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From the Notebook

Cover of "The Art of War (History and War...

Cover of The Art of War (History and Warfare)

Love these nice relaxing summer months…

– The George Zimmerman trial got a lot of coverage, but as usual, there lacked any real depth to the analysis. Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed man because he was on his own crusade to rid his neighborhood of wrongdoers. The simple answer, assuming we as a society want to avoid this situation (and we should) is to include a No Vigilantism Clause in the pistol carry laws. If you defend yourself using lethal force, you will be judged by the circumstances of the event, however, if you were seeking out a confrontation (as evidenced by the event taking place outside normal daily life of work and recreation, by being in neighborhood watch patrol, by any 911 calls, etc.) then you are guilty of violating the No Vigilantism Clause (and that should probably be a gross misdemeanor). This will effectively prevent most situations like the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Self Education this month:

– Listened to Sun Tzu‘s the Art of War, a free public domain audiobook available from LibriVox. This Eastern Classic provides the foundation for thinking not only about military matters, but business matters as well. The nature of planning a strategy based on current circumstances and acquiring knowledge is universal. (I think I listened to this book four times, because it’s rather short and I forgot to switch out the recording on my mp3 player, so after listening to it a few times, on top of having read the book, one starts seeing applications for its advice everywhere in daily life.)

-Listened to a course on Aristotle’s Ethics by Father Joseph Koterski, one of The Great Courses from The Teaching Company. This was a great short course, and for most people the two important lessons from Aristotle’s Ethics will be fully understanding the idea of the Golden Mean, and getting a better handle on friendship and its meaning. Could not recommend the course more highly.

– Watched Matthew Khan’s Environmental Economics playlist on YouTube. Khan is a professor of economics, focusing on environmental economics at the micro level, He’s also, if I remember correctly, a self-described member of the Chicago School. Much of his work seems contradictory, but libertarian minded people who have a soft spot for the environment will definitely benefit from his work.

– Watched the Khan Academy Buddhist Art module on the Art History Playlist. So KA is going through changes in how they setup their coursework, creating small modules that act like short seminars on specific topics and include not only videos but readings and quizzes. This short module focused on Buddhist Art is very informative, and I went through it as a supplement to an audio course on Buddhism that I’m currently taking.

– Read 1 Chronicles (older NLT version). The many pages of genealogies make this one of the more difficult books of the Bible to plow through, but those genealogies hide interesting historical perspectives on David and Solomon.

– Saw Pacific Rim, in 3D. And I was surprised how good it was, considering the source material. There are lots of little things that make it a good movie, and it only has a few rough spots. It’s not quite cliché, so it’s fresh, but there are lots of familiar elements that make it a good movie because it reminds us of other movies (and not just monster movies) that we previously enjoyed. Lots of depth, good effects, acceptable acting. Good flick.


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.