Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Remembering a great one

Double the fun: Koufax Delivers the 1966 Pennant to the Dodgers, Then Retires

After the 1966 season ended, Sandy Koufax shocked the baseball world when he announced his retirement. Koufax, only 30, pitched 323 innings and posted a 27-9, 1.79 ERA that season.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I love it when good guys do good

A consummate pro makes time stand still

"We have a lot of confidence in Charlie," Keisel said of the team's mindset heading into the Baltimore game. "To see him rise up like he did today just shows the character of the man. Never once did he complain about his situation. He just kept coming to work. Even when he was hurt and on [injured-reserve], he came to work. He watched tape. He was there to help Ben ... ."

It's worth repeating about Batch: the consummate team player; just a great pro

Batch tries to make his dream last one more week

A month ago, Charlie Batch was the Steelers' fourth quarterback. He faced an uncertain future, even with Roethlisberger suspended for the first four weeks, because the Steelers might have chosen to start the season with only Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon as quarterbacks, leaving him on the street. One of the most philanthropic players in the league, Batch runs a summer basketball league for the kids in the hardscrabble, gang-ridden area of town where he grew up, trying to keep kids from meeting the same fate his sister met in 1997 -- when she was murdered as an innocent bystander in the crossfire between rival gangs.

All Batch wanted, really, was one chance to shine for the team he grew up worshiping. Sunday in Tampa, he got it. Taking advantage of an injury to Leftwich to stick on the opening day roster, and then an injury to Dixon last week to become the starter, Batch used the entire playbook instead of the slimmed-down game plan Dixon had been using. He threw deep to Mike Wallace twice, connecting on 46- and 41-yard touchdowns --once beating the son of former Steeler assistant Russ Grimm, rookie safety Cody Grimm -- among his three scoring passes

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bing Crosby's Secret Pirate Tapes

by The Last Hollywood Star

Great story in the New York Times about a tape made by Pirate owner Bing Crosby of the seventh WS game versus Yankees. Possibly the only favorable story written by the Times about the Pirates in ten years!

In Bing Crosby’s Wine Cellar, Vintage Baseball

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bradshaw and Big Ben

Jealousy likely trigger for Bradshaw's anti-Ben rant

View all related imagesIs it possible that Terry Bradshaw's repeated attacks on Ben Roethlisberger are rooted in jealousy and the likelihood that Roethlisberger will be remembered one day as the greatest quarterback in Steelers history?


An old post on Myron Cope's take on Bradshaw.

Friday, September 17, 2010

He who laughs last

Tom Wolfe to get lifetime achievement award

Wolfe will be the 20th recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Previous recipients include novelists Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston and John Updike, as well as fellow crossover new journalists Norman Mailer and Joan Didion.

I blogged about Wolfe here and here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Battle of Britain Day

Remembering The Few

On this day 70 years ago, RAF Fighter Command claimed victory over the Luftwaffe. A day of heavy bombing raids over London and the south coast ended in big losses for the German air force: the Battle of Britain had been won. As a long, hot summer gave way to the gales of autumn, Hitler cancelled his plans to invade Britain; and while the bombs would continue to rain down on our cities for months to come, the threat to the nation's independence had been averted. There are days in our national story that should always be remembered: the defeat of the Armada, the triumphs at Trafalgar and Waterloo. Battle of Britain Day is among them – and no words, however familiar they have become, better capture the significance of what happened in the summer of 1940 than those uttered by Winston Churchill: "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."


Six Weeks that Saved the World

Six Weeks that Saved the World (II)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"The Pocket Notebooks of 20 Famous Men"

OK, call me weird, but i found this utterly fascinating:

The Pocket Notebooks of 20 Famous Men

The result is this look at how 20 famous men used their pocket notebooks. The list is hardly comprehensive; the practice was so widespread among eminent men that it would likely be easier to compile a list of famous men who did not use them, than did. And the choices are a bit eccentric; men who were famous for their interesting and numerous notebooks are well-represented but also included are a few from the past and present that just happened to cross our path during the course of our research. Where images of the notebooks were available they have been shown; in their absence a description will have to do. These caveats aside, we hope you will find reading about this manly practice as inspiring and fascinating as researching and writing about it was for us.

