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Category: General

Yankee fan of the week: John Gruber

[I’d have said “Jackass of the Week”, but that would be redundant. Ba-da-bing.]

By responding to John Gruber’s comment on the Shelly Duncan autograph incident, I know I’m opening myself up to the same criticism of humorlessness; but it ticks me off every time I read it.

For the record, I’m an Orioles fan — there, I said it — but I have ties to the Boston area through both ancestry and schooling, and so whatever bias I may have in the situation is toward the Red Sox. (As would anyone else not a Yankees fan, I dare say.)

I think most people would agree that there’s a point at which writing “Red Sox suck!” on an autograph for a Red Sox fan is clearly intended as a good-natured jibe, and a point at which it is clearly inappropriate. For a 37-year-old beer-bellied bleacher dweller, for instance, it’s clearly a joke. For a four-year-old little girl with a red balloon, it’s clearly inappropriate. Agreed?

Now the question becomes where you draw the line. I think a 10-year-old boy pretty clearly falls on the “inappropriate” side of the line. Gruber apparently disagrees. I think if the boy had been a teenager — 14, at least — I would be more inclined to see it as a joke, however lame and unsubtle.

Of course, Duncan offers no apology, as quoted in the followup story:

> “I thought I was back in middle school or high school, where you try to make a joke or say something funny, and you end up saying something that gets you in trouble,” Duncan said … “I try to rile ’em up and be fun. I don’t expect anybody to make a big deal about it. Nobody ever has before.”

“It was just a joke! Can’t you take a joke?” *I* caused offense, but it’s *your* fault.

As for Gruber’s comments: well, they’re exactly what I’d expect to hear from a Yankees fan.

> When I was 10 I would have laughed my ass off if some player from the Red Sox had given me a “Yankees suck!” autograph.

Yeah, sure, because when you were 10, you were a punk-assed kid whose favorite team had won 26 World Series in the last sixty years. That’s pretty big of you. Suppose you’d been a Red Sox fan — but no, that would be impossible for you to imagine, rooting for one of the little teams that’s supposed to just roll over and play dead before the mighty pinstripes.

I speak from painful observation — although I am a part-season ticket owner, I haven’t attended a Yankees/Orioles game in years, because I don’t care to see ten thousand arrogant, foul-mouthed, drunken Yankees fans invade my home ballpark and ruin my afternoon. I certainly wouldn’t take my children there.

(I’ve stopped going to Orioles/Red Sox games, too, because the Red Sox Nation has become nearly as insufferable, and there’s even more of them, if that’s possible. Camden Street looks like Kenmore Square. And yes, I’m all too aware that the Orioles have brought this on themselves, for the twin crimes of organizational incompetence and being in the AL East.)

I don’t even really hate the Yankees. (Well, maybe Rodriguez. And Jeter.) I just want the Yankees to lose — in as humiliating a manner as possible — to piss off the Yankee fans. Ah, 2004. Sweet, sweet 2004… but of course that only put the tiniest dent in their insufferable arrogance. I’ve seen the T-shirts: “Still 26 to 1.” Hmmph.

That’s OK. I know of plenty other ways a baseball team can be humiliated. (Did I mention I was an Orioles fan?)

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Arrrh! September 19th be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

This be yer only reminder, ye scurvy knave! Now get yer [pirate name]( and get to work — th’ decks don’t swab themselves! ARRRH!

— Mad Russ Graybeard

[Be ye never heerd o’ Talk Like a Pirate Day? Then [get clicking](!]

_Update_: Arrrh! There be _two_ [sites!](

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Just Imagine… Stan Lee's Watchmen

[Dr. Manhattan:] As an alienated Syn-Man who was created by gamma rays, I find myself confused by mankind.

[The Comedian:] Ha! What’s so confusing about kicking the Commies back to Red China where they belong, Blue Boy?

Just for people like me that spent more time in the eighties reading comic books than he’d like to admit: Stan Lee’s bold reimagining of Watchmen.

[Caption:] You’ve always heard that TV was bad for you, but can it be bad for the entire world? Find out in 30 when “Savage” Stan Lee and “Dashing” Dave Gibbons bring you an issue that had to be called… THIS MAN… THIS WATCHMAN!

Too rich. (Via BoingBoing.)

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School laptops

While I’m generally in favor of access to computers in school (ideally Macs), I recognize that it’s not just as simple as handing out a bunch of laptops to middle-schoolers and saying “Here you go, now learn something”; so it’s not surprising that a backlash to school laptops is being reported. Glenn Fleishmann, in particular, has been outspoken about this subject. (2007-08-28: Added references and corrected spelling of Glenn’s last name.)

