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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something about the Second City

When I went to Chicago a couple weeks ago, it was for the first time. I don't count being at O'Hare or Midway Airports "being in Chicago".

On Tuesday, September 2, my colleague Amelia and I got a ride to the airport with the library director, Darrin. I think he was going to miss us; moreover, he'll miss the fact that we won't going to be doing library reference all week, and with one librarian on vacation that day, and another out sick, our departure left him bereft of his entire staff for the rest of that day.

This is the first time I had flown since the airlines - in this case, United - started charging for luggage. I suppose I could have gotten a couple smaller bags to squeeze on the plane, but I think it just clutters the overhead compartments. The guy checking in in front of me, coincidentally, was named Roger. Waiting for the plane, I see my friend Philip from church and my colleague from Kingston Arnaldo walking together, or so it seemed. Philip was returning from Kentucky while Arnaldo was taking our flight; they just happened to be proximate to each other.

The flight itself was relatively uneventful, though there was a baby on board that was crying. I'd never taken Lydia on a flight, not because of her possible discomfort but because of the possible annoyance it might have on other passengers. Interestingly, the crying child didn't particular bother me, as it probably would have, say six years ago, as I just wanted to comfort him or her. (I didn't actually SEE the baby; it was only an audible experience.

Someone else's subsequent flight, though, would be affected. A passport was found on the floor immediately behind me. Afraid I might have dropped mine, I started to claim it, only to notice that her photo didn't look anything like me. She had been on the previous flight. I hope she didn't need it for where she was going that day.

One of those odd things is that many areas around airports look kinda sorta alike. Arnaldo, Amelia and I took a cab to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency, but as we departed, I'm saying, I want some CHICAGO architecture. Soon enough, I see some housing stock that have a particular look. Then, finally, the Chicago skyline.

After we check in, Amelia and I go out for pizza with our colleague Mary. We end up going up storied Michigan Avenue several blocks before turning, on Superior, I believe, to go to Gino's East, where we have a spinach and cheese deep dish pizza. We should have gotten a small pie, for we had more than we could consume in a medium. Failing that, we should have taken the remainder to go, for on the return walk, we came across a number of people with signs indicating that they were hungry.

The other notable feature of this walk is that we saw a number of buskers. I'm used to seeing the sax player or violinist playing for change, which I saw. But we also came upon, not one but TWO drummers, with full gear, right across the street from each other.

Wednesday, Amelia and I went to the conference room to prepare for our presentation. The guy in the room before us was named Roger, the only other Roger presenting at the conference - I checked - and I thought that was pretty weird. Amelia and I did our presentation on Blogging for Your SBDC, which went well. I did most of the blogging stuff, and she talked mostly about RSS feeds, Twitter and other "Web 2.0" technologies. After lunch, I attended a couple workshops.

Then I decided to tackle Chicago mass transit to get to the Cubs-Astros game. I went up to the brown line rather than going down to the red line, but eventually met up with Gordon. This has already been described here and here.

Thursday, it rained all day. Went to four sessions, about which I'll describe eventually on my work blog and link here, broken up by the luncheon. That evening, I got into a three-hour conversation with Jim Poole of J.J. Hill Libraries about politics (May 1972 was a pivotal month for both of us; he was for Hillary in 2008; and lots more.)

Friday, I was up early so I took a walk down by the river. I love how this city is at times in several levels, particularly around Wacker Street. I also appreciated how the city provides access to the river, unlike what happened to Albany, where the highway cut off access to the Hudson, although some attempts have been made to lessen the damage. Went to a couple sessions and later got access to a computer so I could print out my boarding pass for the return flight.

For lunch, I was wandering about when I came across the headquarters for the
Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. The museum itself museum was seven blocks away, but there was a charming restaurant within the HQ building called the Backstage Bistro where one could look in to see them preparing the food. the drink of the day, the BackStage Pass, was cranberry juice, orange juice and Sprite. I'd made that myself, but using ginger ale; does this means I could be a restauranteur?

That evening was the awards banquet. In the tradition of the event, every time the photo of New York's star performer, Myriam Bouchard, came up, the dozen of us yelled wildly.

Saturday morning, Mary, Amelia and I went to the airport. It occurred to me that I probably could have taken public transportation if necessary, but I wasn't that bold. The flight back was fine until we got to about Buffalo, when the turbulence caused by Tropic Storm Hanna gave me a wretched earache. My mother-in-law, my wife and my daughter picked me up, and while I had a great time, I was glad to be home.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Roger Green Answers the Proust Questionnnaire

I was listening to a HubSpot free webinar about Blogging for Business, and one of the examples was this. Andrew McAfee is "a professor at Harvard Business school, a top blogger, and the coiner of the term Enterprise 2.0 which is used to describe the application of web2.0 technology (i.e. blogs, wikis, social media, etc) in the business world."

Device you would never give up?

My DVR. I watch television when I want, without actually having to watch commercials, in whatever order I want. With the VCR, I had to find a particular program. I also like recording two shows while watching a third, and pausing live TV. Since I'm sharing it with two others, this is an important consideration.
I'm also very fond of Caller ID. Yes, I screen my calls, often letting unfamiliar numbers go to the answering machine.

Your Favorite Software Application?

iTunes, because I don't have to do as much work in accessing podcasts I listen to. The music stuff's OK too, but not my primary usage.

Blog you read most frequently?

Probably News from ME by Mark Evanier, if only because he posts often, is only mildly left of center, and finds whack videos , many of which I actually remember.

Social Media Tool you actually use?

LinkedIn. Probably not as often as I should, but I've written up a positive review or two and people have reciprocated.

Favorite Business Book(s)?

As a business librarian, I suppose I ought to have one, but most of what we do isn't business philosophy, it's finding facts. I do recall enjoying Nuts! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg.

Favorite Newspaper(s)?

The Wall Street Journal. Aside from its pretty rabidly right editorial pages - no worse under Rupert Murdock than the previous owners - it gives me useful trend information that our clients can use.

Person that inspires you?

I think I'm a big fan of those amazingly creative people like Michelangelo, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson. McAfee picked Jefferson, among others, calling him "another flawed polymath and humanist".

Who Was Your Best Manager? Why?

At the risk of embarrassing her, my former library boss, Mary Hoffman. She let me know what was expected and mostly left me alone. She was also someone who let me test her, a reaction to her evil predecessor, and her listening to what my issues about that other person were.

Your first "real" job?

I delivered the Binghamton (NY) Press, six evenings plus Sunday morning, for a couple years. I was good at delivering the paper, not so good at dealing with collecting money and I got stiffed more than a few times. But the good customers were generous with their tips. I inherited that job from Walter Jones, my parents' godson and the grandson of my godparents. I also inherited my library page job from him a few years later.

Where Do You Do Your Best Thinking?

Washing dishes, taking a shower, almost anywhere that doesn't require thinking, ironically.

What Do You Most Value In Employees/Colleagues?

Varied intelligences, a sense of fair play, a desire to share.

What I'd like To Be The World's Best At?

It used to be lawyer or baseball player or pastor, but I was never good enough. Librarian, I suppose, however one measure that.
My condolences to friend Fred Hembeck on the demise of another Mets season; I managed to see parts of that last game. What kind of karmic forces are at work where neither NYC team gets into the playoffs the year their stadia are being torn down and replaced?


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Roger Answers Your Questions, Demeur

Demeur asks:

Okay I'll bite. I'm not exactly sure what type of librarian you are (ie school, public or corporate)

Well, let's deal with that first. I work in what one would call a special library. The New York State Small Business development Center helps people who want to start or expand their business. It is a free service, and there are like programs in every state of the union, plus, DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. The NYS SBDC has five librarians that form the Research Network, which find research that SBDC clients ask of their advisors.

but my question. Have you noticed any major changes in the library system in the last eight years?
For us, actually, the biggest issue has been electronic delivery of information. This means copyright issues. We struggle almost weekly with this. You know when you go to the library and copy a page, or indeed, the whole book, the library will have a notice about the rules of copyright, but it is largely the responsibility of the patron. Not so with digital data, particularly since we digitized it by making a PDF. We have to be cognizant of balancing educational use with frequency and spontaneity, plus the possible harm to the copyright holder.

