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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jena, Louisiana Six: A Case Reminiscent of 1960's Civil Rights Violations

I have only seen a few internet postings about the Jena Six. Here is the back story and my very rough commentary.

It seems rather odd and racist that any "unwritten rule" could exist after the numerous fights and deaths for Civil Rights took place in the 1950's and 1960's. The implied threat, the 3 nooses, is a hate crime by any competent authority on legal issues and should have been investigated immediately.

Once again, 3 days of suspension is hardly a punishment to any kid. More like a vacation. Certainly did not meet the standards of justice that a majority of Americans require for such "pranks." The additional fact that a District Attorney found little at issue and actually threatened the victims (all the black students) is morally incomprehensible. Reed Walters needs not to be in any authority position, unless it is for the racist KKK.
After the school assembly, where the unrest was not addressed properly at all, on September 10, several dozen black students attempted to address the school board concerning the recent events but were refused because the board was of the opinion that "the noose issue" had been adequately resolved.[7] Racial tensions and fights continued through the fall but were held in check by the ongoing football season. The high school team was doing unusually well, in large part due to efforts of several star black players, and students were unwilling to do anything to upset the season.[1]
Commentary: The School Board addressing of the "Noose Issue" belies the problem in America. If this issue happened in urban, upscale area, and it was targeted against whites, you can bet your life, the situation would get plenty of media attention, commentary and reaction from the overseeing authorities. No stone would be left unturned and no kid would be allowed to get a 3-day vacation as a punishment.
The racial tension was never addressed properly and only escalated as the fall went on.
From Wikipedia:
On 30 November 2006, the main building of the high school was set on fire. The building was gutted and had to be later demolished. Blacks and whites accused each other of the arson.[1][8]

On Friday, December 1, there was a private party, attended mostly by whites, at the Fair Barn. Five black youths, including 16-year-old Robert Bailey, attempted to enter the party at about 11pm.
According to U.S. Attorney Washington, they were told by a woman that they were not allowed inside without an invitation. The five youths persisted, stating that some friends were already in attendance at the party. A white man, who was not a student,[3] then jumped in front of the woman and instigated a fight.
After the fight was broken up, the woman told both the white man and five black youths to leave the party. Once outside, the black students were involved in another fight with a group of white men, who also were not students.[3] Police were then called to investigate. Several months later, Justin Sloan, a white male, was charged with simple battery for his role in the fight and was put on probation. Bailey later stated that one of the white men had broken a beer bottle over his head,[4] but there are no records of medical treatment being given.[3]

The following day, an incident apparently stemming from this fight occured at a local convenience store. A student who had attended the party encountered Bailey and several friends. An argument ensued, after which the white student ran to his pickup truck and produced a pistol-grip shotgun.
Bailey ran after the white student and wrestled him for control of the gun. Bailey's friends intervened in the scuffle and took the gun away. Bailey refused to return it and ultimately took it home with him. Local police reported that the accounts of the white student and black students contradicted each other and formed a report based on testimony taken from eyewitnesses. This resulted in Bailey being charged with three counts: theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery and disturbing the peace. The white student who had produced the weapon was not charged.[1][3]
As this escalation continued, away from the school, now out on the open streets, where were the authorities to realize this was a now a full blown episode of race-related tensions? And more to the point, why were the whites not arrested and charged with countless felonies?
In a Chicago Tribune article by Howard Witt, Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, puts it this way: “There’s been obvious racial discrimination in this case,” and it is a “racial powder keg” primed to ignite. “It appears the black students were singled out and targeted in this case for some unusually harsh treatment.”
The Case that involves the Jena Six from Wikipedia:
The following Monday, December 4, a white student named Justin Barker, aged 17, loudly discussed - "bragged," as characterized by National Public Radio - how Bailey had been beaten up by a white man that Friday night.
When Barker walked out of the school gymnasium into the courtyard later that day, he was assaulted by Bailey and five other black students, and was temporarily knocked unconscious. The concussion he suffered has been described in the media as resulting either from a punch to the face or from hitting his head on concrete when thrown to the ground. While on the ground, Barker was kicked repeatedly. Barker was examined by a doctor at the local hospital.[2][1]
After two hours of treatment and observation for his concussion and an eye that had swollen shut, Barker was discharged in time to go to the school Ring Ceremony that evening.[4] In the meantime the six black students, eventually dubbed the "Jena Six", were arrested.
The six students were initially charged with aggravated assault. However, District Attorney Walters increased the charges to attempted second-degree murder, provoking protests from black residents that the charges, which could result in the defendants being imprisoned past age 50, were disproportional to the crime.[4]

On June 26, 2007, the first day of trial for defendant Mychal Bell, Walters suddenly agreed to reduce the charges for Bell to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery.[9] A charge of aggravated battery requires the use of a "deadly weapon". Walters thus argued that the tennis shoes that Bell was wearing and used to kick Barker were deadly weapons, an argument with which the all-white jury agreed.
Mychal Bell was found guilty and will face the possibility of up to 22 years in prison when he is sentenced on September 20, 2007. Public Defender Blaine Williams is rightly accused of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. (See Below)
Final Commentary:
The authorities in this ENTIRE case failed to address the issues as big as Texas. The continued problems between people was a result of severe negiglence on the part of school officials, the local District Attorney, the police and everyone that could have stop this before it got to such levels. To any level, by punishing the noose incident appropriately. Expulsions, Criminal Charges and NEW POLICIES that stop this behavior once and for all.
And to top it off, the district attorney's office had the gaul and audacity to charge six boys with attempted 2nd degree murder. Because it was six black boys and one white boy.
Nevermind the racial targeting and crimes committed by the whites. The actual weapons used by them. The intent to cause severe bodily harm and death. Those things go unchecked.
The human result of this case is that RACISM is alive and well in America. And the leaders of this area of Louisiana must still burn crosses and expect African Americans to cower when they walk down the street.
The legal result is still to be totally decided. Yet I have little doubt, as we have seen, that it will be grossly unfair and targeted against those with bronze skin color.
Sites to get more information on the Jena Six:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Washington Double Post: Mad World, Gary Jules

Gary Jules "Mad World" in Donnie Darko
...The Dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had...

The simple Piano part is relaxing. Just puts me to sleep, in a good way.

Ben Folds (with the Five) is another piano predominate fav. , though I don't own their stuff...Money!

"Battle Of Who Could Care Less" on Youtube
Rockford Files reference...scoring weed.

Bruce Hornsby & The Range 'The Way it Is' by another artist.

More to come!!!


Washington Unrest: Crime & Punishment

Crime and Punishment...sounds catchy, I bet it would make a good book title???

I didn't follow this story too closely, but Idaho Senator Larry Craig must feel like a total fool. First for his incident in a Minneapolis airport, then for the comments related to his sexuality.

"I'm not gay."

Like making a declaration in public ever really solves anything.

It is good to see little changes in world when Senator John McCain and CO. come out of their woods of integrity to say, "resign,"(you fool.) In part because he broke the law. In the greater reality because he makes the bible-thumping, war-mongering party of Lincoln look like a bunch of 3rd rate pedophiles/sex fiends. (No offense to the the real peds and fiends.)

His buds in the Republican political arena, Norm Coleman, Mitch McConnell and McCain, barely let the door open to reasoning before kicking out Craig without even a real ethics investigation. Why? Because the wounds of the 2006 election, with Republican Rep. Mark Foley doing the near catastrophic damage to an all ready easy target, the President, his congressional foils, dupes and yes men, was nearly too much to bear.

In a brutal symmetry, both were heavily invested in preaching an anti-gay, anti-sexual predator platform while engaging in their odd ball behavior.

