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From the Notebook

Cover of "Moneyball: The Art of Winning a...

Cover via Amazon

-Went to see “Moneyball” this weekend. I loved it. It wasn’t what I expected at all. It was a rather intense character study of Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, not a baseball movie, not a business movie. The two complaints I heard going into the film were its length and the way former A’s Manager Art Howe is portrayed as a dumb and stubborn ignoramus. Whatever. I thought they could have created more conflict there, that’s what I got from the book. And the baseball traditionalists really were as obdurate and arrogant as portrayed. I would say even more so, just from my perspective on the outside looking in. The length was fine, as good movies don’t need to end soon. I highly recommend seeing it sometime.

-Another movie I recently saw and really enjoyed was “Get Low” starring Robert Duvall. The movie is about an old hermit preparing to die, and wishing to do it in a way that engages the local community he has separated himself from for so long. He doesn’t know it, but this process leads to him giving a confession that had been weighing so heavily on his soul. Really a wonderful movie. Bill Murray plays the part of a desperate undertaker in need of money. Another high recommendation. The movie was released in 2009 and should be available on demand somewhere.

-Read  “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence, a book about the ideal interior spiritual life of those on their Christian Walk. Brother Lawrence was a humble cook who was well-known for his intense spirituality, and after his death his sayings, some letters and a short biography were compiled into this short book. It’s a great text for the protestant or Catholic alike.

-Over the coming months a short-story of mine is going to be published in serial by my friends at MassProLife. Parts I&II are up on their website now. The story is a dystopian vision of the near future where good intentions have led to bad policies regarding healthcare in America. As always, I love feedback on my writing whenever I can get it.

-There is one thing the recession has helped, a lot, and that is financial shows on the radio. What were once dull and dry pedantic lectures on saving money and paying off credit cards has turned into wonderful commentary on econometrics, market forecasting and public policy. I can’t remember the last time I heard a money show on the radio scorn a man for investing in penny stocks or not fully contributing to his 401k. I suppose, once these shows are boring again, the recession will finally be over.


Old Time Radio

(This is a semi-sponsored post*)

I enjoy listening to old radio programs. The classics. Sci-fi serials, horror stories and thrillers. I remember listening to a tape of a horror story read by Peter Lorre while driving a lonely Wisconsin road that sent chills up my spine. (Of course, that might have just been Wisconsin).

It’s hard to find good collections of these old radio programs. Collections that make sense, are affordable, and comprehensive. Since I’ve written about this stuff before, I actually got an email from a guy who runs an awesome website that has a wonderful collection of old time radio shows. OTRCAT.com The “Old Time Radio Catalog”

He sent me a couple of CDs filled with MP3s (horror was my choice) and they were a lot of fun.

It is a business, and he does charge, but there is a wonderful assortment of free programming on the website too.

If you enjoy old radio shows, you’ll find his website a great source for hours of entertainment.

(*I did receive a couple of CDs for this glowing review, but no money.)

Bob Davis is Back

Doing Podcasts anyway. It’s great to see him back in the fray.

From the Notebook

Pretty hefty backlog of stuff to get to here…

-Finished the 19th century Russian novella “Diary of a Superfluous Man” by Ivan Turgenev. Turgenev is perhaps the most approachable and readable of the great Russian literary figures. This short story is presented as the diary of a dying man. He tells about a lost love, and how he never saw himself fitting into the world. The Russian literary idea of the Superfluous man well describes some of what is going on in modern youth culture and I think a few changes could make the term pertinent again. This was wonderful prose, the translation being used by DailyLit.com was a good one.

-Thomas Sowell’s “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” is another book I finished up this month. It’s also a crushing case against the modern liberal’s obsession with multiculturalism. Essays dealing with Black culture, slavery and education make this book required reading for any culture warrior.

-Just passed my Managerial Accounting class in my MBA program with flying colors. The grade was an “A” which makes up a bit for the “B” I got in a previous class.

-The next MBA class is “IT systems management” and I’m already taking the first unit. It’s a class taught by a doer who teaches rather than a teacher, which means I’m being kept busy and the information is useful.

