The Boston Red Sox have won the 2013 World Series, beating the St Louis Cardinals in six games. Here are some thoughts:
I watched only a few innings of the Series, starting with game four. It was painful for me to watch, since I hate both teams. I decided that it would be easier for me to live with a Cardinal victory than with a Red Sox victory, so I found myself rooting for St Louis. I haven't been pleased with the outcome of a World Series since 2003, when the Florida Marlins defeated the New York Yankees. That's a long time to be frustrated.
I was born in 1957. The St Louis Cardinals have appeared in 10 World Series during my lifetime, and won five. The Boston Red Sox have appeared in three World Series, and won all three.
David Ortiz (a.k.a. Big Papi) is the only member of the Red Sox to have played on the 2004 championship team. He is hard to dislike. I now think that he should be considered for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He has proved (three times) that he can perform in the postseason, when everything is on the line, just as he can perform during the regular season. (Ortiz has hit .455 in three World Series. He has hit .295 in the postseason, where pitching is at its best.) He has fire in his belly, like Derek Jeter. My Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers have no such player, which may be why they haven't won any of the four World Series in which they've participated since 2006. There is no comparison, for example, between Ortiz and Josh Hamilton. Both are great hitters, but Hamilton has no leadership skills whatsoever. Sometimes it appeared that he didn't care who won.
Before the 2013 season began, and all season long, I said that this was the "Year of the Yankee." It turned out to be the Year of the Anti-Yankee. How must Yankee fans feel right now, knowing that their archrival has won three World Series in 10 years? The most recent Yankee victory was in 2009, and before that 2000. The Yankees are not getting much bang for their buck. Will that change in 2014? Time will tell. The Yankees are old, slow, and tired. It's time to get past Jeter, Pettitte, Suzuki, Teixeira, and Rodriguez. I think Yankee tradition harms the team. Fans insist on keeping players who remind them of their glory days, even when these players no longer perform.
I correctly predicted all four Division Series: Los Angeles, St Louis, Boston, and Detroit. I thought Los Angeles would meet Boston in the World Series, with Los Angeles winning. Five out of seven ain't bad.
I'm happy for Nappy.
Red Sox fans were already insufferable. I don't know how we're going to put up with them after this latest victory. Perhaps they will show some humility. Nah. They'll be in our faces more than ever. Just to give one example, I was at a bike rally this past summer. At a rest stop, I saw a rider with a Red Sox jersey. I made a lighthearted comment, something like, "Oh no, not a Red Sox fan!" He replied, "At least when we get to the Series, we win it." He was alluding to the fact that the Texas Rangers lost two consecutive World Series. I shot back with, "And how long has it been since the Red Sox were in the World Series?" He now has a riposte: 2013. I'm starting to think that Red Sox victories, like evil, are evidence against the existence of God.
In all seriousness, I congratulate the Red Sox and their fans. They played magnificently all season, and bore down when it mattered. The best team won, and the team that wanted it most won. May that ever be the case.
Pope Francis has spent the first months of his papacy calling for a "church that is poor and for the poor." He has been a constant and forceful advocate for those left behind by a "culture of indifference."
But Nicholas G. Hahn argues that the U.S. Catholic bishops should not try to apply this central Christian insight to American political questions ("Tax Policy Isn't the Purview of Preachers," Houses of Worship, Oct. 25). In fact, they have a responsibility to do so. While Catholics can legitimately disagree over particular policies, we're called to root those policy judgments in Catholic teachings, among them our shared obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us and see that their basic needs are met. Church teaching explicitly recognizes that the government has an essential role to play in promoting this aspect of the common good.
Along with our rich body of teachings on such questions, Catholics have extensive on-the-ground experience helping the poor. At a time of growing inequality, with some 46 million Americans living in poverty, a robust Catholic voice is essential to the American political conversation.
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Mr. Hahn believes that pastors are on firm biblical ground when speaking about moral issues, but that their veering into political matters such as tax revenues or military spending isn't consistent with biblical teaching.
Evangelical pastors who stick primarily to moral issues are the ones most likely to attract attention from IRS enforcers of U.S. tax policy. In order to maintain their tax-exempt status, churches aren't allowed to participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of candidates for public office. Traditionalist preachers strongly opposed to abortion or gay marriage must carefully frame their message in the pulpit so as not to favor a candidate or political party. Meanwhile, social-justice-driven pastors actually receive advice from the IRS and Justice Department as to what they can and cannot say to help social-justice-driven politicians (i.e., Democrats). Last year Attorney General Eric Holder and IRS officials briefed several hundred pastors in the African-American community on how to motivate and steer parishioners, citing voter-ID laws allegedly designed to "disenfranchise" black voters.
