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From the Notebook

Cover of "Gulliver's Travels (Unabridged ...

Cover via Amazon

Pretty slow summer so far, not much to report…

-The Book is coming. When it does I’m sure you won’t hear the end of it from me.

-I’ve had lots of discussion recently with many people (mostly on Facebook) about raising the top income tax bracket rate “just a little bit”, a “trivial amount”, so the deficits will go down and the economy recovers. [And the argument that higher top income tax brackets leads to a better economy has become pervasive, but that’s a different blog post].  It is annoying to hear the “little tax increase” argument, as people are suggesting a tiny increase would be meaningless. If that’s the case, then why do it? If it’s a trivial amount up, then it’s a trivial amount down. The reply to this is, of course, that a little from a lot is a lot. Fine, if the tiny tax increase has a large effect on the deficit, then the tiny increase could be said to have a large effect on the economy. The “littleness” argument goes both ways, that’s my point.

-Many Twins bloggers I read are talking about how far away from .500 the Twins are. At one point, they were ten games below .500 but only 6.5 games back. Worrying about some arbitrary number is incorrect reasoning. The only thing worth worrying (or thinking, or talking) about is beating the teams in front of you. The Twins, despite the recent setbacks, have a lot of opportunity to make up some ground in the AL Central race. They have a lot of home games against their Central Division opponents. If the June Twins team is for real, then the Twins can make a legitimate playoff run.

Books Read:

-Operation Bullpen by Kevin Nelson. This book is about the large undercover FBI investigation of a forgery ring in the 1990’s. The items being forged were autographs, almost all of them done by a man named Greg Marino. If you bought an autographed baseball online in the 1990’s, you probably have a piece of Operation Bullpen in your home (at least two baseballs in my family are from the Marino forgery ring). The book was really good, though sometimes Mr. Nelson writes as if he forgot how, but most of the time it’s okay (Mr. Nelson is a journalist, so writing well is not his forte).

-Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. This is another selection from the Great Books of the Western World Ten-Year reading list. Most people are familiar with the Lilliputians and the giants (Brobdingnagians) that are featured prominently and frequently in popular culture. But there is so much more to Gulliver’s Travels. There are scathing satirizations of lawyers and academics and harsh criticisms of the human race in general. In the final book, Voyage to the Houyhnhnms, Swift lets us know we are all brutish animals. And it’s hard to argue with his conclusion. It’s just another book everyone should read.

-SEAL Team Six by Howard Wasdin. Wasdin was a sniper for SEAL Team Six and got shot up real bad in the Battle of Mogadishu. His co-author/ghost-writer Stephen Templin does an incredible job creating a fast-moving narrative that gets to point. It is unlike most of the other autobios of SEALs I’ve read; it does not dwell too long on the SEAL training (which anyone who reads military memoirs regularly already understands is incredibly torturous) and there’s not a lot of narcissism (in fact, one of the lessons from the book is Wasdin’s realization that he’s not an ubermensch).  It did not take long to read this book, and anyone interested in the subject matter should pick it up.

-151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen by Leonard Maltin. I didn’t actually read the whole book. I read a 32 part selection available for free on Dailylit.com. I was debating whether to get the book, and based on the 20% of it I’ve read so far, I’m going to pass. Maltin is obsessed with celebrity, instead of performance. (There were other weaknesses in his reasoning that just turned me off.) While I had not seen many of the films on the list, those I did see I would not put into a list of the “best”-anything. Maltin certainly did not convince me to venture out to see any of the movies in the selection.

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From the Notebook

Justin Morneau

Image via Wikipedia

-Captain Boggs laughed when I asked him about sleeping traffic controllers. Guess it’s not all that worrisome.

-I was tasked with finding out how many other MLB pitchers have thrown no-hitters after Tommy John surgery by an old chum on Twitter. After a lot of research, and arguing with other people on Twitter, it turned out Parker Hageman posted the answer on my Facebook page seconds after I asked. For those wondering, Liriano’s no-hitter was the third thrown by someone after TJ surgery. Kenny Rogers was the first to do it with his perfect game in 1994. He recieved the surgery in 1987 while in the minors. Anibal Sanchez threw his no-hitter in 2006 after his 2003 surgery (again, while Sanchez was in the minors). Liriano was the first person who got TJ surgery after making the majors to throw a no-hitter. Since Tommy John got his surgery in 1974, over one hundred fifty pitchers have received the surgery, there have been 79 no-hitters and only three of them have been by TJ surgery recipients. For those wondering, Liriano’s no-hitter was not the worst one ever thrown. Not even close.

-I’m against Selig’s proposal to expand the playoffs to include more teams. I’d prefer instead an expansion of the number of games played to 7/9 versus the current 5/7. Adding more teams will add to the randomness of the playoffs, which is a bad thing. Expanding the number of games will reduce it, while also increasing revenue.

Osama bin Laden is dead, and Obama is a political genius in not releasing the photo. He will let the conspiracy theorists fester again, then embarass when the time is right. Just like the birth certificate/OBL-death combo where Trump went from headliner to loser. I am sometimes shocked by the political prowess of the Obama administration. Luckily, they misstep just as often, as we’ve seen from the aftermath of the OBL execution.

Justin Morneau‘s career is not dead. I took a look at some of his stats, including BABiP, Swing%, GB/FB/LD%s, HR as % FB and others. The results are telling. Morneau is making contact at basically the same rate. His plate discipline is just about the same. The missing component is just home runs. As he gets stronger, more of his fly balls (FB) will leave the park, his BABiP will rise and the old Morneau will return. He’s not having problems making contact. He’s not more or less disciplined at the plate (basically), he’s just weak. He lost 12 pounds to the flu in April, and didn’t have a complete spring to get in shape. Parker Hageman took a closer look at Morneau, and suggests his mechanics have changed and pitchers are burning him by throwing the ball on the outside of the plate. That too might explain the lower number of FBs leaving the ballpark for Morneau. I think Parker overrstates his case because Morneau’s LD rate this year (about 15%) is close to his career rate (18%). I’d expect to see a bigger drop, especially considering his LD rate has been around 15% in several previous seasons. I’d be tempted to rest Morneau until his strength returned.

-Delicious, the online bookmarking application I use to produce all those awful ‘links’ posts, has been sold by Yahoo to the YouTube creators. The transition will be complete by midsummer. I don’t know if I’ll still keep using the service, depends on what changes. I’m quite interested in ending the ‘links’ posts. We’ll see.

Books Read:

-Lucretius’ “On the Nature of Things.” This long poem from the first century is part of the GBWW ten-year reading program. Lucretius presents several of the earliest arguments against teleology and Divine intercession. Some of his arguments are remarkable in their construction and rather strong. Others are absolutely silly, including some of his arguments regarding the existence of “soul” atoms that have no weight and leave the body after death. His passages regarding nature are beautiful. His materialism, absurd.