Kitchens, Hearts and Mind.

Disregarding the tendency of political pundits to treat the President as sports pundits treat the QB—way too much credit, way too much blame—and overlooking the finding of fault with a President that just killed the bad guy (hey, the touchdown pass was a wounded duck…it was tipped…the running game set it up…the roughing the passer penalty kept the drive alive), this Andrew Malcolm post has a weird period that train wrecked my reading comprehension:

There may have been a little anxiety aboard those combat choppers. Who knows? We can’t hear from them. And, as every day, anxiety in the kitchens, hearts and mind of thousands of military families who put up with the terrifying uncertainty of the dangerous deeds their loved ones have volunteered to secretly do for their country.

I’m trying to walk it through: There may have been a little anxiety here. And anxiety there. It seems like it should work.

And, as every day, anxiety in the kitchens, hearts and mind of thousands of military families who put up with the terrifying uncertainty of the dangerous deeds their loved ones have volunteered to secretly do for their country.

I lack the expertise to comment definitively on the parts of speech but goddamnit I don’t like that last sentence. Not one bit.

What’s odd is the period before ‘and’ and the parenthetical ‘as every day’ makes the mind wait for the coordinated clause that will surely follow. A few examples of this type of sentence:

And as every day brought fresh phases of her character, her husband felt more and more that he had indeed won a pearl of great price.

——-

And as every day I knew more about medicines I was soon able to mix them so as to be of service to those who applied, and before eighteen months had expired I was trusted in mixing up all the prescriptions.
——-

Love should lead to the expression of gratitude, pardon call forth thanksgiving,and, as every day is a day of mercy, so every day should be a day of prayer.

Each of the three could be rewritten with ‘and’  between the two clauses as a coordinating conjunction. The last one, for example, could be rewritten: “Every day is a day of mercy / And / Every day should be a day of prayer”

In Andrew Malcolm’s jacked-up version the ‘and’ doesn’t coordinate anything in the second clause at all which means the period should probably vanish. That would kill the parenthetical sarcastic rhetorical “Who knows? We can’t hear from them.”

There may have been a little anxiety aboard those combat choppers and, as every day, anxiety in the kitchens, hearts and mind of thousands of military families who put up with the terrifying uncertainty of the dangerous deeds their loved ones have volunteered to secretly do for their country.

Even then it ain’t pretty. The conjunction should probably be killed, two clauses left to stand on their own.

There may have been a little anxiety aboard those combat choppers. Who knows? We can’t hear from them. Certainly there was anxiety in the kitchens, hearts and mind of thousands of military families who put up with the terrifying uncertainty of the dangerous deeds their loved ones have volunteered to secretly do for their country.

That’s still ugly. I don’t think the cause is helped with the typo non-plural ‘mind’ in ‘kitchens, hearts and mind’, even worse is the weird series ‘kitchens, hearts and minds’ itself. What could fix it? Who knows? I guess mistakes like these are hazards of penning sarcastic (hence use of ‘may’, “Maybe they were anxious on the choppers. Who knows?”) pieces of pick on the President for the sake of it crap.

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Bombs & Jokes

Sunday’s WaPo digital front page:

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Blindingly Awful

This is going to be tough to write, what with the blood and all. The pain too, so intense and unrelenting, it’s not easy to string together cohesive thoughts through it. Not to mention I’m still getting acclimated to my new monocular vision. Typing is iffy, at best.

Still, the ER is jamming and the hospital beams public wifi so I may as well write about the article so bad my left eye exploded while reading it.

Ponder this headline while I grab a new towel for my face, this one has completely soaked through.

Pujols’ struggles will disappear in sweat

…..

….

Back. How awesome is that headline? If it didn’t clue you in that this is going to be one of those poetic sport journalism pieces, well, it is. The problem with poetic sports journalism, of course, is not simply the overwrought prose, it’s that authors of poetic crap refuse to call spade-spades and instead make up new ways to describe home-runs, touchdowns, strike-outs and other sports terms that may be somewhat boring to use over and over again but are in fact actual names of actual things that occur in sports. It’d be as if a White House correspondent tried to describe walking up to the podium in flowery prose every time. He hit a home-run. Just say it.

LOS ANGELES – Fifteen pitches into his night, on a sinker that had come in unreasonably high and inside, Albert Pujols buried the baseball into the second row of the bleachers, over the lowest fence in left field, to the shortest distance from home plate to home run at Dodger Stadium.

What’s the sign for an unreasonably high slider? If they get crossed up does the pitcher mistakenly huck a reasonably high slider in to his unprepared catcher?

See how clever the word play is? High, inside, over, lowest, shortest. Clever though it may be it’s tortured like an Abu Ghraib prisoner chatting with a guard about his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, and how he hasn’t seen or heard much about the Cubs, what with all the jihad, and the guard tells him all about Steve Bartmen and Prior and Wood and Lou and how Carlos Lee seems to be hurt all the time and how Mark Grace was gay and at that point the prisoner freaks out and rips all his clothes off.

