Friday, June 25, 2010

Slice of Americana

We are at the Drive-in tonight for Toy Story, bringing back a lot of memories.

- michael

Friday Thoughts 6/25/2010

Summer is in full bloom here in Ohio, combined with work it makes for some sporadic posting. Having said that, I'll likely be using Friday thoughts to do some quick recap of what's been happening for the weekend, while I try and think of some interesting things to write about.

1. I had an unexpected work twist come up this week, I was offered a position that I had applied for that would have taken me to the sales side of the business. Unfortunately, it would have meant a salary reduction to start and adjust to the commission based model my company employs, which in itself wouldn't be bad if I wasn't factoring in the other aspects of the change. The job would have required relocation either to Washington D.C or New York. Unfortunately that wouldn't have been determined for 6 months as we tried to build the Federal sales pipeline during that time. Considering the cost of living increase either of those two locations have vs Cleveland, the need to sell the current house at likely a small loss in order to do it quickly, and the fact that the initial salary change would be negative rather then positive. It just didn't feel right, so I turned down the position. It's unfortunate though, because the position could be quite lucrative down the line, however I didn't feel the reward outweighed the risk for the change, so it's back to the internal website to do some searching for a change.

2. Tonight, we are taking the daughter to see Toy Story 3, in itself not really exciting news, but we are going to one of the last remaining drive ins. I can't remember the last time I went to a drive in.

3. In other work and life related news, the wife is down in Columbus, OH today for an interview. Keeping our fingers crossed on this one, while not the ideal location, at least the move would be fairly painless compared to an 8 hour + trek somewhere, plus coming back to visit would be relatively easy with Columbus only 2 1/2 hours away.

4. Some fun from the web: Make sure you watch out for those plague carrying turtles. Such a great job by Airtran employees of following that brilliant concept of corporate policy to the letter. It's another case where 'corporate policy' is nice as a generalized concept, but can fail miserably if you don't have a corporate philosophy of allowing your employees to use some discretion or they have no incentive to do so. The result is wonderful publicity like this, where your company looks like insufferable fools.

5. Well after much debate and a couple of nights that got sidetracked with job discussion, we've decided to host a July 4th party. I decided to send the invite out to all. Now it's just a matter of getting things ready, blech.

6. Oh Joy, only about a week until we get to hear his majesty "King" James speak. Although I don't anticipate he'll do much speaking on July 1 or after. I'm so ready for this whole process to be over, although it has helped remind me that all ESPN programming besides actual games is essentially worthless anymore.

7. In more web linking, I found this article about some of Pakistan's current issues with the web and Islam. I'm fascinated by the comments sections of articles like this. Seeing the comments under articles like this, makes me love the Internet even more. Subjects that are taboo at dinner parties are perfectly acceptable for discussion with thousands of people you don't know. Conversational chaos at it's finest. My favorites are the self proclaimed 'open minded' religious zealots who classify Islamic followers as terrorists and fail to recognize their hate and prejudice goes against all of their religious teachings.

8. Since I'm actually finishing this on Saturday, I'll add that the Drive-in was a great experience. I'll have a more in depth posting on it next week. Sad to see though that so many have disappeared.

9. While I understand the need for fraud watch by the Credit Card companies, it amazes me that they seem to pop and lock after mild activity. So frustrating if you are planning on making multiple purchases with a card during a shopping day.

10. I had a spectacular failure on trying to bake with Strawberries this week. I love strawberries, but there is a very limited range of what you can make with them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Defining Family

As I sit here trying to decide whether to host a July 4th party and all of the work involved with it, I've been thinking about family and what it means to me.

When I was younger all of our holiday gatherings were family affairs, my parents had a few friends that we would see once in awhile, but for the most part, the summer gatherings were with my Mom's side of the family, having 11 surviving brother's and sisters ensured that we had a pretty large gathering at all times. Even with so many siblings there were only 5-6 of them that regularly showed up, but add in the spouses for each, grandparents, children, etc. and you can begin to see how they were such large gatherings.

It really stopped once my Mom's father passed away. Too many internal fights and disputes seemed to happen and rather then work them out, everyone went their separate ways. To say he was a patriarchal figure would be an understatement. He was the glue that held it all together. I don't know whether it was because of his children's desire to make him happy or his will that kept them in line, but it kept the pettiness that happens with families at bay.

I've thought about trying to pull things together from a family perspective, and have talked with some cousins and my brother about it, but I think it would be a case of the tail trying to wag the dog, my rank doesn't hold here, and even though I may bend the ear of some relatives, the others that I cannot still can hold their grudges.

