aerosmith.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My New Religion

The other day I was giving my son a ride and I saw a sign out of the corner of my eye that said "Boundless Way Zen Center". The thing is my mind read it as "Roundless Way Zen Center" - so I asked my son what those people had against circles. Of course he informed me that the sign said "Boundless" but I kept thinking "Roundless" would be better.

I kept thinking of it so much that I decided a "Roundless Way Zen Religion" needed to exist. Here are the three major precepts of my new religion.

1. We would adhere to all the established teachings of Zen Buddhism such as the poet Basho's "a donut with no hole is a Danish". Etc.
2. The Roundless Way is not just mindful meditation but also exercise.  Every time you feel like you are getting a little too round around the middle its time to get off the couch and out for some real world exercise. Hiking, swimming, chopping wood, or going to the gym - it doesn't matter. Just don't let the round around the middle get the better of you. A healthy body is part of having a happy mind.
3. If you find yourself going in circles in life - stop and change directions. The Roundless Way says that life is too short to get into ruts.

I think I could really expand this philosophy. What do you think?


100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (88) The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (87) 5:15 by The Who.

Linky Links

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

- Heh heh - I love these - Hitler finds out about Brian Williams

- Did the Boston Bruins really "win" the Tyler Seguin trade? Seems like another five nickels for a quarter deal.

- I love these Larry Bird trash talker extraordinaire stories

- Heh heh - it's funny because it's true

Jay Bilas

ESPN's college basketball guru Jay Bilas has 818,000 followers on Twitter ( @JayBilas ) but he only follows one Twitter account himself - Lacey's Legacy ( @adorableLacey ).

That must be one special little girl.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (86) Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Real Facts

According to the Snapple Real Fact #154 - Americans spend more than $630 million a year on golf balls.

For what its worth - in 2002 the Government spent $630 million for Homeland Security bomb detecting and baggage screening equipment.

$630 million is also the amount that West Virginia got in a one-time settlement with the tobacco companies.

As luck would have it - $630 million is also the amount that this Nigerian banker is promising to share with me if I allow him to deposit it into my bank accounts.

I'm not reading anything into these numbers - just thought I'd post the coincidences.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (85) Lady Writer by Dire Straits.


Two thoughts I've had regarding all the talk about vaccinations recently.

First - I keep thinking about how a conversation with parents from 100-years ago would go. I think it would go something like this:

Me: Hi I'm from the future and in the future we have vaccinations that have basically wiped out childhood diseases like Measles and Polio.
Parents from 100-years ago: How miraculous. How glorious it must be for parents to be freed from the worry of their children dying from Measles or being permanently crippled by things like Polio.
Me: Yeah but the thing is some parents don't get their kids vaccinated.
Parents from 100-years ago: Why would they do that? Do the shots cost millions and only the rich can afford them?
Me: No the shots are very affordable and in most cases don't cost anything. And in many cases the parents who don't get their kids vaccinated are very affluent.
Parents from 100-years ago: Really? Then what's the excuse? Don't these parents love their children?
Me: Well they say they do but I think they like the smug feeling of thinking they are smarter than everyone else better.
Parents from 100-years ago: How smug are they going to feel when their kid dies from something that could have been easily prevented? Fuck those people.
Me: Yeah - fuck those people.

Second - would it be possible to make letting your child be injured by a childhood disease that could have been prevented by vaccinations a felony? Don't get me wrong - I don't want these parents to go to jail. But I would like these stupid fucks to lose their right to vote. The idea of an anti-vaxxer cancelling out my vote makes me kind of sick.

Too bad there's no vaccination for stupid.

Monday, February 09, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (84) Rolling In the Deep by Adele.

Is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer?

Peter Gammons' site asked the question a couple of days ago - is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer? The article mentions many of Jones accomplishments and in the course of the article named 13 different players in comparison to Andruw Jones. Two players jump out at me when thinking about the question, "Is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer"? Neither of the players I thought of were mentioned in the article linked above.

The first player is Dwight Evans who as great as Jones was in centerfield - Dewey was that great in right. You had 10 Gold Gloves for Jones and 8 for Evans. Jones had 434 career HR to Evans' 385 but Evans had 540 more total bases than Andruw and his OPS+ of 127 is much more Hall of Fame worthy than Jones 111 OPS+ mark. WAR? Evans had a career mark of 66.9 (124th best all-time) to Jones' 62.8 (152nd all-time). How many people are still asking if Evans is a Hall of Famer?

The second player also played centerfield for the Braves - Dale Murphy. He was a 5-time Gold Glover and winner of back-to-back NL MVP Awards. According to the most similar player to Dale Murphy? Andruw Jones.

So to answer the question - is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer? The answer is no. And neither is Dale Murphy or Dwight Evans. For the record though - I am a fan of all three players.

Roger Goodell

This article suggests that Roger Goodell's days may be numbered as NFL Commissioner. What the article completely whiffs on is one powerful reason - Goodell has alienated his strongest supporter in Robert Kraft. At this point Kraft wouldn't cross the street to spit on Goodell if he was on fire. Does anyone remember the Commissioner being on-stage after the Patriots won the Super Bowl? No? That's because Robert Kraft treated Goodell like he was the invisible man. Goodell basically burned down his own house with his bumbling Deflategate investigation.

