Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rules for Dating

This has been around for a while but still makes me laugh and I find particularly appropriate as a father of two daughters: Ten Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter.

Of course there is another simple way to handle it by following this rule.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Of Mice and Men

One of the more charming things about living in a rural area is the occasional visitation by the odd field mouse. We've had one roaming around the house for some time now. Our cat thought it was a toy to be played with rather than a rodent to be killed. Makes me wonder why we have a cat in the first place.

Anyway, it finally got to the point where we had to call in an exterminator. No sooner had he laid the traps under the kitchen sink did we catch a mouse. Whether it was the same one we had seen before is debatable. It's also not clear whether he is the only invader of our home. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

For some strange reason this all has me thinking of a Robert Burns poem.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Depravity and Young Adult Fiction

As a father of two teenage girls, I am very concerned about what books they read. Thankfully, neither of them like to read what's currently being offered in "young adult fiction" and for good reason. Look no further than Meghan Cox Gurdon's excellent essay in the Wall Street Journal:

How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.

Pathologies that went undescribed in print 40 years ago, that were still only sparingly outlined a generation ago, are now spelled out in stomach-clenching detail. Profanity that would get a song or movie branded with a parental warning is, in young-adult novels, so commonplace that most reviewers do not even remark upon it.

If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.
Ms. Cox Gurdon bravely exposes the dark underbelly that is young adult fiction and goes further to show that this recent advent in publishing has been an increasingly detrimental trend. Take time to read this excellent essay.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Facebook

This morning I did something I had been thinking about for quite a while. For many in our internet-connected culture it will seem a little counter-cultural and probably would leave some scratching their heads. I deactivated by Facebook account.

This was a decision brought on (in part) by recent events in the news involving a congressman's online extracurricular activities. But it was also something I had been thinking about because I was never really comfortable allowing others to connect to me.

Granted, while I was on Facebook I did connect to college friends as well as members of my extended family. I managed to reconnect with folks I hadn't spoken to in many years.

I rarely received an unwanted message and can count on one hand the number of times I received an invitation to be friends with someone I didn't know.

It was convenient to have the news feed from a lot of different blogs and websites I follow in one central place. But there are other applications that allow that function without connecting with strangers.

I only signed up in the beginning because my girls were curious about having their own account. I signed up because I wasn't familiar with it at the time and needed to see what it was all about before allowing my girls to get on it. Ultimately I decided they didn't need an account and they both agreed with my decision.

But I still couldn't help shake the nagging feeling that this was not a good thing to have. I've never been interested in having a Twitter account and don't bother following anyone. While I enjoyed being on Facebook, increasingly I didn't have time to keep up with it or find things to share.

My mind kept coming back to a book I read several years ago by Jerry Jenkins entitled Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It. It talks very frankly about sexual sin and how it can subtly enter into your marriage. In order to protect our marriages, we need to build "hedges" which are ground rules for interacting with the opposite sex that protect us from falling into the trap that sexual sin can put us in.

Increasingly what I realized was that with my Facebook account I was tearing a huge hole in the hedges that I had been placing around my marriage. Although I never had any issues while I was on Facebook I felt it was better to get out before a problem arose.

Social media can be a wonderful thing. But it also provides a wealth of danger. Recent news stories have shown that Facebook contributes to divorce. The bottom line is while it may seem innocent to reconnect with old friends it can present danger.

I know plenty of people that are on Facebook and have not run into any issues. I think whether to be involved in social media or not is a personal choice that each individual has to make. As I said before, I didn't have any problems with being on Facebook. But when I weigh everything together, it's better for me personally to not be out there allowing myself to be set up as a target for temptation. I don't want to do anything that puts my marriage and my family at risk. For me, the risks involved with being on Facebook outweigh the rewards.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

It Could Be Worse.....

I always tell my kids they are fortunate I don't do things that embarrass them (at least, not normally). I could have been like this guy.

At least his kid was a good sport about the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Great Quote on Writing A Book

I saw this quote today and thought of both my daughters who are both aspiring writers (thanks to this course):

"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy, then an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then it becomes a tyrant and, in the last stage, just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."

—Winston Churchill, Grosvenor House, London, November 2, 1949. From Churchill By Himself, edited by Richard Langworth, p. 49.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Favorite Eats: Provence Breads and Cafe

Last week I made my annual jaunt to Nashville which is always a fun trip. My favorite part of visiting Nashville is that it's like visiting New York except on a much smaller (and more manageable scale). Nashville has so many things to offer including an abundance of great places to eat.

