Monday, May 26, 2014


This past week I made my annual pilgrimage to Yosemite.  Because of the drought the waterfall flow is less than normal, but it made no difference.  The extraordinary unparalleled beauty of that wonder of nature was undiminished.

We are lucky to have Yosemite only a four-hour drive away.  It is awesome, for sure.  It also serves to put us in our place.  What we see took millions of years to create.  It is a gift to behold, and we should be grateful for the gift.

Ken Burns’ series on our national parks was called “America’s Best Idea.”  Every time I enter Yosemite National Park I realize how accurate that appellation is. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Election in India!

In recent days we’ve read about the final results of the recent election in India.  The coverage has focused on an overwhelming victory for the BJP party and its leader Narendra Modi.  I am pleased about the outcome.  India needs a change of leadership and it got one – big time.  I am happy that the BJP won more than half the parliamentary seats so there is no need to cobble together a coalition with smaller regional parties.  Let them rule, follow their agenda and see where it leads.

What hasn’t been talked about is how this election was conducted.  Voting took place in nine phases over a five-week period.  Eligible voters totaled 814.5 million people.  66.38% of them, 540 million, voted.  There was no violence at the polls.  There are no charges of voting irregularities or fraud.  It is now taken for granted that India can pull off an enormous electoral challenge without a hitch. 

This is an amazing accomplishment.  India should be congratulated on a job well done.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Master at Work!

Like any baseball fan, when the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka for megabucks I noticed.  He had a phenomenal record in Japan – 24-0 in regular season games last year – but how would he do on this side of the Pacific?

I’ve been waiting for a chance to see him in action, and it came yesterday when Tanaka started against the Mets and the game was on ESPN.  I was more than a little impressed.

Tanaka pitched a full nine innings, gave up no runs, four hits, struck out eight and walked none.  His record is now 6-0, and he’s near the top in all pitching stats – wins, earned runs 2.17, strikeouts 66, and only 7 walks in 58 innings.

But it’s not the statistics that impress me most.  His control is amazing.  He only had a 3 ball count twice in yesterday’s game.  So he rarely walks anyone.  And he does this without pitching strikes.  His percentage of pitches in the strike zone is among the lowest in the league.  So if his pitches are not in the strike zone how is he doing all this?  A combination of pitches that twist and turn and dip so they look to the batter like they are good to hit, but when they arrive they aren’t where the batter thought they would be. 

All those pitches plus guile.  His mastery is mental as well as physical.  He is controlling the game.  He gets in the head of his opponents.  Usually in a baseball game after the batters have faced a pitcher once or twice they will figure out what’s coming and hit better.  But not with Tanaka.  His effectiveness improves as the game goes on.  And it isn’t just luck.

It is a Master at Work!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Not a Smart Move!

NBC spends $7.75 billion to nail down a deal to cover the Olympics through 2032.  Wake up, guys.  Every year fewer and fewer people care about these games and every year more and more people want to watch TV on their schedule, not yours.  Not a smart move!

An Indonesian woman is said to have violated Shariah law by being found in the same room with a married man.  First, the 8 guys who found her in that room gang-raped her and covered her with sewage.  Then they turned her over to the police.  The top Shariah law enforcer now says she should be caned publicly for being in the room with the married guy.  Not a smart move!

The Dalai Lama has returned to Norway to commemorate the Nobel Peace Prize he received there 25 years ago.  The government, yielding to pressure from China, is refusing to meet with him.  This is the same government that claims it is in the forefront of political tolerance.  Not a smart move!

The Golden State Warriors fire Mark Jackson after two winning seasons.  Finally they win after wallowing in the toilet forever, and the guy gets canned because of “philosophical” differences with management.  In other words, the boss didn’t like him.  Yes, owners have the right to choose the manager.  But not a smart move!

Syrian rebels want antiaircraft missiles from the U.S.  Be careful, guys.  Remember we gave them to the Afghans in the 80’s to help them get rid of the Russians.  Problem is, once the Russians were gone the missiles were used against us.  Not a smart move!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


I watched an interview with Bill de Blasio and found that what he had to say made more sense than I thought it would.  Maybe I expected a San Francisco-style progressive crazy.

I didn’t expect Liverpool’s distressing collapse just when they had the Premier League title in their grasp.

The way the Giants have been winning is a pleasant surprise.

Learning from a study on the very old that we lessen our risk of dementia when our blood pressure is a little high and we are overweight is good news.  A daily intake of wine also helps.  Yes!

Local outrages against humanity seem impervious to moderating influences from the outside.  Examples:  Egypt sentences hundreds of people to death after a sham judicial process.  Ethnic slaughter continues unabated in South Sudan.  In Nigeria Boko Haram kidnaps hundreds of schoolgirls and makes them slaves.  Millions are displaced and hundreds of thousands are killed in Syria.  And many more.

I shouldn’t be surprised about examples closer to home:  After multiple killings in public places the gun lobby is stronger than ever.  Even horrific botched executions fail to dim our thirst for revenge so we give the state power to murder people.  Drone attacks that cause innocent fatalities are a variation on the same theme.

I thought I’d like “Blue is the Warmest Color” better than I did.  The two lead actors were wonderful but I ended up not bonding with them.  So I was not engaged in their story.  I could appreciate their talent but I didn’t care what happened to them.

On the opposite side of the movie/TV spectrum, I’m surprised how much I enjoy “The Americans” and “Scandal.”