February 2009


Okay, so I think that Geoff Baker is a good journalist, don’t get me wrong. I think that beat writing for a sports team is one of the most thankless jobs out there: you don’t usually get to do much more than be the mouthpiece of whichever player, front office person, groundskeeper, or concession stand attendee who wants to give you “inside information”. You can’t just throw that kind of thing away, since fans are reading you primarily for that inside stuff, but at the same time you’re positioned so inside that it’s hard sometimes to talk about something that’s flatly absurd.

That being said, Dave and Derek over at ussmariner.com continue to make questionable moves. Over on their blog, they’ve now banned what they term “Baker bashing”. This coming from the people who say that people who do not vote for their choice of who should be in the Hall of Fame ought to have their BBWAA status revoked. It’s just stupidity.

Whatever issues you have with how Geoff is doing his job, USSM will not be the host for you to air those to the world. I don’t share your judgments about his character, his motives, or the quality of his writing. I agree that he looks a bit like an Osmond, but that’s the extent to which criticisms of Baker himself will be allowed. That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to expose the flaws in his logic if he proposes trading Gregory Halman for Eric Gagne this summer or that we’re going to give the clubhouse issues the same amount of credence he does, but we’re putting an end to your ability to be openly hostile in our comments section.

I hate the judging of other peoples motivations, and the assumptions about their character that go along with those judgments. Just as we reject the “Ichiro is selfish because he doesn’t dive” rhetoric, I also reject the “Baker is intentionally creating stories in order to further his agenda” stuff. You cannot judge the motives of another person, whether it’s a player, a beat writer, or me. Stop trying.

***************

Okay, that’s all well and good, but it raises the question of what you want your blog to be about, Dave and Derek. You say that you want this to be some sort of baseball classroom in which you dispense your knowledge to all who will listen. The problem is, too much of your blog has become people saying “oh guys I loooove yoooou and you are so right!” and finding creative ways to agree with you. Sure, you have the right to ban people who disagree who can’t come up with a good argument. Nobody is arguing that. Having the right to do something does not make it right.

If, on the other hand, the point of your blog is to provide a media outlet for your views, well, you’re doing it right. Banning dissent makes your point look more forceful, I’m sure, the same way Pravda looked more forceful than the New York Times during the Cold War. The complete lack of dissent makes people like me kind of scoff when you talk about being controversial, but then again that was how things were with Pravda as well.

I’ll continue to read the blog, of course, because for the most part it’s thoughtful and well written, but this is just a stupid, stupid way to direct the flow of your reader comments.

Update 8:39am

I had a couple things I wanted to add:

1. The tenor of the post – you attack the subject, not the man – is a good one, but the fact that USSM feels they have to bring this up makes me wonder how attached they really are to the “no ad hominems” rule. A lot of complaining about this particular incident, methinks.

1a. And I think that a big part of why they’re complaining is that they essentially directed their readership into attacking Baker. Statheads (I know this because I am one of them) have a bit of disdain for the the team chemistry arguments that make their way into these discussions too often. There’s good reason for this: more often than not, team chemistry means jack squat. Here’s the thing, though: when one beat writer says that players W and X have a problem with Ichiro (heretofore called player (!)) and then another guy says that players Y and Z don’t, that’s not necessarily a debunking of the first story. The 2008 Mariners would not be the first team to have different factions believing different things about a star player.

But the way the article was pushed on their readership, I feel that USSM was seeking that exact angle. It’s inevitable that when you do that and when you make it very, very hard for people to say “no, you’re wrong” without getting banned, readers are going to find their own ways to agree with you. And that’s your issue just as much as it is theirs.

2. All of which is not to say that Dave and Derek should be blamed for one of their more stupid readers comparing Baker to Jayson Stark. That being said, the complete lack of self-culpability these guys show just amazes me. I mean, as a fellow stathead I mostly agree with what they say, going back to the days when they and I posted on the Mariners Usenet newsgroup. But even going back to then, I don’t know that I have ever seen them actually say “hey, we were wrong about this” or “okay, we are to blame for a little bit of that”. That’s the Pravda angle I was getting at. It’s not that these guys are Godless communists, it’s that the tactics they engage in are, to quote a meme on a message board I frequent, the exact same tactics used by propagandists throughout history.

So I’m definitely not saying people should boycott USSM. I’m saying that one should give a critical eye to all of their statements, even if the people responding to them cannot.

