Sunday, December 5, 2021

Give It Up for Buck O'Neil

It should have happened while he was alive, but at least it has happened. John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Friday, December 3, 2021

All Things JWST

If you want to know about the developmental history of the about-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), then Natalie Wolchover's lead story at Quanta will tell you everything and then some. Wolchover digs deep into the origins of the multi-billion dollar project, its cutting-edge designs and the new technology necessary to make them work, and so on. She touches a little on the controversy regarding the telescope's name and she does refer to the extensive delays and cost overruns that have dogged the project.

But this is an article about a potentially amazing new scientific tool and the discoveries that could come from it appearing in a science magazine. Wolchover isn't cheerleading for the JSWT, but she leaves the expos├ęs for other outlets.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Right Thing -- Again!

The Womens Tennis Association continues to do the right thing in its ongoing standoff with the Chinese Communist Party in regards to the latter's silencing and censorship of its own star athlete, Peng Shuai.

After WTA president Steve Simons said last month that Chinese officials needed to investigate Peng's claims of coerced sex and sexual harassment by a top Chinese government official, instead of disappearing her and staging videos that showed she was completely OK and had "changed her mind," he backed it up by saying the WTA wouldn't stand for it if China didn't act.

China didn't act, and Simons announced today that the WTA would cancel all tournaments scheduled for the country indefinitely. Regardless, by the way, of the cost.

The WTA continues to demonstrate to sports leagues and companies how they should respond to a regime that tries to control and dictate the terms under which it will work with them. And, by the way, it's a good quick refresher for women's gymnastics groups about how one handles things when one's athletes claim to have been harassed or assaulted by one's own officials.

I'd suggest the International Olympic Committee take note as well, but I have trouble typing when I snicker.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Loud, Plaid and Called

Today is the Feast Day of St. Andrew, who was deemed the Patron Saint of Scotland in the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath. Your humble Friar has some Scottish heritage -- of which he is proud, aye! -- and so he enjoys noting this day, which is not observed nearly so widely as good old Patrick from the nearby Emerald Isle.

St. Andrew's day has nothing analagous to Paddy's green beer and, frankly, your humble Friar would advise against consuming any beverage which looks like it might be plaid. But following Andrew's footsteps as an apostle is an outstanding idea worthy of consideration.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Everything's OK Now

The truth is that over its recent history, the International Olympic Committee has proved that there are very, very few totalitarian dictatorial buttocks which it will not kiss a la Crash Davis, but their supernatural ability to do so while also assuming both supine and prone positions in front of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party is a miraculous sight. Not a sight to behold, mind you, at least not in front of the kids, but certainly a miraculous one.

As noted earlier here and elsewhere, former Chinese tennis player -- and Olympian -- Peng Shuai first accused a former Chinese government official of coercing her into sex. Then she disappeared, and an obviously faked email claimed she recanted her accusation and just wanted to be left alone. The IOC, recognizing the danger facing its last tattered shreds of respectability and a lucrative partner relationship, acted swiftly.

IOC President Thomas Bach, either explicitly or implicitly, offered his organization's services in the fakery of convincing everyone that Peng was just fine. Bach claimed that he and other IOC members spoke to Peng in a 30-minute international video call and she's all A-OK, so there's no need to move the February 2022 Winter Games from China. Pictures that are supposed to represent the phone call were released, but the full video has yet to be (perhaps making sure all gun barrels aimed at Peng remain offscreen.)

I think there was a call, as I can't believe the IOC would go so low as to help with a photoshop that made it look like there was. But I'm almost certain that listening to it would make clear what a tissue of lies the CCP is trying to sell and how eagerly the IOC is to help close the deal so as not to endanger its commission. If this pattern continues and the IOC keeps participating, it's going to owe a lot of apologies to the former East German judges for impugning the honesty of their results.

Friday, November 19, 2021


A few days ago Chinese women's tennis player Peng Shuai accused a high Chinese government official of coercive sexual behavior. The Chinese government reacted as totalitarian dictatorships do and she has now disappeared. The Women's Tennis Association received an email that almost no one believes that Peng sent, retracting the allegations and saying she was just fine.

Unlike the spineless National Basketball Association, which bent over backwards to grovel when a general manager tweeted support of Hong Kong democracy protestors, the WTA said no dice and that it would be happy to pull all of its business out of China unless Peng's allegations were investigated and definitive proof of her continued well-being offered. WTA Chariman and CEO Steve Simon's exact words were, “We’re definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it.”

Meanwhile, LeBron James has yet to say the word Uyghur in public. One begins to wonder whether the spheres on the court are the only ones involved in that game. Except for Enes Kanter, of course.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


The website Goodreads, of which your humble Friar is a member, has posted its opening round ballots for it's "2021 Choice Awards." Now, though I read a lot of books, I am accustomed to low familiarity with many of the nominees. I don't read books in several of the categories, and in the case of several others, well, the nominees suck and I don't want to read the books.

I am even accustomed to have never heard of several of the nominated works at all. I leave many categories blank because I am not the person to tell you whether a book on the ballot was any good or not. But this year I found one book -- just one -- in the entire slate of nominees I would like to vote for. I have skimmed singer Brandi Carlile's memoir Broken Houses and plan on picking it up, which was about as close as I could come to picking a favorite in any category.

And this year I had no idea who a good four-fifths of the authors were, let alone the books they wrote. I'm not sure how wise a move this is for Goodreads. Middle-aged grumps like me are probably more likely to be bookish people than the screen devotees of the Millennial and Zoomer generations, so it would seem smarter to find books we read in order to draw attention to the contest. But apparently I'm not as smart as those folks are, which I guess is OK. It means copies of what I want to read stay on the shelves longer and I've got more time to pick them up.