When I met my wife one of the things she found difficult to deal with was the number of friends I had and how close I was with them, (she still finds it difficult to this day). While I've drifted from some of them and all of us are not as close as we were previously, I still consider them close and very much like siblings. Most of our gatherings nowadays whether hosted by my brother or me involve a large number of the same people.

In thinking about putting together a July 4th party, I've been struggling over the invite list, while I don't mind having a large party, I've found for the last couple of gatherings that getting people to respond can be a chore in itself. The concern I have is planning and purchasing supplies for a potential party, not having an idea of whether you'll have 10 or 30 people is a fairly significant difference, and it's easily achievable if history repeats itself.

Because of this, I've been debating on putting together a small invite list, and then just inviting those that I think may come, which of course then makes me concerned that I may hurt the feelings of others that I don't invite.

I've tried thinking about things like focusing on couples, or those that maybe more interested in a pool party, or a variety of other criteria to try and narrow the list of invitees, but so far I'm having no luck. I don't want to exclude those outside of relationships, but I also don't want to have a situation which happens sometimes where my parties end up with two rather distinct camps of people.

In the end, I think I'm going to just invite everyone, after all they are family, I just can't bring myself to exclude invitees, even though I maybe stuck with a shitload of burgers and hot dogs for no shows or those that don't respond. Now if I can just figure out what day to do it on and time we'll be all set.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Thoughts 6/18/2010

1. Yesterday was just a bad day for my little one. After having a bad night of sleeping, due to a bathroom accident, that she attempted to clean up on her own and we didn't find out til morning about, she also discovered one of her favorite TV shows "Little Einsteins" appears to have been cancelled. She took the news rather hard, and I can relate as I remember similar feelings from when I was a child. Although I know it's just a TV show and did my best to console her, I think the distress comes from starting to see we don't have control over everything, and that things we love can go away so easily. The good news to report though, is she's back in her usual good spirits today and getting ready to have a 'pool' day now that I've successfully gotten the pool ready for the summer.

2. Oil, oil, oil. A big thank you to the Representative from Texas, Joe Barton, for his heartfelt apology to BP, that obviously speaks for the rest of the country during this disaster. After all, the company deserves our sympathy considering the strong arm tactics of our liberal Executive branch, that put a plan in place for 20 billion in funds spread out over four years to be placed in escrow for damages. (have I conveyed sarcasm yet, if not let this statement clarify that this is) Let's not forget though, that BP that 20 billion is about a quarter of their profit for the year and at the very least 8 billion has been saved by cutting dividends for the year. By my calculations, that means if BP winds up only being accountable for the 20 billion, that they still have 3 billion a year in money to utilize for cleanup costs and another 82 million in profit per year that they are left with. My heart bleeds black gold for such a heinous act.

3. 90 billion in profit a year, yes you read that right, that's a lot of zeros isn't it?

4. An update on my singing pursuit, I had indicated a couple of weeks ago that I was going to audition with a couple of guys, however, after communicating with them a bit through email, I decided not to pursue it, the vibe just wasn't right. In truth that's more a matter of my idiosyncrasies then theirs. , I still think I'm going to pursue something, but I'm being a bit more cautious in what I look for, I'm not sure if this is a result of being replaced, or just the natural progression.

5. Back to Rep. Barton for a minute, he issued an apology today, and trying to put aside the emotion for a second, I do understand a bit what his point is, the slush fund is a bad precedent to set and has not been done so previously for situations like this. From a legal perspective, perhaps that's a valid point, it's also worth pointing out though, that this oil spill is unprecedented as well, and when faced with an unprecedented situation, unprecedented actions are sometimes necessary. It does not excuse the language the representative used though in apologizing to BP, who by the way agreed to the establishment of the fund. The apology, in my opinion, is extremely poor form and seemed more about protecting future donations then anything sincere.

6. Father's day weekend, I always find this day a bit amusing. When asked what I want to do, the reply is usually a day of sleeping works just fine for me. There is nothing like a weekend nap. God, I'm getting old.

7. Despite getting old, I'm burning the candle at both ends this weekend, Friday night out with the guys, Saturday out with the wife and another couple. See I told you I needed that nap on Sunday.

8. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the pool is up and ready to go, after draining and cleaning the whole thing, I'm quite happy with the way it's turned out. Now we'll see if I can keep it up for the summer.

