Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Candidate

Running in Wisconsin.  Actually, I'm not sure whether to vote for him or call the cops.

Via Neatorama


All Along The Watchtower

A beautiful original with tension building throughout the song that's left unresolved with the final line: "two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl", followed by a brilliantly reimagined cover version.

Bob Dylan (Original - released Nov 22, 1967):     Haunting, full of foreboding
Jimi Hendrix (Cover - released Sept 21, 1968):   'POCALYPSE COMIN' - LET'S ROCK!!!

Hendrix started recording his version on January 21, 1968 after hearing the song for the first time that day and kept making changes and adding guitar parts until August.  He also played bass with Mitch Mitchell from the Experience on the drums.  Dylan did the original with five takes on one day (Nov 5).  Dylan has talked about how he started playing the song differently in concert after hearing the Hendrix version.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Road Trip

Larry and I have returned from our one week ballpark road trip.  Thanks to all of our friends (and my daughter) who joined us at the parks, shared meals and gave us wayward souls shelter.  Five of the six games went down to the 9th inning.  Except for the Phillies-Red Sox game we purchased our tickets at the ballpark and for the major league games we got terrific seats on the third base side near the dugout for between $36 and $48.  We also stopped by Gettysburg, The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, Charlottesville and Annapolis.


 Since this is about baseball we'll need to look at the key stats:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Estate Planning For The Undead

This blog remains committed to bringing you the essential information you need to lead a fulfilled life (or unlife)!

What are the tax implications of the zombie apocalypse?

The only certainties in life are death and taxes, but how do you handle the taxes when death doesn't go quite as planned? Law professor Adam Chodorow takes a stab at estate planning for the undead in perhaps the only legal paper to cite both the Internal Revenue Code and Weekend at Bernie's II.

Chodorow, a professor at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, authored the paper "Death and Taxes...and Zombies," which will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Iowa Law Review. Chodorow notes that, while the CDC is ready for the zombie apocalypse, the United States Congress has shown no such foresight, leaving us to question whether zombies, vampires, and other members of the undead class will have their estates transferred upon undeath or be able to collect income tax. To rectify that oversight, Chodorow looks, in all earnestness, to existing legal precedent.

Courtesy of where you can find the full article

For my insights on other zombie related matters see this prior post

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Last Full Measure

Since Larry and I visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania earlier this week it seemed appropriate to post these pictures on Memorial Day in remembrance of all those who have given "the last full measure of devotion".

I've selected one of the many moments that occurred on July 1, 2, and 3, 1863 which exemplify Abraham Lincoln's sentiment.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Song

Little by Little.  What a voice!  Susan Tedeschi (vocals, first guitar solo) & Derek Trucks (second guitar solo).  Susan and Derek are married and Derek's uncle is Butch Trucks, one of the original drummers in the Allman Brothers Band.

Books I Like - Wizard Of Lies

Wizard of Lies by Diana Henriques (2011)

Being disgusted by the Bernie Madoff saga and having no interest in learning more about it I ignored this book when it first came out.  Then I happened to see the author, a financial reporter for the New York Times, on CSPAN Book TV, and was intrigued by her discussion so I took a chance.  It turns out the book is a page turner, remaining exciting even though you know the ending and most importantly explains convincingly how this appalling fraud happened.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tell The Dauphin

In 1415, the 28 year-old King Henry V of England launched an assault on France in support of his claim to that country's crown.  His campaign was a muddle but on his way to Calais to return to England, the French army (which outnumbered the English by perhaps 5-1) decided to attack.  The result was an unexpected and overwhelming victory by Henry at Agincourt.

In the late 1500s, Shakespeare wrote Henry V (an early biopic) as part of his history series of plays.  With the advent of cinema, Laurence Olivier did a version in the 1940s.  However, the better version and, I believe, the best Shakespeare on film, is the 1989 version with screenplay adaption and direction by Kenneth Branagh, who also plays Henry V and who was also 28 at the time.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Case You Were Wondering

What was the quickest route from Roma to Lutetia (Paris) in 205AD?  What was the cheapest route?


"Imagine you're in Rome, it's 205 CE, and you've got to figure out the quickest way to transport wheat to Virunum, in what's now Austria. Your transportation choices are limited: ox cart, mule, ship or by foot, and your budget is tight. What do you do?"

Now you can find out via the Stanford University ORBIS Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World

mediterranean routes

You can go directly to ORBIS and plot hundreds of routes by land, sea and types of material to be moved.

You can finally plan a real Roman Empire holiday!

And for the City itself you can use this reference, though it's a century later.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bad Timing

On this day in 1995, the Durham Bulls team of the Carolina League sponsored Strike Out Domestic Violence Night at Athletic Park.  Unfortunately, during the game a huge brawl erupted between the Bulls and the Winston Salem Warthogs resulting in 30 minutes of on-field turmoil and the ejection of ten players. 

This Bull Durham fight looks like it was more fun. 


