The season started?

So, we’re still in the offseason…

April Fools!

Sorry, that was completely lame, I know. Let me get on to the real business, the brilliant analysis that you, my faithful readers, yearn for after a very exciting Opening Day in the Major Leagues.

Let me start by saying that our pitching (particularly the bullpen, particularly Rafael Perez) had better be better than they were today. And I’m sure they will be, but parts of today felt like 2004 and 2006 when it felt like no lead was safe.

From the second batter of the game, you could tell things weren’t quite in sync with our pitching, and the third batter of the game, Jim Thome hit his first home run of the season, a prototypical, 415-foot blast to right center. He hit another one later in the game, and I’ll say this: Thome looks good this year. Both home runs were hit off of Sabathia, a lefty, off of whom he had never got a hit (and then later in the game he hit a liner into the left-center field alley that Jason Michaels was barely able to run down). Thome looks about 5 years younger, somehow, and after watching today I’m looking for him to put up big numbers.

The Indians answered back after three consecutive singles by Martinez, Peralta and Garko, and after Cabrera hit into an RBI fielder’s choice, Franklin Gutierrez hit a curveball into the bleachers for a field goal. All of those players, particularly Gutierrez, I think will have good years and build upon what they started last year.

Later in the inning, Victor Martinez injured his hamstring sliding into second base. He walked off of the field okay, but hamstrings are tricky, especially for catchers, and I hope that injury isn’t one that takes him out of the action for very long.

Some mild controversy arose in the eighth after the White Sox hit consecutive doubles against Rafael Betancourt (who was really the only Indians pitcher to consistently throw strikes today). After an intentional walk loaded the bases, there was a play at the plate where Peralta’s throw home was wide, forcing Kelly Shoppach to make a sweep tag of Joe Crede coming home. I saw the replay – it’s hard to tell if the tag ever landed. But more importantly, Gerry Davis (the home plate umpire) was in no position to make that call correctly. Nothing he could do about that, but from his angle it would have been easy to say the tag hit Crede. The very next play, Jim Thome hit a broken bat grounder to second (the only ball he didn’t hit hard today) which Asdrubal Cabrera threw to Peralta to start the double play. Peralta was able to get one, but got tripped up around second because White Sox baserunner Orlando Cabrera attempted a red-card slide tackle. No question that was interference. I heard in various places that the White Sox TV broadcasters were screaming about how they got hosed on that call, but after looking at the replay I don’t think you can make that argument (even Ozzie Guillen conceded after the game that it was interference).

And in the end, Casey Blake (hear that Cara? CASEY BLAKE.) hit what turned into the game-winning double high off the wall in left, driving in three. After that interference call rightly went the Indians way in the top of the eighth I kind of knew the Indians would find a way to pull it out, and Casey Blake got the job done.

In the ninth, Joe Borowski didn’t get me any ERA fantasy points, but he did get the save, and that’s really all he needs to do. The save is just that – you’re saving your team from losing.

There were other games going on throughout the majors, I’ll touch on them a bit:

  • Brewers @ Cubs: I had this game on in my commercial surfing lineup. Anyone else notice how dark Wrigley looked today? That’s the darkest I’ve ever seen a baseball stadium in the day. I think it’s because they don’t turn the lights on at Wrigley for afternoon games. Kosuke Fukudome’s three run home run tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. The Brewers won, 4-3.
  • Mets @ Marlins: Some math for you: Good Pitcher + National League = Great Pitcher. Hence, Santana was dominant today against one of the worst lineups in the major leagues. Ho-hum.
  • Royals @ Tigers: Top to bottom, there is no getting around the fact that the AL Central is the best division in baseball. This is evidenced by the fact that the Royals, the projected last-place finishers by pretty much everyone, are actually a pretty good baseball team, and managed to beat the Tigers today. Alex Gordon hit an absolute bomb in this game.

Some other interesting tidbits:

  • I used to think that Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak would never be broken and was a once-in-a-lifetime anomaly. Apparently, it’s not. A really interesting article says that in pretty much every simulation of Major League Baseball for the last century, someone had a hitting streak of similar length, and one went as high as 109 games!
  • Quote of the Day, speaking of Joe DiMaggio:
    There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time. I owe him my best.

