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Christmas Time

This is the 1st post in my Christmas Gift Guide series

It’s officially Christmas Season. I declared it, so it is. What this means to you is that I’m going to highlight some interesting Christmas gift ideas. I’ve actually done this for the previous two or three years for my friends and I thought it’d be fun to share the strangest stuff on the web on my blog. For the most part, these items are going to sit on the edge of “silly” near the crick “stupid” and just to the south of “nuts.”

A few of the items I find are actually closer to “awesome,” at least in my humble opinion.

The first part of this series isn’t going to be all that unusual, this edition is dedicated to the MOB’s most “niche” blogger:

Crossword Crazy?

This year you can give yourself a crossword project that just may last you the rest of your life:

Breaking the 1996 Guinness record, this crossword hangs on a full seven feet by seven feet of wall space and has 28,000 clues for over 91,000 squares. It’s a challenge that can take months, even up to a year, to complete. A 100-page clue book, with no repeats, provides the hints. For the lone wordsmith, it folds for lap or tabletop solving. The puzzle grid and 4- by 4-foot answer grid are printed on sturdy paper stock. Crossword can be tacked or taped to the wall. Comes with a storage box. (2 lbs.)

Luckily, the pursuit of mind numbing entertainment has been helped along by technology. Now you can do crossword puzzles anytime, anywhere:

A crossword puzzlers dream, this handheld digital device contains 1,000 puzzles from the New York Times archive for challenging fun without ink smudges, bulky folded news pages, or the need for an eraser. A simple stylus allows you to select and place letters on the touch-sensitive screen (like using a PDA) for precise puzzle solving thats quick, easy, and pencil-shaving free. A memory save feature lets you stop in the middle of a formidable puzzle and complete it later, and there are three levels of play to test your skill. A hint helper provides welcome assistance for particularly problematic puzzles at the touch of a button, and a spell checker ensures word accuracy

And finally, for people like me who have never solved a single crossword despite thousands of hours in classrooms not listening to lectures, there’s moretechnologyy to the rescue:

This helpful device provides an edge for beginning or experienced crossword puzzle devotees by instantly locating missing letters in words and phrases. Containing over 250,000 words and phrases from Merriam-Webster®, it covers such categories as countries, capitals, presidents, sports figures, writers, celebrities, flowers, gems and wines. Easy to use, it lets you type in partial words with question marks filling in for unknown letters and in seconds, a scroll-down list of possible fits is displayed on the LCD. In the phrase mode, simply type in a word that is part of the phrase and a list of matches will come up

This series will continue everyday in December until I run out of ideas, and probably beyond.

Baseball Hall of Fame

The ballot is out, and Pete Rose is out of eligibility (other than being banned for life). Personally, I think that Pete Rose should not carry with him a lifetime ban. Rose never threw a game, he bet on himself to win.

Then again, I’m a softy that thinks Joe Jackson and Bucky Weaver should have their bans reversed as well.

Here are the players on the ballot:

Rick Aguilera, Albert Belle, Bert Blyleven, Will Clark, Dave Concepcion, Andre Dawson, Gary DiSarcina, Alex Fernandez, Gary Gaetti, Steve Garvey, Dwight Gooden, Rich Gossage, Ozzie Guillen, Orel Hershiser, Gregg Jefferies, Tommy John, Doug Jones, Don Mattingly, Willie McGee, Hal Morris, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter, Alan Trammell, Walt Weiss, John Wetteland.

There are a few surprises in there. Surprising in the sense that Rich Gossage, Bert Blyleven and Bruce Sutter should already be in the Hall of Fame.

I’m not sure what the carefree Bert Blyleven did to get the Sports Writers mad at him, but he will probably again miss out on Cooperstown this year.

Here are the stats for two players on this year’s ballot, and one guy who didn’t make the ballot. Can you guess which one belongs to the guy not on the ballot?

Hits 1749 HR 293 RBI 1086 Ave .282
Hits 2153 HR 222 RBI 1099 Ave .307
Hits 2176 HR 284 RBI 1205 Ave .303

The latter two are Don Mattingly and Will Clark respectively, the first set of stats are those of Kent Hrbek. It amazes me that players who play their careers on the East Coast get so much more acclaim than do hardworking midwestern types like Kent Hrbek. It is my prediction that Mattingly gets into the HOF this year. I think Kent is just fine with his two world series rings.

As for some of the other guys on the ballot, I’m rooting for Walt Weiss and Doug Jones. They don’t match up to other players in terms of stats, but if they get in it opens up the HOF to a whole range of players like Jose Oquendo and David Neid.

My actual votes:

Rich Gossage
Bert Blyleven
Tommy John
Dave Parker
Bruce Sutter

And I’d write in Kent Hrbek just to spite those Arrogant BBWAA bleeps.

Some required reading:

Walter Williams discusses whether Europeans really have decided on quality of life rather than GDP

Walter E. Williams again on poverty, family, and welfare.

Despite hurricanes the economy is moving up.

Still waiting on “global warming”

Book from a liberal author I actually wouldn’t mind reading:

There’s at least one liberal who wants to know how the other half lives. Seattle public-radio-show host John Moe spent a month immersed in conservative culture–forgoing the New York Times, resetting his radio from NPR to Rush Limbaugh, and making pilgrimages to the Reagan and Nixon libraries. He chronicles the ideological adventure in Conservatize Me, to be published by William Morrow next year. The hardest part? Listening to patriotic country and western songs. “Liberals have better music,” he insists. But Moe also found conservatives to be funnier. “To be funny you have to have confidence,” he says. “And you develop confidence when you rule the world.”

I hate to tell him, but conservatives were funny even before they ruled the world.