One of those places is Provence Breads and Cafe which is one of the best bakeries I've ever visited. I have a great weakness for breads and pastries. This place is a must visit when in the Music City. There are six locations throughout the city (including one at the airport for those passing through). The location I've visited is downtown at the Nashville Public Library at 601 Church Street. It's not everyday that you find a bakery at a library but it's a really cool spot to stop in.

My mission was to go and get a variety of their pastries for breakfast on our day of departure. However, I didn't arrive until around 10:00 and was reminded that it pays to come early (they open at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday through Friday) as the selection was pretty limited by the time I got there. Still, I was able to find plenty of goodies to take with me and we all had a wonderful breakfast before heading home.

The breads are also absolutely fabulous and they have a terrific selection of sandwiches they put together with their artisan breads. Imagine the bread at Panera Bread (one of the few chain restaurants I visit when I travel) only a little better. They also do fresh salads and have plenty of both available for those that need a quick lunch to go.

If you ever get the chance to visit Nashville, make a point to stop by a Provence Breads and Cafe. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Moms and Politics

One of the more interesting trends of late has been the increase in the number of mothers who are involved in politics. Dana Loesch has an excellent post on what motivates mothers to jump into the political fray. It's well worth the time to read.

This post also brought to mind Jamie Radtke who is running for the U. S. Senate here in Virginia. Jamie is a friend of mine and, more importantly, mother of three. I also think she would make a great senator. She told me not long ago that her kids were a big motivator in running for Senate.

Moms have a lot of important things to say. We would be wise to listen to them.

Happy Mother's Day to moms everywhere.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Favorite Eats: Blue Collar Joe's

If it wasn't for Food Network, I would have never discovered Blue Collar Joe's.

While my family and I were hanging out in our hotel in Richmond a couple of weeks ago we stumbled across an episode of Food Network Challenge featuring store owner Daniel Knight. The fact that his store was located in Daleville, Virginia just a couple of hours from our home was really exciting to us. Plus, it's just a stone's thrown down the road from one of my favorite barbecue joints so we had to stop on our way home.

Blue Collar Joe's speciality is its doughnuts (or donuts as they spell it on the menu). But their doughnuts are anything but typical. Featuring flavors such as the Botetourt Bog (a triple chocolate doughnut), Boston Creme Pie, Caramel Apple Pie, and German Chocolate Cake, they are anything but typcial doughnuts. Most of the flavors are cake doughnuts but unlike any I've ever had. I grew up on a steady diet of Krispy Kreme's yeast doughnuts but Blue Collar Joe's doughnuts are the lightest and tastiest cake doughnuts I've ever had.

They also serve wraps and hot dogs during the day and are known for terrific coffee. But the doughnuts are the real draw.

If you're travelling along Interstate 81 through Virginia make it a point to head down U. S. 220 just a couple of miles to the some of the best donuts you'll find anywhere.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

End of an Era

As a kid growing up in North Carolina, I fell in love with the University of North Carolina through its football and basketball teams. My father is a Carolina grad (class of '58) and I graduated from Chapel Hill thirty years later. In addition to my father, the one other person that helped nurture my love for Tar Heel blue was Woody Durham.

I grew up at a time when sports was not all over television as it is now. The idea of college sports being televised was still a rather novel idea. Fans connected with their teams through radio announcers much in the same way that baseball fans of years ago connected with their teams. What set these men apart is they didn't just announce the games. They had a unique connection with the teams and often served as the school's lead cheerleader.

Woody Durham just such an announcer. If you mention his name anywhere in North Carolina folks will immediately know who he is even if they don't follow Carolina sports. His voice also was featured in countless commercials across the state. In addition to his radio duties he hosted weekly television shows with the football and basketball coaches.

Fans connected to Woody in such a way that when Carolina games finally started being televised across the region it became tradition to "turn down the sound" on the television and listen to Woody's call of the game on the radio. On a side note, even during my years at Carolina I frequently watched games with friends on TV and the sound was turned down. I also frequently took a radio with me to the football games I attended. It was that important to hear what Woody had to say.

Another sign of Woody's connection to the fans: at games it was common practice at a football game for someone to start a chant of "Wood-y, Wood-y". The crowd would keep cheering until Woody would lean out of the press box and wave to the crowd.