    Joe DiMaggio, CF, New York Yankees

For those of you who enjoy my political musings more than my baseball musings, I’ll be posting something from the political arena hopefully later today. Until then, go Tribe and boo Red Sox!

Play Ball!

Well, it’s finally here: Opening Day 2008. Actually, it’s Opening Morning 2008, but nonetheless, in about 10 hours the Indians will take the field against the White Sox. But today is far bigger than a game in Cleveland: Opening Day is taking place all over the country. In New York, the Yankees will open their season against the Blue Jays one last time. In Los Angeles, Joe Torre will begin another chapter of his Hall of Fame career. In Chicago, the centennial season begins as the Cubs play the Brewers and try to end a 100-year World Series drought.

And actually, as you know, the season has already begun. First it was in Japan at about this time a week ago (timecheck: it’s 5:43 AM), and last night the Washington Nationals began a new era in the nation’s capital with a win over the Braves. The Japan games were nice – kind of a gimmick, and I did enjoy seeing the Red Sox lose – but I have to feel like the Red Sox feel like the real season begins tomorrow.

I caught most of the game in D.C. tonight, and for what my opinion’s worth, Nationals Park looks like a great baseball stadium. However, did anyone notice that the behind-home-plate camera (the one that is usually on-screen when a ground ball is hit to short, for example) was high? Kind of felt like we were looking at the action from a blimp. I guess I could get used to that if I watched those broadcasts all the time, but I wasn’t able to judge the height of a line drive and the speed of a grounder as easily as I am from a Progressive Field broadcast.

In the end, last night, Ryan Zimmerman, the franchise third basemen for the Nationals, christened the new park appropriately with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. You could kind of feel that it would happen that way once that passed ball slipped through Lo Duca’s legs in the top of the ninth, and pretty much as soon as that ball was hit I could tell it was gone. Anyway, good for them. If you don’t remember, the Indians opened at Jacobs Field much the same way, with a game winning single in the 11th inning against the Mariners (Wayne Kirby anyone?).

My first Opening Day that I cared about was in 1996, so I guess this year is my 13th Opening Day. I remember a few of them, but a lot of them seem to run together as many childhood memories seem to do. Most of these are Home Openers, so they might not have been the first game of the season, but you get the idea:

  • 1996: Opening Day was snowed out, but rescheduled for the day after and the Indians lost to the Yankees 8-0. I remember reading it in the paper the next day but don’t think I saw any of the game.
  • 1999: I remember watching this Opening Day in science class in 7th grade… don’t really remember what happened, but I think Fryman hit a grand slam.
  • 2005: I remember looking forward to this Opening Day a lot and I was pretty let down when the Indians couldn’t even score a run.
  • 2006: This was the first year I actually went to Opening Day. My friend Alex was trying to scalp our last ticket until a few minutes before the game started so I was about 10 seconds away from missing the first pitch. We had terrible seats (relatively; most seats in Progressive Field are pretty good) but the Indians won 12-6 against the Twins. Travis Hafner hit two monster home runs, Casey Blake hit a grand slam, and it was overall a pretty fun day. I think that day was also the day I got caught in my first downpour here at Case so I ended up wearing shorts (my only dry pants) to the game…it was cold.
  • 2007: I’ve been to over 50 games at Progressive Field; I don’t know that I’ll ever forget this game. Seeing snow fall through the architecture at the stadium was just surreal; and with the way the events transpired throughout the day and the weekend, you kind of got the feeling it would be a special year for the Indians.

I’ve noticed Opening Day is kind of a singularity. Everything is at 0: 0 wins, 0 losses, 0 hits, 0 at-bats, 0 runs, 0 home runs. If you tried to calculate a batting average at the beginning of the year, you’d end up calculating 0/0, which is one of those undefined values in math and you’d have to end up using L’Hopital’s Rule (and you’d undoubtedly find that the average is 1 – no matter how many times I got 0/0, the answer seems to always eventually get to 1).