For whatever reason, baseball sure attracts its set of characters. Don’t get me wrong, weirdos can be found in all of professional sports. But there seem to be more of them in baseball than anywhere else. Why is this? My hypothesis has to do with the rarity of the skillset required to play the game at a high level. If you have good speed and are willing to work your butt off through college, you can become a fairly okay NFL running back. In fact, to a point players at that level are often weeded out according to the amount of work they’re willing to do to accomplish their dreams rather than any natural ability. In baseball, on the other hand, if you can make good contact with a 95 mile per hour fastball, or throw a 95 mile per hour fastball for that matter, you can make it in the big leagues without a lot else, because doing those things is really, really hard – pretty much impossible for the average person, in fact.

And yet, you’d expect this to mean that the game’s greatest flakes/nerds/crazies would be most good hit no field types. As you can see, this is not the case at all. The one Hall of Famer of the bunch is a pitcher, not a hitter, and although the other 4 guys managed to swing a bat well enough to stay in the majors, they weren’t exactly league leaders. If Arsenio Hall were writing this blog (and he is not, trust me I know), he would say this is a thing to make you go “hmm”.

5. Moe Berg

There is a fantastic book about this guy out there called The Catcher Was A Spy. Now, you hear that title and you think of Berg as maybe a baseball-playing James Bond, whipping out his special combination bat-gun at a crucial time to thwart an enemy who has no hair. The fact is, though, that spies are in the business of gathering information, and people who do that for a living tend to be the nerdiest people of all. Think about it. Who else gathers info for a living? Economists. Scientists. Journalists are mostly about telling people about information other people have already gathered, so they don’t qualify.

Anyway, the famous statement made about Berg is that he could “speak 7 languages but couldn’t hit in any of them”. It was this facility with language that made the US approach him first in the 1930s, when he was one of many players barnstorming across the world (including Japan). He appeared on the 1939 equivalent of Jeopardy, where he was apparently something of a Ken Jennings of his day. After *that*, he ventured to Europe during World War II, where he spied on resistance movements and spoke with scientists in Italy on behalf of the OSS.

Casey Stengel once called him “the strangest man to ever play baseball.” Casey Stengel. I rest my case.

5. Miguel Batista

Batista actually wrote a book of poetry. Okay, ma

Verbose.

Verbose.

ybe that’s not old skool nerdy in the “I have an entire room devoted to GI Joe action figures DON’T YOU DARE CALL THEM DOLLS” sense, but really, when I think of “professional athlete”, “poet” is the last word that comes to mind. The title of the book translates to “Sentiments in Black and White”. He also wrote a crime thriller about a serial murderer. Before you say that takes him out of the nerd domain, I will ask you… have you seen Stephen King lately? Or, um, ever?

3. Dan Quisenberry

The Quiz gets here for two reasons. First and foremost, Bill James, the grandfather of baseball statistical analysis, considered him a good friend when he was alive. If you’re friends with Bill James, you are probably going to be pretty darn nerdy. I would not be surprised if Bill James has unboxed Stretch Armstrong toys in his closet, if you know what I mean.

Secondly, the Quiz also published a book of poetry. If it gets Miguel Batista in, it sure as heck gets the Quiz in!

2. Doug Glanville

Doug Glanville is pretty much my favorite baseball player ever. Allow me to list just a few of what makes him aWesome:

  • Graduated from Harvard with a degree in physics.
  • Wrote an essay for the board game Strat o Matic Baseball in which he discussed the way they rate fielders. And another one about his experiences with Strat growing up. And another in which he answered other Strat players’ questions. If you don’t believe me, look here.
  • When asked why he had such a good career batting average vs. Curt Schilling, he said it was because one time he and Schilling were playing Everquest, an online MMORPG, and Schilling got his character killed. Sadly, the Jayson Stark article that talked about this has been taken down from the ESPN page (probably because it was drawing in the wrong type of crowd) but you will be able to find many references to it if you google Doug Glanvile Everquest.
  • From the article: “Not enough attention is paid to the off-the-field motivators that create nasty on-field grudges. I believe video atrocities top the list. I’m of the theory that this could be a key explanation as to why some players have tremendous success against certain other players.”

I always wondered how a guy this smart was so unable to understand the concept of taking the occasional pitch and drawing walks. It’s a small, small criticism to make.

1. Curt Schilling

He probably cut himself docking corners.

He probably cut himself docking corners.