I know the government has been trying to put controls like net filters and accessing computer caches to follow users surfing habits, but have there been any actual laws that you must follow?

Well, no, but I'm not in a public library. Now, I am involved in a public library as Vice-President of the Friends of the Albany Public Library. By and large, APL is not using net filters, to the best of my knowledge. This means that the librarian, who can generally see the computers, at least in the main branch, might theoretically make a determination that something is inappropriate in a public setting, if someone complained; I've never seen or heard of it happening. Since APL endorses the principles adopted by the American Library Association in the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement, it seems that the library goes out of its way not to be the thought police.

What is your attitude about this?
About filtering software, which I think you're alluding to, the literature I've read suggests it generally doesn't work. It tends to block the word "breast" and miss the articles on breast cancer or "sex" and block out things about gender. Spam blockers I favor, but not subject blockers. Part of the reason that the governor of Alaska worries not only me but other librarians

But the most virulent thing that's come down in the past eight years is the so-called USA PATRIOT Act, which, among other things, is supposed to allow the government to find out what library patrons have been treading. Libraries have subverted that by deliberately not knowing what their individual patrons are checking out once they've returned them. Here are other ways to protect against the 'knock on the door'.

Interestingly, I can tell you that I've never been involved in a PATRIOT Act situation, but if I had, I supposedly could not; there are ways to subvert that too, and I'm in favor.

I don't know that most librarians are liberals, though I suspect they are. I DO know that most librarians have a libertarian streak in them, thinking that the government, in most cases, ought to butt out.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

QUESTION: Baseball Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Ten former major league players, whose careers began in 1943 or later, will be considered for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 by the Veterans Committee, with results to be announced December 8 at baseball’s Winter Meetings...

Dick Allen 0/7
Gil Hodges 0/8
Jim Kaat 7/3
Tony Oliva 0/7
Al Oliver 4-/7
Vada Pinson 2-/4*
Ron Santo 4c/9
Luis Tiant 0/3
Joe Torre 5/9
Maury Wills 2/7*
will be considered for election by the Veterans Committee for enshrinement in 2009, with votes to be cast by Hall of Fame members this fall. Any candidate to receive 75% of the vote on all ballots cast will earn election to the Hall of Fame and will be enshrined on July 26, 2009. There are 64 living Hall of Famers.

The ballot for the 2009 Veterans Committee election of players whose careers began in 1943 or later was devised by Hall of Fame members, who served as the Screening Committee in narrowing the list from 21 to 10 names during the month of August. Earlier this year, the Historical Overview Committee of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, comprised of 11 veteran baseball writers and historians, selected 20 finalists from a list of all eligible players, those whose careers spanned at least 10 major league seasons and started in 1943 or later. Concurrently, a screening committee comprised of six Hall of Famers selected five names for the ballot, and the two lists were merged for a total of 21 candidates.

The 21 candidates considered by the Screening Committee: Allen, Ken Boyer, Bert Campaneris, Rocky Colavito, Mike Cuellar, Steve Garvey, Hodges, Kaat, Ted Kluszewski, Mickey Lolich, Roger Maris, Lee May, Minnie Minoso, Thurman Munson, Oliva, Oliver, Pinson, Santo, Tiant, Torre and Wills.

Also in December, a 12-member voting committee will consider the candidacies of 10 former major league players whose careers began in 1942 or earlier:
Bill Dahlen
Wes Ferrell
Joe Gordon
Sherry Magee
Carl Mays
Allie Reynolds
Vern Stephens
Mickey Vernon
Bucky Walters
Deacon White
Any candidate to earn votes of 75% of ballots cast will earn election to the Hall of Fame, with enshrinement on July 26, 2009.

The 12 members of the voting committee who are scheduled to meet on December 7 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas to consider the pre-1943 candidates include: seven Hall of Fame members (Bobby Doerr, Ralph Kiner, Phil Niekro, Robin Roberts, Duke Snider, Don Sutton and Dick Williams), along with five historians (Furman Bisher, Roland Hemond, Steve Hirdt, Bill Madden and Claire Smith).

The 10 former major leaguers whose careers began in 1942 or earlier were screened by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) appointed Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran members: Dave Van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Moss Klein (formerly Newark Star-Ledger); Bill Madden (New York Daily News); Ken Nigro, (formerly Baltimore Sun); Jack O’Connell (; Nick Peters (Sacramento Bee); Tracy Ringolsby (Rocky Mountain News); and Mark Whicker (Orange County Register). This committee also served as the Overview Committee for the post-1943 ballot, screening names to 20 from the universe of eligible candidates.

The process to consider players whose careers began in 1942 or earlier occurs every five years, next in 2013 for election in 2014. The committee to consider players whose careers began in 1943 or later will consider candidates every other year, next in 2010 for 2011 election.

The Veterans Committee process also features ballots for Managers/Umpires and for Executives, with both of those committees meeting every other year for even-year election, next meeting in 2009 for election in 2010.

So the obvious question: who should go in, and why?
I went to at least for the younger layers and noted just two things: how many players with similar stats were in the Hall and how many All-Star Games were they selected for. Tiant 0 on the comparison stats and only 3 All-Star appearances - out. Vada Pinson (love that name) 2 HOF, 4 AS but over only two years; there was a period (1959-1962) when thee were two All-Star games played - out. Tony Oliva and Dick Allen, both 0 HOF but 7 AS - tougher call, but no.
Gil Hodges - 0 HOF, but 8 AS, and he won the world series as a manager and died tragically early - maybe. Maury Wills - 2 HOF, 7 AS (but over 5 years), but he transformed the game with his speed - maybe. Al Oliver - 4 HOF (and one on the ballot now, Pinson), 7 AS. One batting title - maybe.
Jim Kaat -7(!)HOF, though only 3 AS. But he fielded his position well (16 Golden Gloves), and contributes to baseball as an announcer, plus longevity - yes. Ron Santo - 4 HOF (oddly, all catchers, though he mostly played 3B), 9 AS. Add his announcing gig, plus the torture of being a Chicago Cub - yes. Joe Torre- 5 HOF, 9 AS, and he was a catcher for much of that time. add his managerial success (OK, not the Mets, but with the Braves, Cards, Yankees - I believe the Dodgers are in 1st place right now) - yes.


Friday, September 26, 2008

The Lydster, Part 54: Party Planning.

Lydia's fifth birthday isn't for six months, but Carol and I are already thinking about it. Her fourth birthday was a family event, with her grandparents, two cousins, and uncle and aunt and her parents; all the relatives, BTW, are my wife's, since mine are so far away. I was lobbying for more, since all of her friends had had an expanded roster of guests. Moreover, some of them had massive gatherings at a Chucky Cheese type place or a baseball training place, to name two that I attended. I'm not into competing with these, but on the other hand, I don't want her to be always the one going to other parties.

Am I experiencing party envy? Not exactly. Wouldn't want to have had to wrangle those big events. I think many of them invited the whole day care class, and that many children in one place under my responsibility, even with other parents there, would have made me verklempt.

I had heard this rule long ago: one should have for little child the number of children numbering their age plus one. So Lydia will have six friends at her next birthday at our house. This is a function too of the fact that her best friends don't even go to to her daycare any more. Indeed, she had a [dreaded term] play date with two of them just this past Sunday.

Good thing she doesn't read my blog; I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. Meanwhile, happy four and a half, Lydia.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barren Tree

This is one of the rare posts on this blog not written by me. This is by my wife Carol Green as a journal entry for her Supervision class at the MCLA Leadership Academy this past summer. Tomorrow would have been my father's 82nd birthday, so its inclusion here is prompted by that fact.

