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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Holy Prognastication Batman!

On July 24th 2003, I wrote this article that appeared on American PhotoBlog. Here's a paragraph from the article that sums up one of the points I made:

The study referred in the first paragraph appeared in a British documentary called "Big Mac under Attack". The food industry, particularly fast food, will continue to be under attack for the foreseeable future. What's really under attack though is the value of self responsibility. Companies like Kraft food, McDonald's, and many more, have been and will continue to be portrayed as these rapacious corporate ogres, selling consumers their death, one cheeseburger or cookie at a time, while making billions of dollars. This message may get to the point that it's repeated thousands of times on TV and the press. It's quite possible that with this new study, a jury will actually hear a case and give a huge award, thereby offering support of this message. Then, the floodgates will open for more litigation. All the while, the concept of individual responsibility, the central principle of American political philosophy, will continue to erode.

Over the last eight months, I've read articles here and there which echo this theme. A scientist from one of many government organizations expresses alarm at the obesity "epidemic", and quotes their own scientific analysis of just how harmful fast food is for humans. Their objectivity is assumed and their credibility is portrayed as self-evident.

Friday, January 16, 2004

You wanna bet I'll get into the Hall of Fame?

By now you've at least read one story about Pete Rose's recent admission of the obvious, that he bet on baseball. So for the sake of novelty, I won't write a paean to Pete Roses's contributions to baseball, and extol his incredible work ethic. It's very well known that Rose would sprint to first base when walked, and frequently turned singles into doubles and triples through shear determination. Instead, I'll ask you to consider some points that I haven't read at least, and perhaps you haven't either.

1. Pete Rose bet on the Reds - to lose. Here's the great chain of being for baseball sins with regard to gambling, going from bad to the absolute worst. Betting on baseball while a Major League player or manager is a serious offense, punishable by one year suspension from the game. Since the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919, gambling on baseball by any players has been strongly punished and severely frowned upon to this day. One step worse is betting on your own team, and keep in mind, this is the form of baseball gambling that Pete Rose still steadfastly denies. Punishment for this is banishment for life from baseball. However, think about this for a moment. Say that you're the manager of a Major League team, and you bet on your team to win. In a certain respect, that creates an extra incentive to the already abundant competative spirit of most Major League managers, and players. After all, if you stand to gain or lose a significant amount of money if you've bet that your team will win, wouldn't you try your hardest make certain a positive outcome of the game?

The thing with baseball, as with most anything in life, it's much easier to lose than to win, thus making a loss a more sure bet than winning. Now it's already been established a decade-and-a-half ago that Pete Rose has a serious gambling problems. His gambling problems in turn led to serious financial problems. Gambling debts to bookies involved in underground illegal gambling can lead having one's legs broken, or worse. Consider also Pete Rose's character - the fact that he lied for 14 years about his gambling on baseball, a lie he repeated on national television to millions of viewers multiple times, shows a man is very comfortable with deception. It could be claimed that deception is second nature to him. Consequently, Rose would have no moral qualms about letting his team down, the Reds, by causing them to lose games, to keep himself at least a little more financially solvent. All it would take is letting a tired pitcher stay in a game a little too long, or putting in one relief pitcher who is good, but doesn't pitch to a particular team as well as others. Even the New York Yankees can lose 1/3 of the games they play, so winning is never a sure thing, no matter what you do. Losing is. In 1989, the Cincinnati Reds were in 5th place, a season in which Rose hit "rock-bottom" with his gambling, for which he was eventually fired in August of that year. In 1990, under new management, the Cincinatti Reds went on to win the World Series, with almost exactly the same team as in 1989. Now such occurances are fairly routine in baseball, but the extreme differences between the two years does add to my suspicions of Rose sabotaging the Reds.