9. Utah executed a convicted felon by 'firing squad' this week. (Intentionally). I'm going to let that sit with you for a couple seconds.................... Yes, it's 2010...........Yes, it's the same Utah that typically is associated with polygamy....... No, I don't have a rational explanation for why they still utilize this. (actually the reasoning is described here: Oklahoma also has this 'option' available. Lovely, and they wonder why we make fun of those states.)

10. Have a great weekend and official start to your summer. Here's a drink suggestion for those that imbibe. My current favorite right now, simple, easy, and refreshing.

1oz dark rum
.5oz gin
muddled strawberries


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The first dance recital

Taking a break from my ranting lately. I thought I'd share some thoughts about my daughter, Bronwyn's first gym recital which was this weekend.

I have to admit I was worried a bit, as I've wrote about before, my daughter is a bit of a free spirit. She is quite capable of following directions, but when left to her own devices, she's also quite capable of making it up as she goes along. While I realize this is standard issue behavior for a 4 year old, it's also something her gym instructors have pointed out.

On Friday, they had their rehearsal, and all seemed to go well, except at the end of it, Bronwyn's gym instructor came over to assure me that they had a teacher 'keeping an eye on Bronwyn' as she has a tendency once in a while to go get carried away. I read between the lines here and knowing my daughter's free spirited tendency, I had nightmares of her out in the middle of other classes performances, bowing before the crowd and blowing kisses.

I did manage to fall asleep though that night even with those thoughts drifting through my head.

For Saturday's performance, Bronwyn had to sit with her class through about 4 performances and then they went on. We were seated on the other side of the gym, but I'm happy to say she was kept in check. I cringed and laughed a bit twice though, the first was the start of the show, when the first class came out and the music started, she bolted off the front row bleacher and made it about 5 steps before she was corralled. She also had another incident a bit later after lining up perfectly for their dance routine, she got bored after a minute or two waiting for the music and bolted out from one of the end positions to the center of the performance. Again nothing lost as the performance hadn't started.

Bronwyn's performance consisted of a dance routine to "Surfin' USA" followed by them moving around the whole gym performing their flips, balance beam walks, and other techniques they've been learning. Typically during regular gym classes, this can prove frustrating to watch, as she has a tendency to not do what she's supposed to do at each spot. If something catches her attention, as an example the bar they do their flips over, she's quite capable of staying at that spot the whole time she's supposed to be moving through the course. For a visual example, think of the dog from Pixar's "Up". Having a conversation and in the middle of it exclaiming "Squirrel", that's my daughter. The difference though, is she's fully aware that she should be following the outline her teacher has given her but just doesn't see the reason to do so, as her current fascination is more interesting.

I'm happy to report that Bronwyn did a great job on the dance routine and the course that followed, she didn't have any issue following along and she nailed her performance. To say I'm a bit proud, would be an understatement. She even got in a bit of her uniqueness. After the performance the class lines up in the middle of the gym and receives applause from one side and then turns and faces the other. There were 15-20 children in her class, so a fairly significant line. They started facing the right side of the gym, and Bronwyn, lined up correctly for that, but quickly switched to face the left side by herself as her classmates bowed the other way, my daughter blew kisses to the opposite side of the gym and then turned in succession as the group did and face the opposite side again and repeated the bows and kisses. Unfortunately I had stopped taping at that point, but when we get a copy from the gym, I can't wait to see it, especially since her position was closest to the camera. (given I had a small handheld that's much better served for YouTube rather then recitals, my taping wouldn't have mattered anyway, as the zoom completely loses their faces).

It was a great recital and I'm very happy that the little one made it through with no issues. Unfortunately for her, it also means I know she's quite capable of following through multiple sets of instructions and that my theory that she just decides not to vs not comprehending it has been proven true.

Pictures below. The recital video refuses to load and since it's impossible to make out her face during the recording almost worthless anyway for public viewing. The handheld I received for Christmas just wasn't made for distance shots.
This if from rehearsal night:

Getting ready for the show:

Dad and Bronwyn:

Here's the stage, hope she doesn't run out ahead of time :)

Blurry but visible in the crowd:

Grandma, Grandpa, and Bronwyn:

Relaxing after the performance with her flowers and cousin/best friend Erica:

Only one more picture right?

Friday, June 11, 2010

When Newspapers attack

I mentioned the issue, a favorite site of mine, is experiencing in my Friday Thoughts post for the week.