I don't have any political stance on what should be done...Frankly, Congressman, Senators, Advisors, Judges, Lawyers, Police are nearly all cut from the same cloth. They take power to an extreme; operate on the ethical/moral edge and usually fall off; and judge others by standards they refuse to uphold in their own lives.
In America, roughly 2.3 million people are sitting behind bars. With an estimated 5.7 million out as ex-cons. 1 in 37 people are considered "people not to know." Given the illegal immigrants that so, so many people despised, another 12 million people are likely lawbreakers by being here, if estimates are accurate. So that's 20 million people you wouldn't want as neighbors, or roughly 1 in 15 people in America.
It shouldn't surprise us that 4 or 5 Congressman (I'd say more like 15 to 20) are deviant lawbreakers, hell bent on covering it all up. Just like it shouldn't surprise us that 5% of your police force, public officials, priests, psychologists, teachers, firemen, librarians, social workers, lawyers and judges are parasites of some form or another.
And don't think for a moment you haven't broken bread with characters without character.
Even criminals have seen these folks in action --breaking the laws and bending the rules of morality --just they don't have a voice anyone will listen to.
Bad behavior knows no bounds. It doesn't matter what your religion, creed, sexuality or current income is, people are bound to have something amiss.
But with ALL that being said, it doesn't mean we should never give people opportunities to rehab their lives. Or find out what THEIR story is. It may be far more telling or revealing if we did, and we may find the choices in the road were not so easy to navigate.
The Ultimate punishment is to neglect any hopes in men. To assume he has no soul or compassion or understanding about anything. That after the crime, and repayment to society (even the murderers that will stay forever locked up) we figure, "That's all. Nothing more to ventured on that person."
As much as evil consumes our world, it must have good somewhere in all of us. It may not be the clear good of the soul, but it may be good of occupation or talent that somehow assists the Earth in righting the Ship of Fools it has become to our eyes.
A common term used by our friends in "the system" is that prisoners are a "Recycleable Resource." Meaning they come back, and therefore, provide "The System" with a ready-to-use and abuse means to stay in a healthy business. If it didn't, many would invoke more laws to get people back.
The "Resource" should be constructive, not destructive. Yet, to hear solutions piped over the airwaves of America, we just want to throw away the key on millions. Millions of people - Nearly the population of Canada - because we just want OUR world to be safe.
It isn't that easy folks...it is never just that easy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Liar, Liar: Addiction, I do succumb

So, I lied. Two Weeks without writing some rant about life (mine, usually) or society (US, as it is) or Pop Culture (Elvis, Babe, Vick, Beauty Queens that are dumb) is just too long.

I don't have a clear vision --like I did of the Lunar Eclipse at 4:47 AM CST --but I do have the ability to feel connected to a higher thing, like the celestal orb that rotated on, while the big, bad Earth passed in front of it.

I've made my way back to some blogs I had forgotten or negligently ignored in the last few weeks or months. Since I am not mucho dinero enhanced, I don't spend countless hours in front of a computer screen, with some idea just jumping about my mind like a crackhead after scoring a kilo of the Columbia blow. My inspiration isn't exactly linear, or circular, more a trapezoid.
So, the world still sucks. People are still dying in the worst of ways. And Vanna White can't flip letters any faster to cure the ills of society. That's a compendum of things that get rolling in my weed wacker of a cerebellum with the neurons misfiring.
Connections are being made to involve us all. We of the higher order of the phased-out homoerectus are making a mess of this pebble, rock I think, called Earth. Mother Earth, the life giver and erratic life-taker, we depend on spinning at 1,000 MPH without a bobble, or a shake, unlike a hula hooper. She gives us water; provides us food and merry; gives us the oxygen that would sustain us.
Yet we destroy her in our little rumba dance of garbage-making, capitalistic waltz on her toes. And she patiently moves on. We try to make amends only to soon stub her toes again, and maybe tear her skirt.
She continues on...Hopefully we do too.

Friday, August 24, 2007

On Stand-by: The Blog delay for a few weeks

Given the nature of life, I have decided for a couple of weeks not to blog. I need to refocus on my projects in life (such as they are) and figure out where to go next with life in general.

I'm pretty tired of the way things are. I've slipped back into some less-than-beneficial habits, like going to the bars with a few people that have been pretty good friends. I like them both, good guys and they have their lives going in the right direction, but it has put me in a less-than-ideal environment for me...

Whatever dreams I hope to accomplish are not going to "get done" with friendships made in bars.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't been out more than once-twice per week this summer. And I usually spend less than $20.

But last night, between gas ($20), a goodwill purchase of two shirts ($10), food ($12) and some unhealthy $5 shots bought for myself, an old classmate and the shot girl ($15) and my own debauchery ($15 for 4 beers plus tips) in the course of 5 hours, I spent $80...and it hurt. And I did it all to rechristen an old bar in a New Location.

After getting my stipend from the paper route of $180, it was nearly half gone in one night. Most of the cash made on this route ($1,600) goes to my mom for bills. The remaining 25% goes for gas, oil changes and entertainment and necessities...(clothes, printer ink, paper,etc.)

So I'm through with going out. As stir crazy as I get at home, between the gas, and the money, I can't afford it.
As much as I like the unwitty conversations you can have with the opposite sex, there are books to read too.

Today I checked out, Barack's The Audacity of Hope and Gardner's The Pursuit of Happyness. I'd skimmed through Barack's at Barnes and Noble. And watched the Will Smith movie.

Anywho, I just feel it is time for me to leave some of this crap behind. Maybe listen to the messages in those two books or figure out where I should be going in life.

Things I know:
  1. I dislike the Midwest. I'm so sick of Indiana, Lake County, Lowell and any other place where people have a attitude.
  2. Delivering papers isn't bad -- but it isn't much of a life. For 31+ months, I have dutifully put papers on people driveways, boxes and porches. About 200,000 papers all total. But I did that when I was 13, 14, 15 before I went to wash dishes for a cheapskate, cocaine-using, alcoholic of an Italian restaurant owner.
  3. Family is not that important to me anymore. God love her, but my mother has no stones. She procrastinates things she need to do. (Credit counseling & Bankruptcy) She doesn't stand up to my OCD Aunt that has been the same person for the 25+ years I've had the misfortune to know her. 13 cats run our house. That's right we have 13 cats that eat well, shite well, sleep comfortably and nuzzle pretty good too. It wouldn't bother me to have 1-2 cats, even 3, but 13! Rudy, Cutie, Fluffo, Skidz, Calico, Snickers, Bonnie, Clyde, Duff, Clem, Bootsie, Stubby and Stinky all are good cats. Just wish some of them had a better home. (I have allergies too.) They cost more than I really know. I don't get the opportunity to manage the money, though I make half of it. The house is falling apart - and neither aunt or mom has any plans to change anything - so I have to accept. Being I degreed in Industrial Engineering, this pains me. ("Change" engineers is the best description of that degree.)
  4. The isolation isn't bad, if you can avoid most people. I'm a social person, and so are you. But I no longer find much stimulating about people. New experiences would help this. But I'm not getting them in a 2-stop light town, with a slew of problems. I'm a traveling sort, and the more the better. I like busy and focused to taking it easy. But if I can't do that, isolation isn't bad. Prison taught me that.

Well that's all for 2 -3 weeks. It's been a blast...this summer.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Are you ready for some football!: Bears versus Colts

I need to wrap this post up in like 10 minutes because the Bears and Colts will be playing some football- preseason style.

Baseball might be King with me, but football is my adorable Queen. I am devoted to her. I cuddle with her after a long, hard week of work, hoping she'll give me that perfect moment of excitement. (Ok, it sounds rather strange...if a football game EVER became girly, that would kinda defeat the purpose of it.)

Unlike a woman, that I have not encountered in 35 years old, football:

1) Doesn't reject me when I ogle her for too long
2) Doesn't care if I flip over to another football game, because she's better looking
3) Doesn't care if I wear a football jersey out on a "date"
4) Doesn't care if I drink too much while watching her
5) Doesn't mind if I curse when the game (date) goes south

There's more, but I gotta get my football fix!

