Passers-by

3 Jan 2015 /

Carl Sandburg

Passers-by,
Out of your many faces
Flash memories to me
Now at the day end
Away from the sidewalks
Where your shoe soles traveled
And your voices rose and blent
To form the city’s afternoon roar
Hindering an old silence.

        Passers-by,
I remember lean ones among you,
Throats in the clutch of a hope,
Lips written over with strivings,
Mouths that kiss only for love,
Records of great wishes slept with,
Held long
And prayed and toiled for:

        Yes,
Written on
Your mouths
And your throats
I read them
When you passed by.

— Carl Sandburg, “Passers-by”

The College Football Playoff is Working

3 Jan 2015 /

Under the old two-team BCS format, the teams that lost the semifinal games — Alabama and Florida State — would likely have played each other in the championship game, while the two winners — Oregon and Ohio State — would likely have been voted out.

Florida State, as the defending champs and only undefeated team, would have been in for sure, while Ohio State would have just as certainly been out. That leaves Alabama and Oregon. One would have had to be dropped and it probably would have been Oregon.

Four teams is still not enough (see TCU’s 42-3 blowout of Mississippi State) to be able to say that none of the teams voted out was good enough to win it.

Also: I am sick unto death of the goddamn Larry Culpepper commercials. Enough of that already.


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

3 Jan 2015 /

Larry Culpepper


People I Thought Were Dead

3 Jan 2015 /
  • Al Kaline – baseball player, Detroit Tigers
  • Wink Martindale – game show host

Donna Douglas, 1933-2015

2 Jan 2015 /

Donna Douglas was 81?! This is how I remember her:

Donna Douglas

R.I.P. Donna Douglas


How to Tell if Your Food Server is a Robot

1 Jan 2015 /

I’ve been reading some articles recently about increased use of robots in the food service industry. I think we had a robot server the other day at the Jack in the Box drive-thru. My boy ordered a medium Mountain Dew with his meal and I ordered a large Coke Zero with mine.

“Which one is the Mountain Dew” I asked the woman (robot) at the window as she handed us the drinks.

“The medium one,” she said.

Only a robot would answer the question that way. A human would say “The yellow one.” Because it’s a dopey question and a human recognizes why it’s a dopey question and answers accordingly. The robot only knows that the medium drink is the Mountain Dew and the large drink is the Coke Zero.

Girls at table with robot


Happy New Year

1 Jan 2015 /

But will we make this new year worthy of its promise of true change or will we just go around in circles?

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The Public School Monopoly Provides Little Incentive to Supply Good Education

31 Dec 2014 /

[The public-school monopoly] is yet another scam that inflicts disproportionately great damage on people who are the poorest and least advantaged. How could it not? Those who run K-12 government schools aren’t paid by customers who voluntarily send their children to those schools and who could easily choose to send their children elsewhere. Instead, these teachers and officials are paid by governments that tax citizens regardless of how many children those citizens have in schools and regardless of how well the schools perform. Therefore, with funding that is independent of customer choice — and with each child assigned to a particular public school — public-school officials have little incentive to supply good education.


2014: The Year in Books

31 Dec 2014 /

These are the books I read in 2014, roughly in the order listed. The ratings are mine. They don’t represent a consensus of opinion.

Books of the Year: My Antonia by Willa Cather (fiction) and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (non-fiction).

Honorable Mention: Flaubert’s Parrot, The Fountain Overflows, Nausea, Pastoralia, Revolutionary Road.


Ovid Had Some Off Days

31 Dec 2014 /


Mo’ne Davis: Female Athlete of the Year?

31 Dec 2014 /

Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis made a big impression on the sports landscape in 2014—enough to garner Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year honors.

Mo'ne Davis

I can’t decide if this is demeaning only to female athletes or to women in general.

Reality check: Mo’ne Davis pitched two games for the Pennsylvania team in the 2014 Little League World Series — a 4-0 win and an 8-1 loss. Her team was knocked out in a semifinal game by the Nevada team, which went on to lose the final game to Illinois.