I would have to place among the undesirable side-effects listed in the linked WSJ article (kids wasting their time chatting over IM or building MySpace pages) the following, cited by a parent who favors the program:

Anne Carson, a 49-year-old parent in Glen Allen, Va., says the laptop has helped her twelve-year-old son master critical professional skills like how to compile a PowerPoint presentation. “He’s really picking up on a lot of opportunities I don’t think he would have gotten without the laptop,” she says.

That’s not the sort of opportunity I’m hoping my kids will experience…

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To boldly split infinitives is fine

From [Coudal]( via [John Gruber]() comes this [list of common non-errors]( in English. The first item on the list is split infinitives, and of course they give as an example the most famous split infinitive in Modern English: *”… to boldly go where no man has gone before”* (to give it its original, non-PC reading).

I can’t be the first person to notice that this phrase is (nearly) in [iambic pentameter](, which is the standard meter for blank verse in English. So “correcting” the grammar ruins the poetry of the phrase (such as it is), but I rarely see this pointed out. Both [William Shatner]( and [Patrick Stewart]( were classically trained, so *they* must have noticed…

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Where have you gone, Benjamin Franklin?

Yesterday, as you may have heard, USA Today (of all places) broke [this story](

> The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
> The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime.

“Wow,” I thought, “now they’ve really done it. Now they’ve gone too far. Now we’ll see some real outrage.”

Today, reading the front page of the [Washington Post](, I learn that once again I have overestimated my fellow citizens:

> A majority of Americans initially support a controversial National Security Agency program to collect information on telephone calls made in the United States in an effort to identify and investigate potential terrorist threats, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
> The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.
> A slightly larger majority–66 percent–said they would not be bothered if NSA collected records of personal calls they had made, the poll found.
> Underlying those views is the belief that the need to investigate terrorism outweighs privacy concerns. According to the poll, 65 percent of those interviewed said it was more important to investigate potential terrorist threats “even if it intrudes on privacy.”

Look, folks, privacy is not actually the issue here. (Although shouldn’t you be concerned that your government has access to a list of every phone number you’ve ever dialed?) It’s actually _against the law_ (e.g. the Telecommunications Act of 1934) for phone companies to release this kind of information without a court order. And the government can’t just invoke “national security” as an excuse to bypass the law. (Didn’t we go through all this in the 1950s?)

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin

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Ketchup: the "Esperanto of cuisine"

I’m not sure exactly where I came across the reference to this article about [ketchup][] — apparently it hit the blogosphere a while back — but like many others I found it quite fascinating.


The author, Malcolm Gladwell, writes periodically in [The New Yorker][] on a variety of topics and apparently makes them all equally fascinating. His articles are archived [here]( (Bonus pick: [How caffeine created the modern world][].)

[The New Yorker]:
[How caffeine created the modern world]:

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I finally got to see _The Incredibles_ — I took my wife for her birthday. (We had decided based on the reviews that it was probably too intense for my five-year-old daughter; as it turned out we were completely justified. Maybe when she’s eight.)

Summary: Fantastic. I can’t imagine any way it could have possibly been made any better. It’s difficult to imagine another studio who could have even made this movie. The set design alone is worthy of an Academy Award nomination — there’s a scene in which the walls of a room are decorated in minute detail, even though the room is not directly lit and the walls are barely visible. But as usual with Pixar, it’s the story that propels the picture; the technology is there to support the story and not to be the main focus.

Every Pixar film has met or surpassed the previous release, and _The Incredibles_ is no exception. It’s difficult to imagine how _Cars_ (scheduled for November 2005) will continue the streak; the early teaser is amusing but not particularly captivating.

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In a previous post I suggested Googling my name might be interesting. I should have tried it myself first. 🙂

For the record, I am not a [super featherweight boxer from Queensland, Australia]( (And if I were, I wouldn’t have anywhere near an 8-7-2 record.) Nor am I an [Australian tour guide]( looking for platypuses in the Otway Forest. (Wonder if that’s the same person.)

I am also not a descendant of [William Henry Berger]( of Bern Twp., Pa., or the son of [Daniel Finn and Anna Addison]( (If you’re interested in my Finn family genealogy — hint: I’m not Irish — I’d be happy to put you in touch with my father, who’s spending his retirement tracking our family history; I believe he’s got us back to [Pepin the Short](

And finally, I’m not a [twenty-year-old from Newcastle, England](, looking for a job in a British pub in Ibiza (scroll down). Although there are days when that does sound pleasant.

(However, I *am* the person who contributed the CLU and DCL entries to the list of programs that print “Merry Christmas” in various programming languages — posted to Usenet in 1983. Boy, am I old.)

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