Why does Schilling beat out Glanville? First, there is the point that he is mentioned as the prime culprit in the Everquest Incident. If playing video games makes you nerdy, being really bad at video games makes you a nerd among nerds.

Also, this is the man who, when tabletop wargame company Avalon Hill was bought out by Hasbro, swept in and bought the rights to Advanced Squad Leader. If you are a nerd with any level of interest in World War II whatsoever and you have not heard of Advanced Squad Leader, you need to get out of your mom’s basement now and get that thing off of the E-Bay. This is the Dwarf Fortress of tabletop wargames. Dwarf Fortress might even be less complex than ASL. ASL has never been made into a computer game because it’s just too complicated for a computer AI to fathom.

Schilling was an ASL fan from way back. I know this for a fact because when I was in high school I bought a couple versions of the Avalon Hill game Statis Pro Baseball. The 1992 edition (which had the 1991 season in it) had Schilling’s card with all the other ratings they used plus a special “Advanced Squad Leader” rating. The copy I had actually had the back signed. Sadly, my mom threw that game out years and years ago, but I can still remember the joy I had when I learned that yes, even a pro baseball player could be as nerdy as I.

Over on ussmariner (see the blogroll to the side for linkotage) they’ve decided that nobody can be the judge of who is a sports fan (well, specifically, who is a Mariners fan) and who isn’t. Screw that! I am the judge of everything, and fandom is a part of everything. Let me break it down for you.

  • Constantly whining about how crappy your team is: Fan.
  • Constantly whining about how long the games are because they make you miss House so you have to tiVo it: Not a fan.
  • Somewhat pessimistic about the future of your sports franchise in question because the general manager is a mouth-breathing idiot: Fan.
  • Somewhat pessimistic about the future of your sports franchise because they don’t have enough Caucasian middle infielders: Not a fan.
  • Can name the entire starting lineup of the 1987 Minnesota Twins: Fan.
  • Can name the entire lineup of the 1987 Transformers: Not a fan.
  • Own a Doug Glanville jersey because you like his position on cheaters in MMORPGs: Fan, although you are really pushing it.
  • Own a Carl Everett jersey because you like his position on dinosaurs: Not a fan.
  • Think of yourself as the Cal Ripken of your job because you show up every single day: Fan.
  • Think of yourself as the Joey Cora of your job because you cry a lot: Not a fan.
  • In an effort to have a lasting affinity with Michael Jordan, you had the number “23” tattooed on your chest: Fan.
  • In an effort to have a lasting affinity with Ray Lewis, you murdered your girlfriend: Not a fan.

With these words, I thee wed.

In what is sure to be a regular aspect of this here blog, here is a top 5 list. I am a huge fan of The Book of Lists and other books of that ilk. Give me a numbered list of craziness and I am a happy Slick for as long as it takes me to read it. Why was the book High Fidelity so aWesome? If you ask me, it’s because the main character was always composing top 5 lists. 5 is a great number. 5 fits on one hand (although if you are Antonio Alfonseca, I will allow you your top 6 lists). 5 * 5 = 25 – 2 (the number of hands you have) = 23. Exactly.

So anyway…

5. The Greatest American Hero

greatest2aOh Slickonis Backbaconis, you say. Surely you only included The Greatest American Hero on this list so that you could be all ironic and stuff and also make the top 4 guys look even more spectacular. Well, you would be partially right. On the other hand, TGAH was my favorite show when I was like 5 years old. I even made my mom go out and buy the theme song as a single. “Believe it or not, I’m walking on air/I never thought I could be so free-hee-hee/Flying away on a wing and a prayer/Who could it be?/Believe it or not, it’s just me”. That could be the theme song for more than one early 80s television show. The other show? “Believe It Or Not”. If they had Jack Palance do the Believe It Or Not song as spoken word, it would probably still be on the air today.

This only gets 5th place, and a distant 5th at that, because frankly I don’t remember much else about the show. The old guy and the girl look vaguely familiar, as though I saw them on the show at one point. No, that couldn’t be it. The only things I am 100% sure about are a. the song, b. the guy with the hair, and c. the fact that he was really, really bad at flying.

4. General John Sedgwick

I can’t claim to be knowledgeable enough about this guy to write a biography on him or anything. Frankly, there’s one event in his life that puts him on this list, and that event was his last. His final words were, and I quote the testimony of one Martin McMahon, Brevet Major-General (a bigger excerpt can be found online at http://www.civilwarhome.com/sedgwickdeath.htm).

