Saturday, April 27, 2013

Loving the questions

Always looking for a good coda (though always "to be continued") for another semester of philosophy. This one's pretty good.

When I reach to the edge of the universe
I do so knowing that along some paths of cosmic discovery
There are times when, at least for now,
One must be content to love the questions themselves 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Simple explanations

For Earth Day.

That was nice, but in my slightly biased opinion this 3-year old was even more impressive.

Remembering Earth Days past...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gabrielle Giffords shames Senators

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.
Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them...
A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip -

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What happened to the environmental movement?

It's Earth Day month, marked in the current New Yorker by Nicholas Lemann's plaintive and critical question: What happened to the environmental movement? On his way to issuing a final challenge to all of us who care about the answer, he cites Cornell historian Aaron Sachs's pastoral vision in Arcadian America: The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition:
My hope, for all future generations, is that they will have (in addition to sunshine, fresh air, clean water, and fertile soil) a somewhat slower pace of life, with plenty of time to pause, in quiet places . . . haunted places—everyday, accessible places, open to the public—places that are not too radically transformed over time—places susceptible of cultivation, where people can express their caring, and nature can respond—places with tough, gnarled roots and tangled stalks, with digging mammals and noisy birds—places of common remembrance and hopeful guidance—places of unexpected encounters—places that breed solidarity across difference—places where children can walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before—places that are perpetually up for adoption—places that have been humanized but not conquered or commodified—places that foster a kind of connectedness both mournful and celebratory.
Sounds dreamy and wonderful, to a point. But radical transformation in targeted zones (like medical science) is not anything I'd vote against. And unless we all get a lot more "active" in addressing our environmental crisis right now, transformative technologies in energy and the environment may be the only connection between the benighted present and any future worth having.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Roger Ebert, R.I.P.

Had a driveway moment yesterday listening to Jian Ghomeshi's rebroadcast 2011 interview with the great film critic and humanitarian Roger Ebert, who just left us. How'd he persevere and even flourish, after losing his ability to speak or eat to cancer? Optimism, and a strong and supportive wife.
We pay tribute today to film critic Roger Ebert, who died yesterday at the age of 70. For 46 years, he served as movie critic at the Chicago Sun-Times. He also appeared on the long-running show, At The Movies and wrote a highly influential blog. Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002, and was left without the ability to speak or eat. But he didn't allow illness to stop him continuing to pursue his passion for writing about the movies. During the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, Roger Ebert stopped by Studio Q for a feature interview with Jian, using text-to-speech software. It was an inspiring and wide-ranging conversation, which we've re-posted here... Home | Q with Jian Ghomeshi | CBC Radio... "I do not fear death"... Simon on Ebert
In his memoir Life ItselfRoger wrote:
We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out. 
I am comforted by Richard Dawkins’ theory of memes. Those are mental units: thoughts, ideas, gestures, notions, songs, beliefs, rhymes, ideals, teachings, sayings, phrases, clich├ęs that move from mind to mind as genes move from body to body. After a lifetime of writing, teaching, broadcasting and telling too many jokes, I will leave behind more memes than many. They will all also eventually die, but so it goes.
So it goes.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Baseball, Literature, Culture (rev.)

They've moved me up in the order, to 10:30 a.m.

Agenda for 18th Annual Baseball in Literature
and Culture Conference
April 5, 2013
Middle Tennessee State University
James Union Building

7:45-8:15        Registration and Breakfast

8:15-8:30        Welcome         Warren Tormey, Conference Coordinator
                                                Dr. Brad Bartel, University Provost

8:30-9:15        Keynote Address: Dr. Andrew Hazucha, Ottawa University:

                        “A Jim Bouton Retrospective:  Zen and the Politics
                        of the Knuckleball”                                        

9:20-10:20 Concurrent Sessions A

Session A1:     “Negro League Contexts”

Location: Hazlewood                                                 Chair:   

  • Stephanie Liscio, Case Western Reserve Univ.  “Battles on the Field: Umpire-Player Disagreements in Negro League Baseball in Cleveland and Their Implications”

  • Dan Anderson, Dominican Univ., “’Sensational War of Words’:  Cultural Ideals, the African-American Press, and the Formation of the Negro Leagues”

  • Brian Steverson, Knoxville TN:  “Negro League Baseball in Verse”

Session A2:     “Baseball in Historical, Poetic, and Cultural Expression”

Location:  Dining Rm. C                                            Chair: 

  • David Cicotello, Murfreesboro TN:  “New Developments in McFarland’s Historical Ballparks Series

  • Mark Sickman,  “Caught in a Run-Down:  The Perilous Position of an Online Poetry Publisher”