Keep it FRESH to DEATH!!!

(That's my new (old) sign off.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A "Daydream" song: The Freddy Jones Band

Acoustic version of "In a Daydream" - very active on the guitars don't you think?

Live in Chicago - End of In a Daydream

Trainwreck doing a cover of 'In a Daydream'

I wish I had an uncut original of the song from the net. (The site below does...) I just love the guitar work and the drumming skill on this song...The Freddy Jones Band.

They never really made it big, but I liked their first album, Waiting for the Night. But they are a nice listen from all I've heard.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hurricane Dean: Another Katrina on the coast & my meager efforts to help

In what has become the usual morbid fascination with the track of a hurricane, Hurricane Dean is heading for the Yucatan Pennisula, then likely the Texas/Mexican border. It may track North, which, puts it right in line with the Katrina track of August 29, 2005.

I really do feel for people in Hurricane Alley. They get a yearly game of Russian Roulette, that must leave some quite frazzled. But they know it, and should not be surprised when a Cat 4 or 5 storm parks in their backyard, literally. With all the beauty that exists on the Gulf Coast, it must be pretty eye opening to realize how much of danger exists living in Hurricane Alley.

As we've crowded our population, economy (oil & construction concerns) and vacation spots south and west, each storm becomes more and more costly to cleanup. I duly hope - but I am realist about it - that whatever rebuilding project accounts for future hurricanes. (They usually do not...this was written in a earlier posting elsewhere.)

But what has been 'mentioned' but not 'tactically addressed' is the continued global warming caused or 'assisted' by using all the fossil fuels in manufacturing and transportation. Surprisely little will be done to combat it until our reliance on petroleum abates. I guess the example the U.S. would have to set would be so drastic many of us would be unable to comply with it. Global warming has been more than 'casually linked' to the increased occurrence and intensity of hurricanes.

Fact: The kinetic energy (in kilojoules) produced in a hurricane is more than the entire US output of electricity produced in one year.

During Katrina, I was glued to the Weather Channel, getting a feeling this storm was just impending doom from New Orleans to Pascagoula, MS, which is like 100-mile corridor of destruction. The following day, once we knew the storm had just beat the brakes off the coast, I looked up Charity Hospital and their address to make a donation...It was small, $25, but it was something I could afford to give.

It so happened that I had my 15th year class reunion in early October. So, I decided to email out a suggestion that we should try to fund raise for a relief effort. My suggestion was met with criticism and outright hostility by the Reunion "Coordinator" due to some thoughts that spending $30 per plate of food is not a waste. (I thought it was.)
Here is my suggestion (Sept 1, 2005):
Maybe it seems stupid of me, but why pay 37.50 to see each other? Even though 100+ classmates donating 50 dollars each is pittance compared to the rebuilding reality these victims in Louisana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida will see, it would be better served than paying it to eat over priced food and drink. We can all do both; but it doesn't seem very important to spend that cash for a reunion when we could cull together $5,000 (or more) to help a whole bunch of someones. You might disagree with that supposition. And I realize it is possibly too late to cancel it.
Here's the response I got (Sept. 2, 2005):
This is not your place to suggest or decide. We have money invested in this, and people looking forward to this. What you chose to do is your business. Please do not send anymore emails out titled anything close to"cancelling the reunion" It is your choice whether or not to come and spend the evening with us. If you would like to discuss donating money or items with the hurricane disaster, please do so on your own. Do not involve anything to do withthis reunion in that quest.
As a result, I will never attend another reunion, nor will speak to that particular person again. She isn't worthy of talking to.
But it brings up a condition: How much do we really care? Since it isn't my place to decide on anything, why should I care at all? Many people actually do feel this way; or don't want to admit they are not the caring, heartfelt individual deep down inside that people think exist.
From that situation I learnt a little more about people's hearts, and lack thereof. I'm sure she knew about my prior circumstances, and since that is the case, she despises me. Funny, in 2000, our 10th reunion, I was the first to donate money to get her ball rolling ($100) in sending out letters to all the goers. She asked me for a donation, and I gave it willingly. Sure, she mentioned it in some flier handed out at the reunion, but that wasn't special.
When I asked or suggested an idea, that was wrong. I guess it takes a Hurricane hitting your house before you'll realize how good you got it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Babe and The King: They parted this mortal coil together

I'll plead ignorance on this one, but The Sultan of Swat and The King of Rock & Roll decided to part this world on the same day. In what should be more than a oddity, I think that Elvis resonated with the parting of George Herman Ruth more than a little bit...

1. The both defined their respective pursuits. Ruth did more to save baseball after the Black Sox gambling scandal than any other player. The tremendous home runs, that get bigger with each telling, shaped the Roarin' Twenties into a time period of decadence. Great writers such as F.S. Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, great fighters, Jack Dempsey and Tunney, and great Jazz took the place of great leaders that America did not have. Ruth was above them all in print. Elvis shaped a new fad into something bigger: Rock & Roll. He didn't invent it; but borrowed from many African-American influences, country and folk era people. Elvis pave a way for The Beatles, The Stones, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Jim Hendrix, if only tangentially. (Sorry no time spell check.)

2. Their behavior was more outlandish than nearly anyone else. Two men that could throw outlandish parties, or behave as immorally as possible, yet for most people, we remember them as being good-natured, full of life and lifestyle, unafraid of connection, yet never really connected to any one, even their "best friends."

Babe Ruth's story has been told over and over in countless biographies, taking angles to define the man, yet never really defining his persona correctly. He's know for his after hours escapades, sexual appetites and gluttony, and great home runs for kids in hospitals... He loved the card game bridge and seem to play like he did life - on his own bid. But we escape real knowledge of the man..his childhood is foggy and unclear. The Babe left us in the late 1940's, before a TV could really capture the essence of the man's thoughts...simple as they often were.

Elvis seem to disappear too fast. To die of an overdose - yet live on in the imaginations and impersonations of millions - seems eerily like the Babe. Those closest to THE KING never really looked out for his best interests and could do little to control him. Whether shooting out TV sets, eating fried banana sandwiches, or bringing around the latest vixen, Elvis was as big and as small as all of us. His shows in Vegas were spectacles - filled with faux drama and big, bright lights - and we loved them, even knowing we preferred the hip-shaking young man on the stage of some local gin joint in a hillbilly town.

3. We remember in the same breath as our childhood fantasies. For most kids from 1950's to the 1970's, Ruth and Elvis played out our wildest dreams. Either to become a legendary baseball player (or athlete) or a legendary musician (performer.) Ruth and Elvis embodied the characteristics of our dreams, the overwhelming talent, the fast and free rules of living, the ideal of being free to make our path whatever we desired. As we grow older, those things are unavailable due to life and the laws of society. Unfortunately, for some, they can never outgrow this, and are punished accordingly...
Nevertheless, we find an Elvis or a Babe wandering around in our hearts. They may not be always right about things, or have the morality to make the right choice, but deep down they are good in ways not defineable to the average man...that has given up their dreams or forgot the ambition to succeed.
Long LIVE the King and Sultan in our hearts!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Songs that resonate: 20 years later...

Whisper to a Scream - Birds Fly, pretty sure this a one-hit wonder, but it is classic Big 80's fun...It takes me back to whisper in time, stretch to today...

Strangelove - Depeche Mode. In the early, alternative world, Depeche Mode was the name to know...Vision Wear and Punk hair went with this life.
This is a remix of the song, with more techno than was in the original...but hey that's 2007.

Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Another toe tapper unless you are totally not a live! Like, for sure! (Wanna see BAD old videos watch this one.)

Good Times - INXS & Jimmy Barnes - The Lost Boys film made this song. This is a live version this song...Excellent. Too bad about Michael....

People are Strange - Echo & the Bunnymen. Cover of the Doors. Done for The Lost Boys.

