10/08/2012 archive

2012 NL Division Series- Nats at Cardinals, Game 2

Get away day.

The same rules apply to the Cardinals as apply to every other team in a playoff situation- it’s a very bad thing to find yourself facing elimination (Sun-Tzu notwithstanding).  Like the Giants last night they really need a win at home.

Thus, the rally squirrel.

Now there are encouraging signs for the Cards.  They only lost by a late game (8th inning) 2 out pinch hit 2 run single and there is no doubt that Gonzales showed considerable frustration early, but age and guile only go so far and by the end the Nationals were looking considerably more “playoff experienced” than they did going in.

Also on the positive side they’ll be facing Jordan Zimmermann.  Don’t let his impressive record (12 – 8, 2.94 ERA) fool you, he’s 0 – 2 lifetime against the Cardinals with a stunning 9.12 ERA.

He’ll be facing Jaime Garcia (7-7, 3.92 ERA) who wasn’t all that impressive in last year’s playoffs, but most of the damage came on the road, he’s much better at Busch Stadium.

And Zimmerman is good on the road, so we shall see shortly how much trouble the Cardinals are in.

Open Debate: Romney’s Tax Plan

This weekend on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz and Avik Roy, an adviser to Presidential Republican nominee Mitt Romney, debate the nominee’s tax plan and its impact on Americans.

In the second segment, Prof. Stiglitz and Mr. Roy try to outline what is known about Mr. Romney’s tax plan and whether he would be able to implement the plan if elected president.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Truth About Jobs

If anyone had doubts about the madness that has spread through a large part of the American political spectrum, the reaction to Friday’s better-than expected report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics should have settled the issue. For the immediate response of many on the right – and we’re not just talking fringe figures – was to cry conspiracy. [..]

[..] The furor over Friday’s report revealed a political movement that is rooting for American failure, so obsessed with taking down Mr. Obama that good news for the nation’s long-suffering workers drives its members into a blind rage. It also revealed a movement that lives in an intellectual bubble, dealing with uncomfortable reality – whether that reality involves polls or economic data – not just by denying the facts, but by spinning wild conspiracy theories.

It is, quite simply, frightening to think that a movement this deranged wields so much political power.

The New York Times Editorial: The Cacophony of Money

Two-thirds of the $50 million spent on Mitt Romney’s behalf in Ohio has come from outside “super PACs” and other so-called independent groups, and yet Mr. Romney has lagged behind in all of the major Ohio polls. Hundreds of millions in third-party spending from unlimited checks, much of it from undisclosed donors, has also failed to give Mr. Romney a clear lead in any of the other swing states.

If Mr. Romney loses the presidential race – which is far from a sure thing – does that mean the big check writers will declare the process a waste of money and stay out of politics the next time around? Don’t count on it.

Glenn Greenwald: The US Presidential Debates’ Illusion of Political Choice

The issue is not what separates Romney and Obama, but how much they agree. This hidden consensus has to be exposed

Wednesday night’s debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney underscored a core truth about America’s presidential election season: the vast majority of the most consequential policy questions are completely excluded from the process. This fact is squarely at odds with a primary claim made about the two parties – that they represent radically different political philosophies – and illustrates how narrow the range of acceptable mainstream political debate is in the country.

In part this is because presidential elections are now conducted almost entirely like a tawdry TV reality show. Personality quirks and trivialities about the candidates dominate coverage, and voter choices, leaving little room for substantive debates.

But in larger part, this exclusion is due to the fact that, despite frequent complaints that America is plagued by a lack of bipartisanship, the two major party candidates are in full-scale agreement on many of the nation’s most pressing political issues. As a result these are virtually ignored, drowned out by a handful of disputes that the parties relentlessly exploit to galvanise their support base and heighten fear of the other side.

Robert Kuttner: Notes for Next Time

I was pleased to see the unemployment rate come down to 7.8 percent. But honestly, that’s not nearly good enough.

Too many of the jobs don’t pay a decent wage. And they won’t pay decently until we get unemployment down to about 4 percent, as it was in the 1990s.

Our kids are saddled with a trillion dollars of student debt, and they are going out into a very weak job market. 30 percent of recent college grads move back in with their parents.

Our retirees are facing an eroding pension system, and the loss of their home equity, as well as very low returns on their savings because the Federal Reserve has rightly lowered interest rates, as one strategy of cleaning up the financial mess that we inherited.

This is not a four-year problem. It is a three decades problem.

It is not a case of young versus old, but a case of the one percent — who are only getting wealthier — versus everyone else.

Thomas B. Edsall: Toe to Toe

For the past year, conservative and Republican groups have spent more than $138 million in a concerted attempt to turn voters against Barack Obama.