  • Ben Morrill, Middle Tennessee State University:  “The Baseball Hall of Fame’s Influence in the Development of Private Sports Museums and Halls of Fame”

Session A3:  “19th Century Baseball”

Location:  Faculty Senate Chambers                                    Chair:

  • Bob Barrier, Kennesaw State:  “’The Great Match’ and ‘Our Baseball Club’:  Two Early Baseball Novels”

  • Josh Howard, Middle Tennessee State University:  “Amateur Baseball in Alleghany County, VA, During the Late-Nineteenth Century”

  • Warren Tormey, Middle Tennessee State University:  “August 23rd, 1860:  The Day Baseball Fell”

10:30-11:30         Concurrent Sessions B

Session B1:  “Baseball and Locality”

Location:  Hazlewood                                                            Chair:   

  • Amanda Bales, Lincoln University:  “Why I Want The Cubs to Win the World Series”

  • Michael Pagel, Northeast State CC:  “William Heuman’s ‘Brooklyns Lose’ (1954):  Dodges Tragedy with the Goodwill of Neighbors”

  • Bill Gruber, Emory University:  “Jocks, Herbs, and the 1936 Yankees”

Session B2:  “Baseball in Film and TV”

Location:  Dining Rm. C                                            Chair: 

  • Ginger Stelle, Morthland College:  “’E.T. Steal Home’:  Baseball on Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine and The X-Files

  • Ron Briley, Sandia Prep.:  “A New Beginning for the Baseball Film Genre:   Bang the Drum Slowly (1974)”

  • Phil Oliver, Middle Tennessee State University:  “Right When They’re Wrong:  Fallible Umpires and Infallible Rules”

Session B3:  “Seeing Stars:  Baseball Heroes”

Location:  Faculty Senate Chambers            Chair:

  • Stephen Andrews, Grinnell College:  “On Leanne Howe’s Miko Kings:  An Indian Baseball Story

  • R Dean Johnson, Eastern Kentucky University:  “All-Star Treatment”

  • Gina Logue, Middle Tennessee State University:  “Hank Aaron:  My Childhood Hero” 
11:40-12:05         Concurrent Sessions C

Session C1:  “Negro League Baseball in Popular Culture”

Location:  Hazlewood                                                            Chair:

  • Will Boone, Winston-Salem State University:  “Black Babe Ruths:  Major League Baseball, Hip Hop Icons, and the Birth of the Uncool”

Session C2:  “Creative Fiction I”

Location:  Dining Rm. C                                            Chair:

  • Craig Albin, Missouri State University:  “Judgment Call”:  A Short Story

Session C3:  “Winding Up…”

Location:  Faculty Senate Chambers                                    Chair:

  • Crosby Hunt, Middle Tennessee State University:  “’If your life is drab and empty and puerile and full of Phil Rizzuto’: On Reading Ball Four Again for the Twenty- Third Time Forty-Three Years Later”

12:15-2:00 Luncheon and Jim Bouton Talk

Tennessee Room

12:00-12:45    Lunch
12:45-1:30      Jim Bouton Talk (~20 min. talk + 10 min. Q&A)

Book Signing in James Union Lobby to follow talk

2:00-3:00 Concurrent Sessions D

Session D2:  Baseball Creative Fiction II

Location:  Dining Rm. C                                            Chair: 

  • Thomas Luckie, Butler University:  “Rain Delay”

  • Steven Walker, Middle Tennessee State University:   “Civil War”

3:30-ish:  Informal Socializing @ The ‘Boro

6:00 PM:  Sun Belt Conference Baseball:  MTSU Blue Raiders vs. Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans

Monday, April 1, 2013


The secret cannot be kept much longer. Questions are being asked, and sooner rather than later the New York Mets management will have to produce a statement. It may have started unraveling in St. Petersburg, Fla. two weeks ago, on March 14, to be exact, when Mel Stottlemyre, the Met pitching coach, walked over to the 40-odd Met players doing their morning calisthenics at the Payson Field Complex not far from the Gulf of Mexico, a solitary figure among the pulsation of jumping jacks, and motioned three Mets to step out of the exercise. The three, all good prospects, were John Christensen, a 24-year-old outfielder; Dave Cochrane, a spare but muscular switch-hitting third baseman; and Lenny Dykstra, a swift centerfielder who may be the Mets' lead-off man of the future. Ordering the three to collect their bats and batting helmets, Stottlemyre led the players to the north end of the complex where a large canvas enclosure had been constructed two weeks before. The rumor was that some irrigation machinery was being installed in an underground pit.
He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively - 04.01.85 - SI Vault Accelerating Intelligence News