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Found 6 results

  1. Ted Williams is the only person who can claim - along with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb - to be the greatest hitter who ever lived. Here are some statistics which are so mind-boggling that they simply do not compute: * Williams had a lifetime batting average of .344 - the highest of any player with more than 302 home runs. * Williams had 521 home runs. * Williams missed 3 seasons in the prime of his career due to WWII. The three years before, he batted .344, .406 and .356; the three years after, he batted .342, .343, and .369. * Missing those 3 seasons cost him at least 100 home runs - he would have hit 625 for his career. * Even more remarkable than the above? His *career* on-base percentage was .482. That is not a misprint. * Perhaps even *more* remarkable? Not once did he ever have 200 hits in a season. See for yourselves. How can that be? I guess it's because he walked so much (he had 20-12 vision). There are *three people* on that list of *525-different 200-hit seasons* named Williams, none of which is Ted. * If Williams had played 20 years earlier, I might be able to comprehend these numbers, but he was a *generation* after the big-numbers hitters of the 1920s. * His batting average, his home runs, and his walks - in my mind - make him a perfectly legitimate choice for the moniker: Greatest Hitter of All-Time.
  2. The title alone should ruffle some feathers. "At 100, the Cleveland Orchestra May (Quietly) Be America's Best" by James R. Oestreich on nytimes.com
  3. For several years, I was a Big Brother, until my little brother, Ali, his mom Iris, and his sister, Naimah, moved to San Diego to stake out a better life for themselves. I remember taking his family to the airport, and had to pay for their cat to get on the plane because they didn't have the money. I only saw Ali once more after that, a few years later when I went to visit their family out in San Diego. We drove up to Los Angeles because Ali wanted to go to the Spike Lee Store, where everything was overpriced and of questionable quality. I bought him a T-shirt, and paid twice what it was worth - I didn't want to drive back to San Diego without a momento from his hero. A few years before that, I had flown in from Moscow. Exhausted after traveling the better part of 24 hours, I was ready to collapse into bed, but checked my answering machine first. There was a message from Iris: Ali's best friend Frankie was shot and killed in a drug deal gone bad, and the funeral was in about one hour. Somehow, I found the strength to throw on a suit, and drive to Seat Pleasant, where I was the only white person at the funeral. Frankie's mom came up to me, and asked me to say a few words. To this day, I have no idea why - what the heck was I supposed to say? Fighting lack of concentration because of sleepiness, I fumbled through my speech, turned to Frankie lying in his coffin, and told him we all loved him - that won the audience over, and things went as well as they could have under the extreme amount of pressure I was under. Six years ago, I wondered what Ali had been up to, and I searched his name on the internet, only to find his obituary. I posted this. Frankie and Ali were both the finest young men. I loved them and miss them terribly to this day - their premature deaths are 100% attributable to the neighborhoods they grew up in - even though Iris tried her best to escape, it just wasn't enough. She didn't have the money. I did things with Ali and Frankie about once a week, and remember one day asking them where they went to school. "Taney Middle School," Ali said, which meant nothing to me, or to him, or to Frankie. But a few years later, I did a little research, and found that Roger B. Taney was a Supreme Court Justice. 'Okay,' I thought to myself, they had gone to a middle school named after a Supreme Court Justice. Then, I found out that Roger B. Taney was actually Chief Justice from 1836-1864, and was the person who wrote the majority decision in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. These children were going to a school that was nearly 100% black, and the school was named after the Chief Justice who tried the Dred Scott case? I couldn't believe it, but over the years, I forgot all about it. Until recently, when it popped back into my mind, and I Googled to see if that school was really named after the same man who wrote the Dred Scott ruling - the ruling that said, blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Fortunately, in 1993, someone had the common sense to change the name of the school from "Roger B. Taney Middle School" to "Thurgood Marshall Middle School": "School May Change Name to Thurgood Marshall" on articles.orlandosentinel.com This column came out today: "Out with Redskins - and Everything Else!" by George F. Will on washingtonpost.com Will mixed up some valid points along with some reductio ad absurdum, as he seems to have a tendency to do - he's a smart guy; I wonder what he would say about Roger B. Taney Middle School educating a nearly all-black student body.
  4. Austria-Hungary, in today's world, is a "Who gives a damn" entity, but this 51-year constitutional government shaped the western world into what it is today. Yes, World War I would have happened anyway, but the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand contributed mightily to the July Crisis of 1914, which set the stage for World War I (which set the stage for World War II). I could go on, but the rest unravels obviously into the current state of the world. Unlike many of my "Pedagogical Threads," this one will hopefully have many parts, hopefully written by numerous people who know a lot more than I do. The importance of Austria-Hungary simply cannot be overstated. Anyone looking to study The History Of The World (yeah, I'm talking to *both* of you two!) would be doing well to use the birth of this constitutional union as a starting point, working both backwards and forwards. My hope is that this post will eventually reach a historical scholar, confident and naive enough to want to enlighten masses of highly intelligent, but uneducated, people - eager to learn, but with little to say (I would be one of that group). Please join us and share your wisdom.
  5. A couple of us are doing an Ingmar Bergman retrospective, and will be starting with his earliest work, "Torment" (also known as "Frenzy" and "Hets," 1944), then working forward towards his later works, in order. If anyone wants to join in the discussion, please feel free. The discussions are here: 1944 ¨Torment¨ (aka ¨Hets" and ¨Frenzy¨) 1946 ¨Crisis¨ (aka ¨Kris¨) The only legitimate place I've found Torment is on Hulu Plus which offers a free week, followed by $7.99 a month. There are probably foreign websites that offer it as well, but I'm taking the legitimate route. However you view it, please feel free to share your thoughts (each movie will get its own thread). This is a good chance to familiarize yourself with one of the greatest directors in history, and it can be done at your leisure. Well, why not? Note that Bergman didn't directly direct (I think that's a phrase) Torment, but it's regarded as his first directorial work, and he wrote the screenplay as well. Berman was born in Uppsala, Sweden in 1918: and passed away in Fí¥rö, Sweeden in 2007. Fí¥rö is a tiny island off a slightly larger island called Gotland, itself off the coast of southeast Sweden - it is, needless to say, quite remote:
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