Mr. Hahn's distinction between moral and political issues may be biblically based, but it doesn't reflect current practice. Churches and other nonprofits concerned about moral issues are more likely to be intimidated by the government than are those who favor more government spending and higher taxes. Those who give guidance contrary to biblical teaching and outside their purview eventually will be answering to someone who has a pay grade well above the president's.
Perhaps we can better understand our religious leaders sounding more like politicians than pastors if we realize how deeply they are already beholden to government. As prominent examples, Catholic hospitals receive government funds without which they fear not surviving. This is presumably why the government can tell them to ignore Catholic theology and supply free condoms and abortion drugs. Remember, Catholic Charities receives most of its funds from government.
Like the Pied Piper, the pastors are leading their flocks to an inevitable apotheosis: government as the holy mother, brooking no interference by any other god or authority, imposing its own secular humanitarianism and finally outlawing and persecuting religious belief.
John J. Greczek
River Forest, Ill.
Did Jesus go beyond his competence when he said to those who don't reach out to the least of the brethren: "Depart from me you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41)?
Deacon Don Zirkel
Note from KBJ: There's a big difference between (1) exhorting or persuading A to give money to B and (2) coercing A into giving money to B (through taxation). The church has no business advocating coercion.
We have studied the potential cost: the reactions of the employees being monitored. Our studies show that, although boss-monitoring does sharply reduce how much time employees spend surfing the Web at work, it also demotivates them and communicates distrust. So boss-monitoring can undercut the productivity gains that it was supposed to produce. The good news from our studies is that another form of monitoring—peer monitoring—reduced Internet abuse just as readily and maintained employee motivation. Additionally, when designing their dream firm, employees chose peer monitoring instead of boss monitoring to reduce their own Internet use. Bosses apt to monitor their employees, then, might consider letting employees monitor themselves.
I had a safe and enjoyable training ride this morning and afternoon. The forecast was for thunderstorms, so I carried a rain jacket in my jersey pocket. There were no storms while I was out, but I did get wet. Here is a picture (click to enlarge) of the trail in River Legacy Parks (Arlington). As you can see, it was slick with water, leaves, and debris. I took it easy on the corners so as not to crash. My average speed for 30.6 miles was 16.63 miles per hour. (Elapsed time = 1:50:22.) I listened to Rush Limbaugh for the first three quarters of the ride. When I tired of his self-promotion, I switched to my music collection on iTunes Match. Just as I arrived home, Lou Reed's song "Caroline Says II" came on. Lou Reed died the other day, and this is one of his saddest songs.
In watching the "World" Series (in which only
certain teams from a certain country are eligible to participate), I notice a
communication between catcher and pitcher in which the catcher makes finger
signals to the pitcher, who shakes his head "No" repeatedly, until he
sees a signal to which he nods "Yes."
(1) What are these signals for? They seem to be an arrangement between catcher
and pitcher about what kind of pitch to make (fast ball, slider, high and
inside, etc.). But who makes the
(2) What are the signals? Is there a standard set, as in this?
(3) Are these signals even part of the game of baseball? Are they covered in the rulebook of Major League
Baseball? Or are they unregulated, as is the use of eyeglasses,
which is a performance-enhancing prosthetic that players are allowed to
use. (Are base runners allowed to use prosthetic legs, like this?)
(4) When showing the pitcher a signal, the crouching
catcher holds his signaling hand between his legs, so that only the pitcher
(and outfielders, and the other team's base runners) will see the signal. But spectators in the outfield can also see
the catcher's signals and cell-phone the other team with what they see. And apart from that, viewers watching the
game on TV also get a view of the catcher's crotch and what his signals
are. So what's the point of signals?
Being an adult means making tough choices to do the right thing. Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable in their current form. This is a question of math, not ideology. Most of my Democratic colleagues agree that reform is needed, and the president even included some reforms in his budget. Taking responsible action now is not “cutting”; rather, it is necessary to preserve these programs going forward.
We must also address our sluggish economy, but more taxes on top of our antiquated and inefficient tax code will have the opposite effect. We do need tax reform to give the economy a needed shot in the arm, but with taxes as a percentage of the economy exceeding the historical average starting next year, we are not undertaxed.
Spending is the problem. As a percentage of the economy, it is projected to remain significantly above historical averages. We need a new path, one that unleashes the vitality of the American economy. That means reducing the debt that hangs like a wet blanket over economic growth. It means pro-growth tax reform that maintains current revenue levels while updating a code that has become uncompetitive.
We can grow our economy and save vital programs like Social Security and Medicare, but as your editorial advocates, we need adult leadership. That means leaving the tired rhetoric of the past behind and being willing to take on tough issues to move the country forward.