HT to The Munchkin Wrangler who share his own thoughts here:

your brain on paper.

One point he makes is something i've found to be true in my case as well:

There’s something about writing down an idea on paper that makes the mind get a hold of it better.

Here's a thought to warm the heart of luddites and techno-skeptics: Historians can go to the archives and read the notebooks of Isaac Newton or Mark Twain. Will future historians be able to do the same for modern figures? Is Bill Gates going to archive his PDA files?

On Bill James and steroids

Steve Sailer:

Let me propose a more relevant counterfactual. If Mr. James had been intellectually honest and had spoken out about steroids, as, say, Tom Boswell of the Washington Post did as early as 1988, then Mr. James would not have been hired as a senior executive of the Boston Red Sox in 2003 and capped his career by helping them win their first World Series since Babe Ruth's time in 2004. Why not? Because the Red Sox's two biggest hitters, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, were juicers.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The story behind the Quran burning story

Good stuff over at Just One Minute:

What If They Gave A Quran Burning And Nobody Came?

President Obama follows Sarah Palin's lead in condemning the Quran burning slated for Sept 11.

Left unremarked in the Times coverage - just what is the culpability and responsibility of the media in covering this stunt? The church hosting the Quran bonfire has all of fifty members and is not anyone's idea of mainstream. Why are these Quran crackpots being given a platform to hold our national security hostage and endanger our troops

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Annals of bad strategy: Newsweek is a well that never runs dry

Jack Shafer has a smart piece on the non-synergistic relationship between print and cable news:

TV or Not TV?

Newsweek makes the publisher's case for not sending print journalists onto TV news shows.

I've hit this point a number of times.

Newspaper killers mourn the passing of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

ESPN is killing newspapers in other ways. For instance, they, like many primetime cable news programs, “cover a story” by talking to the beat reporters who are actually covering the story. In essence, they let newspapers bear the cost while ESPN or Nancy Grace shares in the benefit.

(I’ve long found it puzzling that publishers and editors let their reporters give away their expensive product to the competition. Don’t they know about unsold cows and free milk?)

Cable news: get it fast, get it wrong

In the past, reporters and producers would conduct interviews, verify information and add context, write and edit the story, and then present the audience with a two-minute report. Cable, however, just fills air time with raw interviews. The audience has to do the work of verifying and assessing the information.

It is cost-effective because it is so cheap.

What i don't understand is why the respectable media plays along. Why do real reporters go on shows like "Nancy Grace" and provide grist for the mill? Many of these pseudo-newscasts would wither on the vine if they did not have real reporters doing their work for them

Media's Shifting Business Model

There is a bleed-over for print journalism. Newsweeklies like Time will find it harder to maintain their niche-slower but more knowledgeable-when their reporters show up cheek-by-jowl with pundits and spinners on shows that specialize in raw talk.

Looking toward November

With apologies to Antoine Batiste and Davis McAlary....

Always remember that a Republican consultant could screw up a wet dream.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Annals of bad strategy: The MSM creates new competitors and alienates paying customers

Andrew Ferguson’s take on Jon Meacham and the sale of Newsweek is a sharp piece of press criticism. If A. J. Liebling is the gold standard for the genre, then Ferguson is pure 24K.

Don’t Give the Readers What They Want

Ferguson has no patience for the histrionic pity party Meacham threw for himself. (He’s been onto Meacham for quite some time.) What he sees clearly is that Newsweek’s woes have a lot to do with the poor decisions of the editors, most especially top editor Jon Meacham.

That Meacham went on the Daily Show in search of tea and sympathy is just more evidence that the MSM mandarins really do not understand their business or the nation they pretend to serve.

Like many of the dying dinosaurs of the Old Media, Meacham explains away his failure to save Newsweek by pointing to big external trends that are beyond his control. People do not want to pay for quality journalism anymore he whimpers. (As Ferguson notes, Meacham was happy to jettison half his subscribers who were still paying for Newsweek’s journalism.) That old evil internet is killing the institutions that stand between ignorance and democracy.

There is another big external trend that Meacham did not bring up on The Daily Show. A large chunk of the population thinks it can stay informed about the world without reading any thing at all. Among the younger demographics, The Daily Show and Colbert Report now stand in for newspapers, Newsweek, and Walter Cronkite.