During my last couple of years at Carolina I had the privilege to work with Woody. In 1987, I went to work at WCHL (the flagship station for the Tar Heel Sports Network - a collection of radio stations in North Carolina and along the eastern seaboard that carried the games - a network that existed primarily because of Woody) to help cover the U. S. Olympic Festival to be held that summer in the Triangle area. That job led to a even better position later that fall as a locker room reporter during home basketball games. For the entire season, I was able to sit in the press box with Woody and watch him work. At the time, I was seriously considering becoming a broadcaster because of Woody.
I will never forget the commitment he had to every broadcast in getting every detail just right even down to the pronunciation of the players names. His recall of facts and figures was simply amazing. Most of all, he carried an enthusiasm for Carolina sports that was unrivaled among other announcers.

But all good things come to an end. After 40 years as "The Voice of the Tar Heels", Woody is calling it a career. He's leaving on his own terms which is just the way it should be. Of course Carolina sports will never be the same.

Thanks for the memories, Woody. It was an honor to know you and to be able to work alongside you even if it was for all too brief a time.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Why We Should Read Austen

My wife and daughters are big Jane Austen fans. We watch just about every adaptation of her novels that comes along (although the 1995 Pride and Prejudice (Restored Edition) is our favorite) and the books are frequently read in our house. I must admit I've acquired an admiration for Austen's works over the years myself.

Mark Mitchell, writing at Front Porch Republic, has a great article on why we need to read Austen and how both ladies and gentlemen can benefit from diving into her novels. For example, here's what he has to say about how Austen can help guys to learn to be gentlemen:

Austen’s gentlemen (I’m thinking especially of Darcy here) understand the call of duty; they are committed to family, reputation, propriety, and self-control. To be sure, Darcy takes himself quite seriously, but aren’t these pursuits serious by nature? To neglect one’s duty, to be careless of one’s family and reputation, to ignore the bounds of propriety and to indulge the appetites without restraint are not the actions of a gentleman. They represent, conversely, the behavior of a boor. Or, perhaps equally fitting, they are the actions of a male who has no sense of what it means to be a man. Such characters may be Guys or Peter Pans but they are not men and surely not gentlemen.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Joe Carter

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Answers to Questions About Homeschooling

Homeschoolers get questioned all the time about why they homeschool and tons of inane questions about homeschooling. Thanks to Deborah Markus at Secular Homeschooling, here is a list of answers to those pesky questions.

Hat tip: Joe Carter

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Challenges of Raising Girls

It's tough to be a parent of daughters these days when the culture is doing everything it can to undermine fundamental values that parents are trying to instill in their kids. Consider two recent examples:

A recent Tide commercial involved a teenage girl getting ready to go out on a date and wanting to wear a skirt that Dad thinks is immodest. Dad wipes his dirty hands on the skirt in the hopes of sabotaging her wardrobe choices for the evening. But Mom comes to the rescue washing the skirt in Tide so that the daughter can wear it out on the date. As Kathryn Jean Lopez points out, it's time for parents to step up to protect their kids. The main problem with this commercial is that Dad really knew best but Mom decided to undermine him and let her daughter go out in the inappropriate outfit.

Another story comes from Abercrombie and Fitch. Their latest marketing ploy is to offer push up bras for grade school girls.  (Hat tip to Ed Morrissey) It's no great surprise that Ambercrombie and Fitch would be behind something like this since they have been selling inappropriate clothing and invoking soft porn in their catalogs and advertisements.

The question is, of course, why any parent with any sense would buy their kids clothes from that store at all.

It's tough these days in our over-sexualized culture to protect our daughters and help them make smart choices not just about the clothes they wear but many other things too. It's our job as dads to protect our daughters even if that means protecting them from themselves.

One final thought: when my daughters were younger (they are both teenagers now) we employed what we called the "touchdown test" to determine whether a top was appropriate. I would have them raise their arms above their heads (the referee's touchdown signal) to see whether a top was long enough to cover the belly. They now are able to make those decisions themselves and will often tell me before I have to tell them that a top is too small.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Origins of Sweet Tea

While we were in Charleston, SC last week, we took our daughters on a carriage tour of the historic downtown area. If you go, be sure to check out Palmetto Carriage Works as they provide terrific tours.

Anyway, our guide Eric (who was fantastic) pointed out that Charleston was where tea originated in the United States. Turns out that he was right on this point: botanist Andre Michaux was responsible for developing the first tea plantation in the United States. They also can claim their own tea party in 1774 (Boston wasn't the only city to host one).

But the most interesting tidbit he offered (and I haven't been able to confirm this for certain) was that Charleston was the origin of that Southern elixir known as sweet tea. According to what Eric told us, residents found the local water was still too brackish tasting even after brewing tea. So their solution was to add a whole lot of sugar. Consequently, they developed sweet tea.