So who should the NFL get to replace Goodell? I've said it before - Condoleezza Rice. She would solve the NFL's domestic violence PR problem with the simple fact that she's a woman. She'd be the first woman commissioner of any of the major sports. Race issues? Hello - she's a black woman! Qualified? She was Secretary of State! Plus she's said NFL Commissioner would be her dream job.

So let it be written - so let it be done.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (83) To Love Somebody by the Bee Gees.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

So Rex Ryan's first two moves are to alter his tattoo and sign Richie Incognito. That must have Bill Belichick shaking in his boots... Good article on the NFL's integrity problem by Tom E. Curran... So I understand that Brian Williams was planning on calling his autobiography "If I Did It" but that title was already taken by OJ Simpson... Gronk with the ceremonial puck spike...

Saturday, February 07, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (82) Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

The Brian Williams mess is why I think some network should just go ahead and hire Strong Bad to read the news. That network would immediately have the highest ratings and compared to Brian Williams would lose nothing in credibility... I would so love to buy property from Zdeno Chara... Anyone else hear that NBC plans to change the name of the Nightly News to "Bryan Williams Slow Jams the Truth"?... Heh heh - I love the Left Shark... New England Church sign; "Whoever is praying for snow - please stop!"... The "Cathy" comic strip with Louis CK quotes - yes please... It would be funny if Australian Bee Gees were a disease and not a cover band. Please immunize your kids against Australian Bee Gees!... "No More" the NFL Domestic Violence partner is a sham... Gene Hackman turned 84 this week. Great actor but I can't watch one of his movies without thinking about how huge his head is. I mean gigantic... Heh heh - I scream, you scream... In modern dollars the ransoms paid to free England's King Richard the Lionhearted would cost over $2 billion (34 tons of gold)... Tolstoy's 10 rules for life... A reminder - in the NFL Alex Smith is a higher paid QB than Tom Brady... Interesting article on Billy Walters - the most successful sports gambler in history... Just 58 days till Opening Day...

Friday, February 06, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (81) Tunnel of Love by Dire Straits.

Saint Cornelius of Ireland

Though not widely remembered today - at one point Saint Cornelius of Ireland (not to be confused with Saint Cornelius of Antioch) was second in popularity in the Emerald Isle only to Saint Patrick. 

Saint Patrick is remembered for driving the snakes out of Ireland. Saint Cornelius was said to have driven the squirrels out of Ireland. This "miracle" of Saint Cornelius later proved to be his undoing. During the Great Potato Famine starving Irishmen and women wished they had tasty squirrel meat to eat and they cursed Saint Cornelius for driving out the furry rodents. In response to this outrage - Pope Pius IX removed Cornelius from the roll of official Catholic Saints. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

NFL Tug of War

Here's an idea that I think would be a smash. Have a tug of war tournament between NFL teams. The offense and defensive linemen would be the stars giving them recognition usually reserved to skill players and a big portion of the TV rights could go to the health benefits of retired players in need. A big win-win for everyone involved.

And it would be a ton of fun to watch.

Imagine a tug of war set up so that the losing team goes tumbling into a pond or some other body of water. Imagine fun player profiles between contests. Imagine getting these NFL fixes during the off-season when people like me are Jonesing for anything football related.

All 32 NFL teams would be represented and there would be 4 tug of war matches per half hour show - except for the finals which would be a best of 3 affair. Winners advance and losers go home. That's 16 shows. Play 2 shows per week for an hour worth of low cost content and you have two months worth of NFL content between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft.

Wouldn't you watch something like this?

Monday, February 02, 2015

100 of My Favorite Songs

Today's offering (78) Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers.

Super Bowl Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations from last night's wicked awesome Patriots victory!

How can you not love Tom Brady?... Ed Werder with the Stat of the Day; "There were 109 passes thrown from the 1-yard line this season. Russell Wilson's was the first intercepted. That play decides the Super Bowl"... I would have run it with Lynch... Seriously Nationwide - WTF?... Pats cheerleader Kelly Bennion is the definition of a catch... OK with Bob Kraft no longer in his corner - what's the over / under for how long it takes for the NFL to name Condi Rice as Roger Goodell's replacement as Commissioner... You can judge a man by the company he keeps. Again - how can you not love Tom Brady (OK maybe I'm trolling a little)...

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

If and when the Patriots win today - it will be interesting to watch the interaction when Roger Goodell hands Bob Kraft the Lombardi Trophy. This could be Pete Rozelle and Al Davis levels of awkward... Interesting - the hidden meaning of one of Silence of the Lambs most iconic lines... Does anyone see the irony of a guy like Herm Edwards breaking down the coaching of Bill Belichick? Edwards is on TV because he couldn't beat guys like Belichick and now we're supposed to be sold on the idea that Edwards knows what makes Belichick tick?... I'm seriously surprised this doesn't happen more often. If you shovel a spot on the street - you own that spot. Unwritten New England law... In 1,000 years if archaeologists find Ted Williams severed head - will they think that's what we worshiped?... Not for nothing but I think Julian Edelman has to have the best playoff beard in the Super Bowl - edge Patriots... If this is true - then my respect for Calvin Coolidge just went up five-fold...