Would the AP ever select a little league baseball player (or other 13-year-old boy) as Male Athlete of the Year? Would the AP ever select a Male Athlete of the Year who has not distinguished himself among his peers and has zero notable accomplishments? Pitching and winning a Little League World Series game is not in itself a notable accomplishment. None of the boys who did it got any votes for 2014 AP Male Athlete of the Year.

The 2014 AP Male Athlete of the Year is, like Mo’ne Davis, a baseball pitcher: Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants. What did he do that was so special? Well, he was the MVP of both the NLCS and the World Series, in which he was 2-0 with a save, a 0.43 ERA, 17 strikeouts and one walk in 21 innings, which serves to emphasize what a joke the Female Athlete of the Year award is.

Clayton Kershaw finished second in the voting, followed by Derek Jeter, Rory McIlroy, Peyton Manning, Tim Howard, Lionel Messi, Tim Duncan, Aaron Rodgers, Novak Djokovic, Richard Sherman, Tom Brady, Thomas Mueller, Sidney Crosby, Marcus Mariota and LeBron James, all of whom distinguished themselves without qualification among the best athletes in their respective sports.

There’s no one in that list who is exceptional only under special pleading, e.g., he’s not a great soccer player but for a guy with one leg, he’s tremendous!

Sure, there are lots of better baseball players than Mo’ne Davis but she’s pretty good for a girl so let’s give her a big-time award.


R.I.P. America

30 Dec 2014 /

R.I.P. America


Secondary Lobster

29 Dec 2014 /

Lobster

I’m thinking about getting into the secondary lobster market. Everyone’s so focused on main lobster, I’m thinking that secondary lobster may be an overlooked opportunity . . .


60 Million Students

29 Dec 2014 /


Within the Circuit of this Plodding Life

28 Dec 2014 /

Within the circuit of this plodding life,
There enter moments of an azure hue,
Untarnished fair as is the violet
Or anemone, when the spring strews them
By some meandering rivulet, which make
The best philosophy untrue that aims
But to console man for his grievances.
I have remembered when the winter came,
High in my chamber in the frosty nights,
When in the still light of the cheerful moon,
On every twig and rail and jutting spout,
The icy spears were adding to their length
Against the arrows of the coming sun,
How in the shimmering noon of summer past
Some unrecorded beam slanted across
The upland pastures where the Johnswort grew;
Or heard, amid the verdure of my mind,
The bee’s long smothered hum, on the blue flag
Loitering amidst the mead; or busy rill,
Which now through all its course stands still and dumb
Its own memorial,—purling at its play
Along the slopes, and through the meadows next,
Until its youthful sound was hushed at last
In the staid current of the lowland stream;
Or seen the furrows shine but late upturned,
And where the fieldfare followed in the rear,
When all the fields around lay bound and hoar
Beneath a thick integument of snow.
So by God’s cheap economy made rich
To go upon my winter’s task again.

— Henry David Thoreau, “Within the Circuit of this Plodding Life”

Merry Christmas

25 Dec 2014 /

From Downtown Disney:

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney


Testing a White Privilege Theory

22 Dec 2014 /

According to an article titled “The Thing About White Privilege,” “job applicants with white sounding names are 50% more likely to receive a callback for a job interview than applicants with black-sounding names, even when all job-related qualifications and credentials are the same.”

What happens when someone with an Asian sounding name applies for a job? Serious question. Does the answer support a white privilege theory? What about someone with an Indian sounding name? A Middle Eastern sounding name? A Jewish sounding name? Test your theories against reality rather than just slinging bullshit and ignoring information that inconveniences you.

P.S. I followed the link above and learned that “applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.” That’s 10 percent vs. about 7 percent. Anyone who thinks “50% more likely” is the best way to express that is up to some shenanigans.


I would rather die having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and live. — Socrates


Most of Economics

22 Dec 2014 /

Most of economics can be summarized in four words: “People respond to incentives.” The rest is commentary.

— Steven Landsburg, The Armchair Economist

My Glasses Just Fell Apart for the Fourth Time

21 Dec 2014 /

Glasses

This little screw has just fallen out of my glasses for the fourth time since I got them, which causes the earpiece to fall off. When I buy cheap-ass reading glasses from, say, Target, they never fall apart. Only when I pay hundreds of dollars for the “real” frames do the screws fall out and the earpieces drop off . . .

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