I’ve been looking forward to this day for almost 5 months – since the end of the 2007 baseball season. I’ll be watching the Yankees/Blue Jays game on ESPN at 1 PM and then switching over to the Indians at 3 (and if you’re reading this Mom, I will go to class… maybe…). So in closing, good luck, go Tribe, boo Red Sox and play ball!

I’ve seen a million faces…

Hello from the first floor of Kelvin Smith Library in the “heart of campus” of Case Western Reserve University! It’s sunny, about 40 degrees, and baseball season is less than 36 hours away from getting underway!

  • On that note, I was watching the Indians play their final exhibition game of the spring thanks to a free preview of MLB.tv (don’t get me started…):


    It was raining in Atlanta (actually, thunderstorming, which was kind of cool) so rather than risk injury to players they put the game on rain delay. Now, for those of you who don’t know, MLB.tv basically rebroadcasts the local network’s broadcast over the Internet, so I was watching the PeachtreeTV (I don’t know either, I guess Atlanta is like that) broadcast, and they switched into the rain delay programming…which was a rerun of Cheers. That’s right: for a minute (until MLB.tv realized what was happening) I was watching a rerun of Cheers on MLB.tv. The irony is amazing.

  • In other sports news, the latest “Cinderella Story” Davidson destroyed Wisconsin last night. I watched most of that game (from a random bar in Parma) – it’d be pretty tough to beat a team that was raining down threes like Davidson was. They play UCLA next, so that story is probably over.
  • And now a message to the voters that will be deciding our next president: you’re not voting for the candidate’s pastor, you’re voting for that candidate. Look, what Jeremiah Wright said (and perhaps what he believes) is wrong, but that doesn’t mean a) that Barack Obama believes the same thing by extension, and b) that the guy doesn’t have other good qualities that makes him a guy Obama would have hung around with all those years. Obama’s been defending himself since those videos surfaced – and he’s not even in them!
  • From the Clinton campaign, Chelsea Clinton defended herself the other day against a Monica Lewinsky question. Basically, it was a fair question, but in Chelsea’s defense (she’s not as evil as her parents yet, it’s easier to defend her) it was a fair answer. I don’t know that Hillary has ever answered that question, but it’s certainly not Chelsea’s responsibility.
  • While the Democrats are bickering about seemingly everything, John McCain is, all of the sudden, becoming less annoying. The fact is that he shouldn’t even be close in this race – he supports a war that most Americans do not support and on the number one issue (apparently) to most Americans, the economy, he “doesn’t know that much”. But the longer the Democrats fight this out, the better he does.

    That’s NOT to say that I agree with Howard Dean (YEAHHHHHHHH!), that we should end the “fight” before the convention. Even worse, there is speculation within this piece that if the Democrats don’t resolve this that Al Gore will be at the top of the ticket with Obama or Clinton as the Vice President. First, how does that solve anything? Then they both are still fighting about who gets to be the VP. Secondly…are you kidding? What’s the point of a primary if we can just choose a new candidate at the convention? It’s like Al Gore is the father figure of the Democratic party (I don’t really know why, he hasn’t held public office in eight years) and he’d be saying, “well, you kids can’t settle this yourself so I’m going to settle it for you.”

  • Saw this article on the front of CNN.com the other day. Now, yes, you feel sorry for the woman in the article, but notice a couple things. First, she somehow can afford all of that nice furniture and lamps in the background but not food for her family? And how is it possible that you go from $70000 a year to, “weeks later”, having no money for food? This is the point of having savings accounts and not racking up debt! As we enter these hard times with the economy, make sure you know what you’re reading, what the angle of the reporter is, and think about it a bit before jumping to any conclusions.
  • Finally, the quote of the day:
    MICHAEL: We can no longer be friends and when we talk about things here we must only discuss,ah, work associated things, and uh, we can consider this my retirement from comedy and in the future if I want to say something funny or witty or do an impression I will no longer, EVER, do any of those things.
    JIM: Does that include “That’s what she said?”
    MICHAEL: Mmm-hmm…yes.
    JIM: Wow that is really hard…you really think you can go all day long?…well, you always left me satisfied and smiling, so…
    MICHAEL: That’s what she said!

Hope everyone has a happy Saturday and a nice weekend!