-MN Muse at the blog “Liberal in the Land of Conservative” commented on an earlier post of mine:

It is only appropriate for Republicans to claim that they won an election thus giving them the power to do whatever they want. When this type of rhetoric is used by a Democrat, then it is a highly inappropriate faux pas. I hope this clears things up a bit…

I am being accused of hypocrisy, but no evidence is actually given. (I checked my archives, I’ve never held the opinion MN Muse accuses.)The whole point of my post wasn’t to attack Obama but point out a bit of political hackery. Obama told a room full of people who had won their respective elections that because he won his election, everyone in the room should get on board with him. I stand by the article because it is an important lesson in political hackery. I think Obama has erred but a large legislative majority made it a moot point. I also think George Bush erred when he tried to use his own electoral victory to push Social Security reform. There is no such thing as “political capital” so thinking you have something which doesn’t exist has to be considered a mistake. This, of course, a lesson I learned from a liberal friend of mine who was working on PolySci doctorate.

-Longtime Twins blogger and frequent guest on my Twins Podcast, Josh Taylor, is hanging up his keyboard. It was quite a loss to the Twins blogesphere and to me personally. JT knew how to write and knew baseball. He was also one of the largest traffic drivers to this website and was someone I read daily.

-Another friend, this one in the radio world, got cancelled this month. Dave Phipps “Creative Department” ran for four years on KNSI on Sundays. Dave was great, he had me on his show when I was marketing my Burger Tour and his show seemed like a valuable public service (something the FCC looks at when license renewals come around). Apparently the 50 bucks a week they had been paying him the last few years broke the bank. Whatever. KNSI has fired Andy Barnett (for asking “unacceptable questions” of public figures), Tony Garcia (for “quality issues” which is a ridiculous standard for a local show you get for free) and now the lovable Dave Phipps. It’s too bad.

-Some more stats: on Gabcast I’ve had 28 shows completed with 11,982 listens (wayyyy better than BlogTalkRadio) and on Bleacher Report 67,692 page views on 120 articles with 121 comments recieved.

-On the infrequent posting…Well…When I first started blogging I had made a commitment to put in five good years and to set some goals for myself. I made a few of those goals, missed most of them but I did put in a few good years of daily blogging. Now I have no goals, no plan, and no commitment. I keep a blog because every writer nowadays should have a blog. Otherwise, posts come when they come.

From The Notebook

-“Does not work well with others” might be a phrase I put on my tombstone, as I’ve heard it a lot in my life. Well, there must be some truth to it, as my Team/Group Work Tools class in my MBA program handed me the first blemish on the transcript. I ended up 8 points short of an “A” and will have to settle for a “B” and a 3.57 GPA this quarter.

-The next class in the MBA program is Managerial Accounting. Just spent 150 bucks on the textbook. Since I haven’t had a math class in six years, my confidence isn’t very high.

-Suing good Samaritans is a bad idea. For the past few years I’ve spent time as a CPR/Safety instructor for the Red Cross. Part of my course deals with barriers to giving care, and fear of legal repercussions is normally the first or the second fear mentioned by every class. Far more people will be hurt by this than will be helped.

-Looks like the Strib’s recount tool was right; challenged ballots favored Franken. Since there are still 1350 rejected absentee ballots, we still don’t know who actually won this election, if anybody. For the first time in my life, I found the Strib’s coverage of a news event worth my attention. 

-As part of the GBWW 10-year reading program I finished Rabelais’ “Pantagruel” (Burton Raffel translation). It’s the story of a giant in France who makes fun of stuff.

-Also as part of the GBWWTYRP December mop-up I finished three of Montaigne’s Essays I had skipped over earlier. (Measure of Good and Evil, On Cannibals, Upon Some Verses of Virgil). The latter of the three was interesting as it dealt with the eternal question of the battle between the sexes, the other two weren’t memorable. Montaigne is sorta boring (but it might just be the terrible translation I had).