If you haven't seen it before, Google Books has a really neat app called Ngram Viewer.  It allows you to search Google's scanned books and compare frequency of words and phrases over time.  Easy to use and a lot of fun to play around with.  Here's one I ran comparing Punk, Hip Hop and Heavy Metal.

Given the fast rise of Hip Hop I guess I need to stay relevant so here you go:

This is a more politically oriented Ngram:  Jeffersonian v Hamiltonian.  Interesting results.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Puttin' On The Ritz

Want to know how someone without a great voice can still be a great singer?  Listen to Fred Astaire doing Irving Berlin's Puttin' On The Ritz.  Not easy to do what he does here.

Of course, this song had another famous cover in the 1970s:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Abigail Writes Thomas

On May 20, 1804 Abigail Adams wrote an old friend, Thomas Jefferson, expressing her condolences on the recent death of his daughter, Mary, who had died at Monticello on April 17 at the age of 25.  John Adams and Jefferson first met in 1775 at the Continental Congress, quickly becoming  friends despite very different temperaments and backgrounds.  Jefferson met Abigail in 1784, when the Congress sent him to Paris to join Adams in representing the new country in Europe.  They became close, with Abigail becoming very attached to young Mary Jefferson, serving as her surrogate mother (Jefferson's wife, Martha, died in 1782).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Dude Abides

 "The Dude abides.  I don't know about you but I take comfort in that.  It's good knowin' he's out there.  The Dude.  Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners.  I sure hope he makes the finals."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Song

2:44 of perfect pop from 1967.  Buffalo Springfield: Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin - Rock n Roll Woman from one of the best American albums of the 60s - Buffalo Springfield Again

Thursday, May 17, 2012

All Possess Alike Liberty of Conscience

On June 29, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia opens an exhibit (running until Sept. 30) featuring President George Washington's 1790 letter to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island (full text below), which has not been displayed in public for many years.  The letter was revolutionary in its peculiarly American approach toward the word "tolerance" which differed from how it was used in many other parts of the world then, and even now, in many places. 

In the summer of 1790, President Washington undertook a lengthy visit to New England during which he visited Newport.  On August 17, 1790 Moses Seixas, warden of the town's Hebrew Congregation sent a letter (full text below) to the President, welcoming him to Newport on behalf of "the children of the stock of Abraham", expressing their happiness in having the "invaluable rights of free Citizens" and going on to write:
"we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People -- a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance -- but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bipartisan Humor

They know how to do things in Jersey.  Starring Chris Christie (R), Governor, and Corey Booker (D), Mayor of Newark (aka the mayor known for running into burning building to rescue people and operating snowplows to clear the streets).  With an appropriate nod to Seinfeld:

Things I Did Not Know

Great Scientists: Pythagoras

From Fake Science

I'm Puzzled

How can a $2 billion loss by an institution that earned almost $20 billion last year be a rationale for more oversight by an institution that loses more than $3 billion a day?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Take Me Out Of The Ballgame

100 years ago today, Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers went into the stands at Hilltop Park during a game against the New York Yankees. 

In the New York Times the headline read "Cobb Whips Hilltop Fan For Insults":

"Everything was very pleasant at the Detroit-Yankee game on the Hilltop yesterday until Ty Cobb johnnykilbaned a spectator right on the place where he talks, started the claret, and stopped the flow of profane and vulgar words. Cobb led with a left jab and countered with a right kick to Mr. Spectator's left Welsbach, which made his peeper look as if some one had drawn a curtain over it."
Read on to see who Ty "johnnykilbaned"* and for some surprising information about the asterisk:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Corporations Really Are Powerful!

Kodak Had a Secret Nuclear Reactor Loaded With Weapons-Grade Uranium Hidden In a Basement

Kodak may be going under, but apparently they could have started their own nuclear war if they wanted, just six years ago. Down in a basement in Rochester, NY, they had a nuclear reactor loaded with 3.5 pounds of enriched uranium—the same kind they use in atomic warheads.

See Gizmodo for more

Boston Sports Report

The Celtics are on a strong run.  After playing well the second half of the season, they beat the Hawks and are now 1-0 against the Sixers.  They're doing it with The Old Three, formerly known as The Big Three, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and with Rajon Rondo, current NBA king of the triple-doubles.

At the start of the season, things looked grim for Boston.  The team mostly stood pat in the off season, The Old Three had gotten a year older and they looked terrible at the start of the season.  Slow and outclassed by much of the league but they've pulled themselves together for a last run - actually, we thought last season was The Last Run but what did we know.