Visitors to MassMoCA’s Badlands exhibit might notice that many works appear to be set off by themselves. Yet one piece stands out in its aloneness. Jennifer Steinkamp’s 12-foot video tree, Mike Kelley, is projected on one entire wall at the end of a long room, its trunk, limbs, and finger-like twigs rhythmically twisting to an inaudible beat. The image of the tree appears as a giant black-white line drawing set against a russet-brown background. A slight hesitation in the tree’s movement informs us this is not a real tree, but a digital one. If you are patient enough to watch the projected exhibit’s entire five-minute cycle, you will see the tree changes to represent each season: it bursts with beautiful blossoms of pink, orange, and coral for spring; it sprouts green leaves for summer; it displays orange and rust-colored leaves for fall; and it bares its branches for winter, except for a few scattered red-brown leaves.
I first encountered the tree at the same time a docent was introducing a tour group to it. The group was discussing "scary" trees, such as the trees in Hansel and Gretel, The Wizard of Oz, and the Harry Potter series. Far from scary, I found the tree breathtaking in its vivid spring colors and just as striking in its winter nakedness.
Later, when I returned to the tree, sitting on the bench in front of it and studying its cycle and rhythm, another visitor sat down next to me. The tree had captured our imaginations. She commented on the tree’s "lyrical quality." I told her I could feel a cool, refreshing breeze from the swaying branches. She told me about her life: she was on an Elderhostel week of visiting Berkshire art galleries and theatres; she lives in New York City and loves to take guided tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; she longs to take her grandsons to the Met this summer but is disappointed that their sports seem to take precedence; and finally, in her next life, she wants to be a curator at a contemporary art museum. There we were, two strangers, communing with nature and each other. After a while, she said she would leave me alone and "let me meditate."
What did I see besides the digitalized, projected tree? The twisting and undulating branches are a crowd of people, seemingly random in movement, yet with a predictable cycle, not unlike visitors to the art gallery. Look again—now a ballet troupe in a precisely choreographed work. Look again—now a representation of the fluctuations of so many cycles in our lives—the changes of season, the peaks and valleys of our economy, the ebb and flow of our relationships, the alpha and omega of life and death.
Whom did I see in the tree? Les Green, my father-in-law, was present in that space. He was a fellow lover of trees, and we bonded over his painting of barren trees the first time I met him, shortly before I married his son, Roger, nine years ago. My own work of a barren tree, a pencil drawing from my teenage years, still hangs on our dining room wall. Les and I somehow understood each other’s attraction to barren trees—and how something that others considered dormant or even frightening would engage us enough to give it another life in a work of art. A talented, outgoing, and dynamic pillar of his community and church, Les nevertheless felt singular, alone, and sometimes lonely, Roger later explained to me. Les died a year later, and I often think of how I learned about the importance of relationships from him.
Steinkamp’s Mike Kelley, the video tree, represents the paradox we often encounter in our lives: movement in things that are not alive, constant change in a repeated cycle, social connection and loneliness in the same person, and vivid memories of someone no longer on earth that still enliven our days.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Roger Answers Your Questions, Scott

Mr. Scooter Chronicles himself, Scott asks:

Have you ever seen a baseball game at Yankee Stadium? If yes, what are your thoughts on such a hallowed baseball ground seeing its last game?

Actually, not in a long time. The first time, I was a kid, and the Yankees beat the Washington Senators, The last time was probably in 1977 when I lived in Queens. Tearing down the stadium annoys me, because I don't know why the current facility was inadequate. Oh, it doesn't have those luxury seats, but after this week, who can afford to buy them anyway. Moreover, the funding is more corporate welfare foolishness.

Who do you think will win the World Series this year?

I picked the Cubs to lose the WS to Cleveland at the beginning of the season. About midseason, I switched to the Cubs over Tampa Bay, so I'll stick with that. How annoying that my trip to the game was when the Cubs had hit a bad patch.

What do you think would be considered more historic: Obama being elected President, or Palin being elected Vice President?

Well, someone being elected President. If Palin were running for Prez and Obama were running for VP, it'd be Palin, but as it is, Obama. Besides, a woman had at least been NOMINATED before by a major party.

Do you think that the bailouts of financial companies will help the economy in the long run, destroy the idea of creating tax breaks for most of middle America, or see no real lasting effects on anyone?

Well, first off, I'm really ticked off about it. I listened to Henry Paulson, not once but twice on Sunday - Tom on NBC asked better questions than George did on ABC - and I got nothing but "Psst, it's really bad. Do this or we're doomed, trust me" without any real information.
I looked at the original language of the bill here and I was gobsmacked by Section 8: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." Pardon my French, but WTF? Decisions non-reviewable? Gimme a BREAK!
I'm glad to see Democrats and republicans in Congress find some cojones, apparently because their constituents are hopping mad about this. Arthur at AmeriNZ found this example.
In answer to the question, the devil's in the details. if there's help for homeowners who are in their houses, limits on executive compensation and other measures, MAYBE things will turn around some.
And speaking of compensation, from Salon. "Regarding executive pay, Rep. Frank's draft would mandate that any company selling assets into the program 'meet appropriate standards for executive compensation,' including limits on what could be deemed excessive or inappropriate, according to a copy seen by The Wall Street Journal. The government would also have the ability to 'claw back' incentive pay that was based on 'earnings, gains, or other criteria that are later proven to be inaccurate.' Mr. Paulson is resisting those efforts.
Astoundingly, Paulson plans to fight any efforts to limit executive pay because 'he fears that provision would render the program moot, since many firms might choose not to participate.'
They might choose not to participate in a $700 billion plan designed to save them from a mess they were primarily responsible for causing? I don't think I'm alone in finding that prospect irritating."

On the other hand, someone at Pat Buchanan's site posted this recently: "It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it's more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody's blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It's only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely." - Malcolm X
As the letter writer noted, "Sounds pretty damn close to me."

When was the last time you felt good about voting for a political candidate (on any level of government) feeling that they truly were the right person for the job?

I worked for Tom Keefe for city court judge a few years back. I'd known him for years and he seems to be doing a good job.

What is your favorite "healthy" thing to snack on?

apples and cottage cheese.

What is your favorite "evil" thing to snack on?

Muffins - fruit muffins (blueberry, preferably).

What is your favorite movie comedy of all time?

It's tricky, because Annie Hall is, but it's not all that ha-ha funny. On a pure laugh meter it'd be either Airplane! or Young Frankenstein.

Other then Jeopardy!, what is your favorite game show?

I'm partial to the various forms of Pyramid and Password,


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Death penalty: closure?

I was reading Evanier a while ago, who wrote: "One of the arguments for the Death Penalty has always been that it provides a sense of justice and closure to the loved ones of the victim of a murder. This article which claims otherwise is by Donald A. McCartin (a Conservative Judge) and Mike Farrell (a Liberal actor) who happen to be friends. They used to debate the issue but now are on the same page."

There are some bits on the New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty website that speak to that point, such as here and this one.

But the single person who has had the most profound affect on my thinking on the topic has to be Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing of the federal building. I have seen him speak in person in Albany (NY) along with Manny Babbitt, Gary Wright and David Kaczynski in a forum not unlike this one. Bud, in particular, gave a moving story about his move from his need for vengeance. Specifically, he spoke of the community of OKC survivors and family members of victims. Before Timothy McVeigh was executed, they could get along with their different points of view about the death penalty. But after McVeigh was killed, they seemed to shun Welch, as though the execution lacked the closure they thought they would get, and Welch’s opposition to the death penalty was a reminder of that fact.

I'm intrigued by the number of countries that have banned the death penalty. I suppose the United States (and China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan) could be right and the rest of the world wrong. But I doubt it.