The roster is set

The Indians have finalized their Opening Day roster, sending Tom Mastny to the minors to make room for newcomer Craig Breslow. I’m not sure I like this move (or, for that matter, the Cliff Lee, David Dellucci or Jorge Julio moves), but we’ll see how it (and the others) pan out. I’m just hoping Ben Francisco does get a chance at some point this year, as I think he’s the Asdrubal Cabrera of 2008.

I also hope the Indians finally, at some point, get rid of the dead weight that is Andy Marte. Look, Mark, we know you have your pride and don’t want to admit that trade was a failure; but in case you haven’t noticed, it hasn’t worked out so well for the Red Sox either, and we still have Kelly Shoppach, who is probably one of the top 10 catchers in the league and he doesn’t even play every day for us.

Given the choice, I’d much rather see Josh Barfield, because even if Barfield is hitting .050 as a fifth infielder, he plays outstanding defense and runs well! You certainly can’t claim the latter for Marte, and given what’s happened the last couple days you can’t claim the former either.

And by the way, in other baseball-related news, the Red Sox lost this morning. I love the city of Boston, I may want to live there at some point in my life, but today seems a little sweeter because the Red Sox lost. And now that that series is over, the baseball world can go back to normal and play the games at night.

Windows 7: A modular approach

I posted yesterday about how I installed Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista. I imagine that any of you reading this know that Windows Vista will eventually be retired, just as XP was before Vista and 2000 was before XP. The internal working name for the next version of Windows is Windows 7, which is set to be released sometime in 2010 (there was talk of 2009, but thankfully Microsoft looks like they’re going to delay it long enough to get it right).

Obviously, I’m not writing an encyclopedia here, so why am I writing this post? Because multiple sources are speculating that Windows 7 will be module-based. A module-based OS will be familiar to those of you that have used a fairly modern version of Linux like Ubuntu or Fedora, which uses something called “packages” to customize an installation and add software if needed. The idea is that this way, users get what they want and nothing that they don’t want, and can add features later.

Windows has actually had “modules” of some sort for some time, albeit not visible to the user. In Windows Server 2003, something called “roles” was introduced. Users could specify what roles a given server would fill, and then the proper software would be installed. Roles became a bigger part of Server 2008; when you install Server 2008 only the core stuff is installed and then you pick stuff to add.

But for the consumer versions of Windows, which obviously have to cater to the lesser users, the concept of modules and roles has been mostly avoided (except maybe the “Add/Remove Windows Components” dialog box). Evidently this is set to change in Windows 7.

Let me just say that if this is done right, a modular Windows 7 is a fantastic idea. Most of the complaints with Vista is that the operating system is too bloated, comes with too much bloatware and is too expensive. With a modular implementation, all of these problems could be erased.

Here’s what I envision: you log in to a Windows Live site, and click around until you get to a page that lets you purchase a copy of Windows 7. Here, you have a few options. You can choose from a few pre-set module configurations that are perhaps a tad discounted, or you can choose to customize your copy of Windows 7. Also, you’d be able to have the box/disc shipped to your house for an additional fee or simply download an ISO image.

Under customization, you’d be able to select which components you want, with only a minimal core of modules that are required (kernel, networking, a “module manager”, etc.). Some modules would cost money (perhaps like Windows Movie Maker or Windows Media Center), while others would be free but optional (like IE). Once you’re done making your selections, an automated validation bot would go through your selections and make sure everything looked okay, perhaps make recommendations, and then send your selections to a server that would generate the ISO you need. I imagine creating an ISO would take a bit of time (even if it was done dynamically), so you would be directed to an optional registration page, and then you’d be provided with a link to download the ISO and a key. At any time in the future, you’d be able to return to this Live website to make changes to that ISO (and pay the difference if needed), order copies of the CD (with the same key), and most importantly, see your validation key. Once you install the OS, the “module manager” available within Windows would keep track of which modules are installed and allow you to purchase more if needed.

Now where it would really get interesting is if Dell and HP built something into their websites to allow you to customize your Windows OEM installation from there, so that way if you didn’t want some of the bloatware Dell and HP provide, you could simply choose to leave it out.

