Monday, June 26, 2017

A Week in Paterson

I watched the movie Paterson recently, and I'm not quite sure what I think of it. I liked it, but beyond that I'm uncertain. So this will be as much about me working out my own thoughts through writing as anything else.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hall of Fame Players

How many Hall of Famers are playing baseball right now? The pedantic answer is "none". You can't officially be a Hall of Fame baseball player until at least 5 years after retirement. (Unless you're dead, in which case an exception can be made.) But clearly there must be some. Barring injury or other dramatic change, Mike Trout is well on his way. Ichiro is a lock. But surely there are also some lurking out there who are not so obvious. Is there any way to figure out how many and maybe who they are?

Let's take a look at answering that. First, we should take the pulse of the Hall of Fame and take a stab at how many players in a given year will end up in the Hall of Fame. Fortunately for us, I've looked at this before for other reasons and we can repurpose the data. Looks like we're going to have to juuuuump!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

World Baseball Snooze

Why don't I (and most US baseball fans, I suspect) care about the World Baseball Classic? Because the US isn't really fielding a proper national team. We get the best baseball in the world from April to October and so sending the best US players to the WBC wouldn't really make a lot of sense because why would that be more important than the World Series?

A lot of folks in the US who hate sports and folks from other countries mock the idea of the MLB championship being called the "World Series". After all, it's not like we invite other countries. Moreover, the US doesn't win the WBC. But that's because if you're one of the best baseball players, you play in the MLB. The players who stay behind in Venezuela, Puerto Rico (why do they have a national team anyway?), Japan, etc. aren't nearly as good as the ones who come to play in the US. There may be exceptions; I suspect more than a few Japanese players could make in the MLB, but find the culture shift and potential for a reduced role in the US sufficiently unpleasant that they prefer to stay in Japan. On the whole, however, the World Series is the true world championship. Join me after the jump for a few stats and facts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Pothunters: Review

It's probably a misnomer to call this a review. That I would be able to properly review anything is unlikely having neither the expertise, experience, or inclination to do it right. With that disclaimer out of the way, onward!

The biggest problem with The Pothunters is that it's rather disjointed. There are a few plotlines and they never quite mesh fully. They're related and they interact, certainly, but there is a distinct lack of that seamless weaving of the threads of multiple subplots that will be such an important feature of Wodehouse's later work. There are amusing moments here too, but this book isn't written to be as comedic as most of his works and the jokes here are indicative of his later mastery. It's raw ore waiting to be refined; you can see the potential, but it's not realised.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Movies, Lists, and Greatness

Nearly 20 years ago (time flies) the American Film Institute made a list of the top 100 American movies for the centenary of American film. They made the list by
[inviting] more than 1,500 leaders from across the American film community – screenwriters, directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, executives, film historians and critics among them – to choose from a list of 400 nominated films compiled by AFI and select the 100 greatest American movies.
Which is okay, I guess. This is a pretty good crowd to ask about movies; they should know a fair bit about them. But they limited them to a pre-culled list of 400, which is not so great. But the really interesting thing was that 9 years later, in 2007 they did it again.

The brief text on their site makes it sound like they asked all the same people again, thought I would have expected at least a few of them to have been unavailable. Perhaps some of them had died in the intervening years, or were out of town, disinclined to participate, something. Be that as it may, the differences between the lists are what really caught my attention. And there are some significant differences. Hit that jump and let's discuss.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Pothunters

First up on the tour through the works of PG Wodehouse is The Pothunters. This was originally published in 1902, according to the information on the copyright page. Before it was a book, however, it was first published as a serial in Public School Magazine in January-March of the same year. This is one that I've read before and, if I recall correctly, much of the style and mannerisms that are a source of humor in Wodehouse's later works are taken more seriously in this one. According to the back text and my own memory, this is a quasi-mystery story about stolen cricket trophies and a noble youth unjustly accused who seeks the real culprit in order to remove the stain from his honor.