As I said, I don't know whether there is any truth to this but it sure makes for a good story.

By the way, here is a recipe for how to make perfect sweet iced tea. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baseball Blogging At Eephus League

I've been blogging about baseball for a long time but am pleased to announce that I've just joined the Eephus League of Baseball Minutiae as a contributor. Stop by there to check out all the great baseball blogging and be sure to check out my articles that will appear there periodically. Here's my first post for them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reviving the Lost Art of Scorekeeping

Baseball, unlike any other sport, is not only to be watched but it is meant to be observed closely. Those who pay close attention to the game are rewarded by the rich treasure to be found in its minutiae.

One way to get in touch with the pace and feel of the game is to keep score. Again, unlike other sports, the scorecard unlocks the hidden secrets of the game. But most fans don't bother to keep score in part because they don't know how.

But thanks to an enterprising young woman, scorekeeping is destined to make a comeback this season. Bethany Heck, proprietor of the Eephus League of Baseball Minutiae has developed a terrific scorebook that is the perfect accompaniment to the game. She's been raising funds through Kickstart and already has raised twice her goal.

The beauty of keeping score is that it also is a perfect way for dads to introduce the game to their kids. I'm planning to teach both my daughters the joy of keeping score this season and Bethany's scorebook will be just the thing for the job.

If you've never tried to keep score, give it a whirl. I guarantee that once you get started you'll want to do it at every game. And you'll never watch a baseball game the same way again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rules of the Road

Our family travels a lot mostly because my business travel usually takes me someplace I can drive to in a day. Since we homeschool we can take trips together which is, of course, a whole lot more fun. Along the way we've developed some guidelines to make our trips more enjoyable.

First, we usually take audiobooks with us on our trips. Most of our trips involve five to six hours in the car each way so it's a good way to pass the time (if we're not listening to satellite radio or just talking). Here is a brief list of some our favorite books.

Another thing we try to do from time to time is get off the interstate. Interstate highways may usually provide the most direct route from place to place but they are not always the most interesting. Sure, it takes longer to get some place if you get off the interstate but I guarantee it's a lot more interesting.

We also try not to rush getting anywhere. That way if we run across something interesting along the way we can stop and take a look.

If we're visiting someplace new we always try to do our homework first. It's always a good idea to figure out what your destination has to offer you that will be of interest. If you don't you'll end up wasting a lot of valuable time figuring out what to do.

Finally, we always try to eat at local dining establishments. The main problem I have with chain restaurants are that they are always the same. Some of our most interesting adventures involved finding good local joints to eat at. Over time, we've developed our favorites so that when we're in a certain place again and again we can go back to our favorite haunts.

Family travel is not as daunting as it may seem if you just plan ahead a little and make it an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The God Who Comforts

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

- 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Observation On Work Ethic

Chicago Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat offered up this interesting observation on her blog the other day (hat tip: Bleed Cubbie Blue):

Greg Maddux faced 20,421 batters in his career. Just 310 of them saw a 3-0 count. That's roughly one every three starts. Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors for the research.

So in other words, 1.5% of the batters Maddux faced over his career saw him go to a 3-0 count (meaning that he had very little control). Such performance does not happen by accident and is a testimony to the tremendous work ethic he brought to the game daily. How much better off would be as a nation if each one of us put that kind of dedication into our jobs? One can only wonder.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I spent a couple of hours at the dentist's office this afternoon getting several fillings in my molars. My dentist was drilling for an interminably long time. I thought he would never finish. In fact, I kept thinking back to this scene from Marathon Man:

Then I tried to think of something more cheery. So my mind drifted to this bit from Bill Cosby:

At least that thought made the afternoon more bearable.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Time For A Change

When I started this blog back in 2004, I was very interested in following politics and writing a lot about what was happening in the election. It didn't hurt any that a friend of mine was running for Congress in our district, either. I had picked the name Daddypundit because I wanted it to represent that I was both a dad and a pundit (or at least an aspiring one).

But now I'm facing a blog identity crisis. True, I could write a lot about politics but many other fine (and far more talented bloggers) already do that. I could post each day offering links to other things that folks had written that I found interesting. Again, there are many others who already do that.

I've been thinking for some time that maybe it's time to start focusing on the "daddy" portion of my screen name and write more about things I'm experiencing as a father. I'm also thinking that maybe I'll talk more about things that my family enjoys or experiences together. In other words, I'll turn my focus away from writing about politics and culture and more about things that are more family and parenting oriented. From time to time I may still comment on a news story but for the most part I'm thinking this will be a little more personal blog.