-Next year, with the MBA program, I’m going to put the Great Books reading program on sabbatical. This is not to say I’ve abandoned the program. My goal for next year is to read Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, finish Plato’s Republic, read Dante’s Divine Comedy and pick off a few other books from the larger program. This delay will also allow me to procure more modern translations for future books on the reading list.

-Let me add my voice to the chorus of those lamenting KSTP’s firing of T.D.Mischke. For several years I listened to his show religiously. I even own his “Best of” CD. The management at KSTP continues to lose my respect.

-And after KSTP’s firing of longtime producer “Kodiak,” let me say I have no more respect for them. Kodiak should have had his own show.

-A peak over at JT’s Twins Blogshows he’s trying out some familiar old new digs. Pretty soon, don’t be surprised if he moves over to WordPress and uses a clipping from a Francisco Goya painting for a header.

-I read through Seth Stohs Twins Prospect Handbook. I’m very impressed by the amount of work he put into it and it’s tool potential for Twins fans. I’ll be writing up a longer review for the Bleacher Report sometime.

-As for Seth’s “‘Expert’ FB Picks” deal I did this year, I didn’t finish last. And that’s all I got to say about that.

-Read “Spytime” by Bill Buckley. It was a novelization of the life of CIA Counter-Intelligence man James Jesus Angelton. It’s typical Buckley prose, artfully done and interesting.

-Read Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars epic “Thrawn Trilogy“. All three books, took five days. Without a doubt, they are the best Star Wars Expanded Universe books I’ve ever read, clearly Zahn is someone who knows how to write a good story.

-I’ll be adding TC Daily Liberalto my blogroll. Mr. Rosenberg writes a very good and thoughtful blog, one I’ve found myself reading more and more.

From the Notebook

Twins Podcast is live tonight at 8pm CT. The Call-in number is 646-652-4947

-Did an interview with King Banaian and Michael Brodkorb on the NARN Final Word show. Big thanks to them for having me on the show. We discussed the Burger Tour and a little politics. Podcasts of the interview should be available on Townhall.com. I was on the second (4 o’clock) hour of the show at the bottom of the hour.

-Really enjoyed this modern take on Hamlet, despite the fact everyone was Irish, the production values were subpar and all of the great Hamlet soliloquies were in Gaelic.

-Saw the Angelina Jolie movie “Wanted” at a cheap theatre. Not bad. Not great, not good. Just not bad. The movie attempted a sort of Martin Scorsese-like sociopathology to it but failed. Worth three bucks though.

-For anyone who hasn’t heard yet, I was very excited to hear about Sarah Palin, as I wrote about her over a month ago and suggested she’d be nearly the ideal pick for McCain.

Update: Already Gabcasting–

Gabcast! On The Road Podcasts #15


-Got to finally meet Mr.D. at the State Fair the other day. Good guy.

-The comment policy at my website has changed, possibly temporarily. Anything non-constructive (especially anonymous snark) will be deleted at my discretion. Normally this is an everything goes but slurs and slanders website, but some recent comments have gotten me to reconsider my open comment policy. Regular insulting commenters (like plebe) will still be tolerated.

-I’m just going to keep one notebook post open everyday during the convention for my short takes on the proceedings. Longer essays will become their own posts. I’ll try to make it so there’s only one or two posts per day.

From the Notebook

-The Twins podcast is up, Seth Stohs, Dan Wade, Josh Taylor and Jeff Straub joined me for a very long discussion on the Twins and at the end we discussed the Olympics as well. The best part of the podcast was my attempt to give the “Baseball is the sport of the proletariat” speech. Otherwise, I would really like to up my performances in the podcasts but luckily all the other guys are pretty good. My goal for the podcast this year was simply to have fun and provide good content and I think this has been accomplished. Skill and production value will have to wait.

-Tony Garcia has listed some of the reasons he thinks he lost his show in St. Cloud. No surprises, personality conflicts and the scourge of all budding talk show hosts: syndicated programming. Might I suggest podcasting?

-Finished Shakespeare’s Hamlet as part of the Great Books of the Western World Ten Year Reading Plan. Hamlet is called the greatest drama ever written and for good reason. However, I got a little annoyed at how flaky Hamlet got. I also watched a couple of versions of Hamlet online, including the MST3K version. Fun stuff.

