August 30, 2009


There is a competitive baseball-derived game called beep baseball that is played by blind and visually impaired athletes using a modified baseball that emits a beeping sound to enable blind or blindfolded players to locate the ball for hitting and fielding:

Beep Baseball, created in the mid 1960’s, is a modified version of traditional baseball played by visually impaired and blind athletes. Most of the Bombers games are played against sighted teams, with the use of blindfolds. The National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) established the set of rules and sanctions teams all over the country.

The Bombers are the Long Island Bombers:

The Long Island Bombers are a dedicated group of baseball enthusiasts from the Long Island and Tri-state area. They just happen to be blind and visually impaired. They hold rigorous practices, instructional clinics and play exhibition and competitive games against sighted and other visually impaired teams in the Metropolitan area. The combined efforts of our players, volunteers and supporters are what make the Long Island Bombers successful.

Totally fucking coolio!

What PIs Do

August 29, 2009

I am reading a cool-ass novel right now called “A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living”, by Michael Dahlie, that was a PEN Hemingway award winner (whatever the fuck that is). One of the minor characters in the book trained as a bush pilot in Alaska, and then over time built his own bush flight operation in Africa with multiple planes and pilots. I really like this description of the dude:

Prentice’s whole pursuit of aviation actually seemed largely intellectual, as though landing in a narrow lake two hundred miles north of Juneau were a kind of thought problem as much as it was an act of physical bravado. It was something like assembling a radio, although the variables and stakes and the physical challenges made the puzzle much more complex and much more fascinating.

This kind of technician’s outlook seemed to carry on throughout his career. Prentice began running his own cargo operations, and hiring his own pilots to deliver shipments in war-torn jungles and budding dictatorships all across Africa, approaching it all with that same mathematical outlook–he took a great deal of satisfaction from manipulating the course and destination of people and machines through very complex environments toward a specific and measurable goal.

The book as a whole is actually totally fucking hilarious.

Here is the list in order of the top 25 ranked starting NFL quarterbacks (as assessed by the fantasy prediction Web site) and their colleges:

Drew Brees–Purdue
Tom Brady–Michigan
Peyton Manning–Tennessee
Philip Rivers–NC State
Aaron Rogers–Cal
Kurt Warner–N Iowa
Tony Romo–E Illinois
Matt Ryan–BC
Jay Cutler–Vandy
Donovan McNabb–Syracuse
Carson Palmer–USC
Matt Schaub–Virginia
Matt Cassel–USC
Ben Roethlisberger–Miami of Ohio
Matt Hasselbeck–BC
Brett Favre–S Miss
Eli Manning–Ole Miss
Kyle Orton–Purdue
Trent Edwards–Stanford
Joe Flacco–Delaware
Chad Pennington–Marshall
David Garrard–E Carolina
Shaun Hill–Maryland
Jason Campbell–Auburn
JaMarcus Russell–LSU

I was listening to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio this morning, and he made a really interesting observation (yes, he is a misogynist right-wing dumbfuck asshole, but he does have some insight into sports). Of those top 25 NFL starting quarterbacks, only seven played in legitimate top-25 college programs; of the top ten NFL starters, only three played at top-25 colleges.

Cowherd’s interpretation of this is that college QBs who play in top programs rarely have to struggle to win and never get hit–and rarely even challenged–by defenses, because their offensive lines and receivers so overwhelmingly physically dominate the vast majority of defensive players they face. This provides very little preparation for what they will experience in the NFL. In contrast, QBs at lesser programs have been forced to routinely succeed in situations that are much more like what they will face in the NFL: defenses that are, at a minimum, very evenly matched physically with the offense, and able to hurry, harry, and beat the living crap out of them.

This got me thinking about the relative success of PIs who trained in “top-25” labs–huge-ass, well-funded, with tons of outstanding technical support and fancy-ass equipment and reagents, and surrounded by many brilliant people–and those who scrapped it out in smaller, less-funded, tech-impoverished, and intellectually less vibrant environments. I have my own thoughts about this, but I am interested in readers’ thoughts first.

Question For My Readers

August 21, 2009

Do cats and horses really befriend one another like this?

Long time Boston partisan hack beat writer and all-around Red Socks suck-up Tony Massarotti recognizes that the Yankees are totally motherfucking awesome, not just because they use their huge budget to buy expensive players, but because they have been really good at nurturing young talent:

Tonight, when the New York Yankees rumble into Fenway Park, perception and reality will clash. The team known for its multimillion-dollar superstars will have more than its share of budding youngsters, much to the chagrin of Red Sox supporters who would prefer to paint a far different picture.

