July 21, 2018

Saturday Ramblings, February 21, 2015

Hello, imonks, and welcome to the weekend.  Ready to ramble?

This may not be a good week to go old school...

This may not be a good week to go old school…

You may have noticed that Lent began this week.  For you Baptists, here’s an explanatory article.  So then, Wednesday was Ash Wednesday (Baptists, see here), and at least one Church was ready with drive-thru service.  Clergy at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Upper Arlington, Ohio, applied ash to the foreheads of anyone who stopped in the parking lot of the church for two hours Wednesday. Some comments on Facebook criticized the church for cheapening the observance, but Rev. Aaron Layne reasoned that it could be a first step back for some people who haven’t been to church in years.  Hmmm. Your thoughts, imonks? Are you for or against drive-thru ashings (is that a word? Don’t judge, I grew up Baptist).

Best long read of the week: The Atlantic’s What ISIS Really Wants.  I learned more from that one article about the nature and goal of ISIS than anything else I have read by far.

Most of us are familiar with the sugar factory known as Krispy Kreme donuts.  But did you know that they have stores in England?  That must have really messed with the Brits when they saw how us yanks were spelling crispy and cream.  But the odd spelling came back to bite the company when a store in Hale began a new promotion: Krispy Kreme Klubs.  Yeah, they went all out in promoting their “KKK Wednesdays” until some Facebook commentators not completely ignorant of American history persuaded them it might be a bad idea.  Of course, what made it worse was the promotion was accompanied by ads for “Colouring Tuesday” and “Facepainting Thursday”.

kkk (1)

You thought I was joking, didn’t ya????

“Understanding that we are not evil makes it easier to identify evil elsewhere and to combat it effectively.” This from presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson, who was defending his earlier remarks that the war against ISIS should be “without rules”.   “Our military needs to know that they’re not going be prosecuted when they come back, because somebody has said, ‘You did something that was politically incorrect,’…There is no such thing as a politically correct war. We need to grow up, we need to mature. If you’re gonna have rules for war, you should just have a rule that says no war. Other than that, we have to win.”  So, Dr. Carson, are you saying the Geneva Convention is just political correctness? Really???

A South Korean woman was tired.  So tired she just laid on the floor to take a nap.  Her sweet dreams were rudely interrupted when she realized someone or something was pulling violently on her hair.  The good news?  It was just her Roomba.  The bad news? It took four emergency workers over a half hour to free her locks.

The coming robot overlords claim their first victim

The coming robot overlords claim their first victim

The toy maker Playmobil is getting ready for the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation.  The first item produced is a Martin Luther action figure, holding a quill and a German Bible.  It quickly became the fastest selling item Playmobil ever produced.  A company spokesperson called it “a big mystery [and] a huge surprise”.   Apparently many of the toys were picked up by parents who wanted to give their kids a little knowledge of the reformation.  Of course, if they really wanted to get the kids interested in Martin Luther, they can always just read them some of his more…ummm…earthy quotes.

If I break wind in Wittenburg they smell it in Rome

“If I fart in Wittenburg they smell it in Rome.”

“The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard.” You may remember this quote from 1984 by George Orwell.  It came to mind as it was revealed last week that some TVs are recording the conversations in the room, and sending the data to third parties online. But of course the problem here is not just a few TV’s.  There are also concerns that Xboxs, Amazon Fire, and of course, your smartphone are able to listen to us (or sometimes watch us) whenever they want.  Anything with a microphone or camera that can be connected to the internet is a potential portal to a “third party company” having recordings of you.

Orwell, of course, was focused on hard totalitarianism, in the service of the government.  And we know, now, about the NSA’s vast data collection of our data.  But should we be just as concerned about companies collecting so much information on us as well? Am I paranoid?  Perhaps.  But remember the old saying:  just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they really aren’t out to get you.

“This isn’t Loon Mountain, this is the city of Boston, where we’re trying to remove snow off of the street and it becomes very dangerous,” Mayor Marty Walsh told the residents of Bean Town.  He was referring to reports of cabin-fever infected residents jumping out upper floor windows into piled up snow. Christina Phaup, 25, said she hadn’t even heard of anyone jumping out of their windows before Walsh’s speech. Now that Walsh gave her the idea, though, “I’m putting that on my to-do list.

Weird headline of the week: Man Accused of Shooting at Whales With World War II Rifle.

