Saturday, January 19, 2013

Two heroes from my childhood gone.

Two of the greatest names in baseball of my lifetime died today. Stan Musial was the left fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals for most of my childhood and more than a decade before that. He never wore another uniform and the St. Louis owners knew trading him away was asking for a mob with pitchforks at their home the next day.

So many great ballplayers are not great people. They live not to fail and their talent is so immense, they can think like this and still be the best. Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb, Barry Bonds... the list goes on and on. That hatred of failure is not a ticket to success. Billy Beane was that way, but he wasn't as supremely talented, and his career as a ball player did not match his potential.

Stan Musial was a model ballplayer. Curt Flood, a great ballplayer with a deservedly big chip on his shoulder, said he knew he could never give less than 100% whenever he put on the uniform because when he was a young man, he saw it demonstrated every day with a smile by Stan Musial.

I was never a Cardinal fan, but as a boy I gave him the greatest compliment a Giants fan could give him. I hated his every at bat and breathed a sigh of relief if he made an out or the Giants could still hold a lead in an inning when he came up.


Being an odd kid, I was a Baltimore Oriole fan growing up in Oakland. I loved the Giants, 49ers and Raiders when I was wee. The A's were still in Kansas City, so I didn't care about them. But I also decided to root for one baseball team and one football team because I liked their logo or name. The Steelers only had a logo on one side of their helmet. I thought that was cool. I was a bird watcher on the West Coast and had never seen a Baltimore Oriole, so I decided that I'd be a fan of that team, too.

I made this decision to root for the Steelers and the Orioles in the early 1960s, when both teams well and truly sucked. They both became better in time, the Orioles improving with a bunch of great young pitchers - Cuellar, Palmer and McNally - and a new manager named Earl Weaver.

Earl had that hatred of failure. He was not a nice guy, but he was there for his team. He had a mind like a jeweled watch and a mouth like an open sewer.

And I mean an open sewer in a city wracked with dysentery.

His best nickname was Earl Fucking Weaver.

My favorite of all his many foul curses is this.

Pious born-again ballplayer: Skip, don't you want me to walk in the way of The Lord?
Earl Fucking Weaver: I want you to walk with the fucking bases loaded, asshole!

Stan "The Man" Musial died today. Earl Fucking Weaver died today.

If you are in the line for Best Living Left Fielder or Best Living Manager, move up one place.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The new blogs.
One of them is taking off.

As some readers already know and others have probably surmised, I'm not doing that much blogging here. I have started two new blogs as of the beginning of 2013.

Before discussing the new blogs, let me say that this old blog is in no way technically dead yet. If I get an urge to write a piece longer than a tweet about something not related to math or to science fiction predictions, this is still my soapbox.

One blog is Math Year 2013. As the title implies, it's about things big or little in math every day. I don't assume it will get a huge readership, but it's me doing what I like. If I'm still enjoying it as of next December, I'll make a Math Year 2014 as well.

The other is called This Day In Science Fiction, and I think this is one of the best ideas I've ever had. Science fiction and fantasy have always held my interest and now they are a major slice of pop culture. My idea is to keep track of birthdays of sci-fi artists (writers, illustrators, directors, composers and actors in particular), the release date of movies and most importantly, predictions about THE FUTURE that have already passed or are just years away.

I had a good idea with the tabloid blog, but the truth is that I never cared that much about tabloid news and I was just keeping track in the interest of snark.  Now, I don't want to act that I have risen above all snark, because anyone who reads my stuff knows that isn't true.

The major difference is this. Even though I fully expect the majority of sci-fi predictions will every bit as unreliable as the stories in the tabloids are about the lives of celebrities, I like this stuff more and the research is way more fun.

There are a bunch of folks who have given me good tips already, notably my face-to-face buddies Mike Strickland and Tony Hurd. Also on that list belong several helpful people who work at book shops and libraries and people who comment on the blog and send me tips on Facebook.

My thanks to every one of you.

In this post, I will toot my own horn as a researcher as well. I remembered that Popular Mechanics, a magazine to which my dad was a subscriber way back when, had many predictions about the gadgets of the future. As luck would have it, that magazine published a book in 2009 published a book of their predictions earlier than 1969.  It is absolutely filled to the brim with fantastic predictions. The illustrations might be even better. Because it is still in print, I will be stealing from it judiciously, scanning the occasional illustration and paraphrasing any predictions so as not to infringe their copyright.  I will also publish a link to where you can buy the book on Amazon, because if you love this stuff, it's hard to do better than this volume and you should have a copy for yourself.

My particular quirk is that I want predictions with dates, and some of the prettiest illustrations are connected to text that gives no idea when these future wonders will show up. I may use these illustrations as splash photos for the blog in upcoming months.

A completely different find is The OMNI Future Almanac, an out of print 1982 book published by the defunct OMNI magazine. This one doesn't have many illustrations, but it is a gold mine of predictions with dates attached. To be more precise, it has exact years and sometimes time intervals attached to very specific events. I can throw the page open nearly at random anywhere in the book and find at least one useful tidbit, often up to a dozen or more. I expect to send several hi-lighter markers to meet their maker before I wring every last useful forecast out of this book.

And so it begins. Every day, I will have some prediction of the future from some futurist or writer of speculative fiction. On many days, there will also be birthdays and release dates of movies. I'm having a lot of fun writing it so far, and I hope to find a large audience that will also enjoy reading it.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Future Begins

Hello, readers! I haven't been doing a lot of blogging recently, which is an ailment that is definitely going around among my many blog buddies. I will still post here from time to time, but I have two new daily blogs that might be of interest to some of you.

This Day In Science Fiction: This new blog is about the science fiction and fantasy genres, which in my lifetime have gone from ghettoized sections of literature and film to major parts of modern pop culture. I'll be listing the birthdays of artists - writers, composers, directors, actors - and the release dates of sci-fi and fantasy films, but the main feature will be the daily predictions that have already passed or will pass in the next ten years or so. Batting lead-off is Robert E. Heinlein, who did a lot of predicting about the late 20th Century and the early 21st, including today's look into his crystal ball about what life would be like in... 1955!

Math Year 2013: This blog will have daily math tidbits, most of them accessible to people whose math education stopped in high school. Stop by and try it. You might like it. Today we answer the questions Is 2013 prime? and Okay, why not?

Both of the blogs are on my blog buddy list, so if you stop by here you will also get a link to the new fresh posts.

Hope to see y'all over at my new daily ventures. I will still post here at Lotsa 'Splainin' 2 Do when I feel the urge to 'splain that isn't related to math or... THE FUTURE!