I wanted to get into it a bit further and provide some additional background. I started using a variety of Vegas Forums about 5 years ago, at the time there were a number of us that visited Las Vegas Talk and paid for memberships that allowed us to post in an off topic forum, just for daily discussions. At one point, the moderators had some issues with posters and there were a fair number of Internet trolls that continued to harass a fair group of us. Brian decided to create his own site and forum for people to chat on.

The forum itself has a number of sections, but most of the public areas are fairly desolate, and to say that it's essentially a web posting board for friends with common interests wouldn't be out of line . The traffic that the site gets is likely due to the repeat members who congregate in the private forums for discussion. However, he does have a fair number of public forums where people discuss Vegas, and while not a very active forum compared to some others, there is a good deal of information there. One of his forums is a news forum, that one of the posters regularly updated with interesting stories about Vegas, the stories were often copied over and provided with links to the reporting source. These subjects were probably the biggest generator of posts for the public forum, as it provided some interesting discussion for the group as all of them are fairly savvy Vegas travelers.

The Las Vegas Review Journal "LVRJ" recentlyemployed the services of Righthaven LLC to pursue copyright infringement suits on it's behalf. The LVRJ has transferred it's copyright for many articles to Righthaven LLC. who has then initiated lawsuits against 37 websites, which includes for the most part blogs, forums, and other sites of that nature. By most accounts reported by the LV Sun, these are small operators at best, with a variety of sole ownership and nonprofit organizations.

The RJ and Righthaven content that the websites fall outside the lines of 'fair use'. From my contracting experiencing, 'fair use' is one of those wonderful phrases that tends to be open to deep interpretation of what constitutes such. Many of the comments to date on various websites focus around the fact that the LVRJ will not provide guidelines of what they consider 'fair use' ( put up a post on the issue). In my experience, I wouldn't expect the LVRJ to provide such a guideline because they are perfectly content with the term being ambiguous in this case.

Which brings me to my point, the LVRJ and Righthaven appear to be utilizing this ambiguous term for profit gain, rather then any defense of copyright. There are a number of factors which I base this theory on.

1. They have not provided any type of Cease and Desist request to the offending sites. They've filed suit immediately, the LV Sun is reporting that the suits are for $75,000 overall or a per dollar charge dependent on the number of hits the article got.

2. They've made no attempt at providing a framework for online resources to link to their content or reference it. Their is no requirement for the LVRJ to do so, however, not doing so brings me to the conclusion that they are not interested in cooperation.

3. The sites they have gone after are all tiny in comparison to any other media source. As non-profits and sole owned sites, most will not have the resources to acquire counsel for defense against the suits. By the LV Sun's reporting that in many instances they've been seeking out settlements for the issue, it appears much more so to be about revenue then protecting copyright in these instances. If this was truly about copyright infringement, wouldn't the largest perpetrators be the ones targeted by the RJ, given Facebook and Twitter's vast network and ability to link to articles and post content, I'd have to believe that there would be a fair number of violations according to Righthaven and the LVRJ's current belief on what constitutes infringement.

Those are my thoughts on it. My hope is that things work out for all of the owners of the sites that had similar purposes to what to the owner of intended for his site to be. I also wish him the best, while I've only talked to him virtually over the course of the last few years, I know from his postings on Facebook and the forums, that we share a lot of the same ideals and philosophies and would gladly buy him a drink the next time our paths cross in Vegas.

For the time being, I'm completely boycotting any association with the LVRJ. Which means for me no visiting the site for them to gain ad revenue from my visits and unfollowing any account associated with the paper on Twitter. It's not much, but if you utilize any of these services, I would encourage you to do the same.

I understand that our brick and mortar media is facing severe challenges in this new digital age, and I also understand the need to protect their copyrights. What I don't agree with is the manner in which the LVRJ is going about this , from a public relations standpoint it's a disaster and if the issue was truly about 'protection', my assumption is a cease and desist letter to these sites likely would have resulted in the pulling of material on at least 90% of them if not all of them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday Thoughts 6/11/2010

Here we go with another list of 10 for the week.

1. It's been a busy week, the wife is down in Daytona for a invite only job fair, so we are waiting to see how that goes. That means I've been home with Boof for three days. It's been a fun couple of days, although I've probably fed her a bit too much ice cream :)

2. Have you ever noticed at the gas station they have signs stating to be careful when you are filling you tank, as you are responsible for all spills?

3. I think I might watch some of the World Cup, I watched the one 4 years ago for a bit, I've never been a big soccer fan, but there's something sort of neat in the 4 year format and how big it is outside of the U.S.