Take a good look at the first-place Yankees this weekend. From Robinson Cano to Phil Hughes to Joba Chamberlain to Melky Cabrera, they have the kind of home-grown talent that makes them far more competitive with the Red Sox in that area than most anyone ever acknowledges.



My friend and colleague, Larry Hamelin aka The Barefoot Bum, is guest posting today:

Recently, Comrade PhysioProf posted “Diversity” In White Institutions, discussing the Witty Mulatto’s post, stuff white people do: use the word ‘diversity’ to avoid really dealing with ‘race’. I’m entirely sympathetic and supportive of the grievances of people of color, as well as women, and LGBTI etc. people (not to mention atheists). But sympathetic and supportive does not mean uncritical.

There are a couple of relatively minor things wrong with the article. The first is its lack of specificity: The author does not really say specifically what’s wrong with “diversity” (other than the implication that it’s not enough) or specifically what he would like white people to do differently. Additionally, diversity in academia and the corporate world is in direct response to the objectively true and legitimate grievance that various marginalized groups were arbitrarily shut out of these institutions. Diversity is half-assed, of course, but human beings are half-assed in general. Half-assed is better than no-assed, and all progress — scientific and technical as well as social and political — is nothing more than the accumulation of half-assed solutions.

More interesting, though, is the author’s criticism of “white” culture. The author doesn’t seem to be just criticizing a culture dominated by white people, where people of color are accepted only in insignificant numbers and/or only subordinate positions. In an earlier version of the article (since emended, I suspect), the author talks about institutions that can be “white” despite having a numerical majority of people of color. And, of course, we currently have a black man as President of the United States, and we are making real progress in including not only people of color but also other marginalized groups in positions of real power, not just subordinates. An implied criticism, then, is that such people are “selling out” to the white power structure, adopting “white” (and male, religious, and hetero-normative) cultural norms despite their technical minority status.

I believe this criticism actually has some merit. It is better read, however, as a criticism of capitalist culture. (And we white folk have to bear full credit and blame for capitalism.) Race and capitalism are inexorably intertwined. Capitalism requires a hyper-exploited underclass, and the hyper-exploited underclass in every capitalist society is composed primarily of women and people of color. White culture is capitalist culture, and vice versa.

Even a cursory study of history will reveal, however, that capitalist hyper-exploitation precedes and is arguably the cause of racism. Hyper-exploitation has been a feature of every society since the beginning of civilization. The first Western civilizations (such as the Roman Empire) were slave states, and who is more hyper-exploited than a chattel slave? And the original hyper-exploited capitalist underclass in every early capitalist state was differentiated not by race but by dialect, parentage and upbringing.

Racism in its modern form doesn’t really get going until the development of imperialism; in Lenin’s terms “the highest form of capitalism”. Imperialism features the hyper-exploitation of foreign countries for raw materials and labor-intensive work, and the foreign countries conquered and hyper-exploited happen to be full of people of color. (There are of course other contributing factors, including the American slave trade and the genocide of the American Indians, but these factors were motivated, enabled and facilitated in no small part by imperialist capitalism.)

There are exceptions, but social and political relations typically emerge from more fundamental economic relations. The social relations in the white Western societies pertaining to hierarchy and authority, the “work ethic”, the correlation of personal and moral status with economic worth, and other pernicious, soul-destroying and dehumanizing social relations emerge from the capitalist system. Of course I cannot read anyone else’s mind, but I suspect that if the Witty Mulatto were asked to detail what precisely constitutes the objectionable “white” culture that people of color are being assimilated into, he would name characteristics most of which could easily be seen as emerging from imperialist capitalism.

As long as we have capitalism, we will have a hyper-exploited underclass. And, given our history, that underclass will always be disproportionately composed of women and people of color. Simply allowing a few women and people of color into the tiny minority of the ruling class can always legitimately be labeled as tokenism and selling out. And there’s no feasible way (nor does it seem particularly desirable) to simply transform an exploitative, capitalist culture dominated by white men to an exploitative, capitalist culture dominated by black males, or brown women, or any other arbitrary group.

If women and people of color want to actually end sexual and racial oppression, hyper-exploitation and marginalization, they have to attack the roots of this oppression: the capitalist system. I don’t demand that they do so — their agenda is their own, not mine — but if they do not, I cannot see how their efforts would be effective.

HOLY FUCKNOLY!!111!!!11!!

August 13, 2009

Vick to EAGLES.