If Meacham really cared about the battle between “ignorance and democracy”, this trend should scare the daylights out of him. As a simple matter of marketing, newsweeklies should draw sharp distinctions between themselves and these infotainment competitors. Instead, Meacham actually adds to TDS’s image as a legitimate journalistic outlet.

It’s not just his latest appearance that Ferguson analyzed. Newsweek has been hyping Jon Stewart as our new Ed Murrow for years. (See here ). Some wise guy even had the brilliant idea to let Stephen Colbert edit an issue of their magazine.

It’s hard to convince people to pay for your product when you yourself talk up the advantages of that competitor who charges less.

Any guy running a two pump gas station knows that. Why has that wisdom escaped the best minds of the traditional MSM?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Food for thought

Brett Favre and Roger Clemens: Not The Odd Couple

There are a lot of parallels in the careers of Roger Clemens and Brett Favre. Both of them are good 'ol Southern Boys with right arms capable of throwing fireballs. While Favre got his championship out of the way early, Clemens had to wait 15 years for his first taste of title glory, however neither man has ever been mistaken for a reliable "CLUTZ" postseason performer. But the interesting parallels begin as both men entered the late 30s/early 40s portions of their careers.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Poland: First to Fight

The popular image of Poland in WWII is of a small nation that became the first victim of the Nazi blitzkrieg and the proximate cause of the war when Great Britain and France rallied to its side.

History records a different story. Poland fought Hitler’s Reich longer than any other nation. Her contributions to the Allied victory were significant and should be reclaimed from the memory hole.

First, about the defeat in September 1939:
The Polish Army-- almost completely unmechanized, almost without air support, almost surrounded by the Germans from the outset and, shortly, completely surrounded when the Red Army joined the aggression-- fought more effectively than it has been given credit for. It sustained resistance from September 1 until October 5, five weeks, which compares highly favorably with the six and a half weeks during which France, Britain, Belgium, and Holland kept up the fight in the west the following year
(John Keegan, The Battle for History)

Despite the defeats of 1939, the Polish nation never stopped fighting. Not only did the Home Army resist the Nazis inside of occupied Poland, but Polish forces fought on every major front of the European war.

The existence of a legitimate government in exile and of a strong army abroad--Poland, even in 1944, had the fourth largest number of men fighting German after the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom-- lent a powerful heart to the Poles, who produced few collaborators and no puppet chief, a unique distinction in the record of European response to German aggression.

Polish airmen filled whole squadrons in the Battle of Britain at a time when Britain barely had enough fighter pilots to hold off the Luftwaffe. (The Kosciuszko Squadron shot down more German planes than any other fighter squadron during the battle). Ground units fought heroically in key battles in Italy and France.

Perhaps the greatest contribution Poland made to the final victory was in the realm of intelligence. They played a vital role in breaking the Enigma cipher system used by the German high command and shared their discoveries with the French and British.

The Poles eventually designed a whole array of mechanical aids -- some of which they passes to the British, some of which the British replicated independently, besides inventing others themselves-- but their original attack, which allowed them to understand the logic of Enigma, eas a workd of pure mathematical reasoning. As it was done without any modern computing machinery, but simply by pencil and paper, it must be regarded as one of the most remarkable mathematical exercises known to history.
(John Keegan, Intelligence in War)

In the first desperate years of the war, Engima/ULTRA intelligence enabled Britain to hold off the Luftwaffe and then the U-boat menace.

The Nazis never discovered the ULTRA secret in five years of war. That is an amazing testament to the Poles and the French still on the Continent who knew the secret but never divulged it, not even under Gestopo torture.

The Polish Underground was the number one source of HUMINT in occupied Europe for the British. They provided vast amounts on information on the German V-1 and V-2 secret weapons, the movements of U-boats, and the German military preparations in advance of D-Day.

Witold Pilecki is a name every student should know. He carried out what the Times of London called “perhaps the bravest act of espionage of the Second World War”: he volunteered to go inside of Auschwitz. His reports documented the Nazi’s extermination campaign against the Jews.

Sounds about right


What the press found superlative about its Katrina reporting was the realization — very comforting post-RatherGate — that if they all agreed on a storyline and pushed it, they could still move the polls despite the alternative media. That the reporting was crap didn’t matter at all.