Bitchin' Camero - Dead Milkmen. This is classic pre-grudge song. I remember listening to it at Richard Zimmerman's house. He was into Megadeth and anything D&D related... Here's the lead up to that chorus

Bitchin' Camero Chorus

Monday, August 13, 2007

Being Left-Handed: Is it all it's crack up to be?

As a sufferer of this infirmity, I think it wise to say that we all have certain skills endow to us by The Creator (that crackhead-like presence that made this vast universe on this plane of existence.) But the advantages of being left-handed are outweighed by these things:

  1. We die quicker. According to some study I read (well, heard about) we kick off 3-5 years before our right-hand brethren. I guess the stress of using scissors, school desks, screws, doors, watches, mouses, guitars (predominately right strung) and driving stick shifts, get all us lefties ready for a dirt nap sooner.

See quote below:

Handedness is a characteristic, obviously complex in its causation, that may prove amenable to analysis of genetic contribution when a full gene map has been developed (Williamson, 1986). It is a behavioral trait that may be a model for other behavioral traits, normal and abnormal. The observation that the proportion of left-handers in populations decreases with age, diminishing from 13% in 20-year-olds to less than 1% in 80-year-olds, led to the suggestion that sinistrality may be associated with decreased life span.

Reduced longevity in left-handers was also suggested by an archival study of records on 2,271 major-league baseball players (Halpern and Coren, 1988). In a questionnaire study of deceased persons identified through death certificates, Halpern and Coren (1991) found significantly more left-handers than right-handers among those who had died in accidents--a result consistent with earlier findings. Age of death in general was lower in left-handers and mixed-handers than in right-handers of either sex. Halpern and Coren (1991) stated that it is likely that the correlates of sinistrality, not sinistrality itself, are responsible for the increased risk; left-handedness may indicate covert neuropathologic features.

We are more likely to have schizophrenia or other "disorders" of the peanut...For some reason, going crazy is a left-hand disease. If not wrong (I could be) I believe the word left in Latin, Greek or Spanish carries evil (Sinister) connotations. So way back when, our ancestors decided that being left was being no good. Sucks doesn't it?

From the same source:

Schizophrenia (181500) and non-right-handedness are moderately associated, and both traits are often accompanied by abnormalities of asymmetrical brain morphology or function. Francks et al. (2003) found that in a sample of 191 reading-disabled sib pairs, the relative hand skill of sibs was correlated more strongly with paternal than maternal relative hand skill (p = 0.0000037 for paternal identity-by-descent sharing). Similarly, in affected sib-pair analysis of 241 schizophrenic sib pairs, the authors found linkage to schizophrenia for paternal sharing (lod = 4.72, p = 0.0000016) within 3 cM of the peak linkage to relative hand skill. Francks et al. (2003) suggested that the causative genetic effects on chromosome 2p12-q11 may be related, and they proposed that these linkages may be due to a single maternally imprinted influence on lateralized brain development that contains common functional polymorphisms.

3. DNA is right-handed. So that sucks too.

Anyways, August could be deemed Universal (national) left-hander month. It fits, since August is the only month that has 31 days after one with 31 days (July.)

To remember the days in the month, use your knuckles and spaces counting from the left and ending before the space to your thumb.

Please comment on your handedness. The more lefties I hear from, the better. Of course, lefthand people are said to be in their "right" mind. I'd probably be excluded from that group...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

'Driving' Songs and Drummers: Songs that mention DRIVE in their presentation and good drumming

Drive In Drive Out - Dave Matthews Band....Drum part is fairly complex, by the self-taught Carter Beauford.....This is the 1:30 solo by a very good Emmanuelle Caplette.

Driven to Tears - The Police - another great drummer Stewart Copeland focused on heavily in this live performance.

Baby you can drive my car - The Beatles - another famous Drummer, Ringo Starr, but not exactly the best...but with the Supergroup of all-time

Drive - REM. Not a show off song. But a song with DRIVE in it. Bill Berry's Drum part on REM's "The ONE I LOVE" made that video...he had brain surgery and recovered.

The Spirit of Radio - Rush - hey, it's also about drummers. Neil Peart was the standard in the 1980's.

Shaking the tree - Peter Gabriel. Manu Katché is the drummer muy excellente..

She Drives Me Crazy - Fine Young Cannibals. Hey, they were hot for like 3 months in the late 1980's...


Friday, August 10, 2007

Movie Review: The History Boys and Homosexuality

A couple of nights ago, I watched this play-become-movie, The History Boys. It is set in 1983 and the music in the movie is truly awesome to me... It was eminently watchable even though it deals with the topic of homosexuality in a school setting between teachers and students. It's open about this course- not in a obtrusive way to change your feelings (if you have them) - but in an non-destructive, unbiased way.

These 8 "boys" though are really subordinated in my opinion, though the action is all about them (surrounding their pursuits to going to a top-tier university: Cambridge and Oxford.)

To me, the hero-villian (depending on your attitude about things) is Hector (Richard Griffiths). He is a 60-year old teacher with an amazing gift to make class fun for these gifted, unruly boys. A really good scene was done in entirely in French (no subs) where a boy is pretending to be French prostitute while her John drops his pants. At this point the Headmaster (Clive Merrison) comes in with the new teacher (Stephen Cambell Moore, "Irwin") that will further these Boys understanding of History...from a entirely different perspective. Yet the cover up is made; of what they are doing, half dressed, to the dumbfoundment of the Headmaster.

Other cover ups are engaged in...like History itself.

The boys are exploring (and conquering) in their search for proper identities. Meanwhile, their three teachers of note (Hector, Irwin, Mrs. Lintott (Frances de la Tour)) are really where the intrigue lies. Hector is gay - and has abused the boys, through taking them on the cycle and gropping their genitals. However, the boys don't get outraged, or sickened by Hector action's, but the crossing guard that catches the act does. As a result, Hector is to be dismissed at the end of term according to the Headmaster, who takes sexual harassment as being no big deal. (His secretary Fiona gets plenty of attention...from the boys too.)

Richard Griffiths plays Hector's part superbly. A scene later, after his dismissal is locked in, reflects the frail and weaken state of his being...It is the tops....

Enjoy the movie!

On a side note: A female blogger who will remain nameless, posted about a crush she had on a pole vaulter, but in the same vein said she is getting alot of unwanted attention. I thought it hypocritical that she would put this girl out as her object of affection and say that too...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

More Music: just in the mood for Pink Floyd and others

More Music for the Masses....;)

Floyd's 'The Great Gig in the Sky' - female vocals, need I say more....

Floyd's 'High Hopes' - last 2:30 minutes are moving to me, soaring....

Dire Straits - On Every Street - guitar part starts at 3:10 is what I really like leading into a drum part, then the steel guitar

Midnight Oil 'Beds are Burning' - Vocals: Out where the river flows...

New Order's 'Blue Monday' - Techno wonder from the 80's

Triumph - 'Lay it on the Line' - Vocals: Same old story....

Toto 'Africa'

756: Emails, Bonds and the Steroid Fallacy Part II

April 20, 2006: Email sent to Dr. Norm Fost, Professor at University of Wisconsin.

I want to thank you on your common sense approach on the issue of steroid use in the MLB.

Granted, many disagree whole-heartedly with your viewpoints on the usage, morality (or ethics) and dangers of taking them.

I am not a user, nor in anyway involved in professional sports. I am just a fan and one time player of the National Pasttime. Though I don't have any medical background or knowledge, I am of the jaded viewpoint that steroids isn't the primary reason the hallowed numbers of Aaron, Ruth, or name-your-slugger, have been breached (or shortly will be.)

The changes in numerical values of HRs (and Doubles) happened in 1993-94 and continue on to the present.

Offensive explosions have occurred before.

1) 1920-1921: MLB outlawed the spitball (except for 17 pitchers); changed SOP for preparation of baseball prior to games.