4. I hit the 200 mile mark on the 1000 mile goal for the summer for bike riding. My near term goal is 400 by July 4th weekend or when I take the next work trip on July 8th. 27 days away gives me a reasonable shot at hitting that goal.

5. Bronwyn's first dance/gym recital is this Saturday, definitely a bit excited for it. She's been rehearsing regularly to the point that I'm a bit tired of the song they are performing too "Surfing USA"

6. I find us balancing discipline lately with Bronwyn. On Wednesday she had a bit of an episode where she behaved badly in trying to get her point across that happens to be one of her Mother's pet peeves. (Bronwyn slapped at her, very out of character). Bronwyn immediately realized her grievous error, however the damage was done and my wife came down pretty hard on her. I'm trying to figure out the best way for us to facilitate her pushing the boundaries a bit and to 'stand up for herself' while still maintaining discipline. Bronwyn tends to be overly sensitive to criticism and failure, so I do think we need to keep this in mind when she makes a mistake and understand when we have an emotional response and not go overboard with it as well. Gentle nudging towards her pushing the boundaries is still the way to go I think.

7. Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals had a very successful debut, I wrote about the
Done spellchecking
hype for him recently, and stand by my point that being great is going to take more then a couple games (think couple years), however it should be pointed out that the Nationals scheduled his first two starts against two of the worst teams in the league this year. (Pirates and Indians this Saturday or Sunday). The enthusiasm should be tempered a bit due to these two opponents, but likely won't be.

8. I found out some disturbing news today about one of the Vegas forums I regularly participate in. . The Las Vegas Review Journal has filed a copyright infringement suit against the site for posting stories from their paper which were fully accredited and linked too. The LVRJ according to the LV Sun has filed suit against 37 websites. I'm typing up a whole post on my thoughts on the matter, but wanted to reference it here as well.

9. I understand why the parent's of the teenage girl who was sailing around the world allowed her to go, I think. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be the youngest ever. I'm all for parent's encouraging dreams and understand she's sailed since she was very young, since it's her family's business. While I understand it, I can't say I agree with it though. It's one thing to have a dream of sailing around the world, it's another to do it as a teenager in order to try and break the record. For those that are unfamiliar with the story, her communications went out during a storm, they did locate her yesterday sans mast, and she's awaiting rescue. The story can be found here: It's hard to judge in this spot though, because I'm sure her parents felt very comfortable in her abilities and considering the outcome were not proven wrong as she's survived and handled the storm although failed in her attempt. As an outsider though unfamiliar with sailing, I definitely think my view is skewed, and I'm not sure I could let me daughter do something like this at such a young age. Then again, I sort of felt the same way about Natalee Holloway, 18 seemed a bit to young to allow her to go unsupervised to Aruba, I realize that she's an adult at 18, however, to travel to a forum country with the intent on 'celebration' which consisted of drinking and partying for a youngster to celebrate high school graduation, I tend to think there was a failure on the parent's part there. Alas she could make her own decision, but from what I've read, it was a trip they supported and possibly contributed to funding. I'm not a fan of our drinking age laws here, but I have to believe there might have been a better choice. Hindsight is always 20/20 though.

10. With the wife away in Florida, it's been an action packed three days with Boof and me spending some quality time together. I've definitely spoiled her and continued to make it harder someday to find someone as special as "Daddy". I don't feel bad about this at all.

Have a great weekend

Extending courtesy

Why do people sometimes go far out of bounds when they've been extended a courtesy, to the point where you wonder if they are actually taking advantage of the situation. Shouldn't the parameters be set by the one offering the courtesy? Perhaps, it's just the nature of people to not understand this concept. After all, in many situations we react based on our own thoughts and perceptions. Since we think something would be ok for someone else to do if we were offering the courtesy, we assume (incorrectly) that it's perfectly appropriate for us to do the same when a courtesy is extended to us.

I guess this is the result of our ego-centric view of the world which likely only gets further narrow as we get older unless we work to continue to empathize and see situations from the view points of others.

The situation that prompted this post, came from a bike ride I took this afternoon. I took the daughter out and hit the trail in my usual spot. About halfway through my ride there is a covered bridge that has a corner at the beginning of it, the visibility is a bit poor due to the corner, as I came around the corner, there was an elderly couple who was spread out across the bridge with their two poodles, the direction they were walking was opposite of the direction I was going. The older gentlemen grumbled and said I should slow down, although I had fully applied the break at this point. Typically, I wouldn't want an argument, but blatant idiocy pushes me beyond normal levels. I advised him rather loudly that if he was following the rules of the trail (and for that matter travel throughout the United States) then he and his companion in fact were the ones in the wrong here and needed to be on the right hand side of the trail (for them). As I continued the ride (and as my blood pressure calmed down), I thought of the phrase "respect your elders" and how it would be likely that the walker might be considering it too and how in fact I did not 'respect' them.