Beauty of the week: The pictures below are not stills from some bizarre planet in the upcoming Star Wars movie.  They were shot at Lake Michigan, where photographer Joshua Nowicki noticed that the combination of wind and freezing temperatures had created some remarkable shapes.  DSC_8963-photo-by-Joshua-Nowicki Joshua-Nowicki-ice-sand-sculptures-6 Joshua-Nowicki-ice-sand-sculptures-2

This from the Police Department of Harlan, Kentucky: “Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into the song ‘Let it Go!’ As you can see by the weather she is very dangerous.” The Sheriff has apparently had quite enough winter.6b6babf7e034066cf2079aea8a552c69 (1)

Did you know that nicotine and caffeine can protect bees against parasites?  That’s the conclusion of a new study published this week. Of course, the benefits have to be weighed against the fact that honey production is down, since the bees are now hanging out all night at the bowling alley.

Another study examined the question, “what the strongest material in the world?”  Wanna guess? Diamonds?  Spider silk? Donald Trump’s hairspray? Nope.  It’s sea snail teeth.  You don’t want to mess with snails.

This movie was pure science

This movie was pure science

A load of excrement forced the closure of an interstate exit ramp in Indiana on Thursday. No, political campaigning was not involved. A tanker accidentally spilled about 300 or 400 gallons of raw sewage onto the Interstate 65 exit ramp leaving waste was 6 to 8 inches deep in places. The local paper added, “As if that wasn’t bad enough, the pooling excrement froze, causing a toxic poopsicle, as well as a traffic hazard.”

Patent Pending

Patent Pending

On Monday, the Education Committee of the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill to replace the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum text. The bill mandates the new text must teach “foundational and historical documents” such as the Justinian Code (Roman imperial law) and Magna Carta as well as “a complete overview of the Two Treatises of Government written by John Locke.” Because those, of course, are  a central part of U.S. History. Well, they are if you hold to a view of American exceptionalism that views the U.S. as the rightful culmination of the democratic progression and the apex of history.  And yes, that really does seem to be the problem.  The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Fisher, who has been active in a church-and-state organization called the Black Robe Regiment [yes, really], said the current AP U.S. history course framework emphasizes “what is bad about America” and “omits the concept of American exceptionalism.”


Speaking of American exceptionalism, where else can you get what Little Caesars is now offering? Yes, below you will see our answer to the Sistine Chapel, The Louvre and Buckingham Palace.  It is a pizza completely wrapped in bacon! More specifically, 3 1/2 feet of bacon! And only 450 calories a slice! (There are 16 slices in that picture)

Checkmate, Russia

Checkmate, Europe

Finally, imonks, stay warm this weekend.  And if you are sick of winter, just remember it could be worse, as this completely unmodified and totally true-to-life picture of downtown Boston shows.

Whaddya mean we can't jump from the roof?

Whaddya mean we can’t jump from the roof?



  1. Daniel Jepsen says:


    Now I’m going to bed.

  2. Faulty O-Ring says:

    Juan Cole’s “Top 7 Myths about Da’esh/ISIL”:

    (He disagrees with The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood)

    • Considering the pretty significant error in his first sentence (the error, not the tiresome hyperbole), I’m disinclined to think he is informed at all.

      • Faulty O-Ring says:

        The first sentence is, “The self-styled ‘Islamic State’ Group (ISIS or ISIL), the Arabic acronym for which is Daesh, is increasingly haunting the nightmares of Western journalists and security analysts.”

        Okay, I give up. What error are you talking about?

        He seems pretty informed to me. His credentials: http://www.juancole.com/about

        • Daesh is not the Arab acronym for ISIS. It is a slur that intentionally leaves out the Muslim connection. ISIS has gone on record stating that they will cut the tongues out of anyone using that insult. I tend to believe that their threat is not empty.

          • I am very surprised that Cole would make such a truly awful mistake.

          • Dr. Fundystan, check this article for clarification (you’ll have to scroll to the bottom): http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-vs-islamic-state-vs-isil-vs-daesh-what-do-the-different-names-mean-9750629.html

            I think there is confusion in the English-language press over the similarity of the actual acronym to other words with connotations that the so-called ISIS partisans don’t like (putting it mildly). These things can be tricky as far as translation is concerned; it is difficult even with straightforward, uncomplicated text much of the time. (And Arabic is a very complex language, which probably makes it even harder to as far as conveying its nuances in other languages.)