The big dog in the effort to drive up Obama’s negative job approval ratings, the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, has invested $82.5 million in independent expenditures, mostly for television ads. Restore Our Future hired Larry McCarthy, the media consultant who achieved both recognition and infamy for producing the Willie Horton commercial in 1988. Restore Our Future’s hope: to do to Obama what McCarthy did to Michael Dukakis.

So far in the campaign, the right has outspent the left on independent advertising by just over 3 to 1.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Romney’s Personality Shift

The strangest aspect of Wednesday night’s debate was Mitt Romney’s decision to change his tax policies on the fly. Having campaigned hard on a tax proposal that called for $5 trillion in tax cuts, he said flatly that he was not offering a $5 trillion tax cut.

“I don’t have a tax cut of the scale that you’re talking about,” Romney said, even though that is exactly the tax cut he has proposed.

Was Romney for his tax plan before he was against it?

Romney’s willingness to remake himself one more time brought into sharp relief a central flaw of his candidacy: Having campaigned as a moderate when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, he veered sharply to the right to win the Republican presidential nomination. Now, with the election just weeks away and polls showing him falling behind in the swing states, he has decided that he needs once again to sound moderate, practical and terribly concerned about the middle class — and that is the person he sought to be in Denver.

On This Day In History October 8

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 8 is the 281st day of the year (282nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 84 days remaining until the end of the year.


On this day in 1871, flames spark in the Chicago barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, igniting a 2-day blaze that kills between 200 and 300 people, destroys 17,450 buildings,leaves 100,000 homeless and causes an estimated $200 million (in 1871 dollars; $3 billion in 2007 dollars) in damages.

The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration  that burned from Sunday, October 8, to early Tuesday, October 10, 1871, killing hundreds and destroying about 4 square miles (10 km2) in Chicago, Illinois. Though the fire was one of the largest U.S.  disasters of the 19th century, the rebuilding that began almost immediately spurred Chicago’s development into one of the most populous and economically important American cities.

On the municipal flag of Chicago, the second star commemorates the fire. To this day the exact cause and origin of the fire remain a mystery.

The fire started at about 9 p.m. on Sunday, October 8, in or around a small shed that bordered the alley behind 137 DeKoven Street.[3]  The traditional account of the origin of the fire is that it was started by a cow kicking over a lantern in the barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O’Leary. Michael Ahern, the Chicago Republican reporter who created the cow story, admitted in 1893 that he had made it up because he thought it would make colorful copy.

The fire’s spread was aided by the city’s overuse of wood for building, a drought prior to the fire, and strong winds from the southwest that carried flying embers toward the heart of the city. The city also made fatal errors by not reacting soon enough and citizens were apparently unconcerned when it began. The firefighters were also exhausted from fighting a fire that happened the day before.

After the fire

Once the fire had ended, the smoldering remains were still too hot for a survey of the damage to be completed for days. Eventually it was determined that the fire destroyed an area about four miles (6 km) long and averaging 3/4 mile (1 km) wide, encompassing more than 2,000 acres (8 km²). Destroyed were more than 73 miles (120 km) of roads, 120 miles (190 km) of sidewalk, 2,000 lampposts, 17,500 buildings, and $222 million in property-about a third of the city’s valuation. Of the 300,000 inhabitants, 90,000 were left homeless. Between two and three million books were destroyed from private library collections. The fire was said by The Chicago Daily Tribune to have been so fierce that it surpassed the damage done by Napoleon’s siege of Moscow in 1812. Remarkably, some buildings did survive the fire, such as the then-new Chicago Water Tower, which remains today as an unofficial memorial to the fire’s destructive power. It was one of just five public buildings and one ordinary bungalow spared by the flames within the disaster zone. The O’Leary home and Holy Family Church, the Roman Catholic congregation of the O’Leary family, were both saved by shifts in the wind direction that kept them outside the burnt district.

Rumblestilskin or Jon the Giant Killer


Trotsky’s Continuing Relevance by Isabelle Hayes

LeGaulliste recently wrote about Marx’s concept of the necessity of the connection between the worker and the work, the concept of one’s life-activity having value and being natural to the healthy human; that capitalism has severed that connection,  creating a host of ills for the ordinary person.

A person’s free, conscious activity is what differentiates man’s species (if I understood Marx correctly), from the animals and without which the laborer is alienated from his/her work.

That diary started me thinking about the steady or growing rate of unemployment in the urban and rural ghettos of this country.  The ordinary young persons (not specially talented athletes) growing up there have to go into illegal trade if they have ambition (exceptions of course do happen), a situation created by our society being run by and for capitalists and wannabe capitalists.  That system requires scapegoats,  another method used to gull the voters.  The willingness of the many to ascribe fault to the poor can make a humanist very depressed indeed.

I’ve been able to be involved and interested in american politics only since 2008,  having since Reagan been unable to take it seriously, or believe in the intelligence or good will of the electorate.  And this alienation extends to the entire human race, given the history of hatred, murder, mayhem, permanent war.  