Fair enough, perhaps I didn't, but there are a number of reasons why I would consider it a courtesy and one that is extended rather then guaranteed.

1. Being old does not mean you don't have to follow the same rules as the rest of us, just because you are old does not excuse your ignorance or that you choose to ignore them.

2. Respect is earned not given, when you decided to try and lay the blame on me, you lost my respect.

3. Giving my respect to elders I do not know is a courtesy I extend. I'm fairly reasonable with it, as I'll overlook the walking side by side and taking up most of the path, or the fact that your ankle biting, barking poodles are aggressive and seem to jump at me or any others on the other days I've seen you and them on the trail, but that courtesy ends at those things.

The couple's actions not only put themselves in danger, but since my daughter was with me put her in danger as well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thoughts on Change

I have a friend who has experienced a lot of upheaval in the last couple years, resulting in some necessary intensive therapy last fall. One of the things in my discussion with my friend that the therapist kept repeating during the discussion with my friend and her spouse was that they needed to understand the problems facing my friend and that they should recognize that for their marriage, we shouldn't get married when we expect the other person to change.

I understand the concept of what the therapist is trying to communicate here, we should never expect someone to change or overtly try to influence it, but the concept that people don't change is absurd. Anyone in a relationship can identify areas they've changed in their tendencies sometimes because of and other times for the sake of said relationship. Not only does change happen but it's entirely necessary to our development through the cycles of life.

However, the therapist in this case continued to harp on the fact that people don't change and we have to accept it as is. Really?? So if I don't change any since high school, I continue to be a severely over weight, depressed, anti-social person?

I say this having insight into my friend's issues, and there a number of things, I know she needs to work through or in essence 'change'. At the same time it would fall on her spouse to enact change too for the sake of the relationship. There are times when the argument that if you got married, you should accept the person for who they are, but this isn't leaving the seat up, or slightly different perception issues. The issues they are facing are far more foundation based. And when you are talking about issues that affect the foundation, it changes the whole course of the situation, because to not enact change grows dysfunction on both ends and ultimately would end in misery for both and probably provide significant collateral damage to others as well.

I found a lot of comedy in the focus of the therapist as described to me, I know the goal was to diffuse some of the tension that existed at the time, but in truth it does little more then enable the status quo. After all, wouldn't it be a reasonable assumption to assume there had to be something that built up to the point of the therapist's intervention?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

From the may he rot in hell file *Updated*

I don't necessarily believe in hell, but I'm not sure the reference works as well without it.

Anyway, who am I referring to? Joran Van Der Sloot, if you aren't familiar with who he is, he was the prime suspect in the Natalee Holloway disappearance in Aruba. (and later filmed by a reporter saying he asked a friend to dump her unconscious body in the ocean as he thought she was dead).

He's now been returned to Peru from Chile (where he fled to) in order to face charges for the murder of Stephany Flores.

I also believe in the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but considering he's not a U.S citizen, the courts in Aruba obviously had something fishy going on to not convict based on the videotaped confession, and that I'm not a lawyer or judge, I feel comfortable putting aside my belief in the concept for this scumbag.

If you couldn't tell I'm not a big fan of 'the strong' taking advantage of the weak and priveleged Van Der Sloot has shown a history of doing just that. I'm hopeful the Peruvian prison is as bad as I could imagine it to be.

The Associated Press is reporting today that Joran has confessed to the murder.

Now let's see whether they are able to assign a sentence that at least makes one think of justice, although given the crime, I'm not sure there's one that measures up.

Friday, June 4, 2010

21st century view of race and sports

I've had this post as a draft since the NFL draft in April and just haven't gotten around to it. Reading up the players that were drafted I noticed some discussion on the sports sites in reference to Toby Gerhart, Gerhart was drafted in the 2nd round, and a lot of the discussion was due to the fact that Gerhart was white and the bias that goes against white players being slower.

I haven't seen Gerhart play and have no idea how fast he is, but the discussion did make me start thinking about the issue of race in today's world of sports.

Race is always such a touchy subject, for years many minorities had to strive to move beyond stereotypes that were associated with them and for the last 20 years of following sports, I think there's been a fair amount of progress in this regard. My question is have we just replaced old habits with new ones or have is there a trend that might provide some insight into differences in genetics that maybe it's time we start acknowledging?