Into, over, to…The construction works, think “Into the forest, over the bridge, to Grandma’s house we go” but how does “Into the forest, over the bridge, to the place farthest from our mother to us at Grandma’s house” work for you? Yeah, me neither.

And for those who learned chronological order in second grade you may be asking how the first row is farther from home plate than the second. I’ll tell you: Those fans got gypped.

Once convinced of the outcome, he lowered his head and plunged into his heavy-legged trot, returned and dabbed at the plate, pointed to the sky and clapped his gloved hands.

That’s a verb party right there. Look out nouns verbs are getting down. I bet Albert used to be bullied on account of his heavy-legs. “Albey, Albey, legs like an Oak tree!”

Two weeks into the season, he’d hit his second home run, bagged his seventh RBI, bumped up his batting average to .235.

Small sample size. How about a career comparison? Is this an unprecedented slow start? Does Pujols usually come out the spring gates mashing? Those stats would be good things to insert right here.

When he arrived in the dugout, he showed teammate Lance Berkman the swing that did it at the end of a nine-pitch at-bat against Hiroki Kuroda, pantomiming the bat skipping over the strike zone, his fists close to his chest, his eyes following the ball’s flight.

“Good grief, man,” Berkman half-shouted. “That was a great swing, an unbelievable pitch to hit out.”

Up and in, 92 mph, almost nobody puts that pitch – “A Hall of Fame pitch,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa called it – into fair territory. And almost nobody minimizes the top spin so that it carries that far.

“Not many,” Berkman said. “There’s a couple. Robinson Cano keeps that ball fair. That might be it.”

I guess this is an interesting anecdote. I guess. Still, “almost nobody hits that pitch” has no factual basis whatsoever. Those three paragraphs could have been better spent explaining, with actual facts, why Pujols’ two week slow start is issue enough to devote my reading attention to.

It’s the split-second genius of Pujols, borne of a single-minded journey, a devotion to the process, and a grudging willingness to live with the result. Not always happily, of course. He suffers fools and distractions with the same low-browed, dark-eyed stare, and having begun his contract year in what counts for him as a slump, there’d be plenty of both.

This is where it happened. My left-eye blew up. I felt some pressure behind it, closer to the center of head really, and what came first the pain or the bursting of my eyeball we’ll never know, but it went. Kershhloop. That’s the sound it made.

It’s the split-second genius of Pujols

I’ll give this a pass if only because ‘genius’ is frequently used by soccer fans to describe a great play. I’m not happy about it though.

borne of a single-minded journey

You’re sure his split-second genius is the product of a single-minded journey and not, say, awesome athleticism?

a devotion to the process

He swung and hit a pitch. What process are you talking about? What does this have to do with the origins of his split-second genius? What the hell is split-second genius? ??!?!#

and a grudging willingness to live with the result. Not always happily, of course.

Not only does this have nothing to do with his split-second genius but every baseball player lives with results because there are no other options. Also, ‘grudging’ means reluctant, which implies he’s never happy with the results but is willing to live with them.

He suffers fools and distractions with the same low-browed, dark-eyed stare, and having begun his contract year in what counts for him as a slump, there’d be plenty of both.

Kershhloop. There went the eye. I can’t risk my right-eye breaking this steamy pile of crap paragraph down anymore so I’m moving on. Reread it, ponder it, take it to open mic night and read it slowly over a bongo beat, but do so at your own risk. I’m not touching it.

Concepts introduced before this paragraph: Pujols slumping, Pujols possessing a hitting ability unlikely almost nobody, save for Robinson Cano.

Concepts introduced in this paragraph: Puljos woking hard, Pujols’ devotion to process, Pujols having a poker face when faced with fools and distractions, Pujols currently surrounded by many fools and distractions, these fools and distractions are related to his contract year.

All these have been introduced, none have been explained/explored/related/justified. None. I explained this to the 911 operator and she said, just be patient, they’re coming. And I perked up and said “Really, you read this article?” and she said, “No, the paramedics. They’re on the way.”

Spring training opened without a contract extension for Pujols, by consensus the best hitter in baseball, who perhaps had outgrown the middle-market Cardinals. And the season opened with Pujols 100 points below his career batting average, delivering four hits in 19 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and having acquired an unusual affinity for double-play grounders.

Affinity means ‘like’, Tim. Is that what you meant to say, that Pujols has learned to like grounding into double plays? If so, that’s insane.

All temporary inconveniences, to be sure, but it is news when Albert Pujols does not hit – for a day, for a series, for two weeks. This is the product of 10 years of split-second genius, piled end to end, forming the image of Pujols – knees bent, quads engaged, hands at the shoulder, head slightly tilted and stock still. There is no beating Pujols, not for very long anyway, and on a night he otherwise grounded to shortstop twice, grounded to the pitcher once, popped to right-center field and left a runner at third base with less than two out, a moment arrives that for its brilliance could only be Pujols’.