So why is that better? Overall, everything could be cheaper: only pay for what you want! I think things could be easier too, even for the mere mortals, because instead of buying a copy of Office 2010 or whatever, we could simply package it with our Windows ISO for a lower price because it is in a bundle.

I hope this is how things work out for Windows 7, but hopefully this post has enlightened those of you in the dark as to how powerful a modular OS can be. To 2010!

SP1

Forgot to mention this earlier, but I’m happy to say that I installed Windows Vista Service Pack 1 last night:


The installation was pretty smooth, it seemed to take about 15 minutes to decompress everything (which it did from within Windows) and then it installed in about 40 minutes after a reboot. Everything came up as it was supposed to, and none of my custom firewall extensions got disabled (as other Windows Updates have done). One weird thing is that I never saw this update as an optional Windows Update from within the Windows Vista interface, but actually had to download the standalone installer from the Download Center. I’m told this can happen for a variety of reasons, but I’m not sure what they are.

As for performance, I haven’t really noticed any difference (although I haven’t been benchmarking file-copying or network shares). I’ll keep you posted as I experience more with SP1, as its supposed to get pushed to all Vista users as a recommended update in April.

The commencement

…of the 2008 Major League Baseball season! Yes, I woke up at 6 AM to watch the first few pitches of what I hope will be an outstanding season, and then went back to sleep.

  • The Boston Red Sox are alone on top of the AL East, after a win earlier this morning in Japan against Oakland. Oakland, by all rights, should have won that game. Huston Street, the closer for the Athletics, is a good pitcher and I don’t expect him to blow many more saves this year, but as it happened, the backup right fielder Brandon Moss tied the game in the ninth with a solo homerun, opening the gate for the return of Manny Ramirez to untie the game in the tenth with a two-run double.

    We’ve barely started the 2008 season and already Manny Ramirez has done two things which are completely stupid: 1) on hitting the double, he stood at home plate for a while and watched as his majestic homerun hit the ground before the wall and then realized he should run somewhere, and 2) when asked about being named “Hero of the Game” and getting a check for $10000, said “That’s going to be some gas money. I love it.” This is fourth highest paid player in baseball, he gets paid more than $10000 an inning. Ugh. But at least it brings me to my next point…

  • For every time the Red Sox lose this season, I’m going to donate one dollar to my sister‘s El Salvador fund. I encourage you to do the same, perhaps with a charity closer to you, or maybe in a different amount. It makes rooting against the Red Sox much more fun.
  • From the “ruh-roh” department, Facebook was hacked. I haven’t been on Facebook in a little over six months now (mostly because I’m jealous of Mark Zuckerberg), but I realize I’ve said that Facebook is a much more secure application than Myspace or similar sites. However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect! It’s common sense that the more features you have in an application, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and I guess that’s what happened with Facebook. Never fear though, apparently the hole was plugged in less than an hour.
  • I generally enjoy following politics but lately it seems like it’s getting more and more depressing. I’m getting tired of the “Obama campaign” and the “Clinton campaign” fighting it out; why can’t “Obama” say something to “Clinton” and vice versa?
  • In happier news, the Indians are only six days away from Opening Day. The weather for Opening Day appears to be getting better, which would be nice. Also, the rotation was finalized yesterday with Cliff Lee getting the 5th spot. I hope Cliff Lee proves me wrong, but for some reason he doesn’t seem like the type of pitcher the Indians need. Also from that article, Aaron Fultz is out, and I can’t say I’ll miss him all that much.

    I caught a little of the game yesterday and a little of the game today: yesterday Jake Westbrook threw six perfect innings against the Braves, and today, last time I checked, Paul Byrd hadn’t allowed an earned run against the vaunted Yankees.

    But for some reason, Andy Marte is still on the big league roster. TRADE HIM! I watched him boot two balls in 4 innings today, and both weren’t especially hard grounders to field. The defense I could forgive if the guy could hit, but I’m not seeing a lot of hope there either. Everyone talks about trying to avoid another “Brandon Phillips”-like trade with Marte, where he would go to a new team and then tear it up. First of all, Brandon Phillips had a decent year with Cincinatti when he was traded (2006) but wasn’t quite as impressive last year. It’s not like we lost a heck of a lot. And secondly, we have two second basemen who I would take over Phillips any day. Same goes for Casey Blake over Andy Marte (and maybe Jhonny Peralta over Andy Marte).

