Archive for October, 2009

I Was Reading the Globe…

Posted on October 30th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

…and its coverage of the Yankees’ victory last night (whoo! whew!)—something about the Glove having to cover a Yankees’ World Series win makes me feel good about the world—when I came across a particularly odd way to describe a home run by Hideki Matsui.

Two innings later came the splashes of beer in the right-field stands, the liquids arcing over the fans grateful to receive yet another baseball into the place where popups become homers.

And I thought, wait a minute! Could it be? Dare I hope?

Only one person could torture the language like that.

So I checked out the byline and it was!

Only Amalie Benjamin could write so weirdly badly—by which I mean not just badly, but badly in a weird, hard-to-explain-why-it’s-so-bad-but-still-it-makes-you-wince kind of way.

I should have realized it was she before, when she wrote of Mark Teixeira’s monster home run to right-center field,

And the life continued, as the ball off Teixeira’s bat flew out to open the next inning, on the second offering from Martinez.

As the ball off Teixeira’s bat flew?

Quote of the Day

Posted on October 29th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

“I’ve been reading your blog. It’s not as boring as I thought it would be.”

—One of my coworkers.

(I get that a lot.)

The Palin Family Feud

Posted on October 29th, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

You just can’t stop watching. Sarah Palin calls Levi Johnston “malicious” and “mean-spirited,” while Johnston says he has information that “could hurt her. Will hurt her.”

Which sounds a little creepy, actually. But then, don’t they kind of deserve each other?

Wicked Cool Animal News

Posted on October 28th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

And you thought happy hour was rough: The BBC filmed male humpback whales fighting it out for the right to mate with a female in heat. Watch the first video in particular, as the female signals her readiness by surfacing, rolling onto her back, and pounding the water with her fins. Then the males give chase, slamming into each other and actually trying to push other males underwater. Incredible stuff.

Meanwhile, the New York Post runs this amazing photo, originally from National Geographic, of apes at a Cameroon animal sanctuary who spontaneously gathered and watched in silence as one of their own, a 40-year-old female, was laid to rest.



“The Despicable Joe Lieberman”

Posted on October 28th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

…so writes a commenter below, and s/he is right!

The unfortunate senator from Connecticut continues to demonstrate that he may be the worst person in the world, this time by announcing that he may filibuster the Senate’s health care bill if it contains a public option.

He says it’s because this would make the bill too expensive, but anyone who knows Lieberman knows better: The reason Lieberman would filibuster such crucial legislation is that then the entire cognizant American public would have to listen to the sound of him gassing on, and nothing makes Joe Lieberman happier than forcing others to acknowledge his own self-importance.

Lieberman is an embarrassment and a disgrace to my home state.

“Demands on Our Library Have Grown”

Posted on October 28th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

Classicist Richard Thomas has often posted on this board of the threat Harvard’s financial crisis poses to the university’s profoundly important library system, one of the great treasures of the world.

(That’s my feeling, certainly, based on my experience with it back in my graduate school days at Harvard.)

Now the Crimson reports that Thomas’ concern seems well-justified.

At yesterday’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences meeting, Dean Michael D. Smith—who ominously repeated the phrase “demands on our library have grown”—said that the University must address the intense budgetary pressures confronting the libraries.

“I ask that we not spend today’s meeting criticizing the past or rehashing historical budgets,” Smith said. “I ask that we focus on the future. What ideas do you have? What are the key characteristics of a model that can be held up as a future of the library system?

Let’s consider those words. Is it really true, as Smith says, that “demands” on the libraries have increased—are there more users asking for more help?—or that, as one would expect, the number of users has remained fairly steady, but the libraries’ ability to meet those demands has declined?

This is not just a verbal distinction, because it goes to a certain agitprop in Smith’s language—a disingenuousness, frankly. And when administrators start veiling the truth in misleading words, you know something bad is about to happen.