A most pressing issue on this front takes place this evening. After the Georgia Supreme Court denied a stay yesterday, at 7 pm EDT today, Troy Davis will be executed for the murder of a police officer, a crime he almost certainly did not commit. Six days later, the US Supreme Court will decide whether to hear his appeal. People across the country and around the world, from the Libertarian candidate for President and former Georgia congressman Bob Barr to Pope Benedict XVI, from Bishop Desmond Tutu to former President and Georgia governor Jimmy Carter are calling for a stay of execution. As Barr put it in his letter to the parole board: "The doubts about the Davis case have not been resolved, and fears that Georgia might execute an innocent man have not been allayed."

This is certainly true. Of the nine witnesses who testified at Davis' trial, seven have recanted their testimony, some alleging that they were threatened with jail time if they did not cooperate with prosecutors. No murder weapon has ever been found. Several witnesses have now said another man has admitted to being the actual killer. Interestingly, this man, who was at the scene and is one of only two witnesses not recanting his story, is said to have been seen with the same caliber gun used to murder Officer Mark Allen MacPhail minutes before the shooting.

As one letter writer noted: "In order to be sentenced in this country, a person must be guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. The standard when the irreversible death penalty is applied should be higher, not lower."


Monday, September 22, 2008

As Though You Had Requested It: ASK ROGER ANYTHING

In case you're relatively new to these parts, this is the part of the blog experience in which the blogger (i.e., I) sit back and wait for you to ask me questions, AND I HAVE TO ANSWER. The answer has to be the truth. Doesn't have to be the whole truth, and it could be a tad snarky, but still basically an honest response in this blog before the end of the month.

Today's first example comes from Al from Albany who asked:
I don’t know what got me thinking about this today, but...

Last year (I think) A-Rod nearly "Homered for the Cycle". That is, a solo, 2-run, 3-run and grand slam. I believe he was missing a 2-run homer. Has it ever been done?

No. Obviously one would need at least 10 RBI to hit for the "homer cycle" and
nobody who has hit four homers has more than 9 RBI (Hodges with 5 hits), except Mark Whiten of the St. Louis Cardinals. He had 12 RBI and on only 4 hits, in 1993, so he would have to have to hit these types of homers (not necessarily in this order: 1,3,4,4; 2,2,4,4; 2,3,3,4; 3,3,3,3. In fact, Whiten hit a grand slam, fouled out, hit two three-run shots in successive innings, and ended with a two-run homer.

Dave from Schenectady wrote:
I've thought of you because I may be starting a blog. How's your TU thing going? Forgive me, I never read it (or any other blogs). Just too busy reading all the stuff I have to for work. Is it hypocritical to want to write a blog when you never read them? Will I be getting into something I regret? Your feedback would be much appreciated if you have time to write.

The blog goes. My other blog [this one] is somehow easier. As for you blogging, let me give you a for instance: is it hypocritical to want to write a book if you’ve never read a book? Or a painter if you’ve never looked at other paintings? Hypocritical isn’t the word I’d use; more like short-sighted. You’ll get a better sense to see what you like (and especially what you hate) if you read some.
You probably won't get in "trouble", depending on what you write about. Painting? Probably safe. On the other hand, I wrote a pretty innocuous piece about my church choir director leaving and I was given a lecture about me being sucked into the whole religion myth, to which someone I know replied, and a voracious back-and-forth, having nothing to do with the initial topic, ensued. Oh, BTW, if you DO do it, I’ll link to you, raising your fame level enormously (snicker).
I’m rather fond of this piece.

Your questions can be about baseball or politics or of a more personal nature.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Norman Whitfield

Surely, my initial appreciation for songwriter Norman Whitfield came at that juncture in the career of Motown's Temptations in 1968 when David Ruffin, the lead vocalist on "My Girl" and most of the hits up to that point, left the group and was replaced by Dennis Edwards. At the same time, Whitfield became the exclusive producer for the group, and implemented what he freely admitted that he stole from Sly Stone: the multi-lead singer motif, best exemplified by the hit "I Can't Get Next To You", number 31 on this list. At the same time, he, along with Barrett Strong (who, incidentally sang the first Motown semi-hit, Money) wrote virtually all of their hits: "Cloud Nine", "Psychedelic Shack", "Ball of Confusion", "Just My Imagination", "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," to name just a few of the "psychedelic soul" tunes.

But in fact, Norman ended up writing or co-writing tunes for the early Temps ("Ain't Too Proud to Beg", "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep") and many others:

Bright Lights, Big City

I Heard It Through the Grapevine. This is the Pips version, which went to #2 in 1967. Rumor has it that it was covered later to even greater effect.

He Was Really Saying Something

(I Know) I'm Losing You

Too many fish in the sea

Needle in a Haystack

Not to mention:

Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)

Too Busy Thinking About My Baby

Smiling Faces Sometimes


Really Saying Something

Car Wash

Norman Whitfield died Tuesday, September 16 at the age of 67. He suffered from complications of diabetes and had recently emerged from a coma, The Detroit Free Press reported.

Whitfield, with Barrett Strong, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. Whitfield and Strong won the Grammy in 1972 for best R&B song for the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." Whitfield won another Grammy in 1976 for best original TV or motion picture score for the hit, "Car Wash."

Motown great Smokey Robinson called Whitfield "one of the most prolific songwriters and record producers of our time. He will live forever through his great music."


Saturday, September 20, 2008

QUESTIONS: Who will/should win the Emmys?

I'm asking YOU because I haven't a clue. This is possibly the season I've watched the least TV, possibly ever. Once you get out of the realm of news programs and JEOPARDY!, there ain't much.

Outstanding Comedy Series
30 Rock • NBC
Curb Your Enthusiasm • HBO
Entourage • HBO
The Office • NBC
Two And A Half Men • CBS
The only one I watch is The Office, so that's my rooting interest, but I suspect it'll be 30 Rock.

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
30 Rock • Rosemary's Baby • NBC • Michael Engler, Director
Entourage • No Cannes Do • HBO • Dan Attias, Director
Flight Of The Conchords • Sally Returns • HBO • James Bobin, Director
Pushing Daisies • Pie-Lette • ABC • Barry Sonnenfeld, Director
The Office • Money (Parts 1 & 2) • NBC • Paul Lieberstein, Director
The Office • Goodbye, Toby • NBC • Paul Feig, Director
If it weren't competing with another Office episode, I'd pick Toby, but as it is, I'm betting 30 Rock.

Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series
Boston Legal • The Mighty Rogues • ABC • Arlene Sanford, Director
Breaking Bad • Pilot • AMC • Vince Gilligan, Director
Damages • Pilot • FX Networks • Allen Coulter, Director
House • House's Head • FOX • Greg Yaitanes, Director
Mad Men • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Pilot) • AMC • Alan Taylor, Director
Sometimes, I see Boston Legal, more out of habit, but it's undeserving. The Golden Globes was giving a lot of Mad Men love, so I'll say that.

Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
Bernard And Doris • HBO • Bob Balaban, Director
Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale • HBO • Ricky Gervais, Director; Stephen Merchant, Director
John Adams • HBO • Tom Hooper, Director
Recount • HBO • Jay Roach, Director
The Company • TNT • Mikael Salomon, Director
Saw none of these. I expect most of the competition for the evening will be between Adams and Recount. I'll pick Adams because the history's more remote.

Outstanding Directing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program
80th Annual Academy Awards • ABC • Louis J. Horvitz, Director
Company (Great Performances) • PBS • Lonny Price, Director
Saturday Night Live • Host: Tina Fey • NBC • Don Roy King, Director
The Colbert Report • #4051 • Comedy Central • Jim Hoskinson, Director
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • #13050 • Chuck O'Neil, Director
The continued relevance of Stewart, who I see mostly in clips, should win out. The Oscars? Really? I saw the the Academy Awards, and Oscar, you're no Jon Stewart.