I don't intend to try and figure out which it is, but to possibly further the discussion.

Here are some of the questions I have.

Are Caucasians slower then African Americans? Based on the offensive skill positions in football you could make a reasonable assumption that it is the case. It's certainly the stereotype for sports in general (baseball, basketball, and football). I just wonder whether it's actually true or not. The lack of Caucasian skill position players could be as simple as coaches at lower levels not assigning them to those positions based on this assumption, making the pool of players for the pro leagues much smaller. (This is a similar situation that African Americans had with quarterbacking and coaching, if they aren't selected/allowed at the lower levels to man those positions, how are the pro leagues going to select them? As that myth was displaced and focus was put on correcting it, we've seen an increase in African Americans in coaching and quarterbacking).

Are African American's inherently better at basketball? Are the reasons that the NBA is dominated by African Americans due to genetics, social impact, or bias? I found this link that shows the breakdown by race of the leagues. (I have no clue as to whether it's accurate or current, but based on it being fairly close to what I would guess it's the best I have. The chart shows the NBA is made up of approximately 75% African Americans, I have no doubt that a lot of this is due to the integration the NBA has done with that culture and I believe that MLB suffers from these discrepancies for similar reasons for Caucasian and Latino players, the question I have though is, are these numbers purely due to that integration or are there other reasons that the leagues are dominated by the majority race?

My guess for Major League baseball is that the due to the sport requiring a fair amount of equipment and a good percentage of the African American population cannot afford it for their children that the imbalance is due more toward cultural integration and social economic issues. I also make this assumption on the fact that there have been a fair number of Superstars in the Major Leagues that were African American, however in comparison to the NBA, I'm not sure outside of Larry Bird (possibly) that there have been many if any Caucasian players considered the best at their time in the game once it was integrated. (Frank Thomas, Rickey Henderson, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Bo Jackson, Barry Bonds (even sans Growth Hormone), and CC Sabathia all immediately jump to mind as superstar caliber players.)

So I pose the question why aren't Caucasians as good in basketball? Is it purely due to the fact that African Americans play much more basketball when they are younger, or is it due to bias that Caucasian players are slow, which means less 'organized' opportunity at the lower levels? There are a couple of Caucasian stars in the NBA and even one or two that don't have the 'slow' label applied. Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. are all star caliber players, but even then outside of Nash and Nowitzki, I can't think of any bona-fide stars. Given that many of the NBA's Caucasian stars have European backgrounds gives credence to the fact theory that it's more about the opportunity of playing earlier then genetic skills, but if that was solely the case, why do we seem to have so many African American and Caucasian players that are technically proficient in college that go undrafted as they don't have the measurables?

Combining the two points, African American far outnumber Caucasians at NFL skill (speed) positions and in the NBA, is it a reasonable assumption that the African American population is more athletic in general then the Caucasian population? If so does it mean anything? As I said earlier I don't claim to have an answer and I'm not even sure there is one, but I thought I'd write about it. I realize that there is a good deal of reason why we never visit the subject of 'actual' genetic differences, as there are those that would utilize any discovered differences in a hateful manner.

The question then becomes what if there are differences and if so do they matter? Maybe they don't, maybe it's just best that we work to rid the bias of the past where we call out racism where we see it. Maybe we live in a world where information like this is doomed to be utilized negatively for personal gain or small minded agendas. I'd like to think that some of the efforts over the past 20 years to identify and correct misconceived stereotypes would allow us to move forward more intelligently once we worked to erase some of those issues, but I realize that's likely a bit of a pipe dream.

Who knows though maybe we will evolve into a society that can have these open and unbiased discussions, and maybe there's something to benefit from doing so, after all without this type of thinking would it have been discovered that there is a pre-disposition to sickle cell anemia for African Americans?

Thanks for taking the time if you read through this, I realize I'm likely all over the place in some of my thoughts in the matter although I tried to tighten them up as much as possible. I have new appreciation for authors and reporters that take on large subjects and keep the subject from jumping around to too many possibilities. My hope is that I covered the topic objectively though, as discussing such a highly combustible subject can be quite a challenge and I wanted to do it fairly.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Friday Thoughts 6/3/2010 (Thursday edition)

I seem to have a problem with Holiday weeks and the blog, where I just can't get into a rhythm on posting, so apologies for the lack of updates lately.

Since I don't have anything that fits into it's own post, I thought the Friday format would work best, although yes, I realize it's Thursday.

