Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) The top story of the day: Tim Johnson, D-SD, and part of the newly-elected one seat Democratic majority in the Senate, had what appears to be a stroke (could just be an ischemic attack), but is listed in critical condition. My sense is he'll survive and recover fairly quickly. His resignation or death will be a major blow to the Democratic agenda overall, but I feel that there is enough moxy now in the Republican moderates that some of the major points of the Pelosi/Reid agenda will get through, like a hike in the minimum wage. This may not be as bad as the punditry makes it out to be, that Cheney has the deciding vote, because a) most votes won't come down to that, and b) Cheney's heart makes his physical attendance in the Senate questionable. There is no precedent for what happens when that occurs.

2) Jacq pointed to an article at where Senator McCain is going to introduce legislation to severely curtail your civil right to comment on this or any other blog, and to hold me personally responsible for your comments. Other parts of this legislation include greatly increasing the punishment for the use of copyrighted materials (on the fence about this part), and even more severe restrictions on the posting of personal information in a profile and/or a diary!

What a jerk. Although it woud be fun to watch such right wing blogs as Little Green Footballs actually censor comments from the right wingnuts who post there...

3) The Boston Red Sox have apparently come to terms with Daisuke Matsuzaka. First, it ought to be fun reading the Boston sports columns for the first few weeks as their, um, provincial writers try to spell that puppy. Second, the deal with Matsuzaka was for about $60 million over 6 years (for a guy who hasn't even thrown a major league pitch!), with the Red Sox ponying up an additional $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka (yea, I'm rubbing it in that I know enough Japanese that I can type "Matsuzaka" with some comfort). It's the fee portion I'm focused on.

I think this is a good thing, that baseball is beginning to implement what soccer has had for years: a transfer system, whereby a team in any league in any country that agrees to join UEFA can negotiate for any player on any other team in any other country, with the teams exchanging money for this right. It prevents, say, the Portugese league from becoming a de facto farm system for the English Premiere League. Some of these fees can range into the tens of millions of dollars (well, euros, but multiply by 1.25 for the dollar ratio, roughly).

Major League Baseball has had such a superior product that other nations-- Korea, Japan, but most notably poor nations like the Dominican Republic-- have become farm systems for players. Now, Japan, having won the World Baseball Classic this past spring (the United States was humiliated before the round robin tournament portion and eliminated), they've shown that, at least for the first nine to twenty five players in their league, they are as good as the majors, can command this fee.

Personally, I think it ought to be imposed by all countries that have a player under contract to a local team. But nobody asked me...

4) Some Saudis are threatening to take military action if we leave Iraq without securing the Sunni minority's safety. With whose army? Ours? I say, let them get their hands dirty for once.

5) Barack Obama isn't running in 2008, and he ought to stop toying with the party. This is highly reminiscent of Mario Cuomo in the 80s, and it eventually cost him not only a chance at the nomination, but his governorship.

6) Another reason to stop the death penalty in its tracks. If we're going to kill people, we ought to do it unemotionally and with as little malice as possible. The loss of any individual ought to be a time of mourning, not a time of running around trying to figure what went wrong. If we can't get it right, then don't do it.

7) No wonder Tony Blair was so quiet at the press conference last seems he had his hand in the cookie jar.

8) My voice is slowly coming back, I'd say about 70-75% there, and I can even sing in my lower registers. Normally, I'm a baritone. I've trained my voice to carry tenor (used to be falsetto, but now I have to skip over some alto tenor notes to get there, and even then it's kind of iffy. Age will do that.), but I can easily hit bass and even sometimes basso profundo if I've had enough to drink (think Lurch of the Addams' Family). It's a little weird to sing a Gin Blossoms song in your shower sounding like Barry White, I confess...