Friday, November 30, 2007

Instapundit's flexible facts

There's an old saying that "facts are stubborn things." But over at Instapundit, famed blogger Glenn Reynolds is trying to change the definition of what a libertarian is.

Reynolds, a reliable neocon with a few libertarian positions, has been mounting a sustained attempt to redefine what a libertarian is. He constantly offers posts such as this one to support his ongoing thesis that libertarians support the war in Iraq.

Glenn Reynolds will never tell you this, because it doesn't fit his ideological line, but noninterventionism is the mainstream libertarian position. It's been that way for more than 30 years, ever since the Libertarian Party was established.

Reynolds also likes to quote snarky comments left at big media sites, while banning comments at his own site.

Update: Reynolds complains about being called a "conservative blogger" because he supports Bush and the war. It gives a "false impression about yours truly," he says.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Library of America SF offerings?

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I've been reading the Library of America's H.P. Lovecraft collection.

I'm having fun with it, and I'm sure the new Philip K. Dick volume is good (I've already read most of the novels in it), but I can't help but think if Library of America wants to tackle science and fiction and fantasy, there are plenty of other authors it should consider.

The most obvious omission so far is Robert Heinlein, and he deserves at least two volumes, if not three. A true Heinleinologist such as Brett Cox would be a good pick to edit the volumes, but I would think volume one could include THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, DOUBLE STAR, THE STAR BEAST and a few seminal novellas such as "Universe," clearing the way for volume two to reprint some of the political/oddball stuff, such as STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND and STARSHIP TROOPERS.

If H.P. Lovecraft is good enough to make the cut, why not Jack Williamson? DARKER THAN YOU THINK is kind of a great novel, much better than anything Lovecraft ever wrote. A Williamson volume also could include "With Folded Hands" and some of the other better novels and stories. I'm not enough of a Williamson expert to offer many suggestions.

But I'm on firm ground with two other authors. A Roger Zelazny volume of THIS IMMORTAL, LORD OF LIGHT and MY NAME IS LEGION, with a few of the better stories thrown in (the obvious early ones like "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" and "The Dream Master," but don't forget a few later ones such as "24 Views of Mt. Fuji by Hokusai") would be a killer volume.

If we can dream of an alternate universe where R.A. Lafferty would be considered, I'd suggest the novels PAST MASTER, FOURTH MANSIONS and OKLA HANNALI, all or of most of the collection NINE HUNDRED GRANDMOTHERS and choice selections from the other story collections.
Hoynsie answers my question

I fire a tough question at the Cleveland Plain Dealer's baseball guru, Paul Hoynes, and to his credit, he answers it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We add links

I've added a few links at the right side of the page. is a site run by a peacenik libertarian which includes pro-peace opinions from across the political spectrum. I don't agree with everything I read there, but it's a useful antidote to all of the militarism which seems to dominate political discussion these days. (My foreign policy views are as follows: I don't think we should invade any country unless it has attacked us or represents a real threat. I favored the war in Afghanistan, but I don't want to stay there. I want to get out of Iraq in particular and the Mideast in general, i.e. I favor pulling all of our troops out of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc.)

Ron Paul is the candidate I currently favor for president. Arthur Hlavaty is a prominent SF fan who is always interesting.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Baseball is unfair

I'm having a hard time coping with the Indians' playoff loss to the Boston Red Sox.

I understand that you can't win them all, and I don't want to minimize the Indians' achievement. I'm very pleased they won a tough division and destroyed the Yankees in four games in the first round of the playoffs.

But it's tough to take a 3-1 lead in a best of seven series and then lose. It's even tougher to lose when your team has almost overcome a rigged, unfair system and has fallen just short.

Think I'm exaggerating when I complain that Major League Baseball is rigged? Consider a few facts.

The New York Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, followed by the Boston Red Sox.

The 2007 playoff teams were the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians and Angels.

The 2006 teams were the Yankees, Tigers, Twins and Athletics.

In 2005, it was the Yankees, Red Sox and two others. In 2004, the Yankees, Red Sox and two others. In 2003, the Yankees, Red Sox and two others.

Do you sense a pattern here?

It sounds to me that George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, can go out a buy a playoff berth every year, much like I go to the supermarket every few weeks to buy a bag of onions.

It's almost as much of a lock for Boston. In most years, you can reserve two playoff spots for the two richest teams.

It's worth looking at actual payroll numbers, just to see how unfair the system is.

The American League has 14 teams. The Yankees, rounding off the payroll to the nearest million, had a payroll of $190 million. The Red Sox got by with $143 million. The Cleveland Indians' payroll was $62 million, less than 1/3 of the Yankees.

When the seventh and deciding game of the Indians-Red Sox series was played, the Sox sent Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mound.

The Red Sox paid about $51 million in 2006 just for the right to talk to Matsuzaka, the best pitcher in Japan. (Notice that's about 80 percent of the entire Indians payroll). The six-year contract for the plutocrat pitcher cost another $52 million.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays' payroll in 2007 was $24 million.

Does anyone believe Tampa Bay will make the playoffs next year?

How would you like to be the marketing guy in charge of selling Tampa Bay Devil Ray season tickets?

You have to wonder what the direct mail appeals say.

"Join our team in the American League East cellar in 2008. Plenty of good seats remain available!"

It doesn't have to be this way. The National Football League has demonstrated that in a fair system, everyone benefits.

The NFL has a hard salary cap that ensures that no team can automatically buy a playoff berth every year. (Major League Baseball has a "soft," useless salary cap).

No manmade system is perfect, so smart NFL general managers can figure out creative ways to deal with the salary cap, but the gross inequities of baseball just don't exist in football. Even the fans of lousy NFL teams can hold out hope for a turnaround.

Since NFL team resources are nearly equal, bad teams can be fixed if they can find smart management and a good coach. The New Orleans Saints, once a national symbol of pigskin failure, made the playoffs last year. Even the sorry Cleveland Browns have a winning record as I write this.

Is it just a big coincidence that the NFL is the most popular sport in the country?

Yes, it's an exciting sport that looks great on television.

But some of the popularity must come from knowing that your NFL team has at least a chance to wind up in the Super Bowl, regardless of what city it represents.

NCAA football also has become more competitive, with teams I had never heard of before such as Boise State and South Florida suddenly becoming major powers.

Fairness in baseball would benefit nearly everyone.

Maybe the Boston Red Sox fans who crowd into the team's silly Arena Baseball stadium, the one with the tiny left field, wouldn't care for it. Maybe the arrogant New York Yankees fans who believe an annual World Series berth is their birthright wouldn't like it either.

But fans of most teams would like it just fine if their teams were treated fairly.

And baseball would benefit, too. A fan who believes his team has a chance to win it all is a fan who will buy tickets.