I gave the necessary order to move the troops to the right, and as they rose to execute the movement the enemy opened a sprinkling fire, partly from sharp-shooters. As the bullets whistled by, some of the men dodged. The general said laughingly, ” What! what! men, dodging this way for single bullets! What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” A few seconds after, a man who had been separated from his regiment passed directly in front of the general, and at the same moment a sharp-shooter’s bullet passed with a long shrill whistle very close, and the soldier, who was then just in front of the general, dodged to the ground. The general touched him gently with his foot, and said, ” Why, my man, I am ashamed of you, dodging that way,” and repeated the remark, ” They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” The man rose and saluted and said good-naturedly, ” General, I dodged a shell once, and if I hadn’t, it would have taken my head off. I believe in dodging.” The general laughed and replied, “All right, my man; go to your place.”


For a third time the same shrill whistle, closing with a dull, heavy stroke, interrupted our talk; when, as I was about to resume, the general’s face turned slowly to me, the blood spurting from his left cheek under the eye im a steady stream. He fell in my direction ; I was so close to him that my effort to support him failed, and I fell with him.

Popular lore has his last words as “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist-“, which definitely makes for a better story. I guess the truth will have to suffice for #4.

3. Typhoid Mary

Typhoid Mary is a true tale of American perservearance. She demonstrated how time and time again, by just ignoring a disease she carried from birth, she could keep doing what she loved forever and ever and ever until the police had to come in and stop her. And what did she love doing? Killing people? Well, no, not exactly. She loved to cook. She cooked for a lawyer family and gave them all typhoid. She cooked in Manhattan and Mamaromeck, New York, and gave everybody typhoid. She wanted to show that even rough and rugged Long Islanders could get the typhoid and lo and behold she gave them the typhoid. She was quarantined and told never to be a cook again, so she changed her name and gave people the secret typhoid. This was not a person like Fred Merkle who got their nickname because of one outing (Merkle is known for “The Merkle Boner”, which is not nearly as kick-ass as it looks like on paper). Typhoid Mary could kill a bear with her bare hands and she would still be known as Typhoid Mary (and people would be pretty suspicious that the bear didn’t die of the typhoid).

nina2cdThe other reason why I like the Typhoid Mary story is that it’s so well-entrenched with a particular meme in American culture that has all but died out: hatred of the Irish. Typhoid Mary was a Celt and her story really fanned the fears of good, upright American citizens freaked out about the filthy Irish. It helps that typhoid is one of those diseases like cholera or the bubonic plague that seems so closely associated with the slums of Europe (more stereotypical American slum diseases are the black lung and the one that makes gangsters dance and sing like in West Side Story). Mostly, though, seeing signs that say “No Irish Need Apply” make me reflect upon the cosmopolitan nature of this country. And by that, I mean that it makes me laugh.

2. Louis Slotin

The wikis got good infos on this:

On May 21, 1946, Slotin and seven other colleagues performed an experiment that involved the creation of one of the first steps of a fission reaction by placing two half-spheres of beryllium (a neutron reflector) around a plutonium core. The experiment used the same 6.2-kilogram (13.7 lb) plutonium core that had irradiated Daghlian. Slotin grasped the upper beryllium hemisphere with his left hand through a thumb hole at the top while he maintained the separation of the half-spheres using the blade of a screwdriver with his right hand, having removed the shims normally used.[1] Using a screwdriver was not a normal part of the experimental protocol.

At 3:20 p.m., the screwdriver slipped and the upper beryllium hemisphere fell, causing a “prompt critical” reaction and a burst of hard radiation.[8] At the time, the scientists in the room observed the “blue glow” of air ionization and felt a “heat wave”. In addition, Slotin experienced a sour taste in his mouth and an intense burning sensation in his left hand.[1] Slotin instinctively jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor, ending the reaction.

You can’t even call this guy a Darwin Awards recipient because he was a freaking nuclear physicist. A nuclear physicist who actually thought it was a good idea to conduct an experiment with highly radioactive materials using a screwdriver and his thumb. I know that if I was a physicist there on that day, I would have said, “Boy, is this going to end well.”