          • Faulty O-Ring says:

            That sentence does not have to be read as a mistake, since Prof. Cole does not explicitly claim that Da’esh calls itself Da’esh. Anyway, we wouldn’t want to get bogged down in superficialities. What do you think of the substance of his article–the 7 myths?

          • Fair enough, FOR. I found the article very interesting. While most of his points are just assertions, some of them do have a ring of common sense about them.

  3. People such as Ben Carson bring me closer to despair as I ever get. The man is a poster child for the American Dream, by all accounts a brilliant surgeon, and yet utterly crazy. He is one of those folks who goes on repeatedly about “American exceptionalism” and whose every move undermines any quality that might actually make us exceptional.

    Perhaps it’s me that is naive. Is the only way to defeat ISIS by becoming like them? Worse than them?

    Call me insufficiently patriotic but I would rather this country go down than survive as a mockery of everything it’s supposed to stand for. How can you say you’re defending this country if you’re not defending the ideals on which it is based? You cannot defend the rule of law by undermining the rule of law.

    Americans defending torture? Did 9/11 make us this way? Or did 9/11 merely strip off the mask and show us what we’ve always been?

    If I am naive then let me be gloriously so.

    • Ben Carson’s remarks are exactly the kind of Fallacy of the Excluded Middle WRT war and it’s conduct that I was talking about yesterday. EITHER it’s “War is evil, total pacifism FTW”, OR it’s “Go Team America, nuke’em till they glow then shoot ’em in the dark!” If your theory of ethics can only allow for one of the other of these extremes… well, it’s probably not polite to describe your mental state in public. :-/

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        During the run-up to the Iraq War (the second one, under Bush the Younger, not the first one under Bush the Elder) when there were protests against it, one common accusation thrown at the protesters was that they were “pacifists.” Even apart from the idea that this is a stinging epithet, many people protesting the war in Iraq had supported the war in Afghanistan. The people I interacted with who were using “pacifist” as an epithet seemed very confused by this, typically concluding that the persons involved hadn’t really supported the war in Afghanistan and their claim that they did was revisionism, regardless of what was on the record.

        Superficially, the thinking (in a very broad sense of the word) was that it was implausibly inconsistent to support one war and oppose another. On closer examination, however, many of the people supporting the war in Iraq were only too happy to criticize the earlier US military action in Kosovo, and the later US military action in Libya (though not the US military action in Libya of some decades previous). It turns out that many people’s analysis of US foreign policy and the morality of war begins and ends with looking at whether there is a “D” or an “R” after the name of the US president at the time.

        • I don’t doubt that a lot of folks’ views of a particular war depend on whether or not their political party was behind it. :-/ But I also interact with not a few folks who are adamantly pacifist on general principles (pun intended).

    • “Call me insufficiently patriotic but I would rather this country go down than survive as a mockery of everything it’s supposed to stand for.” I have to say I agree with that…

  4. I, for one, welcome our robot overlords!

  5. Vega Magnus says:

    So I have a blog now! Yay and stuff! Here’s the link in a blatant case of shameless self-advertising!


    Nothing of substance yet, but I’ll get some stuff up soon.

  6. Christiane says:

    I’m laughing so hard, it might help for me to go outside and jump into a pile of snow. I was able to make it down to ‘poopsicles’ and to the picture of the Walmart customer without disgracing myself. But then, the uncontrollable laughing started

    this post is really good therapy, DANIEL

  7. A cuppa coffee, hard-boiled egg and Saturday Ramblings. A good way to start the day.

  8. WRT the Oklahoma curriculum… I’m torn. On the one hand, it’s obviously motivated by nativist jingoism, and will make it all the harder for Okie kids to go to college. On the other hand… How many kids today have even heard of Justinian, the Magna Carta, and John Locke?

    • Yeah, I hear ya.

      • Much of this was not covered in my general public education. A lot was left out. Any history has to pick and choose.

        I’m not against better history taught in schools. I’m a bit of a history buff (when I have time).

        But this sound a bit like it was put together based on the “classic education” espoused by Wilson in Idaho. If so there’s a LOT of baggage in that path.