Outstanding Drama Series
Boston Legal • ABC
Damages • FX Networks
Dexter • Showtime
House • FOX
Lost • ABC
Mad Men • AMC
Again, the one I've seen the most is the one I must eliminate, BL. Still thinking Mad Men.

Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality - Competition Program
American Idol • FOX • Ryan Seacrest, Host
Dancing With The Stars • ABC • Tom Bergeron, Host
Deal Or No Deal • NBC • Howie Mandel, Host
Project Runway • Bravo • Heidi Klum, Host
Survivor • CBS • Jeff Probst, Host
A category where I've seen all five nominees, although not necessarily in the current year. I think Idol and Survivor have peaked, and Mandel just doesn't have enough of a program. Maybe Klum, but I'm guessing Bergeron.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
30 Rock • NBC • Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy
Monk • USA • Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk
Pushing Daisies • ABC • Lee Pace as Ned
The Office • NBC • Steve Carell as Michael Scott
Two And A Half Men • CBS • Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper
Will it be Baldwin again? Probably. Not Shalhoub, not Sheen. Lee Pace from Pushing Daisies, A SHOW I ACTUALLY WATCHED, is the "honored to be nominated" choice. I'm rooting for Carrell, as I did last year.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Boston Legal • ABC • James Spader as Alan Shore
Breaking Bad • AMC • Bryan Cranston as Walt White
Dexter • Showtime • Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan
House • FOX • Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House
In Treatment • HBO • Gabriel Byrne as Paul
Mad Men • AMC • Jon Hamm as Don Draper
Not Spader! Don't think it'll be Laurie, but I'd bet on Hamm.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Bernard And Doris • HBO • Ralph Fiennes as Bernard Lafferty
Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale • HBO • Ricky Gervais as Andy Millman
John Adams • HBO • Paul Giamatti as John Adams
Recount • HBO • Kevin Spacey as Ron Klain
Recount • HBO • Tom Wilkinson as James Baker
Emmy loves honoring "film" actors, so it won't be Gervais. Could be Fiennes, but I'm guessing the Recount vote splits and Giamatti gets it.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
30 Rock • NBC • Tina Fey as Liz Lemon
Samantha Who? • ABC • Christina Applegate as Samantha Newly
The New Adventures Of Old Christine • CBS • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine Campbell
Ugly Betty • ABC • America Ferrera as Betty Suarez
Weeds • Showtime • Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin
I've never seen Weeds. I tried Samantha Who?, but it wore thin. For no logical reason, I'm rooting for Sarah Palin, I mean Tina Fey, but she's more likely to win elsewhere, giving it to Louis-Dreyfus or Ferrera.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Brothers & Sisters • ABC • Sally Field as Nora Holden-Walker
Damages • FX Networks • Glenn Close as Patty Hewes
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit • NBC • Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson
Saving Grace • TNT • Holly Hunter as Grace Hanadarko
The Closer • TNT • Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson
Please not Hargitay. Sedgwick has a schtick that I like to watch, but still schtick. I'm actually rooting for Field, but I'm guessing Close.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie
A Raisin In The Sun • ABC • Phylicia Rashad as Lena Younger
An American Crime • Showtime • Catherine Keener as Gertrude Baniszewski
Bernard And Doris • HBO • Susan Sarandon as Doris Duke
Cranford (MASTERPIECE) • PBS • Dame Judi Dench as Miss Matty Jenkyns
John Adams • HBO • Laura Linney as Abigail Adams
Heavy duty category full of movie actresses, two of whom would be OOMA if I did such a thing. The only performance I saw was Rashad who was quite good. I'm thinking Linney.

Outstanding Made For Television Movie
A Raisin In The Sun • ABC
Bernard And Doris • HBO
Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale • HBO
Recount • HBO
The Memory Keeper's Daughter • Lifetime
I think this is where Recount will win.

Outstanding Miniseries
John Adams • HBO
The Andromeda Strain • A&E
Tin Man • Sci Fi Channel
The state of the miniseries is such that Tin Man, which received mixed reviews, is here. If there is a God in heaven, Andromeda, which I had the misfortune of seeing, will lose. Fortunately, John Adams will come through.

Outstanding Individual Performance In A Variety Or Music Program
80th Annual Academy Awards • ABC • Jon Stewart, Host
Late Show With David Letterman • CBS • David Letterman, Host
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project • HBO • Don Rickles, Performer
Saturday Night Live • NBC • Tina Fey, Host/Performer
The Colbert Report • Comedy Central • Stephen Colbert, Host
Will Fey win twice? Or Stewart? Maybe and not here, respectively. I'm guessing this is where Fey wins.

Outstanding Reality-competition Program
American Idol • FOX
Dancing With The Stars • ABC
Project Runway • Bravo
The Amazing Race • CBS
Top Chef • Bravo
Idol probably will win, but I'm pulling for Dancing because it would please my wife.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Entourage • HBO • Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold
Entourage • HBO • Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama
How I Met Your Mother • CBS • Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson
The Office • NBC • Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute
Two And A Half Men • CBS • Jon Cryer as Alan Harper
Cryer's role is not supporting, Entourage pair cancel each other out. So it's between the guy formerly known as Doogie and Wilson; it'll be one or the other and I'm fine with that.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Boston Legal • ABC • William Shatner as Denny Crane
Damages • FX Networks • Ted Danson as Arthur Frobisher
Damages • FX Networks • Zeljko Ivanek as Ray Fiske
Lost • ABC • Michael Emerson as Ben
Mad Men • AMC • John Slattery as Roger Sterling
Not Shatner! Damages guys cancel out, though I'm fond of both actors. I guess Mad Men.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
John Adams • HBO • David Morse as George Washington
John Adams • HBO • Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson
John Adams • HBO • Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin
Recount • HBO • Denis Leary as Michael Whouley
Recount • HBO • Bob Balaban as Ben Ginsberg
Oy. Don't know Dillane, but like all of the others. Maybe Wilkinson, but I'm not confident on that.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Pushing Daisies • ABC • Kristin Chenoweth as Olive Snook
Samantha Who? • ABC • Jean Smart as Regina Newly
Saturday Night Live • NBC • Amy Poehler, Performer
Two And A Half Men • CBS • Holland Taylor as Evelyn Harper
Ugly Betty • ABC • Vanessa Williams as Wilhelmina Slater
I like Chenoweth in her role. Smart was OK, and the other two sitcom actresses I don't watch often enough. Poehler is doing such a different thing than the others; I'm hoping it works for her, rather than against.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Boston Legal • ABC • Candice Bergen as Shirley Schmidt
Brothers & Sisters • ABC • Rachel Griffiths as Sarah Walker-Whedon
Grey's Anatomy • ABC • Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey
Grey's Anatomy • ABC • Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang
In Treatment • HBO • Dianne Wiest as Dr. Gina Toll
Grey's cancel out, no way for BL. I'm rather fond of Griffiths' role, but I'm thinking the HBO show, which I've not seen, will win.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie
A Raisin In The Sun • ABC • Audra McDonald as Ruth Younger
Cranford (MASTERPIECE) • PBS • Dame Eileen Atkins as Miss Deborah Jenkyns
Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale • HBO • Ashley Jensen as Maggie Jacobs
Pictures Of Hollis Woods (Hallmark Hall Of Fame Presentation) • CBS • Alfre Woodard as Edna Reilly
Recount • HBO • Laura Dern as Katherine Harris
The only one I saw was McDonald, and she was very good. Still, when I saw the clips, Dern WAS Harris.

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
Late Show With David Letterman • CBS
Real Time With Bill Maher • HBO
Saturday Night Live • NBC
The Colbert Report • Comedy Central
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Comedy Central
Stewart, deservedly.