1. Rube Waddell

rube-waddell-hof-1Rube Waddell was the awesomest awesome ever to awesome. No, seriously. Each and every one of these factoids about the man is 100% true:

  • An early baseball superstar, he had a super-fast fastball and struck out a ton of guys. Think of him like an early 20th century Randy Johnson. Sort of.
  • Was made to sign a contract preventing him from eating crackers in bed. Ballplayers in those days shared hotel beds when on the road and apparently his bedmate didn’t like sleeping in crumbs.
  • Once missed a start because he decided to chase a fire engine instead (no, I am not making that up).
  • Had a little trick of making his infield and outfield sit down while he struck out the side.
  • An actual headline from Wheeling, West Virginia:
  • FIVE STRENUOUS DAYS RUBE WADDELL SPENDS, THEN GOES TO BUTLER
    Throws Up His Job with “Stain of Guilt” Company, Butts in at a Fire, Hires Out as a Beer Slinger, and is Sued by Wife for Non-Support
  • Once stopped a fire by picking up a wood stove with his bare hands and carrying it outside.
  • Died of tuberculosis, a disease contracted when he stood in shoulder-deep water helping to repair a dyke in Kentucky (the Dutch part, I guess).

A-Rod or no, how can you hate a sport that produces people like this?

www.isgeorgebushpresident.com

I have to admit, I just keep loading that page over and over again like a bird in a Skinner box. And like that bird, I receive nourishment every time I do.

In November, we narrowly avoided having Sarah Palin as our new Vice President future President when Barack Hussein Obama Hussein Hussein Hussein won by only 4.3 billion votes over John “I Am About To Be Dead So I Hope You Like The Veep” McCain in the election. But you knew this. You also knew that Palin has the approximate intellectual capacity of a rainbow trout. What you may not know is that this is a wonderful quality to have in a President. Okay, you probably know that as well, since unless you’re one of those evil Frenchies or, worse, a Canadian, you lived through the Bush Jr. presidency. I’m not sure if Bush actually said he was the greatest President in the last 6,000 years, but it’s that sort of attitude that makes me yearn for four more of them.

I submit to you, my faithful blog-reading crowd of approximately 6 people, bits and pieces of an interview Palin had with Esquire. Just imagine, these nuggets of wisdom could have been something dispensed daily via White House interviews instead of… well, I guess she’s still in the news every single freaking week since she lost, so there’s not much difference yet. But there will be, America! And you will be sorry!

http://www.esquire.com/features/what-ive-learned/sarah-palin-interview-0309?click=pp

We had flutes and trombones around the house. For my siblings and me, music was important to give us some balance. If it weren’t for music, our entire social life, our avocations, all would have had to do with sports.

This, frankly, is not the wondrous bit of childhood nostalgia that you’d think it is. I played music quite a bit growing up, was in the orchestra and the band and, yes, even the choir, and my brothers also did a little bit of this so in a sense we had “flutes and trombones around the house”. More accurately, “basses and guitars and the occasional flute”. My brother Bill, who is a wonderful guy, do not get me wrong, is also tone deaf, and one year he decided he was going to play the flute. This actually went over quite a bit better than you’d imagine because, although he brought a flute home, he rarely actually played it. Oh, I think he wanted to, but whenever he snorted out a note my Mom opened his bedroom door to check to see if he was raping a dolphin in there. He’s a semi-professional bicycle rider now. Let that be a lesson to us all.

We never actually had trombones in the house, but I have been near trombones and let me tell you: someone just picking up a trombone and playing it is not a wonderful musical experience either. Unlike a lot of wind instruments, you don’t just get to initially tune up a trombone and put your fingers over the note-holes. No, you actually have to learn how to play it in tune. It’s not quite as bad as, say, a violin, because it just sounds like crap and not shrill and like crap when you don’t know how to play it. That’s like saying that Pol Pot was a better homicidal maniac than Hitler because he didn’t target one ethnic minority in particular.

Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me.

Always the politician, aren’t you, Sarah Palin! So you’re saying that if I am an anonymous pathetic blogger who lies, I only annoy you when I am bored? Well, I am not bored now, Missy Fancy Pantsy! I am filled with ennui, but not bored! Or perhaps I am not pathetic! No, I am pathetic. That one always fits, unfortunately.

I’ll tell you, yesterday the Anchorage Daily News, they called again to ask — double-, triple-, quadruple-check — who is Trig’s real mom. And I said, Come on, are you kidding me? We’re gonna answer this? Do you not believe me or my doctor? And they said, No, it’s been quite cryptic the way that my son’s birth has been discussed. And I thought, Okay, more indication of continued problems in the world of journalism.