-One of the funnier quirks arising from my GBWW reading program is the fact my own English is becoming archaic (check to see how often I use amongst rather than among) and reading old books is getting a lot easier. Hamlet might as well have been a contemporary novel to me (a huge shift over previous times I read Shakespeare). “thus”es and “thou”s and British grammar come quite naturally to me now.

-Instead of actually prepping for the Twins Podcast, I spent the few hours between when I got off work Sunday and when the Podcast started reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I prefer 1984 over Animal Farm, as I think most contemporary readers will not understand the allegory in Animal Farm. Yet, I couldn’t put it down. Conservative Canon worthy.

-Last week I read Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe. Behe is an Intelligent Design proponent and a biochemist. In the book he presents the idea of “irreducible complexity” as proof for design in certain molecular structures found in living cells. I found his descriptions of these molecular structures (including the existence of cellular rotary engines) to be fascinating but I can’t adopt wholesale his argument. I don’t feel it’s theologically necessary.

-The Right Wing Wacko gave me “Cheat to Win” written by former LifeUSA CEO Bob MacDonald and I read it last week during my involuntary vacation (note: “involuntary vacation” is not code for “fired” as I am back at work this week). Considering this book was written by an insurance salesman who became CEO of an insurance company, it was very entertaining. And funny. And irreverent. This book is great. Anyone who has found themselves amidst the corporate culture will want to read this book. Thanks to the Wacko for the book.

From the Notebook

-Looks like I was wrong, my interview on 1450 KNSI played last Sunday. Hopefully I can get a copy from Mr. Phipps. I will likely have other interviews but it was disappointing getting this one mixed up.

-One topic Dave Phipps and I talked about after he recorded my interview was the difference between “corporate” food and “entrepreneur” food. He made an observation, which I liked and will hereby steal. If a socialist government was to create a state “burger joint” it would look (and taste) a lot like McDonalds. I don’t mean to libel McDonalds, but I would say I’ve met some conservatives too addicted to chain restaurants (something I’m occasionally guilty of).

-I found a great widget website. Widgets are just things you put on your blog to do things, like show RSS feeds of favorite websites or show random pictures on kittens. I was looking for something to spruce up the flagship site (this site) but I couldn’t get everything to work right together. So I added the Burger Time application, the Blog Stir application and a Graphing Calculator application to my irregularly cared for Twins blog. I like widgets but it’s easy to go overboard, and Blogger seems to work better for them than WordPress.

-I contributed to Andrew Kneeland’s Weekly Twins Whatnot and to the Bleacher Report Power Rankings. Eventually I’ll be writing my own columns for the Bleacher Report. Eventually.

-Also, Andrew is probably going to be the first teenager whose blog I link to in Da Roll. It’s a longstanding barrier and I’m loathe to breech it, but the guy produces some good stuff.

-With my lack of home Internet I’ve been relying on the scheduling tool on WordPress to make it appear as though I’m offering daily content. So far, so good; unfortunately between the limited Internet access and the scheduling weirdness I haven’t been cross-posting on True North. This comes only days after Chief at True North (and Freedom Dogs) asked me to start cross-posting my own articles (He had been doing it himself ever since the Joomla platform True North uses scared me away). Well, despite the fact I haven’t been cross-posting my articles, they’ve still been appearing on True North. Well, my apologies and kudos to Chief. True North is the top traffic driver for my website and Chief has no obligation to do my footwork. I’ll be doing my best to remember to start cross-posting my own articles to reduce the workload of Chief, whom I’m sure has better things to do with his time.

-John McCain isn’t pissing me off enough. Okay, that was crass but it’s true. McCain hasn’t aggravated his conservative base enough, which is something he’s going to have to start to do in order to win this election.

-This is sort of out of the blue, but it’s a memory that’s been bothering me for a long time. I remember seeing some sci-fi movie on TV where two spacesuit clad armies had a laser battle in the vacuum of space. It was so preposterous even my pre-adolescent mind had a good laugh. Anyone remember what movie it could have been?