  9. The KKK ad is bad, but . . .Did you hear about the clueless seafood company that tried selling “Battered Cod Pieces?”

  10. Dan, I’ll second your thought on the Atlantic article. It was eye-opening, mind-blowing, chilling and hopeful all at once…

    • i read the Atlantic article, too. Frightening stuff. I’ve mentioned here before, I think, that I highly, highly recommend Karen Armstrong’s book, The Battle for God, which discusses extremism among many faiths. The one thing all the extremist groups share, no matter what God they follow, is their solemn belief that they are doing what he wants & no matter how awful the fight is, or how impossible it seems, God will see that they prevail.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “A fanatic is someone who does what God would do if God only KNEW what was REALLY going on.”
        — can’t remember where I heard that one, but it’s a good line

        “Nothing’s worse than a monster who thinks he’s right with God.”
        — Captain Mal Reynolds, Free Trader Serenity, Verse Cluster

        • it is a fine line for many Christians to walk as they believe the U.S. must support Israel at all costs because that is tied to Armageddon & we need to help that along. I’m not saying we don’t support Israel, but not because without our support The Good Lord won’t be able to manage the end times.

  11. 1984 was about government overlords acting as thought police. The Samsung televisions collect data and sell it to third parties who wish to target their marketing. In other words, they want to sell us stuff. It may be reminiscent of 1984 but it’s not the same; the intrusion will be overlooked due to the fact that Americans love to buy stuff!

    On the other hand, imagine your 5-year-old seeing a toy commercial and exclaiming “I want a My Little Pony Magic Friendship Dancer!” only to have one delivered 30 minutes later via Amazon drone.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      It’s not the same, you are right, but I’m not naive enough to think the NSA and such could not get the information from the companies if they wanted to (either through hacking or subpoenas).

    • The FBI has been remotely activating cell phone microphones to use the phone as a listening device since at least 2003. They’ll be doing this with the TVs soon if they are not already. And I have no doubt that the NSA will adding this to their data vacumning plans.

    • I agree, Clark. 1984 was about totalitarians forcing us to accede to their bidding.

      The current crop of “smart” devices and ubiquitous social media is about hyper-sharing in an increasingly connected world by people and corporations trafficking in data though no compulsion other than narcissistic exhibitionism and commercial gain.

      In other words, Orwell was an optimist.

      • Yes guys, email, text messages, even phone calls can be recorded, archived and presented later as evidence. I would point out that sometimes terror attacks are thwarted, teens are intercepted attempted to join ISIS, public safety is guarded. If you’re not doing anything illegal why do you care if the NSA is listening? They don’t care to either.

        Let’s be honest, Americans are no longer interested in privacy. At all. Ever. We post to Facebook and Twitter when we are leave home, where we are at all times, who we are with, pics of who we with and what we eat, then again when we return home. A few people were freaked out to learn their iPhones were keeping a log of every place it had been, but if you are posting geotagged pics every 30 seconds then your phone’s log is a moot point.

        There are cameras everywhere, from store security to traffic cams, documenting years of archive footage every day. And we the general public are posting pics, videos and snapchatting all day everyday as well. There is more data created every single day than can be compiled by Big Brother – and most of it is irelevent. And when all of us are sharing everything, it’s the people not sharing that we need to be concerned about.

        • Joseph (the original) says:

          very insightful observation+commentary…

        • ” And when all of us are sharing everything, it’s the people not sharing that we need to be concerned about.”

          Let’s not start getting paranoid about people because they don’t participate in Facebook or other social media. Sheesh! I would be more concerned about the people who have learned how to use social media adeptly to falsify their own identities and fictionalize reality.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        1984 was a novel-length political cartoon copying the way things were done in 1948 Russia into a near-future English setting.

  12. Richard Hershberger says:

    The technical term of the act of “ashing” someone is the “imposition of ashes.” That church in Ohio was imposing ashes on people who couldn’t be imposed upon to get out of their cars.

    But seriously, the church growth movement long ago got its tendrils into Lutheranism. How much varies wildly. With many Lutheran churches it is not at all, but at the other extreme there are more-or-less Lutheran churches that have gone full Evangelical. I’m guessing that this church is pushing that side of things. They even have the standard defense down pat: however appalling we might be, it might bring even one person to Jesus.

    • Churches of other denominations have done this, too, including Episcopalians, and not just this year but last year as well. If this is a good idea, then why wouldn’t it be a good idea to administer baptism the same way? It’s ridiculous.

      • flatrocker says:

        And if we set up multiple toll boothes at the entrance, we can purchase only the graces we want. Fast and efficient and it’ll weed out the slacker graces no one’s really calling for anyway. I’ll take a #1 combo with extra holy water.