  • Caught Britney Spears’ guest star appearance on How I Met Your Mother last night, and I’ll say this: her role was mercifully small.
  • And now the quote of the day, this time talking to our friend George Costanza:
    I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. What were you thinking? What was going on in your mind? Artistic integrity? Where, where did you come up with that? You’re not artistic and you have no integrity. You know you really need some help. A regular psychiatrist couldn’t even help you. You need to go to like Vienna or something. You know what I mean? You need to get involved at the University level. Like where Freud studied and have all those people looking at you and checking up on you. That’s the kind of help you need. Not the once a week for eighty bucks. No. You need a team. A team of psychiatrists working round the clock thinking about you, having conferences, observing you, like the way they did with the Elephant Man. That’s what I’m talking about because that’s the only way you’re going to get better.

    Jerry, Seinfeld

I think that’s all from within the legendary walls of Case Western Reserve University. Stay well, go Tribe, and boo Red Sox!

Early bedtime

Going to bed early tonight, probably because I’m on four hours of sleep and unlike my parents (cough) and my sister (cough, cough) I never got a nap today. But perhaps a quick post of the weekend’s events would do us all well.

  • March Madness is down to the Sweet 16… and I still don’t care. I don’t know what it is this year, but I have had no urge to watch any of the games, in fact, I’ve become readdicted to Seinfeld instead.
  • Curtis Granderson, the center fielder for the Detroit Tigers, won’t be starting on Opening Day. It’s too bad, and I hope he returns soon – he’s a great baseball player and a real class act, not to mention a huge part of the rivalry between the Indians and the Tigers.
  • Watched Beauty and the Beast with my parents, sister and little cousins on Saturday evening, and let me say this: if there’s one thing Steve Jobs has done right, it’s Pixar. The movie was good, but I think I’d pick pretty much any Pixar movie over any standard Disney movie. Mulan was pretty good, and Aladdin was also good…and come to think of it, I really liked Tarzan too. But compared to my obsession with Ratatouille and The Incredibles, no contest.
  • A couple events of note in the political world. First, every candidate’s passport has been illegally investigated. Personally, I wasn’t aware a passport was such a private document. The fact it was viewed without authorization is apalling (and seriously, how do we protect these things if they’re so secret), but I’ve never really put much stock in my passport holding crucial information. Maybe that’s because I’ve only left the country once.

    Second, Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama. Now here’s a guy who needs a lesson on timing. If he really wanted to make a difference in the campaign, he should have endorsed Obama when there were actually voters trying to make up their minds. The next primary of note is Pennsylvania, and my guess is that 90% of the people in Pennsylvania don’t know or don’t care who Bill Richardson is. I remember watching him in the debates, and of all the democratic candidates, he looked the least confortable on that stage and struck me as the least likely to become President (well, besides Kucinich).

  • Opening Day is 8 days away! To get ready for the big day, the Indians have redesigned Indians.com which looks pretty nice. The weather forecast for Opening Day looks…well, it looks like Opening Day in Cleveland:

    Well, it could be worse:
  • On to the quote of the day:
    Cops. I don’t even care about cops. I wanna’ see more garbage men. It’s much more important. All I wanna see are garbage trucks, garbage cans and garbage men. You’re never gonna’ stop crime, we should at least be clean.

    George Costanza, Seinfeld

Should be an interesting week. And by the way, for those of you reading this at Case, if you’re sick, don’t come near me. In fact, quit reading this blog, I don’t want to catch anything.

Global warming can kiss my…

Isn’t it too late in the year for it to be this cold? According to the spyware-laden, ever-annoying Weather.com, the average for this time of year is about 45 degrees. Today’s high? 35 degrees. At least it’s sunny. Better save the snow for 10 days from today, Opening Day against the Chicago White Sox! On to the links then:

  • Our favorite Cupertino corporation, Apple Inc., is in talks with the major record labels to create a one-time premium alternative to iTunes, allowing a user to download all they want for a one-time fee. Can you say cha-ching? The thinking behind this logic is that the average user buys 20 songs on iTunes, meaning that charging a $40 premium on top of the purchase of a new iPod is a win for Apple.