Yeah, fact-checking is a real problem with the news. They definitely shouldn’t fact-check so much. I mean, four times!? It’s almost as though they had a source that told them something else, and they wanted to check if the source was lying or not. This is BS, I tell you. You should always trust your sources, even if your source is this blog. Especially if that’s your source. Obama Hussein Obama Barack Hussein Obama Hussein is a Zoroastarian! Put that into your little paper, Anchorage Daily News!

I think I will have more to say on Trig in a minute.

I’d been a fan of SNL for decades, and I have a lot of respect for the present talent. I knew it would be a good thing to be a part of. And also, of course, to let Americans know that I can laugh at myself, too.

Yeah, that bit where you bobbed your head while everybody was making fun of you, that was great! You didn’t walk off the set in disgust or anything! Middle America is so proud of your comedic stylings!

Fleece, lots of fleece, and skinny white-chocolate mochas. That’s the best way to stay warm.

OMG THIS JUST IN SARAH PALIN IS A SEATTLE LIBERAL. Well, almost. You’d have to replace “fleece” with “flannel” but she’s well over halfway there. And from what I hear, it’s kind of hard to find a Starbuck’s in Alaska. There are only 2.1 million of them, and not very many are across the street from each other. In some parts of the state, there are no streets and the Starbuck’s are run by bears.

Has secret conversations with the Moose God.

Has secret conversations with the Moose God.

I know He hears me when I just call out to Him, which I do a lot. Oh, yes, I pray. I talk to God every day. I’ve put my life, so I put my day, into God’s hands, and I just ask for guidance and wisdom and grace to get through one situation after another.

The secret to chili is you gotta have good mooseburger in there. I don’t know if you can get moose commercially in New York. You’d have to come up here and visit me in my home, and I’ll prepare it for ya.

I wonder: does God only speak to Palin after she’s eaten some of her trademark mooseburger chili? That would explain several things.

Two meanings in Bristol’s name: I worked at the Bristol Inn, and Todd grew up in Bristol Bay. But also, Bristol, Connecticut, is the home of ESPN. And when I was in high school, my desire was to be a sportscaster. ESPN was just kicking off, just getting off the ground, and I thought that’s what I was going to do in life, is be one of the first woman sportscasters. Until I learned that you’d have to move to Bristol, Connecticut. It was far away. So instead, I had a daughter and named her Bristol.

Yeah, so she named her daughter in part after an unfulfilled childhood dream. That’s a great way to name your children. They’re already sitting there as constant reminders as to why you aren’t up to bigger and better things. Why not rub that fact into your face even harder? Hi, this is my son Award-Winning Novelist and, oh, have you seen my new daughter Getting Out Of This Godforsaken Hellhole? Isn’t she cuuuute?

Which brings me to another point: did Bristol name her daughter Trig after a secret, unfulfilled longing to ace a math test? I say the answer is “yes”.

Running is my sanity. Sweat is my sanity. And that was a frustration of mine on the campaign trail, when we couldn’t carve out a half an hour or an hour a day to run. The day never went as well as it would have had I had that time to go sweat.

So… you should have given more interviews to Katie Couric then?

So we got our big holiday sale gift certificates in yesterday (in a nutshell, where I work had a big contest over the holidays wherein they would get you pretty good sized gift certificates for stuffs if you sold enough phones… then they took the better part of 2 months to give everything out because some peeps had to cheat to get their $50 off at Bed, Bath and Beyond… the idiocy of some people just plain amazes me) and as such I just blew 100 smackers on books. This, in turn, led me to Amazon.com, which in turn led me to some of the wonderful, award-winning reviews I have written over the years.

I want to point out a couple things: one, because I am a skeptic at heart, I often employ a good deal of irony in a lot of the things that I do. Also, when I can’t think of anything better, sarcasm and a general mocking tone. I tend to oscillate between explaining everything that I am doing (as in, what I am doing right now) and purposefully skipping several steps between the set up and the punchline to… confuse isn’t exactly right. It’s more about rewarding the person who takes a few seconds to think about stuff.

The other thing that I wanted to point out is that I don’t, technically, read every book that I review. In that way I am like that one woman who was like the #1 Amazon reviewer, except that a. I don’t just put in stuff that will make all the fanboys of the books I review happy, and b. I am rated somewhere in the 5 millions rather than #1. It’s all about who you know.