On the Grantland blog (if you're a sports fan, it's required reading), Bill Simmons (The Book of Basketball guy) just wrote a paean to Paul Pierce, the 14 year Celtic vet.  Here's a taste of the guy Simmons calls a very good player with great moments:

"That exact scenario happened in Game 2, when Pierce knew Boston wasn't winning in Atlanta without Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen unless he had a great game. Not a very good game … a great game. And then he had one, which was what made it so great. At some point that night, every true Celtics fan knew Pierce's dagger 3/slow job/nodding/stare combo was coming — I would have bet my life on it — and with about three minutes to go, it finally happened, right on cue."
Pierce, unlike Larry Bird who made an immediate impact on Celtics fans (I was in the Garden for his first game), is a player who grows on you over time.  I now appreciate the range of his skills, his versatility and his competitiveness and think Simmons is right when he calls him the 4th best Celtic after Russell, Bird and Havlicek, which is pretty good company.

That provides me with a good excuse to throw in some Bird highlights which bring me back to the days we lived in Boston and remembering how lucky we were to have Bird, Chief, McHale, Dennis Johnson, Bill Walton (for one memorable season) and the rest of the cast.

Well, I've avoided it as long as I can - how 'bout them Sox? 

Who are those guys in the outfield?  What's happened to Clay Buckholz?  Who's that guy wearing Adrian Gonzalez's uniform?  And why is Josh Beckett fixated on emulating his role-model, Roger Clemens, in wearing out his welcome in Boston with a bad attitude and bad performance?

Sunday, May 13, 2012


What makes for a good cover?  There are cover bands who do very skilled, precise and exact versions of  original tunes but that's not what I'm talking about.  It's taking someone else's song and making it your own through arrangement and vocal style.  Oh, and giving credit to the original composer is also important (see my prior post on The Evolution of Dazed and Confused).

I'm going to occasionally write about some of my favorite covers and we'll start with this one.

Here's Hoagy Carmichael with his 1930 composition, Georgia On My Mind

Nice tune, good lyric.

Now here is the Ray Charles version from 1960.  Listen to the creativity in Ray's arrangement along with his vocal which take the song to a different emotional level.  You can listen to it over and over again and I have.

Here's another Ray Charles cover - America The Beautiful.  Another great arrangement and vocal.  And he also transposed the verses, singing the little known second verse first which makes this a song about sacrifice for a greater cause instead of a travelogue.  The combination also takes this song to another emotional level.

Occasionally people have suggested that the The Star Spangled Banner be replaced as our national anthem.  I've never agreed but I could be persuaded to make it America The Beautiful if the only approved version used Ray's arrangement!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Books I Like - Demosclerosis

Demoscleroris: The Silent Killer of American Government by Jonathan Rauch.

The best description of the governance woes besetting us today at the national level can be found in this 1994 book.  Rauch is a writer for the National Journal and Atlantic Monthly and politically not easily classifiable.  The book is an essential read if you are interested in public policy and governance.

Rauch's thesis is that you can't reduce the influence of the "special interests" until you "unriddle the paradoxes of a political malady whose perverse dynamics" undermine government - which is that the growth of government has made us all "special interests"; the problem is us.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Song

Tell Me Baby.  Courtesy of The Red Hot Chili Peppers from Stadium Arcadium (2006).

Willie Turns 81

My favorite ballplayer, Willie Mays, turned 81 a few days ago.  Here's a beautiful tribute from Joe Posnanski. 

The best description of Mays' baserunning style comes from Bill James:

"Trying to catch Willie Mays in a rundown is like trying to assassinate a squirrel with a lawnmower"
For his role in one of the most dramatic onfield incidents of the 1960s see this prior post

Happy birthday, Willie!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Churchill Ascends

On the morning of May 10, 1940 the Germans invaded The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to start the "real war" in Western Europe.  Six weeks later, all three countries were occupied, France had surrendered and Britain stood alone against the Nazis and their allies, including Italy and the Soviet Union.

That afternoon, Winston Churchill became Britain's Prime Minister. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God Bless The Child

On May 9, 1941, Billie Holiday recorded this song which she co-wrote with Arthur Herzog Jr.  Take a minute and give it a listen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

He Came Dancing Across The Water

A couple of years ago we were out with friends one night and while driving home we had WPKN (89.5) on the radio.  We often have no clue what we are listening to on that station but we like the eclectic variety of music they play.  A song comes on and after a few minutes we realize it's a cover of the 1970s Neil Young tune Cortez The Killer.  It rambles along for about 20 minutes and at the end the DJ goes on to the next song without saying who played the last one.

Well, when we got home we did the usual - went on the Internet and YouTube to find it.  We never did find the version we heard on the radio but we did find the amazing version embedded below featuring Joe Satriani (guitar), Grace Potter (vocal and organ) and Willy Waldman (horn), which I've often listened to since that night.

This was the first we'd heard of Grace Potter but then started listening to her band (Grace Potter and The Nocturnals) and we've tried to find an opportunity to see them live ever since.  Here's some samples:

Treat Me Right
Sweet Hands

When In Rome

Another post for the hordes of ancient Rome fans.  And, as a reminder, here's a video recreation of Rome in 320 A.D., Rome Reborn

There's a lot of mediocre historical fiction.  Here's some of the better type of that genre set in Ancient Rome.  (Pix from our 2006 & 2010 visits to Rome)

Monday, May 7, 2012