My hope is to come back to an original purpose of this blog which is to share my experiences as a dad first and foremost. I'll still have other forums to write about politics and culture such as Stones Cry Out but this will be a little different here from now on.

So I hope you will join me on this journey as I turn my attention more towards my experiences as a dad. And I hope that you will enjoy this journey with me.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Reexamining Warren Harding

Most historians rate Warren Harding as the worst president of all time. But perhaps he's gotten a bad rap. As Ryan Cole and Amity Shlaes point out, an examination of Harding's policies might have some merit and provide some encouragement for us today.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Chivalry Is (Mostly) Dead

First there was the case of Joel Northrup, the kid that refused to wrestle a girl and was roundly lambasted in the press as a result. Then a middle school student is suspended for opening a door for a woman. At first blush the two stories may not seem related. But there is a connection. In both cases, young men are punished for demonstrating respect towards women.

As a father of two girls, I have trained them to expect men to treat them with respect (including but not limited to opening doors or having the decency not to wrestle them).

Rather than punishing these young men for showing respect towards women we should applaud them. Frankly we'd all be better off if young men would demonstrate respect to women - even if they don't ask for it.

Liberal Columnist Calls for Defunding of Planned Parenthood

It's not every day that I will link to an article by Kirsten Powers but this one is worth reading in its entirety:

During the recent debate over whether to cut off government funding to Planned Parenthood, the organization claimed that its contraceptive services prevent a half-million abortions a year. Without their services, the group’s officials insist, more women will get abortions.
I’ll admit I bought the argument—it makes intuitive sense—and initially opposed cutting off funding for precisely that reason.
Then I did a little research.
Turns out, a 2009 study by the journal Contraception found, in a 10-year study of women in Spain, that as overall contraceptive use increased from around 49 percent to 80 percent, the elective abortion rate more than doubled. This doesn’t mean that access to contraception causes more abortion—though some believe that—but that it doesn’t necessarily reduce it.
In the U.S., the story isn’t much different. A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute listed all the reasons that women who have had an abortion give for their unexpected pregnancy, and not one of them is lack of access to contraception. In fact, 54 percent of women who had abortions had used a contraceptive method, if incorrectly, in the month they got pregnant. For the 46 percent who had not used contraception, 33 percent had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy; 32 percent had had concerns about contraceptive methods; 26 percent had had unexpected sex, and 1 percent had been forced to have sex. Not one fraction of 1 percent said they got pregnant because they lacked access to contraception. Some described having unexpected sex, but all that can be said about them is that they are irresponsible, not that they felt they lacked access to contraception.
Ms. Powers goes on to torpedo one of Planned Parenthood's claims that their services help reduce the number of abortions in the United States. However, the numbers over the past ten years tell a different story:
Over this time period, the U.S. government has funneled billions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, in large part because the organization claims to provide services to avoid unplanned pregnancies – a laudable goal. Yet despite a robust budget—Planned Parenthood reported a total annual revenue of $1.1 billion in its last financial filing—the organization has done absolutely nothing to change the fundamental dynamics of the United States’ abortion rate.
Digging a little deeper, Ms. Powers finally discovers the true agenda behind Planned Parenthood and why taxpayer funding should end:
To preserve its federal subsidy, Planned Parenthood continues to claim that without its contraception services the abortion rate will go up. This deception smacks of a fleecing of taxpayers in an effort to promote an ideological agenda, rather than a sincere effort to help women plan families.
What is that ideology, exactly? To find out, you have to dig through Planned Parenthood’s tax forms because the group certainly isn’t going to tell you. According to its most recent tax filing, the purpose of Planned Parenthood Federation of America is to provide leadership in “[a]chieving, through informed individual choice, a U.S. population of stable size in an optimum environment; in stimulating and sponsoring relevant biomedical, socio-economic, and demographic research.”
So it is, in reality, a population-control organization. Funny, this was never mentioned in the gauzy $200,000 advertising campaign launched last week. It also doesn’t make it into the “About Us” section of the group’s website, which repeatedly claims its mission is to protect women’s health, when in fact the real mission is to keep the birth rate at whatever level the leaders believe it should be
To hear Planned Parenthood and their supporters, they exist only to provide Pap smears or breast exams or prenatal services. In fact, President Cecile Richards has gone so far as to erroneously imply that they provide mammograms. (A spokesperson for the group confirmed to me that this is untrue.)
Planned Parenthood officials are allowed to believe whatever they want and to pursue whatever goals they choose. But their dishonesty in how they present their organization to the public, along with ignoring basic statistics about their area of expertise, makes you wonder what else they are hiding. It’s also hard to deny that they are at core a blindly ideological organization, not a run-of-the-mill charitable nonprofit.
Whatever you think of abortion rights, this is not the kind of organization that taxpayers should be funding.
Hats off to Ms. Powers for being willing to do a little homework and discover the truth. If more liberals were willing to set aside the preconceived notions about abortion and examine the facts behind the claims of Planned Parenthood cutting off taxpayer funding would be a no-brainer.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

So Long, Duke

One of the great legends of the game, Duke Snider, has died.