Such thoughts cannot but occur to anyone who cares about the apparent human inability to create a world supportive of all living creatures.

But for the last year or so  I’ve been  reading Leon Trotsky’s writings, and books about him, and have found his life (and death) exemplary and inspiring.  No more need be said about his foresight than to quote from the book he wrote circa 1920, entitled “Terrorism and Communism”:

2012 NL Division Series- Reds at Giants, Game 2

It gets better

I certainly hope so.

It’s really hard to overstate how tough it is to win 3 Sudden Death games on the road.  If they happen to split at AT&T park then it’s no harm no foul, but if the Reds only need to win one then the series could be quite short indeed.

Last night’s game was much more disappointing than the score would indicate.  You would have thought having their ace Cueto out after a mere 8 pitches would have disrupted the Reds more, but instead it was the Giants who seemed out of sync.

Still were it even a hundred run shut out there’s only one W a game and tonight we start fresh with Bumgarner (16 – 11, 3.37 ERA) facing the Reds’ Arroyo (12 – 10, 3.74 ERA).

It may be tonight we see the effects of Cueto’s back spasms, Arroyo’s recent record is not exactly confidence inspiring and I’m sure Dusty Baker would rather have gotten the performance from Cueto and still have Latos in the bag for tonight.  Cueto is listed day to day but certainly will not appear before Game 4.  It’s not like he had a day off, he pitched a full warmup and has an injury.

The Giants need to get some offense going against the lesser part of the rotation if they are to advance this season and Bumgarner must pitch well.  Defense can’t help you against the long ball and the 2 Reds Homers produced enough runs to win all by themselves.

So if you root Giants hope they put on a show tonight.  If on the other hand you’re a Reds fan you can take some encouragement from the fact you crushed their Ace on the field and need perform no better than normal at home to get into the League Championship.

Pique the Geek 20121007: More about Sodium

Last time we started our discussion about sodium, and tonight we shall continue it.  We have pretty much covered the quantum mechanical part and the properties and uses of elemental sodium, so tonight we shall focus on some of the compounds of that element.

Sodium compounds are extremely common and widespread, but not universally distributed.  This is important for reasons to be seen later.

The most common sodium compound is common salt, or sodium chloride, NaCl.  Everyone has personal experience with salt, both as a nutrient and as a melting aid for icy surfaces.

2012 AL Division Series- Yankees at Orioles, Game 1

C’mon, you remember Lola.

Make up your mind to have no regrets.

The Flaws of a Short Series

Purists contend that even a 5 game series doesn’t really give you a sense of how bad or good a team is.  After all, even the worst ones win 40% of the time which means there’s a 6% chance of a bad team sweeping 3 just out of the pure random cussedness of the universe.

In truth the most telling effect is that you don’t get to re-use your pitching aces as much as you’d like to since there are only 5 days from the first to 4th starts.  I say thank goodness because I think seeing the same faces three times in a series is boring.  I also prefer games with lots of hitting and scoring.

Now this year they have a new wrinkle in the rules that gives the team without home field advantage the first 2 games at home.  This reduces the ‘advantage’ of home field advantage because it’s basically unavailable until a final deciding game.  What it does do is eliminate a travel day compared to the old 2-2-1 format with the additional benefit of making it even harder to bore me with another start by one of your 2 Aces.

As you may gather I’m not unalterably opposed to the new scheme other than that I always feel more Baseball is better and were I commissioner you’d have a 5-7-7-7 format.

Damn Yankees

Well they’re not the Senators (now the Rangers and thankfully eliminated) but the Orioles have been huge Yankee killers this season according to members of the Collective (resistance is futile).  In fact they’ve split their 18 games which is  better than the Orioles had any reason to expect and the Hive mind views as a great injustice in their pursuit of 162 game perfection.

The Orioles will have to be every bit as fierce as they’re imagined because on paper they’re over matched and today’s starting pitching is a typical example.  Jason Hammel (8 – 6, 3.43 ERA) went down mid-season with a knee injury and is fresh back from rehab.  CC Sabathia (15 – 6, 3.38 ERA) should be better, but is 0 – 2 at Camden Yard this year.  Before we see Saunders again we will have 2 rookies, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, against Pettit and Kuroda.  Saunders will face Hughes (if necessary) in Game 4.

It’s easy to mistake me for a Yankees fan because I’m exposed to so much of them, but the truth is I can take them or leave them.  I think they’re uninteresting between the lines and have no appetite for gossip, but I do admire their ambition and ruthlessness (though in a world devoid of unintentional irony that word would be associated with the Red Sox).

No, no Nanette, that’s how I’ve been able to weather all the financial crises of my life.  My money is invested in triple A gold plated secure vehicles like off, off Broadway shows.

That and sports futures.