2. Rose's "mea culpa" is motivated strictly for financial gain. From what I've read in The Dowd Report, and a multitude of articles over the years, I'm firmly convinced that Pete Rose has an extremely serious gambling problem that's caused him great financial distress. For instance, it's been reported that on the night he broke Ty Cobb's all time hits record, he was wearing several jerseys, instead of just one, so that he could sell them on the lucrative sporting souvenirs market. Rose has made the claim that he deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and that his lifelong should be lifted to allow him this honor. What this lifting of the ban would entail also is his eligibility to manage a baseball team once again, a job that would pay much better than going to baseball card and sports memorabilia conventions. A job that would much better support his addiction to gambling, which now he at least honestly claims that he refuses to relinquish. His book "My Prison Without Bars" is number 2 on the "New York Times" bestseller list, so he'll get a sizable royalty check out of this. However, not even the earnings from a bestseller will come close to the sizable, secure, and long term income of managing a team.

So like most the other baseball writers, I idolized Pete Rose. Rose and Hank Aaron were my favorite baseball players from my youth. In my short stint with playing baseball, I'd run out every routine ground ball I hit, and hustle to first base when walked, just like Pete Rose. It's ironic how often that people's finest qualities, the traits that elevate them to greatness, also lead to their demise. It was Rose's obsession and passion with baseball that made him great. The equal, or arguably greater obsession for gambling led to his downfall.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

More of Big Sur, the Ultimate Driving Experience.

Elephant Seals in a meeting of the minds

Rugged coastal mountain beauty

The Inn at Morro Bay

From San Luis Obispo, to Carmel is a stretch of coastal California called Big Sur.
Highway 1 is the road that winds its way through Santa Lucia mountains, offering some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

Going from left to right, the first picture are of two adolescent Elephant Seals that make their home on the Piedras Blancas Seal sanctuary, near San Simeon. During the fall, the adult Elephant Seals are at sea, leaving their teenage children with the beach all to themselves. I think the seal on the right was trying to woo the other one with some seal pick-up lines.

The middle picture was farther north on Highway 1, close to the little village of Big Sur. Highway 1 slowly ascends through the coastal mountains in a very serpentine fashion, which makes for a very challenging drive. Often times you have no choice to reduce your speed to about 25 mph, otherwise, one wrong turn, and you could find yourself with a closer view of the ocean than you'd planned. There are numerous overlooks, and this picture shows the incredible view from one of them.

The last picture is the restaurant of The Inn at Morro Bay. If you ever have the desire or opportunity to stay a few nights in the Big Sur area, I highly recommend you stay a night here. The Inn is located in a state park, which also serves as bird sanctuary.

The Sun, some clouds, and the Ocean.

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All of these pictures I took within a 15 minute span of time a little south of San Simeon, California.

Monday, December 08, 2003

What in this pictures doesn't belong?

Zebras apparently are an under-represented population in the pastures of California, so this injustice has been corrected.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

What the hell is that?

Have you ever seen the old Saturday Night Live skit featuring Steve Martin, in which he looks straight into the camera, giving an expression of utter puzzlement, then states repeatedly "what the hell is that? Well that was my reaction when I saw hundreds of these mysterious little things on the beach of Morro Bay, California, on a beautiful afternoon in late July.

I asked a few passersby on the beach if they knew what these little things were, but no one had a clue. I'm guessing that they're some type of little sea creature that just happened to wash up by the hundreds. Some of them had these circular translucent entities attached to what looked like an electric blue snail. These translucent entities had a design on them resembling the pattern on a spider web. They were probably no larger than about three inches in length. If you happen to know what this little thing is, please drop me a line an at and help solve this mystery.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely....

Bactrian Camel

Greetings to all you, whether you belong to the faithful and expanding cadre of regular readers (I'm sure that Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds are quaking in their chairs), or if you've just casually surfed in. It's been quite a lengthy period of time since I've last updated American PhotoBlog, but there will be no more delays. And what better way is there to break the long absence in blogging than to post a picture of one of my favorite creatures, the Bactrian camel.

The bactrian camel is distinguished from the more common dromedary camel by a) its extremely shaggy coat, b) having two humps instead of one c) having a song written about it by the late inimitable Wesley Willis.

This particular bactrian camel is apperently a foul tempered beast, and is prone to spitting upon random passers by at the San Dieog Zoo if he feels so inclined. At least that's what a sign said that was close by its habitat.