Duke Snider, the Hall of Fame center fielder for the charmed "Boys of Summer" who helped the Dodgers bring their elusive and only World Series crown to Brooklyn, died Sunday. He was 84.
Snider died at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, Calif., said the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which announced the death on behalf of the family. Snider had been ill for months. His family said he died of natural causes.
"The Duke of Flatbush" hit .295 with 407 career home runs, played in the World Series six times and won two titles. But the eight-time All-Star was defined by much more than his stats -- he was, after all, part of the love affair between the borough of Brooklyn and "Dem Bums" who lived in the local neighborhoods.
Ebbets Field was filled with stars such as Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges during that 1955 championship season. Yet it is Snider's name that refrains in the ballpark favorite "Talkin' Baseball."
"Willie, Mickey, and the Duke," goes the popular song, which marks its 30th anniversary this year.
Snider wore No. 4 in Dodger blue and was often regarded as the third-best center fielder in New York -- behind Willie Mays of the Giants and Mickey Mantle of the Yankees -- during what many fans considered the city's golden era of baseball.

Snider was a key figure in Roger Kahn's classic The Boys of Summer as well as Terry Cashman's anthem Talkin' Baseball. He was a favorite among the Brooklyn faithful and will truly be missed.

The Boys of Summer

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Virginia Senate Votes To Regulate Abortion Clinics

Today's vote by the Virginia Senate makes me proud to be a Virginian:

With the backing of two Democrats and a tie-breaking vote cast by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Republicans in the Virginia Senate today won approval of an amended health bill that would require the state's abortion clinics to be regulated like hospitals.
The 20-20 vote on Senate Bill 924, which now heads to Gov. Bob McDonnell, represents a significant victory for anti-abortion activists, who have been trying for years to restrict access to abortion in Virginia, only to have bills killed in the Democrat-controlled Senate Education and Health CommitteeMcDonnell has indicated he would sign the legislation.
Democratic lawmakers and women's rights advocates decried legislation, which was altered on the floor of the House earlier in the week through an amendment tacked onto an unrelated bill by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell and came to the Senate without being debated or discussed in committee.
They said it would effectively restrict a woman's access to abortion services by forcing the state's 21 clinics to meet standards set by the Board of Health regulating hospitals -- standards that include things like expanded hallways, parking lots and elevators that most clinics could not afford.
Currently, first-trimester abortions are considered medical procedures that can be performed in physicians' offices, similar to medical procedures such as colonoscopies, vision correction surgerycosmetic surgeryand dental surgery. Abortions in the second trimester or later must be performed in a hospital setting.
The amended legislation would require that any medical office performing more than five first-trimester abortions per month be classified as a hospital and subject to regulations devised by the State Board of Health -- a body that is appointed by the governor.
This is sensible legislation and reasonable in light of recent stories such as the massacre in Philadelphia last month. Hats off to the Senators who had the courage to stand up and do the right thing and protect the cause of life.

UPDATE: The Associated Press claims this is a tactic to force abortion clinics to close:

Virginia took a big step Thursday toward eliminating most of the state's 21 abortion clinics, approving a bill that would likely make rules so strict the medical centers would be forced to close, Democrats and abortion rights supporters said.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican and Catholic, supports the measure and when he signs it into law, Virginia will become the first state to require clinics that provide first-trimester abortions to meet the same standards as hospitals. The requirements could include anything from expensive structural changes like widening hallways to increased training and mandatory equipment the clinics currently don't have.
While abortion providers must be licensed in Virginia, the clinics resemble dentists' offices and are considered physicians offices, similar to those that provide plastic and corrective eye surgeries, colonoscopies and a host of other medical procedures.
Democrats and abortion rights supporters said the change would put an estimated 17 of the state's 21 clinics out of business. Most of the clinics also provide birth control, cancer screenings and other women's health services.
"This is not about safety for women. This is about ideology, and this is about politics," said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. "The women of the commonwealth are going to be the ones left to suffer."
Abortion rights supporters warned of legal challenges while supporters heralded it as a way to make the procedures safer.
"It is not about banning abortions," said Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Winchester. "It is simply caring for women who are about to have an invasive surgical procedure and creating an environment for them where they have the opportunity to do that in a place that is safe."
No other state requires clinics that provide early abortions to meet hospital standards.
For years, abortion advocates have claimed that they want to make abortions safe. But as opponents of this bill have revealed what they really want is for abortion to be available on demand at any time. Their concern for the health of the woman ends when reasonable regulations to insure a woman's health are introduced. Once again the hypocrisy of abortion advocates is in plain view for all to see.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Albert Pujols A Cub? Is That Even Possible?