He started out writing these kinds of mildly amusing, earnestly moral stories for magazines aimed at boys in their early teens. Wodehouse himself was a young man not far removed from these school days; he was about 20 when this story was written. I'll check in again when I've finished the book with some more detailed thoughts.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Just Like for Grown-Ups!

So, while you may have noticed that I have a widget there to the right (left, if you're facing away from the screen) which rotates through a sample of my books catalogued over at LibraryThing, if you'd rather peruse them in a way that feels more like a library's online catalogue (and who wouldn't, really?) then you can also check out this link. It's a software service that LibraryThing makes available to its users for free (if it's for personal use) or very cheap if you're more of an organization. Why do I have it when I don't really let anyone "check out" my books from my house? It was free, so why not?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Feedback

No one bothers to read any of this nonsense, I'm fairly sure, but my sense of the fitness of things was troubled when I realized that I'd never bothered to test the feedback box I'd added to replace comments. So I filled it out myself. We'll see if the message actually goes anywhere or if all I've done is add a way to troll unsuspecting folks who wander by and wish to register their dissatisfaction.

UPDATE: Turns out I get an email. Cool.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Trump Post or, So, It's Come to This, Has It?

If you don't follow me on Twitter (and apparently most people don't), then you probably haven't seen what I've been saying about Der Trumpenf├╝hrer. I will sum up: I don't like him.

But that's not enough, and this is something that I think (in agreement with others more intelligent and informed than I) will matter a great deal in the future. Those of us who are on the conservative end of the political spectrum and particularly those of us who are Christians who (at least claim to) take our Christianity seriously need to put markers down now. So, here we go.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Baseball Cards and Fine Art

Prufrock (if you're not subscribed, you're ill-informed) linked to a piece in the New York Times last week about vast quantities of fine that are locked away in storage in free ports around the world. (If you want to know more about that or what a "free port" is, I commend the article to you.) The article notes that a number of works sold for more than $100M are among those stored away. Which is a bit ridiculous.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

How I Know I Work in a Hippy-Dippy Left-Wing City

In the small plaza across from my office there are two small pillars (plinths?). On top of each of these plinths (pillars?) is a small statue. Each of these statues is a woman. Each of these women is, apparently, doing yoga. In the nude.

No, I'm not going to post a picture.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Pirates, Assassins, and Templars

The Assassin's Creed series has a lot of problems if examined at all closely. The gameplay does tend to be very repetitive. The underlying "philosophy" is half-baked and peculiar. The story isn't particularly inventive. By the same token though, there are some very viscerally satisfying moments. The slow-motion drop from a rooftop onto a target doesn't get old. And one gets a distinct sensation of being the baddest man around from dropping into a crowd of a couple dozen guards and then walking away casually after piling up the bodies.

But!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sentiment not sentimentalism

It is inevitable that the decay of sentiment should be accompanied by a deterioration of human relationships, both those of the family and those of friendly association, because the passion for immediacy concentrates upon the presently advantageous. After all, there is nothing but sentiment to bind us to the very old or to the very young. Burke saw this point when he said that those who have no concern for their ancestors will, by simple application of the same rule, have none for their descendants. The decision of modern man to live in the here and now is reflected in the neglect of aging parents, whom proper sentiment once kept in positions of honor and authority. There was a time when the elder generation was cherished because it represented the past; now it is avoided and thrust out of sight for the same reason. Children are liabilities. As man becomes more immersed in time and material gratifications, belief in the continuum of race fades, and not all the tinkering of sociologists can put homes together again.
~p. 30
Ideas Have Consequences

Do They Even Know It's Spring?

Walking around downtown yesterday when the high temperature was about 60 or so, I saw people with scarves and winter coats all hunched up like they're freezing. Waiting for the bus a woman walked past in a heavy coat and wearing a wool cap like it was midwinter. Okay, folks got spoiled by the unseasonably warm weather last month, but this is ridiculous. Get a grip, people!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Well, It Was a Good Run While It Lasted

Perhaps enough Republicans decided they were tired of being called fascists by the Democrats and figured they'd really nominate one. They have their internationally-minded socialists, so the GOP decided to go with a nationalist socialist. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.