Then there’s the question, “What are the key characteristics of a model that can be held up as the future of the library system?”

Well, of course, that implies that the current system is broken, which no one has established (except by the insinuation of Smith’s prior language), and that there needs to be a “future model.”

But the phrase “key characteristics” is also telling, because it connotes a certain minimalism: Replace those words with the phrase “bare bones” and I think you’ll have a more accurate sense of what Smith is suggesting…..

The Greatness of Jeter

Posted on October 28th, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Times has a good piece on what makes him so focused. He gets so upset if the Yankees aren’t in the World Series, he hasn’t even watched a World Series game since 2003, when the Yankees last played in the championship.

“He really disconnects himself from everything,” said Jorge Posada, the Yankees’ catcher and Jeter’s close friend. “You can see how he gets so frustrated and so mad that we lost.”

By avoiding World Series games for the last five seasons, Jeter tried to make his transition into the off-season easier. Once the Yankees lose, he is already thinking about the next workout, the next game, the next season. He does not retrace history and despises comparing one season to another.

I saw a little flash of this the other night, after the Yankees won Game 6 against the Angels, when Fox’s Ken Rosenthal started to interview Jeter by talking about how long it’s been since the Yanks have won the Series.

And Jeter—doing something very unlike him—not only interrupted but revealed a hint of temper. “Got to focus on the negative, don’t you?” he said (or something very close to that).

For most people, that would have been a joke. But Jeter was dead serious. You could tell he took this philosophy to heart: Let the bad stuff go, focus on the positive, always look forward.

I know it’s hard for non-Yankee fans to see it, and I know that Jeter may be an imperfect person in his personal life. But at what he does best, baseball, he is really remarkable, and one of the great joys of being a Yankee fan over the past almost 15 years is watching Jeter become one of the legends of the game. Nobody plays it better.

The Letterman Issue

Posted on October 28th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Back when I first posted about David Letterman’s TV confession, I wrote that he didn’t seem like a sexual harasser, but that you couldn’t rule out the possibility that his workplace affairs had created a hostile professional environment for women.

Now a former Letterman writer, Nell Scovell—a 1982 Harvard grad— has written on Vanity Fair online that she did think such an atmosphere existed, and that she left the show because of a climate of sexual favoritism.

At this moment, there are more females serving on the United States Supreme Court than there are writing for Late Show with David Letterman, The Jay Leno Show, and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien combined. Out of the 50 or so comedy writers working on these programs, exactly zero are women. It would be funny if it weren’t true.

… Without naming names or digging up decades-old dirt, let’s address the pertinent questions. Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no.

Here’s what I did: I walked away from my dream job.

She sounds credible. Which makes me think that maybe Letterman isn’t such a hero after all, just brilliant and funny and flawed in a particularly unfortunate way.

Quotes of the Day

Posted on October 27th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

“On April 25, 1978—the day the ear-shaped, Astroturf-skinned, megaphone-nosed Muppet reject made his first appearance—Philadelphia lost its last ounce of respectability,” Yankee fans said yesterday.”

The New York Post, on the Phillies’ mascot, the “Phanatic.”

“Mr. Met is even better than that—and Mr. Met is retarded.”

—Patrick O’Neill, 22, of the Bronx

“Their fans are second-rate and so is their city.

—NY Post headline

Here come the Frillies.

—Another Post headline.

“Philly fans are a bunch of whiners and should learn how to dress.

A Yankee fan.

Certainly True in His Case

Posted on October 27th, 2009 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Making his debut as a motivational speaker, George Bush told a crowd of 15,000 idiots listeners that “popularity is fleeting…it’s not real.”

Bush, who is writing a book about the dozen toughest decisions he had to make, used much of his 28 minutes onstage to talk about lighter topics such as picking out a rug design for the Oval Office that reflected his “optimism.”

It’s been quite pleasant not having W. around. Couldn’t he wait just a little bit longer before making his return to public life?