Michael Wilbon makes a compelling case for the possibility that Albert Pujols could, in fact, be in a Cub uniform next season.

I think it's a safe bet that since the Cardinals didn't sign him in the offseason that they are not likely going to be able to afford to offer him the $30-35 million a year over 7 or 8 years it's going to take to keep him in Cardinal uniform.

"Wait 'Til Next Year" could be a hopeful refrain after all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Spring Training Matters

To the uninitiated, the phrase "pitchers and catchers report" makes very little sense. Even for a casual sports fan the start of spring training seems like a quaint idea. But here's a great explanation of why spring training matters.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Danger of the Individual Mandate

Georgetown University Law Professor Randy Barnett provides a succinct explanation of what's wrong with the Obamacare individual mandate:

Here's a thought experiment. Imagine that I tell you 100 things that you may not do tomorrow. For example, you cannot run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. While your liberty would be restricted, there would still be an infinite number of things you may still do.
Now suppose I tell you 100 things that you must do tomorrow. You must run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. These 100 mandates could potentially occupy all your time and consume all your financial resources.

You can see why economic mandates such as the individual mandate in Obamacare are so much more onerous than either economic regulations or prohibitions, and why so dangerous an unwritten congressional power should not be implied.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Lost Art of the Triple and Other Thoughts

Only 45 days until Opening Day and pitchers and catchers report to camps today. Optimism abounds, even for me.

I ran across this piece that makes a very interesting point: the triple is a lost art. With all the focus in the past few decades on home runs it's no surprise that triples are becoming a rarer feat. It makes for interesting reading.

As I write this, the Cardinals haven't signed Albert Pujols to a contract extension. I think Tom Verducci is exactly right: Pujols' age is going to be a big hinderance in giving him the 10 year contract he's looking for. If the Cardinals can't get him to agree to a five or seven year deal then he's likely going to be a free agent at the end of the year. Then it will be interesting to see who would be willing to commit the kind of money and number of years he's looking for.

Finally, this book should make for some interesting reading as we get ready for the season.

Let's play ball.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Super Tribute to Ronald Reagan

Today is the Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. But more importantly, it's the 100th anniversary of the birth of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Prior to the game today, this wonderful tribute will be shown in Cowboys Stadium.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Does Andy Petitte Belong in the Hall of Fame?

It's inevitable that anytime a really good baseball player retires there is an immediate discussion of whether he will be enshrined in Cooperstown. This is true for New York Yankees starter Andy Petitte who this week made it official he was calling it a career.

Although Petitte was a very good pitcher throughout his 16 year career, the numbers do not indicate an automatic trip to the Hall. The strongest case to be made in his favor is a record 19 postseason wins (all but one with the Yankees).

The strongest case against enshrinement: only 240 regular season wins, only 2 seasons of 20+ wins and no Cy Young Awards.

Sure, the postseason record is pretty amazing but consider he was also on some great Yankee teams. To me, that's as much an argument against as in favor of enshrinement.

I think it will be a close call once he's eligible for the Hall. A case can be made for enshrinement but I'm not sure his career matches up with those already in the Hall. If he had been able to pitch a couple of more years and rack up another 20-30 victories it would be more of a lock. In the end, I think Andy Petitte will be remembered as one of the best Yankee pitchers ever and a very good pitcher during his time. But I don't think he will be considered a great pitcher and just barely miss enshrinement into Cooperstown.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Remembering the Challenger: 25 Years Later

Yesterday marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. For those who remember the day we were shocked by the disaster. Americans had erroneously believed that spaceflight had become almost routine. Challenger would remind us just how dangerous the business of space flight really was. It's surprising then, in retrospect, to realize that CNN still covered the launch live.

It's a national tragedy such as this that brings out the best and worst in a nation's leaders. President Ronald Reagan rose to the occasion. He was supposed to give the annual State of the Union address that evening. However, in light of the tragedy it seemed far more appropriate to pay tribute to the fallen seven astronauts.