    There are two things wrong with this statement, the first is that I’ve purchased over $300 worth of music from iTunes in the last 18 months. If I get access to a plan that allows me unlimited access, I think I’d pay up to $150 on the spot and I’d still beat the system.

    The second problem with that is that Apple assumes that removing a per-song fee will not change users’ downloading habits. Let me ask you something: if you go to a restaurant like Don Pablo’s or Max and Erma’s, do you usually get dessert? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. I don’t, because normally I’m full and paying $5 for a small piece of cake turns a $10 meal into a $15 meal pretty quickly. An extra piece of cake when I’m already pretty full isn’t worth a 50% bump in the check (at least). However, if I go to a place like Hometown Buffet, not only will I get dessert, I’ll usually get three. Why? I’ve already paid for that dessert whether I eat it or not; why not enjoy it?

    The same goes for music. If I have the unlimited plan, any questioning I have about “eh…will I really listen to ‘KISS: Live In Detroit’ enough to purchase the entire 5-disc set?’ If I’m paying $40 for it, probably not. But if I’ve already paid once…wait for it…keep waiting…

    You pull the trigger of my…. LOVE GUN!

  • Barack Obama gave a speech on race and the influence it’s had on this campaign. I’ve read and watched it; probably top five of all speeches I’ve heard in my lifetime. Without coming out and saying it, Obama essentially said it was ridiculous that race was even an issue in this race, and he’s completely right.

    But he’s missing another aspect of diversity: the role religion still has in politics is pretty sad. “But Jimmy,” you say, “how could you say that after supporting Mike Huckabee?” I think religion is pretty unimportant when it comes to choosing a President. Ultimately, you’re not voting for your God, because if God were running for President I’m pretty sure he’d win every time. You’re voting for the person and how he will run the country. If that doesn’t make any sense, I’ll put it another way: I would have still supported Mike Huckabee if he wasn’t Christian but was still the same person. Of course, your religion generally tends to define who you are, so it’d be very hard for Huckabee to be the same candidate without his religion.

    A more relevant example is the allegation that some have made that Barack Obama is a Muslim. My response to that is: so what? What’s he going to do, call up his buddy Osama and say, “hey, I’m on the inside, they’re trusting me with everything! We’re so in!”? Of course not. The view that all Muslims are terrorists is ridiculous in this day and age.

    When you’re electing a president, you shouldn’t elect someone who follows the same religion as you because they follow the same religion as you. You should elect someone who will defend to the death your right to follow whatever religion (or lack thereof) you want to follow.

  • I realize as I type that that I’ve never typed my interpretation of “one nation, under God” in a place that everyone can access; at some point, I’ll have to do that.
  • Onto the wide world of sports. The NCAA March Madness tournament has begun, and right now I still have no idea who’s won any games. I find that I really don’t care this year, for whatever reason. My pick is for North Carolina to win it all, but I haven’t filled out a bracket. “March Madness” seems like its getting dangerously close to “April Fever”, doesn’t it? Every year it seems to start later and later. Why is this? Why can’t basketball just go quietly into their offseason like the rest of the sports? NBA playoffs last like a month and a half, and March Madness keeps getting later and longer. Basketball is, to me, nothing more than a filler between the end of football season and the beginning of the baseball season.
  • I have been watching more of the Cavs games lately, and I came to a realization. You know that guy LeBron James? He’s pretty good.
  • Both Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey especially pitched well last night. Dear Mark Shaprio: Take advantage of the lack of starting pitching around the rest of the league and please, please, please trade Cliff Lee to someone who is desperate.
  • Onto the quote of the day:
    Just remember, when you control the mail, you control… information.
    Newman, Seinfeld

    If George is the best sitcom character of all time, Newman has got to be in the top three. How anyone kept a straight face when he was in the room during shooting is beyond me.