2) 1947-1951: HRs increased significant POST-WWII and continued onthroughout the 1950's.

3) 1987 season: From my young memory (I was 15), I can recall announcers suggesting a change in manufacturing happened in the Rawlings factory location.

Today) 18 new ballparks by only 3 architects; baseball specs & testing possibly changed; modification in ballbats, etc.

I've thought of certain tests (though I have only a sparse statistical background from my undergraduate education) that could test ahypothesis I have to the reasons this happened.

1) SPC (Historical numbers that show sudden changes in frequency ofoccurences)

2) 2 or 3-way ANOVA (Team by Team, League, Park Analysis by ERA)

3) Distribution testing I have done some (rough) analysis that could support an alternative viewpoint.

My ultimate question to you is: Do you think it is possible to prove what caused the offensive explosions?

Or is it something less obvious (to me)?

I believe athletes are better today, without question, due to training and enhancements, but it seems odd that more pitchers could not equally benefit from effective usage of steroids, if that was the driving force behind better performances. (Opinion)

I thank you (in advance) for any insights you might have.

April 21, 2006: Dr. Norm Fost response to my email...

You are exactly right and I urge to continue your research on this - i.e., the multiple variables that affect the numbers of home runs. You should consider publishing it in some form in "The American Pastime" the SABR journal (the Society of American Baseball Research), and/or in a popular magazine ( Sports Illustrated; Harper's; NY Times Magazine etc).

In addition to the factors you mention, the pitching mound is lower; the pitching talent is more diluted (though the increase in non-US players may actually have resulted in an increase in quality pitchers); the strategies are different. And there are factors that make it harder to hit home runs today, so Bonds et al should get more credit (e.g., the increased number of relief pitchers; the expansion of set-up men and hard-throwing closers; perhaps an increase in skilled pitchers due to the dramatic rise in international players).

I heard a reporter say that the number of home runs in Jacobs Field is 50% higher than Municipal Stadium (the Indians former home), but have been unable to track it down. I do not have enough expertise in statistics to answer your technical questions, but a friend here is a world class statistician and big sports fan so perhaps he would be interested in providing some guidance.

The bottom line is that home run records are not comparable for all these reasons, so selecting one of the numerous variables (steroids) as a great moral problem, requiring an asterisk, requires some justification that has never been provided.

If Bonds gets an asterisk, so should Ruth for the short right field fence the Yankees built for him. It would be fascinating just to list the total yardage from home plate to the left and right field foul polls in 2006 vs 1961 (Maris' year), and 1927. You are the first person I have heard from with some interest and ability to look at this in a scientific way. Keep at it, and keep in touch.

All best,

June 9, 2006 :Email to various people

http://www.deadspin.com has made a unique connection between Jason Grimsley and Chris Mihlfeld (personal trainer for Albert Pujols.)

Could HGH become the next linkage in the Steroid chain???

Why isn't anyone caring about Mr. Tony Larussa (Canseco, McGwire, Pujols(possibly)) or Dusty Baker (Sosa and Bonds)?

Certainly have to wonder about them - managers are SUPPOSE to know their players, aren't they? Nice to see our Virginia farm boys (FBI) are hard at it, trying to get Grimsley to wear a wire to garner information on BONDS. (No witchhunt...there.)

Funny - all of the offense changed in 1994 - the year of the strike. And HAS remained that way since. So, is it steroids or the baseball? Steroids can keep players at top form (for a longer duration), but if the bats are modified (thinner handles and high MPH at swing), balls are smoother and harder (higher coefficient of restitution and less break on pitcher), the strike zone (now monitored) has been reduced and changed, then just how much is the juice helping???

I think that warrants a study...

June 28,2006- Preliminary Analysis of Steroid Issue Email...sent to various Doctors in their respective fields...

As a follow up to my email sent to the both of you several weeks ago, I have compiled some initial findings which could be of interest to fans of baseball, amongst others.

First, I'll explain my rudimentary process to analysis. I felt that statistical process control could identify patterns of nonrandom variation in the game of baseball, specifically, the ratio of homeruns and doubles (measures of power) to at bats, year to year. As you are aware, in 1919-20, Babe Ruth's power outburst, Ray Chapman's unfortunate death in an accidental hits batsmen incident, changes in baseball usage in games and possibly internal modifications to the ball, contributed (as a group) to the huge increase in offense and the end of the 'dead ball' era.

By utilizing the years directly prior (1910-1919), I could 'set boundaries' at +/-3 s.d. of the average ratio of ((HR+2B)/AB) seen during that era, that further reflects the happy hitting that took place distinctly thereafter and continued on in a way never to be reversed. Applying the offensive similarities seen in THAT era, I applied that forward to the 'modern game.'

From 1950 to 1985, the ratio of (HRS plus Doubles per At bats) for full time players (more than 150 ABs) was fairly consistent, that is, lying within 3 standard deviations of the overall average of that time frame for both leagues.

The correlation between AL and NL ratios tracked well over 55 years (88.98%), and both league averages and standard deviations seen over 36 years in both leagues are nearly equal. With this seen, I created once again a control chart at for the time frame of 1950-2005. Internal patterns can be seen:

1) 1950-1962 - Offense above the average more consistently, shortly after the strike zone re-definition in 1950 MLB Rules resulted in power surge. The addition of more Black players in NL - and their immense talents - could also be an underlying causation in difference between the two leagues over that time.

2) 1963-1968 - The significant decrease in power production, included the worst year production wise in 1968. This is tied to the broad expansion of the strike zone in 1963.

3) 1976 - In the last year before Rawlings became the sole manufacturer of all MLB balls, offense dipped back to near 1968 levels.

4) 1987 - The best offensive year seen prior to the 1994, YET 1987 did not go above 3 s.d. from the average. (Prior to that, ZERO points fell outside +/-3 s.d.)

5) 1993-1994 - The first STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT alteration in the game is clearly visible. Since 1994, NO MLB season has fallen below the +3 s.d. line of the prior generations of hitters from 1950-1985. This to me points to a repeated distinct pattern: that the baseball or some other 'game related' modification has been at the heart of the offensive outburst, but not the usage of steroids.

Steroids have improved athletes - I will not argue against that - but it is HIGHLY IMPROBABLE in my humble opinion that all hitters (or say 50 to 60% of hitters) went to the 1993-1994 off season, a year before the cancellation of the World Series, and began a steroid regiment that increased their power statistics by that 3 standard deviations amount in just one year's time, and has continued EVERY YEAR to the 2006 season.

(In the past, pitchers have 'adjusted' to good hitters, eventually.)

Also, since the Steroids are now tested for, why hasn't offense reverted back to pre-1994 standards or dropped to 1987 levels?

The introduction of 19 new ballparks in the 1990's-2000's that undoubtedly utilized computer modeling of the specific weather patterns in regards to the flight of the baseball certainly could attribute to more power statistics. How much is a matter of science and player opinion. (HOK Sport has controlled much of the architecture of the new ballparks built.)

The research of physicist Dr. Adair, who works for MLB as a consultant, is included in the Adobe file. At least some of that research as it pertains to the theory and offense. My statistical analysis is included (in part) but is incomplete. A larger picture I am trying to draw on from numerous baseball sources and individual anecdotes is taking some side avenues that I did not include. But (some) of that is included for entertainment or the connection to the larger work up; most of the PDF file is excerpt of a much larger project.

So, the writing is slightly choppy without the envisioned connectors between relevant ideas.

I thank you for any thoughts you may have.

October 4, 2006 - Email to various doctors

Dear Doctors,

I want to thank you in advance for receiving my emails and hopefully being patient with my writing about a subject with limited ability.

In researching the effects of steroids on baseball performance, I have come to the conclusion that it is a subject that requires expertise in numerous fields to properly address the situation completely.