        • Heck, if drive-through imposition of ashes is okay, why not drive-by imposition? After all, what could be more symbolic of the nature of mortality than sudden and unexpected “ashes to ashes” on the street?

          • A brilliant plan. I suggest we hurl the ashes.

            “Tag! We got you! Now you have to do Lent!”

      • A drive-through communion window might violate open container laws. If not, parishioners could choose from a wine list or order rye bread, whole wheat, or the traditional wafer. Have Jesus your way! Better yet, start a delivery service! Call it Jimmy St. Johns!

        • A drive-through communion window might violate open container laws.

          Not if we use grape juice, silly. Duh!

        • Connection is important in post-modernism. Last week, we discovered that free time has been a casualty of the new economy – enough to kill businesses like Radio Shack, which sold products meant to help fill that extinct free time. I have to believe churches are also suffering from the loss of free time and the death of the middle class. People may want to participate in church but don’t have the time while still wanting to feel connected to the faith. Maybe a drive-through service like this is one answer. Online services – as maligned as they are – is likely another way to provide that sense of connection. Social media may be another way. As much as we may want to imagine people leaving their lives of quiet desperation to join together in a sanctuary for common worship, that may be a vestige of the past. Churches may also consider offering small, intimate services during the week for people to gather for a simple worship or eucharist service. Such services may need to be located in non-traditional locations. The Carmelites have an office in a local shopping center and have a consecrated altar there where eucharist is offered at noon and early evening.

          • You could be right. It would be bad if mere religious trappings stood in the way of people participating in the life of the Christian community. The times they are a changiin’…

      • Faulty O-Ring says:

        Next think you know, they’ll be blessing animals in the church. Oh wait…

    • My church (in downtown Boston) starts our ash Wednesday service with a few people out on the front steps offering drive-by imposition. 🙂 We get a fair number of normal Bostonian commuters who see what’s happening, realize they’ve forgotten Ash Wednesday, and either join us for the service or at least receive the ashes before continuing on their way home.

      That may sound like it’s cheapening Ash Wednesday, but I kind of like the idea of Lent bursting uninvited into people’s lives and reminding them of their mortality and their need for repentance.

      • Michael Z, I don’t mean to be a harsh critic of this practice, but how does just receiving “the ashes before continuing on their way home” square with Jesus’ words, which were read to our congregation before the reception of ashes on Wednesday night, that we should avoid putting on a show of our religiousity before the world? For me, the readings that prefaced the reception of ashes, which included the aforementioned words of Jesus and a text from Isaiah about distinguishing between true and false fasting and austerities (to fast truly is help those in need) are essential to the meaning of the ritual. Taken out of this context, and administered merely with the soundbite “ashes to ashes” formula, the symbolic action is evacuated of its deep resonances, and absorbed into religious complacency.

        • If imposition of ashes were a sacrament, I’d definitely be against offering it “out of context.” But it’s not, nor is it in any way a religious obligation. So, anyone who stops to receive ashes is probably not doing it out of “religious complacency” or a feeling that they need to do just the bare minimum to satisfy religious requirements. I consider it much more likely that the reason that person stopped is because they’ve been shocked *out* of religious complacency, and for at least as long as those ashes are on their forehead they’re probably not going to go back to treating this day as just another normal day.

          I agree with you that it would be far better for someone to actually hear those words of Scripture and be a part of a community that is journeying through Lent together. But for people who otherwise would have given no thought to Lent to at least be reminded that it is happening, does not seem like a bad thing to me.

          • Maybe you’re right; maybe I’m the one too concerned with religion and its trappings. I don’t have any control over any of it, anyway, and that’s obviously a good thing; additionally, I don’t need to have an opinion about everything under the sun, and especially not an opinion of which I’m resolutely sure I’m correct. God bless all ash imposers, and non-ash imposers, no matter how they impose or don’t impose their ashes or non-ashes.

            It’s a wonderfully liberating thing when I occasionally realize, by God’s grace no doubt, that I don’t have to be right about everything; I thank God that I’m having more such occasions than in the past.

          • Daniel Jepsen says:

            And this is why I love internetmonk

    • Heard about a local priest doing this on a street corner in LA’s SFV.
      It seems it’s a worldwide phenomenon.


  13. Here is an disturbing moral equation: we are not evil, the people we fight are evil, therefor we may do anything we choose to defeat them. This is exactly what Nietzsche meant when he warned us to be careful when we peer into the abyss, lest we become what we behold.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      Yes, a very disturbing moral equation indeed. And Dr. Carson is hardly alone in pushing it; he simply is more articulate about it than most.