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Special
Bill Maher: The Decider • HBO
George Carlin: It's Bad For Ya! • HBO •
James Taylor: One Man Band (Great Performances) • PBS
Kathy Griffin: Straight To Hell • Bravo
Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project • HBO
The Kennedy Center Honors • CBS
I always watch the Kennedy Center Honors and enjoy them, but I'm guessing a sentimental vote for the late Carlin.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
30 Rock • Rosemary's Baby • NBC • Jack Burditt
30 Rock • Cooter • NBC • Tina Fey
Flight Of The Conchords • Yoko • HBO • James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie
Pushing Daisies • Pie-Lette • ABC • Bryan Fuller
The Office • Dinner Party • NBC • Lee Eisenberg, Gene Stupnitsky
Fey's up for ANOTHER Emmy and might have won if she wasn't up against her own show. Moreover, Dinner Party was one of the most painful (in a funny way) things I ever saw, so I pick that. BTW, the Pushing Daisies pilot was effective in establishing the plot.

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series
Battlestar Galactica • Six Of One • Sci Fi Channel • Michael Angeli
Damages • Pilot • FX Networks • Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman
Mad Men • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Pilot) • AMC • Matthew Weiner
Mad Men • The Wheel • AMC • Matthew Weiner, Robin Veith
The Wire • 30 • HBO • David Simon, Ed Burns
I just have a feeling that they'll take one last chance to honor The Wire, especially with the Mad Men vote split.

Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
Bernard And Doris • HBO • Hugh Costello
Cranford (MASTERPIECE) • PBS • Heidi Thomas, Written By
Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale • HBO • Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
John Adams • Independence • HBO • Kirk Ellis
Recount • HBO • Danny Strong

Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program
Late Night With Conan O'Brien • NBC • Mike Sweeney, Head Writer
Late Show With David Letterman • CBS • Eric Stangel, Justin Stangel, Head Writers
Saturday Night Live • NBC • Seth Meyers, Andrew Steele, Paula Pell, Head Writers
The Colbert Report • Comedy Central • Tom Purcell, Head Writer
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Comedy Central • Steve Bodow, Head Writer


Friday, September 19, 2008

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Paul Waner: "Let the pitcher move first, then, as he draws his arm back, you draw the bat back and you are ready."

Honus Wagner: "I won't play for a penny less than fifteen hundred dollars."

Roberto Clemente: "Baseball has been very good to me."

Manager Chuck Tanner, mid-1970s: : "Having Willie Stargell on your ball club is like having a diamond ring on your finger." -

Willie Stargell: "I'm always amazed when a pitcher becomes angry at a hitter for hitting a home run off him. When I strike out, I don't get angry at the pitcher, I get angry at myself. I would think that if a pitcher threw up a home run ball, he should be angry at himself." More Willie Stargell quotes here.

Doug Mientkiewicz, 2008: "I didn't deliberately smack at him (Cardinals' 2B Aaron Miles). I just kept running and tried to hit the glove. That's what you're supposed to do (to break up the double play). I didn't try to hurt him. We talked about it, and he said he'd do the same thing ... if the game was close. And I said, ‘Well, it's not like we're up 12.' We were up five, and I think we all know that a five-run lead for us is not exactly insurmountable." It was the 8th inning and it led to a benches-clearing fight.

Manager John Russell, 2008: "It's going to be a lot of fun someday. I know the city of Pittsburgh is dying for a winner and we're going to do everything we can to make that happen." 2008 is the franchise's 16th consecutive losing season, which ties the major-league record set by the 1933-48 Philadelphia Phillies.

And I went to this site and realized that I had once again misunderstood the concept of the celebration. It's more like this:


Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Agree With Ed Koch about Sarah Palin

The first time I had a chance to vote for Ed Koch, the 1977 Democratic primary for mayor of New York City, I voted against him, and in favor of some guy named Mario Cuomo. Koch won and was easily re-elected mayor that fall.
The second time I had a chance to vote for Ed Koch, the 1982 Democratic primary for governor of New York State, I voted against him, and in favor of some guy named Mario Cuomo. Cuomo won and was easily elected governor of New York.
In 2004, Koch, ostensibly a Democrat, supported the re-election of GW Bush. So, I'm not a big fan of Edward I. Koch. And yet...

When Ed Koch says that a Sarah Palin presidency 'scares' him, that resonates with me.

Look, I can get into a rhetorical debate about this - and BTW, the Librarians against Palin website points out that she probably meant "theoretical" when she talked about her "rhetorical" book ban. And yes, I know the banned book list floating around the Internet has been debunked, but there are still questions to be resolved.

But I didn't need the word of the former New York City mayor to tip me off. Frankly, her responses in the Gibson/ABC News interview were often troubling. Is it that she really WANTS to go to war with Russia AND Iran? Does she assume that Israel should have carte blanche? A scary interview.

At least she "clarified" her Bridge to Nowhere position during the interviews, though she returned to the lie two days later. Even Pat Buchanan says she's being trained to "parrot the McCain-neocon line", contrary to her own earlier beliefs.

I do wonder about Troopergate as much as how it reflects her governing style as the specific facts in the case. And has been the role of Alaska's "first dude"?

Know that I don't care particularly about Sarah Palin's 17-year-old pregnant daughter. I do, however, care about her position of forcing "abstinence-only education" down the throats of the school districts. (Hey, send money to Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name!) And I can't help but wonder: How well would Barack Obama have done if he had come forth with a 17 year old pregnant, unmarried, unemployed daughter? And speaking of sex, Sarah Palin's "hotness" factor, which I know liberal bloggers are tired of hearing about, but which voters may be responding to initially, won't be enough the more voters learn more about her.

Even the resident conservative of The View, Elisabeth Hasselback thought that Obama's "lipstick on a pig", a phrase used by John McCain regarding Hillary Clinton's health care policies, was a non-issue. Ah, politics of distraction. The handlers at least are on script as they play the gender card. I will say this - Sarah Palin does snark well - and are community organizers, which would have included my late father, ticked.

Having said all that, I've pretty much tired of talking about Palin - well, maybe not this Palin. Until Sarah does something else totally outrageous, I'll let others carry that ball. I'd rather discuss about the top of the ticket, John McCain.

If I were a Republican in 2000 and voting in the primary, I likely would have gone for John McCain, certainly over George W. Bush. While I was mildly troubled by that Keating Five thing involving the Savings & Loan disaster of the 1980s, he seemed like an honorable guy. In this lengthy (30 minute) piece, Joe Biden talks, among other things, how badly he felt when the forces of W. vilified McCain before the South Carolina primary that year:

Since he had been tortured himself, he was sensitive to a strong anti-torture policy for the United States, and I applauded that.

So how the hell did the 'Straight Talk Express' get so derailed? More than anger, I have a profound disappointment that the Arizona senator has sunk to such levels that even Karl Rove says McCain is lying in his ads.

A raspberry to the MSM here. It took Comedy Central's the Daily Show, FCOL, to show how McCain's 2008 talking points about working with Democrats, et al was almost verbatim what W said in 2000 - anyone have that link? - and we all know how well THAT worked. Obama gets knocked for wanting to talk to Iran, but - surprise - five former U.S. Secretaries of State are saying the same thing.

McCain's self-declared lack of strength in the economic side is problematic. His economic policy, deemed 'incomplete' by the hardly liberal US News makes the rich richer. He declares that fundamentals of the economy are strong even as Wall Street collapses. McCain, the computer illiterate is the one I find "out of touch". And it saddens me. Earlier this year, Wesley Clark, that is, General Wesley Clark, got in trouble for suggesting that John McCain's war record was not an automatic qualifier for the Presidency; he wasn't wrong, merely impolitic. America is guns AND butter.

I'll be mentioning McCain again, I suspect.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The business of Billary

I had an a-ha! moment in Chicago after attending a workshop on family-owned businesses at the ASBDC conference. Family-owned businesses are often dysfunctional, because the role in the family is not made distinct from the role in the family-owned business. The instructor used the example of the business owned by dad and/or mom with the children/employees expected to come to Sunday dinner every week, where the conversation would inevitably devolve into talking shop. The people providing the jobs and the people providing the meal are exactly the same, so the family dynamic interferes with the business dynamic, and disaster often follows.