As I became more entrenched in the obtainment of data from various fields, physics, medical information, mass communications and statistical analysis, I became more of the opinion that the best way to attack the problem of addressing the steroid situation is to combine those particular knowledge bases to show the angles of the multi-faceted scenario.Things I believe greatly assist in this approach:

1. Physicist Dr. Adair and researchers Chambers, Page and Zaidins (2003) separate explanation of the Baseball Physics (2002) and Statistical Changes seen in ballparks such as Colorado's Coors Field,‘Home of the Humidor’, shows that testing of modifications to the baseball in one particular environment, and could reflect altering theball as far back as 1993-94. As noted, the offense in Colorado returned to more “normal levels” in 2006, after over a decade of unusually high statistics when a humidor adjusted the ball weights and temperaturebefore play.

2. Economist Dr. R.C. Fair recent research on Age Effects (2005) on player performance and the identification of outliers which possiblyare steroid-linked. Incorporating by accident this approach, I discovered that the 1918-24 and the 1990-96 Era of baseball share very similar increases in performances both as a subset of players, and as an entire league. This can be further seen in the graphical similarity of the analysis made and could further reflect the changes made to thebaseball in possibly both eras.

3. Medical Doctor William N. Taylor book, Macho Medicine (1991),includes an interesting study of the unique differences between weight-trained athletes and non-weight trained athletes with regard totheir improvements after steroid usage. On page 30-33 of his book he lays out a premise that reflects to some degree the misinformation that existed about steroids and their benefits in twenty plus studies of the subject then. And why the steroid subject was possibly approached inadequately by prior research when they did not take into account the usage of prior weight trainingby subjects.

(How this applies is that many, many pitchers never lift weights during a season and typically do very little weight training inupper body areas, thus the usage of steroids would not have the desired effect. Whereas, position players usage of regimented weight lifting programs, even mildly so during a season, would garner the desired enhancement effects. And pitchers have been caught more often than other players…but haven’t been performing any better.)

This is also seen in various reports discovered going back to the early 1990’s, when many baseball facilities began supporting and building huge gyms forplayer usage at the ballpark.

4. Utilizing a crude measure of Statistical Process Tracking that reflects the change in Power Ratio (Home Runs and Doubles to At-bats) over a course of time. This methodology I feel pinpoints the time of changes to the game and shows the mirror image to the first ‘PowerExplosion’ back in the Babe Ruth Era of baseball.

5. The Agenda Building as reflected by Dr. Bryan Denham’s research. As it points to the media and political arena where policies were made, and sometimes, in the case of MLB, not made in a timely manner. For reasons driven more by greed and less by any concern for the athletes.

With that said, my ability to synthesize the appropriate facts to draw together these separate fields is somewhat limited. I am not a doctor or baseball professional; and surely not an expert in any of these fields. And my picking out these factors may be lucky and irrelevant to the case. I would like to believe it is not that.

So, if any critique can be offered in this overview and the combination of these distinctly separate ideas into a ‘Coherent Convergence of a Steroid Theory/Fallacy’ as it applies to the sport of baseball, I would truly appreciate any insights this information.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

756: My Emails, Bonds and the Steroids fallacy (Part 1)

Barry Lamar Bonds on August 7, 2007 finally hit the record breaker. Over the past two years, I have been very interesting in the pursuit (both on and off the field) of Bonds, Steroids and the defining of the Enhancement Era. Below are excerpts from emails I have wrote to various people in the past 18 months:

June 9, 2005 : To Kevin Wheeler, Sporting News Radio, Responded

I attached an interesting Excel file on baseball stats w/graphs. (TheBaseball Archive website is the source of this information.)

First, in 1950, the strike zone was redefined as being from the armpits to the top of the knee. Evidently, the umps back then (or complaints from the players) were getting out of hand and hitters and pitchers needed this stated again for their benefit. (See: Baseball Encyclopedia for rule changes and game scoring changes.)

Second, in 1963, the strike zone was expanded to the top of the shoulders to the bottom of the knees. Analysis of pitching strikeouts per team during this era reflects greater strikeout percentages. With the Pitching Mound all ready ‘set’ at 15 inches (a rule change originally made in 1903), this did give power pitchers (or great curveball pitchers) an advantage over most all hitters.

In 1969, after 6 years of anemic offense, the mound was lowered and the strike zone shrunk back to 1950 standards. This did not however precipitate an enormous increase in offense in the impending years. Essentially, run scoring did revert back to pre-1963, post-1950 standards. But strikeouts continued much as they had for a decade. Hitters were probably more willing to expand their strike zones instinctually and it is generally reflected in strikeouts records of that era (the early 1970’s.)

The turmoil of the mid -1970’s and early 1980’s era was due to the introduction of unrestricted free agency (and the reentry draft), league expansion (a continuation of the 1960’s), owner lockouts, player strikes and the DH rule. All would have a significant role in the‘redefining’ of the AL versus the NL play, but also the players’ wants versus the owners’ greed and control. Statistically, this era shows the first significant change in run scoring for each league upon adoption of the DH. (But overstated usually...)

Oddly, the stolen base was the new weapon, at least statistically, that emerged during this era. Before 1974, the league average never top 100SB/per team since 1941. Since then, rarely has it dipped below that marker. Speed has always been a plus, but rarely have players taken advantage of using it like they do during these recent times. Homeruns/per team/per season did not rise until after 1994.

Whether it is just steroids, newer ballparks (designed for power – the ‘Coors Effect’, The Ballpark at Arlington, Minute Maid, U.S. Cellular or Kauffman Stadium to name a few hitters’ havens), overly aggressive league expansion (causing a watering down of pitching talent vs. better hitters) or just chance, something has skewed the offensive numbers significantly enough to have increased run scoring to new heights.

Strikeouts are higher than ever, though possibly due to ‘going for homeruns’ instead of solid contact hitting, like the 1950’s and 1960’s are deemed to have been. (Walks have never varied much by league during the last 65 years.

March 13, 2006 - Prior to Book research: Written to Dan Lebatard, No response

During the last few of years, Steroids have once again made a big splash in the oldest of professional sports: Baseball. Each day, somenew revelation, opinion, rumor or media storm transpires to include more players (or the same ones), deems steroids as serious threat toassaulting long standing records and to the frail human body, and mostoften mentioned as a ultimate deterrent: the usage by children.

Dennis Kurcinich, a U.S. senator, once stated , “it is important to show that steroids cannot get you ahead…and teaching children that steroidsare bad.”

First, steroids are not “bad.” Abuse of them through overdosing, improper usage and lack of proper medical prescription and guidance is the real terrorizing factor, not the drugs themselves. For those athletes that took them in the 1970’s, 80’s and early 90’s without medical supervision, inadequate personal knowledge of side effects and the 2nd rate resources, steroids did indeed have tragic results in someof these athletes, namely boxers, football players and track athletes,among others that "typically experimented."

Like anything else considered taboo, illegal and performance-enhancing against the 'rules', written and/or unwritten, people shied away from advertising their usage, even to their own personal doctors, and going against proper medical advice or getting no advice at all. This is more likely the reason for the adverse reactions to Steriods - in much the same vein as breast augmentation went so horribly awry in 1960's through late 1980's.

To say steroids do not help, as the senator said in misspeaking about the ramifications and/or results, he needs to look at these immediate results: Ken Caminiti, NL MVP; Barry Bonds, multiple-MVP with usage(confirmed in illegally leaked GRAND JURY testimony); Mark Mcgwire, former HR record holder; Jason Giambi, AL MVP; Ben Johnson, once the fastest man in the world (for a time); Jose Canseco, prodigious HRhitter; The 1970's Pittsburgh Steelers; and many others that weretransformed into better ball players, became faster, stronger, etc.

The caveat is to utilize them correctly; and to know how to reduce usage appropriately, while playing, and after retiring from a sport. My viewpoint is this: The ‘real’ business of athletics is to obtain or reach the highest levels of performance through any means available. However, this sometimes is deemed unscrupulous by the media & legal perspective, yet with the substantial rewards (the money) to follow, aplayer rarely rejects the ability to improve his/her performance.