    • Which is why I’m sometimes disturbed reading the Psalms, especially when David goes into “kill ’em all” rant mode.

  14. “To the ‘might makes right’
    Playin’ ‘Chicken Delight'”
    – Steve Taylor.

  15. Hard to believe that the opening of Major League Baseball spring training camps was not mentioned but, then, it wasn’t Chaplin Mike writing this weeks Rambling.

    So, fans, what do you think of the new rules to speed up the game? Will they work? Will it keep batters from stepping out to adjust their gloves/jersies/caps/cups between every pitch? Will pitchers actually PITCH rather than stare and spit and walk around the mound?

    MY opinion: NO!

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      What is this “Baseball” of which you speak?

    • “So, fans, what do you think of the new rules to speed up the game? Will they work?”

      Only if one of the rules is to drop everything and start playing football.

    • I don’t like spectator sports, but if I had to choose one to be a fan of, it would be baseball. One of the reasons is exactly because it is slow and meditative. You hockey fans can keep your player brawls; I prefer the seventh inning stretch.

      • Nowadays it’s mostly one on one (fights)…and fewer of them than days gone by.

        Baseball, on the other hand, is having increasingly more brawls. The term “basebrawl” didn’t originate on the ice.

        And I do like baseball. A Dodger fan (and Vince Scully) for all of my life.

        I especially like it now when I’m having trouble sleeping… : )

      • Yes, and watching two people play chess is slow and meditative too. ; )

        Just poking a little fun at baseball fans. I enjoy baseball too. The season is far too long. By August I’ve lost interest and am looking forward to football again.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      The stuff about time between innings is pretty much marginal to the problem. The real problem lies with pitchers and batters. The rule is already on the books on the pitcher’s side of things:

      8.04 When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call ?Ball.? The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball.
      The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.

      I have never heard of, much less seen, this rule enforced. On the batter’s side, this is the rule as of last season:

      (a) The batter shall take his position in the batter’s box promptly when it is his time at bat.
      (b) The batter shall not leave his position in the batter’s box after the pitcher comes to
      Set Position, or starts his windup.
      PENALTY: If the pitcher pitches, the umpire shall call “Ball” or “Strike,” as the
      case may be.
      Rule 6.02(b) Comment: The batter leaves the batter’s box at the risk of having a strike deliv-
      ered and called, unless he requests the umpire to call “Time.” The batter is not at liberty to step in and
      out of the batter’s box at will.
      Once a batter has taken his position in the batter’s box, he shall not be permitted to step out of
      the batter’s box in order to use the resin or the pine tar rag, unless there is a delay in the game action
      or, in the judgment of the umpires, weather conditions warrant an exception.
      Umpires will not call “Time” at the request of the batter or any member of his team once the
      pitcher has started his windup or has come to a set position even though the batter claims “dust in his
      eyes,” “steamed glasses,” “didn’t get the sign” or for any other cause.
      Umpires may grant a hitter’s request for “Time” once he is in the batter’s box, but the umpire
      should eliminate hitters walking out of the batter’s box without reason. If umpires are not lenient, bat-
      ters will understand that they are in the batter’s box and they must remain there until the ball is

      This too is rarely enforced, and indeed frequently violated. So the necessary rules are already on the books. The problem is enforcement. This in turn lies with the umpires, which one would think is within the power of MLB.

      • Richard, I was a pitcher and I’ll tell you what the real problem is. Pitchers don’t throw strikes. There were no complaints about length of games when Madison Bumgarner pitched last year.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          In that case, we can discuss the ever-shifting, incredible shrinking strike zone. The day will come when strike and ball calls are automated, and actually follow the rule book. I take no pleasure in this prediction. I merely think it is inevitable, for the same reason that instant replay was inevitable. The infallible umpire speaking ex cathedra (metaphorically: he is in fact standing) is only sustainable so long as it is only opposed by our fallible eyes. Nowadays, when we have eight different angles in super-slow motion high definition making it absolutely clear that the runner got in under the tag, it simply doesn’t pass muster to shrug and ask “whadda ya gonna do?” The same is happening with balls and strikes. There is real hard data for sabermetrics types to analyze, showing the vagaries of different plate umpires, or the same umpire under different game conditions. The push-back will come, and sooner rather than later. So it is written: so it shall be. What will be interesting is how this changes game play. A simple example is how the strike zone currently expands in a 3-0 count, and shrinks in an 0-2 count. How will pitchers and hitters play differently when that stops? I suspect there will be a lot of subtle changes combining for substantial changes.