It occurred to me that two of my favorite TV shows involve family-owned businesses, and the dysfunction that it brings, both on ABC: Brothers & Sisters and Dirty Sexy Money. The former is about a guy who owns a produce business; he dies in the first episode, and the succession plan doesn't always go as he planned, with his elder daughter in charge, much to the resentment of at least one of his sons and his brother-in-law. In DSM, the protagonist tries and fails to stay out of the family businss that his late father worked in but gets sucked into the bizarre family/business dynamic.

One conversation that was taking place at the conference was whether Bill Clinton, supposedly insightful politician, regardless of your political view of him, intentionally sabotaged his wife's campaign for President, One woman said, "How could he not have?" Here's my theory; there is this company called Billary. Going back to the late 1970s, its mission was to elect Bill Clinton governor of Arkansas, then later, POTUS. So, by necessity, Bill was CEO of Billary, Inc.

Then it was Hillary's turn to run things. Except that Bill was used to being the CEO of Billary. Heck, he was used to being "leader of the free world". So while he may have really tried to cede authority to her, the old business dynamic, mixed with their...complicated family dynamic, got in the way. In an ABC interview in August, Bill Clinton said as much, responding to attacks on his wife as a husband, rather than as a surrogate for the candidate.

In many situations, such as when a new department head is chosen at a university, what the former chair does affects the outcome. When the retired one sticks around in some emeritus status, some of the staff will continue to him or her. Whereas when the older one slips quietly into the sunset, that issue doesn't arise.

So, I'm convinced that Billary didn't work in its quest to nominate Hillary as President because it was a dysfunctional business. Moreover, I think Barack Obama did not choose Hillary to be his running mate because he did not want to be tied down to that broken dynamic.

Top photo (c) 2008 by Mary Hoffman

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eveningwear, swimwear

I had gotten this e-mail from SiteMeter last week and gave me the impression that I was supposed to do something, so I did and lost about 15 hours of data (2 pm Sunday-5 am Monday). Ah well.
Albany airport weather
Time EDT(UTC);Temp.F(C);Dew Pt F(C);Pressure Inches (hPa); Wind MPH

10 AM (14) Sep 15 71.1 (21.7) 57.0 (13.9) 29.72 (1006) WNW 17
9 AM (13) Sep 15 73.0 (22.8) 57.9 (14.4) 29.68 (1005) WNW 13
8 AM (12) Sep 15 73.0 (22.8) 57.0 (13.9) 29.65 (1004) WNW 9
7 AM (11) Sep 15 73.9 (23.3) 57.0 (13.9) 29.59 (1002) W 13
6 AM (10) Sep 15 77.0 (25.0) 57.0 (13.9) 29.54 (1000) W 23
5 AM (9) Sep 15 81.0 (27.2) 61.0 (16.1) 29.48 (998) W 20
4 AM (8) Sep 15 79.0 (26.1) 68.0 (20.0) 29.42 (996) SW 15
3 AM (7) Sep 15 79.0 (26.1) 70.0 (21.1) 29.41 (995) S 16
2 AM (6) Sep 15 80.1 (26.7) 71.1 (21.7) 29.44 (996) S 17
1 AM (5) Sep 15 80.1 (26.7) 71.1 (21.7) 29.45 (997) S 18
It never got above 85 all the day before, but it was so muggy that I turned the air conditioner on for the first time in nearly a month and still couldn't sleep past 3 a.m.

The wind knocked out power for about 15,000 customers locally. It was out in Saratoga County, primarily in the town of Wilton; Warren County; and in Rensselaer County, mostly in Troy. But in Albany, avoiding the branches on the bike was all I had to deal with.
I was pleased to see that Bike Accidents Decline As Ridership Rises. But I had one of those bike moments last week. I'm riding over a land bridge across Henry Johnson Blvd. in Albany, going with traffic as I should. Another bicyclist is crossing the bridge toward me and he waves me to go left. Not a chance. The universal rule, at least in the United States (as opposed to, say the United Kingdom) is for everyone to stay right. Besides 1) he's in the wrong AND 2) HE can see oncoming traffic without turning around. So I kept coming, yelling "no" and shaking my head. He went around.
The widely distributed SNL opening, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin; Fey does a GREAT Palin.
Yesterday morning, I'm remembering this commercial from some years back. Certain elements I recall quite well: the voice of the woman saying "daywear, eveningwear, swimwear" actually it was more like "swinvear". I know that the point of the commercial was about making choices or the lack thereof. But for the life of me, I couldn't remember what the commercial was FOR.
My wife remembered it too, but she thought from just a few seasons ago, and doesn't recall the product either.
You probably remember, though: it was one of the creative ads from Wendy's, "Soviet Fashion Show", from 1985. The mind goes strange places at 4 a.m.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Tag, You're It Meme

Patty tagged me. I swear I've done this before, but since the answer to at least the first question is changeable, and moreover, I am changeable, what the heck.

1. Where was I 10 years ago?

Ten years ago this very week, I traveled to Boston to appear on the TV show JEOPARDY! It did not air until November 9, so it was a royal pain in the whatever to fend off the questions about how well I did.

2. What was on my to-do list today?

The usual: take the daughter to day care. Go to the Y, riding my bike if the weather allows, riding the bus otherwise. Play racquetball, shower. Bus to work, eat shredded wheat. Work, home fpor dinner, try to squeeze in the news before bed.

The other stuff: call church so I can publicize an event (the visit of a theologian to our church next month) in another blog. Publicize the fact that a fellow board member of the Friends of the Albany Public Library Association is getting a prestigious award from the New York Library Association, something I nominated Dennis Mosley for. Try to write a blog post.

3. What would I do if I were a billionaire?

The first thing I'd do is hire a general contractor to get all the things in my house fixed all at once- the roof, the porch, the kitchen cabinets, the extra insulation. The one extravagence - some reasonably large TV with stero speakers. and a deck because my wife wants one. We'd move out until it was all done.
Money for college for Lydia.
Pay off the houses of my sisters and my wife's brothers.
Contributions to church and various causes.
Travel to six continents.
Hire someone to organize papers and other "stuff".

4. Five places I've lived

Binghamton, NY
Kingston, NY
New Paltz, NY
Charlotte, NC
Jamaica (Queens), NY

5. Bad Habits

My ability to misplace things
My tendency to be late
Emotional eating
Impatience with smokers; I understand they are people, too
My trending towards the melancholy

Oh, I'm not going to tag anyone. Wait, I will, for nefarious reasons:

Gordon, because the last time I tagged people I DIDN'T tag him and he seemed upset
Uthaclena, because it might increase his output
Jaquandor, in hope that it jump-starts him from his blogging lethargy.
Ditto for Librarian 2008
Kelly Brown, just because.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A free copy of the U.S. Constitution can be yours for the asking

In anticipation of Constitution Day, which is September 17, I asked a number of people this: what is Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution about? I asked a guy who had to study to become a naturalized citizen in the past four years. I asked a librarian. I asked a teacher. I asked a guy who has tried out for JEOPARDY! No one knew.

The answer, BTW, is that Article 1 establishes the legislature, i.e., Congress.
Article 2 establishes the executive branch and Article 3, the judiciary. I was asking this to make a point, which was the primacy of the Congress was intended by the Founders, but it's difficult to make an argument when no one understands the point of reference. The separation of powers has gotten pretty much out of whack over the past half century, going back to Harry Truman and the Korean war, and mitigated only briefly by Watergate.