And many GMs and owners, such as San Diego’s GM Kevin Towers, have understood that this is a player’s primary motivator. Owners & General Managers have turned a blind eye for years to continue to attract record numbers to the park, the arena and the stadium while padding their bottom lines, unscrupulously and callously doing so at thedetriment of the players and the fans. (The media has played its part too in the lack of focus on this issue for years at a time.)

Professional and collegiate sports have grown into multi-billion dollar industries which promote vigorously the business aspects of sport overthe dying respect of the supposely long-begotten days of youthful excitement of just playing the game for the game. And with this, persons that participate at an expert level, the game is no longer just fun, but a lifestyle, a career and end-all-be-all, to most players. With all the technology and desire to do it, would it not be better tomonitor all athletes, knowing they are using, but to keep the steroids at reasonable levels with doctor’s analysis?

Many experts (doctors, not users) have stated that these chemicals can be safe and effectivewith proper management, dosages and prescription. At least this would protect athletes, give a safeguard and possibly open dialogue to cleanup voluntarily, without accusations and asterisks. But more to the point, Steriods are to no greater detriment than othe ractions taken in sports to gain advantages.

As Dr. Norman Fost states,"Every athlete uses unnatural enhancements," as a University of Wisconsin professor of Pediatrics and Director of the program in Medical Ethics he has been outspoken in his regard of Steroid usage since the 1980's. Certainly, when one compares the usage of training methods that significantly improve performance, endurance and peak outputs, one can hardly argue against such usage of techniques solely based on their results. But Dr. Fost goes on, "My major point is that the multiple claims that these drugs are immoral are incoherent, disingenuous, hypocritical or based on unsubstantiated, false orexaggerated empiric claims."


Because there is no compelling evidence that Steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs pose a health threat and can kill. For Fost, there is no compelling evidence the use of the drugs causes cancer or other serious ailments. "I think athletes should be allowed to use them if they want, preferably under medical supervision," he said. In an interview, Fost recalled the day former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of the 1988 Olympic gold medal he won in the 100-meter dash after testing positive for taking steroids. On the same day, Fost said, world-class swimmer Janet Evans was bragging about the"slime suit" she wore that she said made her swim faster."She was quite sure it had shred precious seconds off her time. This was hailed in the press," Fost said.

In each case, Johnson and Evans used unnatural methods to achieve their goal of faster times and fame. But Johnson became the poster boy for drug use and Evans was acclaimed as America's sweetheart, he said."There are a thousand-plus drugs, chemicals, supplements, foods, etc.,that athletes take to enhance performance, most of which are allowed," Fost wrote. Should we ban them all? he asked. Another example of this false dichotomy: usage of high-altitude training to increase one’s red blood cell count, which is legal, while taking EPO is illegal to garner the exact same results.

The usually arguments against performance enhancers are: Character, physical disability and “rules are rules.”

Does it really take ‘character’ to carbo-load or utilize a special dietto enhance performance? Not if we define “character” as being of “Moral or ethical strength” which has nothing to do with the physical training process.

Physical disability is high prevalent in the NFL and NHL due to the violent natures of both sports, yet we rarely mandate much more than improved safety gear and regularly used Pain Killers (ala Brett Favre). After retirement, most players are forever plagued by nagging injuries suffered in their sport. It is a fallacy to place a singular cause ofthese aggravations (in the pre-testing era) on steroids.

“Rule are rules” mentality means we should be even more appalled at the clear cases of violations of any rules at all.

For example, Gaylord Perry for 20 plus seasons utilized a spitter which was flagrantly against the rules that outlawed it in 1920. Yet, a premier publicationin baseball, The Sporting News, condoned and “wanted legalization” ofthe pitch in the 1960’s. Also, the commissioner at that time, Ford Frick, condoned the cheating while lobbied for legalization. But Gaylord is a HOF pitcher and no doubt will continue to be, as will Mr.Frick.

It is quite circumspect to critique harshly so many Steroid users as"bad" or "bad role models" when we, as a society, blantantly over look others utilization of gaining "an edge" on opponents through ANY means necessary to win, garner records or moreover, gain monetary success. Have we ever stopped long enough to learn exactly what the long-lasting effects are, or what (if any) controls can exist? Or how we can change the usage, procedures or maintenance of any situation involving drugs (or other possibly useful ideas), without criminality introduced intothe foray?

We sometimes talk of an open society, a tolerant society, but it does not truly exist. In fact, more everyday, America becomes dead set against anyone trying to succeed or changing himself or herself, outside the perceived norm. Some ways are harmful, but it is not solely due to the drugs, or techniques or the direct personal reactionsto them. Some of it is driven by a freedom-restricting, quasi-pious society afraid to properly address (or cope) with the spectrum of human behavior which is driven by instinctual, psychologically motivating andpeer pressure-related factors.

Accountability for steroids is mutual; and no one wants to address that, because it lessens the societal impact of the perceived wrong or future punishment to be meted out forthe objectionable action.

Lastly, we overlook (and ignore) countless flaws of men or punishdecent men (ruthlessly) without merit. Kenesaw Mountain Landis was the first commissioner of MLB. He's well-known for the "Eight Men Out"scandal involving gambling and the throwing a World Series. What he's little known for is his racism and bigotry in including blacks in MajorLeague baseball. Yet his 'overall' service is given induction into the Baseball HOF.

In Ali v. United States, the Justice Department refused the petitioner Muhammad Ali to forgo entry into the U.S. Armed Services under the conscientious-objector claim. At one point, before his Supreme Court ruling, he was under a 5-year federal sentence. Additionally, because of this, he lost his World Heavyweight Championship and the ability to box in the United States. Yet, after appealing the ruling of lower courts, he was justly set free of all commitments. His is a case of injustice for no productive reason but spite.

We are hunting for reasons to keep intact records (in baseball) that are in fact 'all ready tainted' by racism, obvious cheating, gambling and various other on-field methods (scoring of fielding errors) of enhancing the records of individuals and teams.

We should let it all alone because to 'pick and choose' which players, managers,commissioners sought to fairly play the game, or right the wrongs in the past, justly and/or unjustly, is a total waste of effort and uses only Situational Ethics.

March 30, 2006: Various friends and sports minded people, one response

Once again, MLB is trying to dress up the whole steroid issue. By hiring (or appointing) Mr.George Mitchell (a former senator and current Boston Red Sox director) to inquire into usage by baseball player post September 30, 2002.

(Assuming) Do we think they are going to garner any evidence new to the fray? Are they just going to investigate power hitters (which seems flawed, since I would think Pitchers would benefit immensely from faster recovery times after pitching) and put blinders on for the time prior to 2002?

MLB has know about Steroids long before 2002 and even 1998. Owners, GM, top executives all had intimate details about who was using as early as 1994. So this whole ruse to portray certain players as engrossed in acon, sham or call-it-what-you-will is pathetic given prior knowledge.

If you were paying a guy $5 Million, $10 million or $15 million a year,wouldn't you know what this guy does in is private life? As an owner, spending $200 million a year, you would. Not paranoid, but common business sense - that's why they make money too. To understand risk/reward and the fallout that sometimes is beneficial to the bottomline.

Our POTUS (acronym) was once part-owner of the Texas Rangers back in the early 1990's. At one point in 1992, Jose Canseco was traded to Texas.

Now, I ask you: you think they (Texas ownership) was unaware of his usage at all? Mr. Bush's daddy, George the elder, was the former Director of the CIA. Intelligence gathering runs literally in the blood. People that are in high powered positions don't go into situations without the slightest inkling of what are the character flaws of people hired. They actually make it a point to know. (Trust is a rare commodity where money and power is involved.)