This past Saturday, in Springtown, Texas, I did my 25th bike rally of the year and my 564th overall. The rally, known as the Springtown Spin, is in its sixth year. I've done four of them. Only one of my friends (Scott) showed up, under overcast and threatening skies. The wind was stiff from the south, so, given the general hilliness of the course (49.6 feet of ascending per mile, on average, which puts it near the top of the rally list), we knew we had our work cut out for us. Both of us carried rain jackets in case the clouds unloaded.
Luckily for us, it never rained. The wind hurt us about half the time and helped us the other half. There were several stretches in which we reached high speeds. My maximum speed for the day, without trying, was 41.1 miles per hour. But the many hills took their toll on our average speed. I ended up with 15.74 miles per hour for 60.27 miles. (Elapsed time = 3:49:39.) Scott waited for me a few times, so his average speed was higher. I pedaled 14.70 miles the first hour (into the wind) and averaged 16.11 miles per hour thereafter. The official high temperature for the day, at DFW Airport, was 78º Fahrenheit, which is darn near perfect for cycling. The average wind speed was 11.2 miles per hour, with gusts to 35. (I don't recall any gusts that high!)
My goal for 2013 was to ride 3,000 miles. I reached it. I now have 3,031 miles for the year, with more than two months yet to go. There's only one more rally (in Denton, in late November), but I plan to ride twice a week all fall, winter, and spring. I hope to reach 3,500 miles before year's end.
I broke my collarbone two months ago today, on 28 August. This morning, I went to see my orthopedist for the final time. He examined my CT scan and a freshly made X-ray. The bone is still not healed. He asked me whether I've been riding. I gulped and said, "Yes; 457 miles since the accident." He said I must have a high pain threshold. Ha! What I have is an addiction.
Addendum: A funny thing happened during the rally. With about 10 miles to go, Scott and I found ourselves riding with a stranger. We had just stopped at a rest stop. The man, who was behind me, said I had a spider crawling up my back. I thought he was joking, but he said, "Hold on; I'll knock it off." He rode up on my left and flicked the spider away. I saw the insect fly off, so the man wasn't kidding. I asked how big the spider was, and he showed me with his fingers that it was an inch or so long. What a surprise I would have had if the spider had reached my neck!
Re “Yes, Economics Is a Science” (Op-Ed, Oct. 21): I appreciated Raj Chetty’s lucid article about why economics should be considered every bit as much a science as its Nobel competitors, physics, chemistry and medicine.
It is good to hear that economics is entering a phase when rigorous analysis and empirical testing will become the norm. And surely it is true that “big picture” questions will probably remain unanswered in every field. Nonetheless, I think that economics may be doomed to suffer second-class status as a science for the simple reason that the study of human behavior presents unique problems.
Scholars of physics, chemistry and medicine can study the movement of atomic particles or lab mice without any concern that the particles and the mice are interested in the results. But the study of “economic man” is pursued by economic men themselves, and not insignificantly, the award of a Nobel Prize in economics has real-life consequences for the winner and for the “economic world.”
Put another way, one cannot imagine atomic particles and lab mice changing their behavior as a result of a ceremony in Stockholm.
DAVID C. WROBEL New York, Oct. 21, 2013
The writer is a lawyer.
To the Editor:
The trouble with Raj Chetty’s argument is that he assumes a simple either-or dichotomy between science and nonscience. Virtually all scientific work, in economics and also in the “natural” sciences, is influenced by the outlook and values of the scientists.
The choice of issues to investigate, the questions we ask and the constituencies to whom we direct our work are all influenced by ideology, and by the payoffs (in money and prestige) to the work we do. The problems arise when ideology and those payoffs dominate and obliterate reasonable analysis; the work then loses all claim to being scientific.
Charles Darwin, for example, was a great scientist. Yet it is not credible to claim that his work was unaffected by his values and his broad understanding of how the world worked, products of the great changes taking place in the mid-19th century. Something similar can be said of the work of many economists.
To pretend that ideology and social values have not affected the disagreements among economists, including the disagreements among this year’s Nobel laureates, would be naïve. Yet they may still be “scientists.”
ARTHUR MacEWAN Cambridge, Mass., Oct. 21, 2013
The writer is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
To the Editor:
Raj Chetty’s argument that, despite the differences between the Nobel winners Robert J. Shiller and Eugene F. Fama, economics is nonetheless a science just like medicine will be vindicated when the Nobel Prize in Medicine is given to two doctors, one of whom accurately predicts the occurrence of heart attacks and the other who declares that heart attacks don’t exist.
PAUL DUGUID Berkeley, Calif., Oct. 21, 2013
The writer is an adjunct professor in the School of Information, University of California, Berkeley.