Wait, so nothing you wrote up there mattered? I gave you my left eye for you to say Pujols is in a temporary slump that won’t last long?!!!

“It’s nature,” Berkman said. “Hitting is as much an athletic skill as speed and arm strength. You can’t teach somebody to hit. You can’t make a great hitter.”

No, Lance, hitting is a product of a single-minded journey, a devotion to the process, and a grudging willingness to live with the result. Duh, everyone knows that.

As of lunch time Thursday in Pasadena, where Pujols awoke after a late flight from Phoenix the night before and dined with long-time agent Dan Lozano, 73 regular position players possessed a lower batting average than he did.

Dozens had driven in fewer runs, scored fewer runs, batted worse with men on base.

Not many, however, carried it all so ferociously. He is obsessed by routine. By mid-afternoon, with the clubhouse television locked on a mid-game no-hit attempt by Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann, Pujols is sitting on a folding chair away from everyone. He’s pulled the chair to a red trunk, placed a laptop computer atop the trunk, and with his left hand is toggling through recent at-bats.

Nothing you described sounds ferocious, it sounds like a professional baseball player being a professional. Also, how do you know no one else gives a fuck about their slow season start?

“It’s all about the process,” La Russa said. “He’s relentless. He’s never going to stop.”

Except for when he dines with long-time agent Dan Lozano. Has to stop for that, of course.

Tim told us nothing in this article except Pujols will start hitting again because he is really good at baseball.

This is digital sports journalism in a jar with my largest found chunk of formaldehyde supported left eyeball. Fast deadline, requirement to churn out tons of content (Tim Brown just wrote 17 articles, BTW) and therefore no research whatsoever. Just plop it down as it comes.

Let’s rehash the concepts introduced: Pujols slumping, Pujols possessing a hitting ability unlikely almost nobody, Puljos woking hard, Pujols’ devotion to process, Pujols having a poker face when faced with fools and distractions, Pujols currently surrounded by many fools and distractions, these fools and distractions are related to his contract year.

Let’s rehash the evidence backing up those concepts:

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Aggressive Ignorance

I enjoyed this New Yorker (name drop!) Book Bench post (h/t Language Log), and certainly enjoyed the site profiled in the post, business jargon translating Unsuck-it.

Eileen Reynolds, the author of the post, is dead on with this observation:

It is considered stylish to Capitalize Whichever Words strike you as Most Important [in the corporate office cubicle]

Indeed it is. Resumes are full of this improper important noun capitalization rubbish. Job Duties: Managing Employees, coordinating Office Transfers…

Eileen also laments rampant passive voice usage among the fabric-lined partitions of corporate America. Unfortunately she cites no examples. No doubt it happens but often enough to be a slam dunk stereotype? I don’t know. You do hear it, “All new employees are given it.” / “Fucked over once again by payroll,” but you probably hear the same thing, give a few syllables, through the halls of the New Yorker.

Regardless, within 3 comments someone displays passive voice ignorance. Which, given the forum, I think is rich:

Jack_Cherf: You should note that the passive voice, which expresses action without naming an actor, is a means for the writer to avoid anyone’s individual responsibility.

Oh really? I thought it was just one of many ways for a writer to construct a sentence.

Maybe Jack_Cherf is right about omission of the actor being the tell tale sign, he does read the New Yorker after all. “An uninformed grammar comment was made by Jack_Cherf.” Nope. He’s wrong.

Also: Here’s an n-gram of ‘incentivize’ usage in books for 1800-2004.

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Dialetic

I’m trying to understand the first paragrah of George Will’s column on government arrogance and just can’t wrap my head around it:

A dialectic of judicial deference and political arrogance is on display in St. Louis. When excessively deferential courts permit governmental arrogance, additional arrogance results as government explores the limits of judicial deference. As Jim Roos knows.

First of all, total aside here, I bet Jim Roos actually doesn’t know that, George. I bet he has no effing clue.

Will’s use of ‘dialetic’ is obviously not the normal; OED defines the special usage of ‘dialetic’ as “the existence or actions of opposing social forces, concepts, etc.”. While judical deference and political arrogance are two different concepts, are they opposing ones? Probably not. The next ellucidating sentence doesn’t get me any closer to understanding what dialectic Will thinks is on display in St. Louis, either.

Maybe OED is to blame. WordNet has it “a contradiction of ideas that serves as the determining factor in their interaction.” Ah, got it now. Will means that the relationship between judical deference and government arrogance—adding to the confusion is that Will uses ‘government’ when, like a rectangle/square, the government can include the judiciary—is such that judical deference will result in government arrogance. Still seems more cause/effect than dialectic to me. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to say ‘When the judical branch defers judgement to the legislative branch the result is nearly always legislative arrogance.’