1. Ken Griffey Jr. retired yesterday, boy does that make me feel old. It's one thing to watch one of your favorite players retire, it's another when you remember the player coming to the Major Leagues at 18 and becoming a superstar overnight. What a great career to watch though. What a great career to a player whom I consider to be one of the best ever and the best of the modern era. SI's Jon Heyman (whom, I respect greatly as a baseball reporter) reported on his Twitter feed that he believes Griffey is the greatest 'clean' player of the modern era and has never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). For those that follow baseball closely, it's not hard to believe Griffey never used PEDs, as his talent jumped out at you when watching him. There was no reason to mess with that ability. For those that might not be convinced otherwise, then statistically it's fairly easy to point out too, as Griffey's career and injuries mirrored many of those before him on the bell curve that is typical for baseball careers. (His head also didn't grow 6 inches in diameter and he wasn't hitting 70 homeruns at 40 years old, but I digress).

2. Monday holidays continue to give, 4 day work weeks after the holiday are like an extra bonus.

3. Stephen Strasburg mania is hitting the Major Leagues on June 8th. I'll reserve judgement, while I don't doubt the kid has an abundance of talent, many 'can't miss' prospects have done exactly that at the major league level. Just recently Mark Prior was essentially 'can't miss' too and most writers and scouts that I followed seemed to have higher praise for him. My concerns for Strasburg are that many of the knowledgeable baseball writers that I follow, seem to be much more muted in their praise. Most of the hype seems to be from mainstream media, again his numbers at Triple A are very solid, but until it's proven for 5-6 years at the Major League level, I'll hold my anointment. Baseball's complexities make it far harder to dominate when one is young and even if they have the talent to do so, maintaining it is much more difficult in my opinion. Another reason I consider football and basketball to be far simpler games.

4. Since this seems to be a fairly sports related post, last night's error by umpire Jim Joyce that cost the Tiger's pitcher his perfect game, has to stand. It's unfortunate, but to undo the call would still mar the performance. I struggled with this opinion though, especially considering it was on what would have been the last out of the game which means there would be no consequence to overturning the ruling. It was a bad call, but that's the human side of baseball and until they implement instant replay it's the rules they play by.

5. In other news, the Indians are far worse then I imagined. This team is bad and interest in them is dropping to the mid-80's levels, when they were at best a triple A team.

6. What's there to say on the gulf coast leak, it's really just sad. I'm not sure words can express how I feel on this. It's also very evident that we don't seem to be able to elect leaders anymore or promote them within our companies. BP has shown themselves to be incompetent from a PR standpoint and our government has thrown up their hands advising that we don't have the equipment to handle the situation. It's a rather sad state of affairs really.

7. On the topic of government leadership. I try to stay away from too much political discourse, I've mentioned before I'd lean farther democratic then republican if I had to choose a side and I definitely prefer President Obama to President Bush, however having said that, it's very evident that President Obama lacks leadership capabilities, it's one of the same issues I had with President Bush. This is fairly typical for a legislator turned executive, they just don't understand the concept of leading and seem far too comfortable in the pack mentality. (I realize President Bush was a governor and I'm not referencing him here as a legislator). The reason why people fondly remember certain Presidents is that they had the ability to lead. It's sorely missing in the current political climate. Unfortunately our political climate is more visible then it's ever been and 'true' leaders are likely to be pushed to the side due to inevitable bad decisions far too early in the political process. Leaders make decisions and some turn out bad, the current climate favors no decision making, so there's nothing for the other side to bring up.

8. Why can't political parties be just for politicians? Wouldn't it make more sense for voters to not affiliate themselves with one party and to force those parties to truly work for the favor?

9. As a self proclaimed 'libertarian' I'm confident in telling you that the 'tea party' movement is not a true libertarian movement, funny how definitions and catch words play out now-a-days in the political landscape though.

10. My wife visited her cousin's parents the other day who run a pool store and I was dismayed to find out that the winter pool cover would only cost us $40. Couldn't it have been 3 or 4 hundred, which would have given me the opportunity to tear down that cess-pool currently occupying our backyard. Since the cover is so cheap, we are going to give the pool another run this year. Since the potential for the wife to get a job is over the summer and we could potentially move, having it available to help the house's value is the reason we are keeping it. After all, the new owners who have never have one think the idea of a backyard pool is awesome! :)

11* (Bonus one) More personal information, I'm up to 130 miles for the 1000 mile summer bike challenge. I made great progress last weekend, but have fallen off the schedule this week, hoping for some additional time on the trail tonight.