It would be the first time America lost a crew in space. Unfortunately, it would not be the last. But they understood the risks they were taking and for that they are properly remembered as heroes.

President Reagan appropriately borrowed his closing line from the poem High Flight which is a mantra for pilots: "And slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Palin Hatred and Modern Feminism

James Taranto has a great column on the Left's hatred of Sarah Palin that serves to perhaps explain why so much vitriol has been lobbed at her in the past few weeks. But he goes further in explaining how feminism and liberalism are hopelessly intertwined and exposes the hypocrisy of those who are theoretically in favor of a "women's right to choose":

An important strand of contemporary liberalism is feminism. As a label, "feminist" is passé; outside the academic fever swamps, you will find few women below Social Security age who embrace it.

That is because what used to be called feminism--the proposition that women deserve equality before the law and protection from discrimination--is almost universally accepted today. Politically speaking, a woman is the equal of a man. No woman in public life better symbolizes this than Sarah Palin--especially not Hillary Clinton, the left's favorite icon. No one can deny Mrs. Clinton's accomplishments, but neither can one escape crediting them in substantial part to her role as the wife of a powerful man.

But there is more to feminism than political and legal equality. Men and women are intrinsically unequal in ways that are ultimately beyond the power of government to remediate. That is because nature is unfair. Sexual reproduction is far more demanding, both physically and temporally, for women than for men. Men simply do not face the sort of children-or-career conundrums that vex women in an era of workplace equality.

Except for the small minority of women with no interest in having children, this is an inescapable problem, one that cannot be obviated by political means. Aspects of it can, however, be ameliorated by technology--most notably contraception, which at least gives women considerable control over the timing of reproduction.

As a political matter, contraception is essentially uncontroversial today, which is to say that any suggestion that adult women be legally prevented from using birth control is outside the realm of serious debate. The same cannot be said of abortion, and that is at the root of Palinoia.

To the extent that "feminism" remains controversial, it is because of the position it takes on abortion: not just that a woman should have the "right to choose," but that this is a matter over which reasonable people cannot disagree--that to favor any limitations on the right to abortion, or even to acknowledge that abortion is morally problematic, is to deny the basic dignity of women.

To a woman who has internalized this point of view, Sarah Palin's opposition to abortion rights is a personal affront, and a deep one. It doesn't help that Palin lives by her beliefs. To the contrary, it intensifies the offense.

It used to be a trope for liberal interviewers to try to unmask hypocrisy by asking antiabortion politicians--male ones, of course--what they would do if their single teen daughters got pregnant. It's a rude question, but Palin, whose 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy coincided with Mom's introduction to the nation, answered it in real life.

Recently we were at a party where a woman in her 60s, a self-described feminist, called Palin a "moron" for having encouraged her daughter to carry her child to term and "to marry the sperm donor." Even apart from the gross language, this was a completely irrational thing to say. First, that Palin's values are different in no way reflects on her intelligence.

More important, why is Bristol Palin's decision to carry her child to term any of this lady's business? Those who claim to be champions of privacy and choice need to do some serious soul-searching if they have so much trouble tolerating the private choices of others. (emphasis added)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thinking About Tuscon

Like a lot of folks, I've been watching a lot of news coverage of this past weekend's shooting in Tuscon. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

A couple of thoughts about the tragedy and its aftermath:

1. I never fail to be surprised at the lengths people will go to score political points from such a tragedy. I think most voters see such politicians for what they really are and they'll get their just desserts the next time an election rolls around.

2. A Predictable Tragedy in Tuscon in today's Wall Street Journal is a worthwhile read. And no, it doesn't have anything to do with political speech. Instead, it focuses on one of the most underreported aspects of the story: the fact that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, had untreated mental illnesses. As long as we continue to ignore the problem of how we as a society deal with treatment of the mentally ill we'll see these type of events continue to occur. All you have to do is look back at similar events and see how many of the perpetrators had a history of mental illness.

3. A related point to #2 above: Tuscon police missed the warning signs about Loughner's behavior?

4. Another question that is begging to be asked and answered: why weren't the police at Congresswoman Giffords' event? If the political rhetoric is as dangerous as Sheriff Dupnik says then why didn't he have any deputies there to provide security?

5. A natural response in the aftermath of a tragedy such as this is to talk about passing tougher gun control laws. But consider this quote:

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." --Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book

6. Leave it to Michael Ramirez to provide astute media analysis.