The Cake Bible

The Most Unholy Bible Ever, March 9, 2007

Not worthy of a holy text.

Not worthy of a holy text.

I reviewed this primarily because I reviewed the Pie Bible, and while I have not actually read this book I will say this: nothing cake-related should ever have a Bible. Not chocolate cake, not carrot cake, not the band Cake… nothing. Cake is inferior and less worshipful than pie, which can be eaten at any occasion and not just dessert. Even “angel’s food” cake is less nutritive than chicken pot pie… and who in their right mind would eat chicken pot cake?

The Lord giveth (the Pie Bible) and the Lord taketh away (the Cake Bible).

**********

This review was rated 56 times, and out of those 56 times one person found it helpful. Pie heathens. Apparently, two people were so moved as to comment; unfortunately, this entire review was swept away in the Great Amazon Deletion Of Negative Reviews Of 2008, so it will never again see the light of day… except here.

Billy Beane is an awesome writer!, December 14, 2006

billy-beane-ttmI used to wonder how it was that Billy Beane is such a great manager or coach or whatever he is and now I know why: communications skills. Beane is not only baseball-smart, he’s book-smart. And not just “I read a book once” smart either. This is one of the few men in any field smart enough to write a book without the help of a ghost writer.

This is no faint praise. Throughout the book you will learn about such true-life travails and characters as Jeremy Brown, the catcher drafted in the 16th round because the Oakland A’s value fatness in their backstops, or Paul DePodesta, who went on after this book was written to get fired by no greater team than the Los Angeles Dodgers (no, not the one with both the Los Angeles and the Anaheim in their name, the ones who actually play in Los Angeles). Beane himself makes an appearance, although it’s rather off-putting that he refers to himself in the third person a la Bob Dole or Barry Bonds.

One thing that should be clear though: there is no such thing as “Moneyball”, and the sport Beane is actually referring to is baseball, not the lottery. Sadly, he does not give up the secret clues on how to win or even have a better chance at winning the lottery. I do not know these clues either (which is why I originally bought the book) but I did see a software program once so I know they exist.
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This review got 1 out of 7 positive remarks, which I can accept. Hey, maybe you don’t like it when my hard-hitting journalistic style calls Jeremy Brown fat (he retired, by the way, and now owns a donut shop LOL JUST KIDDING!!! he fat). The real head-slapper for me was that there are not one, but two comments that say something along the lines of “U STUPID IDOT BILLY BEANE DID NOT WRITE TEH MONEYBALLS!!!!”. Ugh. Seriously… how the flying freak can you read the above and not understand that it’s freaking ironic? Yeah. Pretty much everything negative that can be said about people who collect toys or go to Star Wars conventions, you can say about baseball statheads as well (note: I am one).

Finally, because I am a slavish devotee to the rule of three:

Awesome book, December 17, 2008

If you’re like me and two of your greatest loves are books about science and reading about natural disasters and calamities… seek help. Seriously. It’s just not right to have that particular set of amusements. But while you are in one of those old-fashioned “Girl: Interrupted” style mental wards, making fun of the girl who hides chickens under her bed, you should pick this book up and read it. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to let Whoopi Goldberg catch you because she knows you’re not really and truly crazy the way Angelina Jolie is and eventually she’ll let you out if you don’t give her reason not to, but still… if that compulsive liar can read the Oz books, you can certainly tuck this bad boy away.

I guess the reason why I like this book can be summed up in one neat and tidy phrase: even scientists can be dumbasses sometimes. Like let’s say for instance that you are a nuclear physicist and you know all about the harmful effects of radiation. Do you: a. conduct an experiment with a radioactive isotope using all kinds of lead shielding and so on, or b. conduct it using your hand and a screwdriver? Actually, that particular incident is *not* in the book; however, the twelve tales that are there are equally stupid. I just don’t want to give them away because, well, it’ll ruin some of the fun for you.

One final note: I am pretty sure that Simon LeVay is not related to founder of the modern Satanist movement Anton LeVay (well, he is an evolutionist so he’s going straight to hell lololololol!!!!). If he was, I’m pretty sure the first line of the book would be something like “I AM THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS’S BROTHER BOW BEFORE ME”, not something about a mortuary (and no, I am not going to give away why he mentions a mortuary).

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0 out of 2 people thought my review was helpful. HEY WHAT GIVES I GAVE IT FIVE STARS

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