Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I really like New Orleans. But now I wonder whether that sentence should be in the past tense.

What will New Orleans be in the future? At this point, according to www.nola.com (great website), the news is bad and getting worse. Water levels still rising. Levees still broken. I'm no expert, but I figure that having water on both sides of a levee is only going to make it weaker. The articles say 80% of the city is under water. The Superdome, where people were sheltering, has water on the floor. As the water isn't going anywhere anytime soon (water level won't drop until the pumps start working; the pumps are under water and in any case, the levees still have holes in them), I have to think that most of the houses in the city will have to be destroyed as uninhabitable when the water finally goes down in a week (two weeks? a month?). They can't be saved, and they'll rot anyway. And the guns are coming out, as the looters are busy. ("Send in the National Guard! Wait, they're in Tikrit...")

Some of the city will, of course, be rebuilt. What will it look like? Will it ever be the same? I can't imagine it will.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Gotta add Dontrelle Willis to the Cy Young mix, along with Carpenter and Clemens. I still go with Carpenter. Granted Clemens has a better ERA, but Carpenter's pitched 20 more innings and had one bad start all year. In April. Clemens has only one complete game, and Dontrelle Willis has a few bad starts, although he has dropped half a run from his ERA in the last month.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Scratch that. Maybe Timlin's not such a good idea either.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Yesterday I was talking with someone, someone I know and respect, who still believes there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. On the one hand, it's surprising, because it's been well known for over a year that no such link existed. The point isn't even debatable anymore. I mean, more than a year ago, Colin Powell said so in the New York Times. Even Bush admitted it, almost two year ago! But plenty of people still believe it now.

But I made this point before and I'll make it again. It's like the Gulf of Tonkin. The American people were told that our ships had been attacked by the communist Vietnamese. We believed the government. But it never happened.
Same here. We were sold a bill of goods. Well, several bills of goods. One was the Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (remember them?). Another was that Iraq had connections to Al Qaeda. For that matter, another was that the war would be fast a cheap (all together now, "HA HA funny!"). Years later, after untold lives have been lost or ruined, it turns out that they lied to us about the Gulf of Tonkin, and they lied to us about Iraq too. I just hope we're not still there is another ten years.....

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I was reading about a new initiative to build laptops for $100 and distribute them to Africa so kids there can have computers.

I suppose it's a good cause, and it's obviously a sexy, headline-grabbing solution. But I was in Niger last year and the people in my sister's village need $100 laptops like a fish needs a bicycle. Miles from the nearest road, much less the nearest source of electricity, it's an isolated place.

Niger is, of course, an extreme case, but it isn't going to be pulled out of poverty by cheap computing power. The most important thing is to reduce the size of families. There are just too many people. I read that when he was vice president, Al Gore ordered someone to track the most important factors in reducing a country's growth rate. Turns out that the biggest one was educating girls. It's not as flashy as cheap laptops running Linux, but it would be great if a similar effort was made to ensure that every girl in Niger went to high school.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I'd make it a goal to make sure that local folks got to make the decision as to whether or not they said creationism has been a part of our history and whether or not people ought to be exposed to different theories as to how the world was formed.

Awful. Should kids also be exposed to different theories of gravity?

I wonder. Are kids in India and China wasting their time creationism? If anyone has any doubts about why American kids have crappy science scores, direct these questions to our president.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I dunno. Maybe it's time to give Timlin a shot....

Monday, August 15, 2005

It turns out the Iraqis are having a bit of trouble with their constitution. As with so many things (reconstruction, insurgents, democracy, oil, etc. etc. etc.), I think the administration has vastly underestimated the difficulty of this task. True to character, they neglected the difficulties. Had they been paying attention, they may have noticed another country that had its own trouble coming to grip with the issue of federalism. After seven years of failure, they tried again. That didn't really get the job done either--sixty one years later the country nearly destroyed itself in an astonishingly brutal civil war.

The population of the United States was 31 million in 1860, and about 620,000 people died. Iraq has about 26 million people (hey, surely we can trust the CIA about Iraq, right?). I don't know that anyone can really say how many civilians have did, but this site says 25,000. Will Iraq dissolve into civil war? I bet it does, unfortunately. And I bet the issue will be federalism. Just like here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

On my way to the train in the morning I walk past Wholefoods, which always has a security guard out front. As I walked past him today a homeless guy happened to approach him at the same time. The following conversation ensued:

Drug-addled homeless guy: "Hey, so'oze goona win Cy Young?"
Security guard: "hmm"
Homeless guy: "Huwza Carpenter fu da Cardinals?"

Then I walked out of range.

Obviously, the security guard should have pointed out that it's only early August, and there's a ton of baseball yet to play. As a Cardinals fan, I was happy to see Chris Carpenter getting some recognition, even if I was surprised that the homeless guy is so up on National League pitching. But Carpenter's having a terrific year.

If the season ended now, would he win the Cy Young? I think it's either him or Clemens. Carpenter has more wins, but Clemens has a better ERA, and it's not Clemens' fault that he's had crappy run support. Clemens hasn't had a truly bad start all year. I'd still give it to Carpenter, though, because of the innings. Clemens has been great, but he's gone eight innings only twice. Carpenter has five complete games (six nine inning starts, but one of his starts went ten), four shutouts, and has pitched at least eight innings nine times.

It's still close, as Smoltz, Dontrelle Willis, Roy Oswalt, and Pedro Martinez are still in the hunt. Livan Hernandez has been, as always, a horse (also nine starts of at least eight innings), but I just don't think he's going to get too many more wins. I see Washington fading.

In any case, I'm happy our homeless population is following baseball.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I always figured that Rafael Palmiero would make it to the Hall of Fame as the ultimate monument to being Pretty Good for a Very Long Time. His career numbers will add up impressively, but has he ever been all that good? He played in a grand total of four All Star Games. He never won an MVP, and only three times was he in the top ten. Forget about being the best player in the league, was he ever the best player on his own team? Ever? Was he ever the best player at his own position?

And now he's been suspended for steroids. If I were a voter, it would be a tough call. Can you vote against a guy with 500 homers and 3000 hits? I dunno. But if I was ever going to vote against someone with those stats, Palmiero would be the guy.