Finally, I’m looking for a new travel coffee mug. I’d prefer one that is mostly metal (I’m not a big fan of plastic) and one that’s constructed well enough to not let any coffee drip out inadvertently. I’m willing to pay considerable cash for it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Just kidding, one more thing. I’m noticing that I’m getting viewers from all over the country now, but I’d like to know more about who’s reading this blog. So if you’re reading this blog and you like (or hate) what you read, leave a comment somewhere with your first name and location.

Until next time.

Five years gone

It’s a rainy Wednesday morning and here I am, at Case Western Reserve University, with a little more than a year to go before I graduate. 5 years ago, where was I? I was just thinking about it this past week. I was a sophomore in high school, pit band was just finishing up, the marching band was considering going to Florida, and a pivotal stage of my life was about to begin. And then, five years ago tonight, the United States began a “shock and awe” campaign (remember that phrase?) against Iraq and the war was on.

At the time, I remember Bush had pretty high approval ratings. And how could he not? We were a little more than a year and a half removed from the most devastating terrorist attack in our history, and George Bush had united the country. In 2003, things were only starting to get back to normal in terms of the normal political divisions, and so when Colin Powell presented the case against Iraq to the UN on Febrary 5, 2003, most of the people who saw it thought Iraq was a dangerous country. The UN said we shouldn’t go, Barack Obama said we shouldn’t go, but pretty much everyone else, given the evidence we had available at the time, said invading Iraq was in the United States’ best interest. Remember how at the time there was actually considerable support for us to pull out of the UN? Of course, the French didn’t really want us to go either, and countless jokes were born (“Freedom” fries, anyone?).

When we invaded Iraq, President Bush warned us that it may be a costly, lengthy and frustrating conflict. However, most Americans, given the alternative of facing mobile biological weapons labs, would rather fight.

And here we are, five years later (“Five years gone” is a play on the Heroes episode of the same name), still in Iraq, but more divided than ever. In those five years, we’ve lost over 4000 soldiers, trillions of dollars, and the unity that we had in 2003. Books like Curveball (which I’ve read) and Against All Enemies have been published chronicling the intelligence community’s and the Bush administration’s failures in Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction have been found, either because they were never there or the haphazard initial search effort allowed the Iraqis to move them.

I believe that given the evidence as presented in 2003, the President was faced with almost a non-decision to invade. Barack Obama has claimed repeatedly that invading was the wrong decision, but it’s considerably easier to say that now than it was back then. Honestly, I think both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama would have invaded in 2003 – its easy to make a speech as a freshman legislator denouncing the war, but to actually say to the American people, “sure, the CIA says they have weapons, but what the heck, we’ll gamble” is a tough proposition.

Now, what have we accomplished in those 5 years? For one, we’ve overtaken a violent dictatorship and replaced it with a US-friendly democracy. We’ve installed hospitals, power lines, water lines, and in general made Iraq a better place to live. We’ve captured hundreds of terrorists, killed thousands more, and we’ve done so without resorting to tactics that the terrorists use against us. US presence in Iraq has, in my opinion, forced Iran to cooperate with the United States, at least for the timebeing. No, we haven’t found any WMDs, but we have accomplished so many other things.

And even if invading was the wrong decision, which I don’t believe it was, it’s the decision we have to live with. Obama and Clinton (and McCain) both talk about what they have done – that’s not important anymore. Let’s hear about what should be done next. None of the three candidates, in my opinion, would actually pull out of Iraq. Sure, strategy may be altered or political pressure may come to the forefront, but none of the candidates wants to be the President that “gave up”. Pulling out at this point would be a colossal mistake.

I have a family member who is serving in Iraq, so its not like I have no connection to the soldiers there. I think if you survey most of our Armed Forces, they would say “let us win”. He’s over there on his third tour of duty, and thus I’d imagine he’s a little sick of it (I would be too). But I think he, as well as most others in the Armed Forces, know that victory in Iraq is critical.

I’m thankful for every day that I wake up in this country because of what our Armed Forces fight for every day. I hope one day, Iraqis will be able to wake up to that same feeling. On a closing note, even if you disagree with the war, the soldiers and citizens in Iraq deserve our support and our gratitude (which is something both Obama and Clinton have said and I agree with completely).

And I’m proud to be in America,
Where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
And gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up, next to you,
And defend her still today,
Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the U.S.A.