The rest is easy breezy he said/she said stuff. Until the last paragraph:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit is considering whether St. Louis can regulate what Roos can say concerning what the government has done to him. This case, which arises from unwise judicial deference to city governments wielding the power of eminent domain, demonstrates the dialectic of courts inciting governmental arrogance by deferring to it. So judicial deference often is dereliction of judicial duty.

I had to reread this bastard to get it, assuming I actually got. You know where I stand on these two concepts as a dialectic so I won’t rehash it. What got me here is ‘this case’ refers to the one before the 8th Circuit who, Will just said, is considering it. Somehow this yet undecided case demonstrates that judical deferral incites legislative arrogance when really it just demonstrates a judical check on legislative power, origins of the legislation be damned. This sentence unfortunatly thwarts the clever point Will really wanted to make about the case, that the court is hearing a case that orginated from a previous court case ipso facto the job never got done (dereliction of duty) the first time around so here another court has to mull it over. The point fails, however, on three fronts a) the supreme court actually did decide Kelo b) the 8th Circuit isn’t the supreme court and c) the case before them isn’t about emminent domain it’s about signage.

If Jim had waken up that day and decided instead to paint ‘abortion is murder’ on the barn the case would still be before the court today.

Will may beg for a judicial hand to uphold the individual’s constitutional right to property, but despise the judical hand that waves off an issue like abortion, hoping instead for deferral to state legislature to decide the issue.

It makes no damn sense; much like paragraphs first and last.

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Your Talking Eyes

As far as stat bashing articles go this Patrick Reusse Star-Trib piece is uninspired, mailed-in (not email because anything made after 1968 can’t be trusted), junk. No lashing out at geeks or making jokes that there are too many letters in most of the sabermetric acronyms. None of that. That doesn’t mean it’s not still crap.

All the new-age stats in the world can’t tell as much about a player as the eyes of a baseball lifer.

You want to know how I feel about the kid?!! Look into my eyes!! Goddammit you ain’t looking hard enough!!!

If the only tool you need is a good pair of eyes then why don’t scouts just leave the stopwatches and radar guns at home, stop charting pitch location and, hell, stop giving the triple A guys names. A good scout can see a pickoff move, arm strength, junk, and control so why bother jotting it down? This is basically what Patrick is saying.

“What most people don’t understand is that statistical analysis has been used in baseball since I started in the game,” Fregosi said. “I knew what my on-base percentage was in the low minors in 1959.”

By most people you mean old school baseball people who think wins and batting average and era and RBI aren’t actually stats but information acquired by using the Retina Scanner4000 on the eyeballs of baseball lifers. Lifers are required by unwritten baseball laws to donate their eyes upon retirement; sometimes the best scouts donate early to generate stats while they continue to scout just by listening to the sound of batting practice.

Total conicidence by-the-way, Jim Fregosi’s VORP in his all-star years, 58.2, 35.1, 38.1, 28.5, 40.0, 53.2. All other season average less than 10. What a dumb inaccurate stat. We didn’t need it name Fregosi to the All-Star team then and we shouldn’t need now.

Back in 2009, Fregosi was in the Metrodome on a scouting mission. It was midsummer of Delmon Young’s second season with the Twins. The outfielder was such a disappointment that he was in the lineup only part time…

And it took real baseball men — not dweebs married to OPS and other phony numbers — to read the bat speed and understand Young was worth the wait.

What is a phony number? Like a bajillion (or B1J00)? Because, at least as I understand what numbers are, OPS is not phony. Nope, I just checked, OPS is a real number. A very simple one at that. And married to? Seriously? And if you’re dropping a cliche insult may as well follow it through to completion and not say that dweebs are polygamist with multiple phony number wives (actual fact: dweebs are all dudes).

It’s not the ‘phony number’ thing that has me scratching my head, though, it’s this: Why the fuck does Patrick think Delmon Young worth the wait?

Because he had 112 RBIs in 2010? Because you can’t find anyone anywhere capable of 21 dingers?

Delmon Young was 16th in runners on base with 456. He led the league with runners on third base. Yes, he hit well in those situations, but, and this important, even an average hitter would’ve racked up a lot of RBIs with that may ducks on the pond. Which, is why when I asked my foruth wife WARP she says that Delmon had an average WARP of 2.2.

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Krugman Tells Himself To Shut Up

Krugman elicits from me a laugh of the out loud variety:

So the joke begins like this: An economist, a lawyer and a professor of marketing walk into a room. What’s the punch line? They were three of the five “expert witnesses” Republicans called for last week’s Congressional hearing on climate science.

Well played.

I stopped reading there; as Krugman said, an economist’s “expert” opinion on climate science is a joke.

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