          • I am in full agreement with your strike zone comments. One of the great losses in baseball since I played is the disappearance of the high strike.

          • Sabermetricians are at it analyzing how catchers “frame” the pitch. Moving their glove at the last second, smoothly as possible to give the umpire the impression that the ball a couple of inches off the plate was caught in the strike zone. Buster Posey and my ten year old son are the best at this, professional and amateur respectively. This, too will pass?

  16. Baseball, the other religion of Michael Spencer. He bowed at the altar of the Cincinnati Reds but to each his own.

  17. Meanwhile, in northern California…

    it’s been in the 70s all week and is supposed to continue in that range for the weather-predictable future.

    This comment is part neener-neener and part prayer request for more rain. We’ve had some, but the snow pack numbers are pretty grim, nowhere near end-of-draught numbers. Thank you.


    • I’m praying for more rain and snow for Northern Cal.

      (we need your water down here in So. Cal. )

      • You mean you’re stealing their water? Why do you have a right to it?

        • It is, after all, one state… and So Cal has very little of its own, except for Colorado R., which is pretty well tapped out. Huge canal system delivers water from No Cal, southward and uphill through the San Joaquin Valley and over the Tehachapis to greater LA.

          This is one of the big issues that keeps popping up with discussions about dividing California into 2 (or more) States.


          • Hey, hey, HEY! Don’t leave out San Diego at the bottom! There’s more than Just S.F. and L.A. to California…

          • Richard Hershberger says:

            You forgot the Owen Valley. L.A. didn’t exactly steal that water. It followed the same game plan to acquire water rights as coal companies did to acquire mineral rights in West Virginia. William Mulholland sent agents through the valley waving hundred dollar bills at the local farmers. All the farmers had to do was sign a piece of paper…

          • Not trying to leave anyone out – attempting to keep it simple for non-Californians.

            San Diego is a lovely city, also with water issues. Older daughter went to school there, been there enough to know my way around. (My mother was a Rosie the Riveter, worked at Solar Aircraft in SD, inspecting welding joints, while my dad was a DI at Pendleton into 1943, when he was sent to the Pacific Theater. Mom then lived with her sister’s family in Seattle until the end of the war.)

            Owens Valley water is important too, but also limited, esp with low snow pack. Mulholland was an interesting fellow – makes me wonder about naming that very curvy, twisted, dangerous road through the Santa Monica Mountains after him…


          • SoCal has roughly twice the population as NorCal, which means twice the votes in the state legislature. We all remember the drought of ’77-’78. Cali implemented a water rationing system based on usage from the same month in the previous year. NorCal would have rationing first, SoCal would start the following year. LA watched us on TV every night, dead lawns, putting bricks in our toilet tanks, taking sponge baths. Our drought motto for toilet usage was “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” Their response? We watched them every night on TV watering their lawns, filling their swimming pools, washing their cars every day, and garden hoses out of every driveway watering the street gutters just to drive up usage to make the following year’s “rationing” painless.

            Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown was the governor. During his re-election campaign, some of his opposition adopted the motto, “if it’s brown, flush it down.”

    • Boston has plenty of snow. With the west coast ports shut for the strike, send a couple unneeded freight trains east to haul some of our snow your way. Dump it off on the California sides of the mountains, and solve everyone’s problem…

      • Hah! More likely is that we’ll see an infusion of easterners here in California. That’s been the pattern in the past.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Especially with the Rose Bowl Curse. No matter how bad the weather the day before and after, New Years’ Day in Pasadena is always bright and clear, and gets broadcast across the country. About a week later you see the parade of U-Hauls with out-of-state plates (always from Blizzard Country) arriving on Route 66.

  18. That’s because Cali is the greatest state in the US! And the most spiritual! Surfs Up! I’ll be in my spa tomorrow. You’ll be in a snowbank. Or a frozen puddle of poop water Heh.Hey Heh. Sorry to gloat, but you wish you could here.

  19. And……….the Dodgers will win the World Series this year!

  20. It’s baseball, not boat racing.

  21. I’m very late, but did anybody make the obvious Marxist joke about the whale headline?

    “Man Accused of Shooting at Whales With World War II Rifle.”
    How they got the rifle is beyond me.