From the Notebook

-With the Twins on a roll (winning 10 of 11 at the time of writing), I’m considering bringing back the Twins Podcast. But, what I need to do it is for some people to pledge their participation in the Podcast. Outside of one reliable person (JT), no one else could be counted on to do the Twins Podcast regularly when I was doing it. So, if I get a number of pledges, I’ll do the podcast as long as the Twins are mathematically in the playoff race.

-I would also like to do a regular political podcast. Once a week, for an hour, in the 10 weeks leading up to the 2008 election. Ten total shows. I don’t want to do a solo podcast. So, if there’s anyone out there who would like to do a regular political podcast (I’d like to get four or five people total) please contact me (easiest way is to use the comments section).

-It’s too bad this Supreme Court is as divided as it is. I think some of the decisions have been in error, but the DC/Heller case was a tremendous victory for gun rights activists. It’s hard to believe one man, Anthony Kennedy, has so much say in the Court (Kennedy might be one of the most powerful non-executives in Washington). He’s not a terrible juror but I wonder just how he makes his decisions. Either way, I hope conservatives and liberals can come to terms with the Miller case and work together to create common sense gun laws which respect rights to own guns.

-Best image of the summer I’ve seen so far: Three young women, bikini clad, rollerblading along a local trail, each with a beer in one had and cigarette in the other. It was like a beer commercial. It was all I could do to keep from laughing hysterically as they passed me by.

-This coming Sunday I will be appearing on Dave Phipps’ The Creative Department discussing my Burger Tour book. The show begins at Noon on Sunday. I’m going to try to podcast the thing.

-According to my site’s stats, nobody has noticed, in the left hand column, the My Delicious feed (under the header “of interest”) I do my best to post up interesting articles on there. Also, does anyone I like (which means most of you people) have a My Delicious feed I can add to my network?

-With about a month’s worth of data to look at, it appears my move from blogger hasn’t hurt me too much in the traffic department. I only lost about 20% of my daily readership, thanks mainly to some linking, a traffic boost from the MNGOP Convention and some WordPress tools which drive traffic. From what I’ve seen, a move normally hits a blog a lot harder, sometimes halving traffic.

From the Notebook

-To show everyone just how obsessed I am with the Christmas Gift Guides, I’m already working on the 2008 series. I’m starting to get to the point where all the funny ideas I had, have already been used. It’s getting more difficult to keep the Gift Guides fresh and funny, unexpected. The harder part is to keep from getting too weird as well. Just looking at my notes for this year, the series might even get a little more disturbing than normal.

-I’m still without internet at home and only internet I can access regularly is at my workplace or at Culvers. It’s frustrating but it is givinng me plenty of time to write posts in advance. With the scheduling tool provided by WordPress I only need to access the Internet once or twice a week but sometimes material gets a little thin, like it did earlier this week.

-With all the recent talk about the GOP and what can be done to save it this year (short answer, not much), it got me thinking about what I thought the ideal conservative representative would be. Well, my vision was clear. I think of conservatives as being back bench representatives who sit, smoke cigars, drink fine cognac and laugh at what is happening before them. They grab the floor whenever possible to delivering entertaining speeches about how whatever the House is trying to do won’t work because it fights human nature. Occasionally their votes matter. They’re not even the majority of whatever body they belong to. Maybe it’s too pessimistic a vision, but I rather like it.

-A project I’ve been thinking about for a long time but nobody ever seemed to think much of it was my idea for an online, hyperlinked US constitution. Every passage and every section would be hyperlinked to a directory of information on SCOTUS cases, legal historical notes and anything else relevant to allowing for research and analysis of the US Constitution. Personally, I think it would be a great resource. Maybe I’m wrong.

-I will be appearing on Dave Phipps’ Creative Department radio show on 1450 KNSI July 6th at noon. The Burger Tour book is the topic. I have implied oral consent to record and podcast the interview after the show appears so look for that in a couple of weeks.

-Another Weekly Twins Whatnot has appeared, with my contributions, available at the Bleacher Report.