That's it for now, but there will be much more to come soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Second Anniversary of America's Worst Day

Image courtesy of the AP

After the second anniversary of the worst attacks on America in our 227 years as a nation, it looks as though we've come full circle with our President, George W. Bush. A recent poll showed that if elections were held today, American's would vote into office another President. If this is the case in 2004, it will more than likely be a great mistake of possibly tragic proportions, and it has to do with September 11th.

George Bush is a President's whose abilities continue to be greatly underestimated.
Many in the media continue to perpetuate this myth that Bush is a stupid and lacks sophistication, because he'd rather go to war than talk through problems with other countries. This message, and others very similar have been continually repeated on most of the major news outlets, and will no doubt continue. The problem with this is two fold: a) this serves to undermine the confidence in the President's administration and b) the news outlets are wrong, because President Bush is doing absolutely the right thing.

It's a very simple principle of life, but so few every believe it. The only thing that totalitarian leaders understand is power. 5,000 years of recorded history demonstrates this principle very clearly. The invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do the logic of it follows this principle. Saddam had 12 years to comply with the Peace Treaty of 1991, which he never did. Dictators very seldom honor their agreements. The reason why they don't is they are under the impression that they have more to gain by dishonoring them because democracies lack the fortitude for enforcement. Sometimes force is the only recourse for enforcement. Fortunately, President Bush understands this very well.

It's fortunate because our enemies who attacked us on September 11th, 2001, are astute observers of American politics and history. Listen in detail to what bin Laden has written and said: he understood that nightly gruesome images of the Vietnam War on the evening news is what led to America's eventual withdrawal, and first military defeat in its history. Bin Laden also learned that since Vietnam, the United States has a history of either doing nothing, doing very little, or not completing the task, when things get ugly with an adversary. The terrorist attack of the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 - America did very little to avenge the attack, and withdrawal from Beirut came soon thereafter. Mogadishu in 1993 - the United States withdrew it's forces within 10 days. The Gulf War in 1991 - the United States promises Shia and Kurd rebels that if they fight to overthrow Saddam, American assistance will be forthcoming. The assistance never came, the rebels were crushed, and Saddam was emboldened, as America wasn't strong enough to follow through on it's promises. The first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 - two perpetrators were apprehended by the FBI, but nothing was done to combat Al-Qaeda, who were ultimately resonsible. There are numerous other examples which reflect the same which all have led to the strengthening of all who hate America.

And believe me, this principle is at work in Iraq today, and our Islamic foes are very well aware of what they're doing. On a daily basis, American soldiers are getting killed, and every night the press reports this to the people. With the exception of Fox news, most other press outlets have taken a very alarmist stance with regard to the daily attacks on our soldiers. There are still numerous comparisons to Vietnam, that Bush has gotten our country into a "quagmire", in which we're sinking every day. There are comparitively very few reports of how well things are progressing in Iraq in the North and South of the country, and that the trouble resides in the immediate area of Baghdad. Why? Because fear, death and general negativity is more the fuel of the American news. The problem is that this constant barrage presenting the illusion of bad news in Iraq is serving to undermine the confidence of the American people in George Bush. And this is a victory for the terrorists who are attacking our troops in Iraq, as the American press is doing precisely what they expected.

Finishing the task in Iraq is an absolute necessity for the United States and the world. The American people cannot allow themselves to become disheartened by the news of American casualties. It's still a matter of some speculation as to whether there was a connection of Al-Qaeda and Saddam before the war. However, there is no doubt of a connection with Al-Qaeda in post-Saddam Iraq.
That's who we're fighting now, among others, and they're watching us very closely. They'll watch closely if we re-elect Bush, or re-elect someone who promises to bring our boys back home, and get us out of this Republican imperialist quagmire.

September 11th, 2001 happened in large part because the terrorists were allowed to gain strength and lethality through our complacency and peaceful intentions. History's pointed out that peaceful intentions can lead to deadly tragedies. We have no choice but to heed the words of Winston Churchill, one of the world's greatest war time leaders: Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- "never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

George Bush is continually underestimated. He's a President who has more in common with Winston Churchill than many people realize.

To those who lost their lives on September 11th, to those who lost loved ones on that day, we owe it to you to never give in.

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