The witch hunt now is driven by those dead set against Mr. Barry Bonds breaking a hallowed record. Funny though, it was originally set back in the 1930's when blacks couldn't play. Josh Gibson was every bit the power hitter the Babe was, and could have very well held that HR title. But that didn't happen. Henry Aaron hasn't said much regarding the chase that I've heard. Probably because he played with Barry's father, and godfather, Willie Mays.

Or more to the point, he understands the striving for excellence leads people to do less than what is morally acceptable. (He saw plenty of it, even in the 50's and 60's.) Players have used drugs for years. Engaged in harmful activities, like Mickey Mantle drinking, that did the polar opposite of using Steroids. Course if hitting was just a steroid shot away, then anyone could doit, right?

No. Inherent talent must exist. Bonds genetically, through his daddy,was a superior ballplayer to begin with. Probably a first ballot HOFer before he injected or smeared steroid one. The jealousy and (paranoia) at having sub-par ballplayers hit 50,60 or 70 HRs may very well have motivated such an athlete. Especially when it's the difference between a 9-million-a-year contract and $20-million-a-season gig.

But when people call Bonds paranoid now I say, "How can you be paranoid when people ARE ACTUALLY investigating EVERY last detail of your lifefor the last 10 years???" And even after testing all last season, they didn't get a positive test? (Granted HGH doesn't have a test from allaccounts...)

Then there is 'Game of Shadows.' Investigative reporting -leaked grand jury testimony (only illegal, mind you) - and all the TALKRADIO teems with negativity about one guy: Bonds, Barry Bonds.

It does put our little worries in perspective, given all the tabloids,media hype and circus and ESPN(Especially Suited for Pathetic News)reporting of Bud 'the Dud' Selig and his minions of silly baseball executives trying to STOP Bonds from approaching the record of putting balls over a fence from 330 feet or more away.

I use to adore baseball - played it everyday I possibly could growing up - but as my heros became frauds, my coaches turned out to be idiots,and the world became an ugly place, I lost my faith, in even baseball.

I still play 'fantasy baseball' because it's a cold-hearted business attimes. Performance, not likeability, drives my decisions toadd/drop/trade a player. It's math - the unbias science of numbers -that makes it enjoyable. Well, that's my rant. If you read it, you might think I'm paranoid. ;)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Precious Natural Resources: Songs & Bands Style

A few songs or bands that have a natural resource or environmental theme....all are pretty good songs without the connection.

'Black Diamond' by KISS

'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' by Pink Floyd...excerpt that is 7:50 long

'Gold Dust Woman' by Stevie Nicks, with Fleetwood Mac

'Silver and Gold' by U2UK (cover band) but a good version of it

'Tea in the Sahara' by The Police (live)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Baseball Changes, Milestones & Favorite bloggers: It's Monday!

With Barry Bonds tying Hank Aaron, a new study by Universal Medical Systems reflects that the baseball was indeed changed from Hank's time to Barry's. In using CT scanning, the company headed by David R. Zavagno, has produced scans that reflect the ball has been modified and tested baseballs from the late 1970's versus the late 1990's. The differences were significant.

A significant quote from the release: "According to our CT scans, the balls themselves are juiced," states Zavagno.

A-Rod, another great ballplayer, hit his 500th homer during the ball-enhanced era. Tom Glavine, crafty lefthander for the New York Mets, got his 300th victory over my beloved Cubs on my birthday. So a weekend came and went with baseballs and milestones at the top of the news. (Aside from the Minnesota Bridge calamity...)

To the blogs we go!

Bipolarwellness - insightful, honest, informative and personal blog that I've visited frequently is always a well thought out look at living with, caring for and dealing with life in any state of mind.

Girl in Short Shorts - Witty, Liberal and a lawyer, yep, an ex-lawyer blog has to be the most sexually charged blog I visit. She writes EXACTLY what she's feeling or thinking.

I used to think that was cute. Very diverse, wrote a recent blog on cancer cures that people should be aware of. Just started to go there.

I haven't been by many blogs lately. I got caught up in my own BS for too long. (Like that never happens to you.)

Time for some sunshine... 'Katrina & The Waves' style

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Power of 10: People you've met and befriended

By now, I figured I've met roughly 35,000 individuals in life. (Maybe more, or less, but that's a ballpark full of individuals.) That's a 1,000 per year, or roughly 2.5-3 new people per day. It may be many more than that for others (depends on your openness.)

By meeting those 35,000, I mean had conversations with that lasted a few sentences. Maybe went on for a period of minutes. Face to face, or at least I hope it was.

Far Acquaintances: Of those 35,000, 3,500 I spoke with at least one other time, maybe a bit more. We may have done some business, had another by happenstance meeting, talked at sometime during school, etc. Anyways, we likely made contact for a period of about 1 month. We at least knew each by name and something else more personal. (Once again this number may be higher for you, or me...)

Short-Term Friends: Of those 3,500, 350 became someone I knew for a period of 3 months to 1 year or perhaps a little more. They might have been school teachers, classmates I knew well enough, bosses, ex-girlfriends (such as they invariably were) and people I became friends with for a while in my ever fluid life. We were added to each other's non-Myspace page of life's toil. They could also include bloggers, people I've emailed for a while (but never actually met face to face.)

Long-term Friends: Of those, 35 became influential to my path (lasting more that 1 year.) They were people I called regularly, maybe close relatives, a college friend I never lost, a boss that mentored, someone that mattered beyond the friendship we first initiated. They are people you may have respected for their input during tragedy or life's turmoils. They assisted you in giving you a leg up. Maybe they were your first true love, but things fell apart.

Life Influencers. Of those, 3-4 have been greatly influential, possibly detrimental. These typically have not been my friends. Likely, they are relatives that for some reason, made an impact that lasted for years....negative in my case. Maybe a ex-husband or wife.

For others, these could be uniquely positive people. Your mother and father, a brother, a school teacher that was a true friend for life, a distant friend who knows your every secret. Someone you trusted with all your hopes, dreams, desires and flaws. This grouping could be a group of one, or maybe 10. It depends on the "openness issue" once again.

You may disagree with the premise of this - but if you look at it with an open mind - you'd find that pretty much reflects how communication works. We narrow people down from the moment we meet them. We put them into categories (not purposely, at least not always) but subconsciously we narrow the scope (of our interaction) by each gradient I mentioned. (You may have a better structure, but that's to be discussed in comments.)

You may make some groupings bigger (Pareto Analysis - 80/20 rule of things) than I did. I was just reflecting a pattern to it all, human contact, acquaintance, friendship, influence and mentors.

Depending how you do this, you are likely shaped by it as a person.

If everyone you meet becomes a "long-term friend" then you are likely a very outgoing, happy, striving to fit the mold of great person, person.

If you have plenty of "positive life influencers", you may be much wiser than and much more successful than others are. You get it. You make changes based on those you allowed into your inner circle.

If you mainly have "short-term friends", then you might be superficial in your dealings. You never allow people to move too close to you. You get restless in relationships. I think plenty of people fit this mold.

An analogy I used a long time ago between friendships and cars:

New friendships are like new cars. When we get them, we take really good care of them at first. We take them out, show them off, clean them (in friends, we keep it fresh and open) and are very happy to be with them. We are excited by the prospect of having (driving) our new friend (car.)

As time goes by, we start to let our friends down. We treat them with less regard. Like a vehicle that has 50,000 or 75,000 miles, we don't take it to the car wash, or put much effort into fixing the dents and dings that invariably happen from "using" the car. Same with friends we've had for a while, we get lazy, forget to call, don't always think of them first, ignore an email,etc.

Very few people have antique cars. Very few people have "antique friendships." You may have one friend for twenty years that you call your best bud or gal pal that you always think of. A husband or wife that fits that mold. (Course, if you get divorced, that changes.) But is that relationship pristine? Without dents?

Most old vehicle were restored with painstaking work. Friendships likely need that too.
Be well! (Said the pessimist.)