I'm so distressed by this outcome that I will send up to the first 100 people to e-mail me with their addresses a copy of the Constitution, plus additional background. The offer ends on the first Monday in October 2008 at 6 pm Eastern time or when supplies run out, whichever comes first.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

QUESTION: Political Mind

1. So how did you get to think like that? Was it a function of your parents?

My parents were Republicans when I was growing up. But being a Republican in New York in the 1960s meant moderate people like Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, Kenneth Keating (all from NY), William Scranton (PA) and George Romney (MI), not so incidentally the father of Mitt. As the Republican party got more conservative, starting with Nixon's "southern strategy" which followed LBJ's signing of the Civil rights Act of 1964, the Democrats became comparative more liberal.

2. Were your parents politically active? Did they talk politics with you?

My father was socially active. though he had a full-time job, he was also a community organizer, keeping the kids off the streets and engaged in meaningful activities. (I must digress here. I've seen a number of folks note that Martin Luther King Jr. and even even Jesus Christ were community organizers, which I would argue is largely true. Doesn't mean Obama is saying he's MLK or Jesus, any more than if I said I'm for peace so I must be just like Gandhi.)

I don't remember my parents working campaigns or even putting up bumper stickers or fliers. I do recall talking to them about their votes in the 1968 election, when I talked them into voting for Hubert humphrey rather than Dick Gregory.

3. Have you ever worked on a political campaign?

A few times. the first was supporting Bill Burns for mayor of Binghamton, NY in 1969, I think, in any case, before i could actually vote. Beyond blowing up balloons, I don't recall what I did. Did more for McGovern in 1972, for naught. My next effort, in 1974, was more successful . I think I've only worked four other campaigns, in 1980 (lost), 1995 (won), and two this century, but only because friends of mine wee running - and they both won!
OK, I'll admit that publicizing the fact that, as a result of a class action lawsuit, TransUnion is offering free credit monitoring, and doing so on every platform to which I have access is partly in retaliation for TransUnion and the other credit reporting companies trying to sell me stuff for which I was entitled to for free when I had my identity theft scare. Still I want everyone to take advantage of the deal, and you have less than two weeks to do so.


Friday, September 12, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Across the Charts-the 1960s

I am an unabashed fan of those Billboard books such as Top Pop Singles and Top R&B /Hip Hop Singles. Arriving in the mail this week, Joel Whitburn Presents Across the Charts-the 1960s. It takes all the songs that hit the Hot 100 (HT), Bubbling Under (BU), R&B (RB), Country (CW) and Adult Contemporary (AC). from January 1960 through December 1969. Additionally it notes those "list" songs such as the Rolling Stone 500 greatest songs, RIAA/NEA 365 songs of the (20th) century, BMI top 100 songs of the century, etc.

Examples: Whipped cream by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass entered the AC charts on 3/20/66 and got to #13, spending 8 weeks on the charts, while it hit the HT charts on 2/20/66 and stayed there for 10 weeks, but only got to #68.

The Beatles' From Me to You was released on 8/3/63 but only got to the BU charts at #116, but was re-released on 3/7/64 and got to #41. Another Beatles' song, Something, was #3 on the HT but also #17 on the AC, the ONLY Beatles song to reach the AC in the decade. Also, Something was #273 on the Rolling Stone list and #17 on the BMI rating.

Nat "King Cole's Ramblin' Rose was #1 for 5 weeks in 1962 on the AC charts, #2 for 2 weeks on the HT chart AND #7 on the RB charts. Similarly, the 1960 Elvis Presley hit Stuck on You was #1 for 4 weeks on the HT, #6 on the RB(!) and #27 on the CW. I note these last two examples to describe the universality of music, and why I was never able to organize my albums by "genre".

Additionally, the book lists all the songs alphabetically, so I can see that All My Loving charted for the Beatles, the Chipmunks, Jimmy Griffin and the Hollyridge Strings.

There are three songs that made it to #1 on three of the four charts
I Can't Stop Lovin' You by Ray Charles (1962): RB (10 weeks), HT (5 weeks) and AC (5 weeks); #161 on the Rolling Stone list, #40 on the BMI.
Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean (1961): AC (9 weeks), HT (5 weeks), CW (2 weeks).
Honey by Bobby Goldsboro (1968): HT (6 weeks), CW (3 weeks), AC (2 weeks).

There's is only one song that made the Top 10 in all four charts, HT, RB, CW, and AC. Any guesses?

This is a really fun book, at least for a music junkie of this period such as I. For more information, go to

(This was an unpaid, unsolicited announcement for a book I'm loving.)


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Forgetting 9/11

Even three or four years after September 11, 2001, there was this public conversation that people were "forgetting" 9/11. Or more precisely, had "forgotten the lessons of 9/11."

I was working in a 14-story building in downtown Albany in September 2001. It was a beautiful, virtually perfect day, weatherwise, in the Northeast.
About 8:55 a.m., someone told me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Someone from the office across the hall had a TV - we didn't. I looked, but no one reporting on it had any information. One of my colleagues hoped that it wouldn't be like the John F. Kennedy, Jr. airplane crash a couple months earlier, where ABC News, for one reported on air for SEVEN HOURS that the plane was missing and was feared to have crashed, and not all that much else, before the crash was finally confirmed. I went back to work.

To my mind, it really means that those people are really chastising the actions and beliefs of their fellow Americans who feel that the activities of the government since that date might not be in the best interest of the United States, whether it be the Iraq war or the prisoners at Gitmo.

Ten minutes later, someone came in and reported that a SECOND plane had hit the WTC, and this time I watched until I had seen the infamous video about five times. Then I left again, ostensibly to do work. But I didn't. I heard someone's radio on, which is how I heard about the Pentagon crash, so I went back to the TV, saw it, but unlike my co-workers, retreated back to my office, where I hear on the radio that all planes were being grounded. Wild speculation took place that there were still eight to 12 planes in the air, unaccounted for; in fact, there was only one.

It seems as though, in purporting to be fighting for freedom in Iraq, there is, ironically, less freedom at home due to the USA "PATRIOT" Act and like governmental activities.

After hearing of the collapse of the South Tower around 10 a.m., I went back to the TV. The speculation of the fatalities were awful. Then the other tower collapsed in front of me.
One odd thing about that day was that I was supposed to be on a plane to Dallas the very next day. One of my colleagues was grounded in Little Rock while my boss had already made it to Dallas and they were conferring about what to do. One of my Albany colleagues had the bizarre notion of driving to Dallas. I finally talked with my boss, who said that he didn't think we were in any danger. Actually, it wasn't until later when I discovered that one of the planes was actually in Albany air space that I thought that maybe we COULD have been in danger. In any case, the conference was canceled.

There was a guy I knew rather slightly from my State Data Center Affiliates meetings who died in the Twin Towers. He was a quiet but rather pleasant man who tried, more or less unsuccessfully, to teach me how to use a particular type of software.

We were allowed to go home, which was just as well, for we weren't doing any work. I used to ride my bicycle under something called the Empire State Plaza, as a lesser incline than State Street. I rode past a policeman. I was past him by 20 yards when he called to me; maybe he should be checking me out?
Then for reasons I cannot explain, I went to Music Shack and bought the new Bob Dylan album Love and Theft, which I had preordered and that was released that day; didn't actually LISTEN to it for well over a week. I watched TV there, then went home and watched for nine more hours. Starting the next day, I limited myself to one hour per day for a while, except that weekend, when the late Peter Jennings did a piece trying to explain the events to children.

I don't believe most people have "forgotten" 9/11. They may have come to different conclusions as a result of it, but I could no more "forget" 9/11 than those of an earlier generation could "forget" Pearl Harbor. But I think we need to create an atmosphere whereby disagreeing with government response to 9/11 is not treated as a treasonous act.

At the conference I attended last week, Hiram Smith of Franklin Covey spoke about loss, the notion of bad things happening to good people, and he specifically mentioned 9/11. He noted that you can't avoid pain, but you can choose to avoid misery. I'll have to ponder that one.

Meanwhile, here are some newspaper headlines from 9/12/01.