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May 2008 Archives

May 1, 2008

Touch 'em all

Hey baseball fans! Can you spot the point at which this poignant wire story of true sportsmanship is interrupted by the classic needle-scratching-record sound effect?

PORTLAND, Ore. - With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done, in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the center-field fence.

But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury.

She crawled back to first but could do no more. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her. Or, the umpire said, a pinch runner could be called in, and the homer would count as a single.

Then, members of the Central Washington University softball team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases Saturday so the three-run homer would count—an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs.

Does it make their gesture less touching if one points out that the umpire's tough ruling here was totally ridiculous? Herewith, Official Rule of Baseball 5.10(c)(1):

If an accident to a runner is such as to prevent him from proceeding to a base to which he is entitled, as on a home run hit out of the playing field, or an award of one or more bases, a substitute runner shall be permitted to complete the play.

This has happened often enough for ordinary fans to be aware of it: if I asked the 11 guys in my fantasy league what the right ruling was, at least nine of them would know the right answer. (Granted, a bunch of them are Red Sox fans, so they'd remember the time Gabe Kapler tore his Achilles on Tony Graffanino's homer.) The reporter should have named and shamed the incompetent official, or at least thought to question a ruling that would have left Tucholsky flailing about indefinitely, with the game in limbo, a few feet from first base. After all, how the hell was CWU supposed to tag her out with the ball legally dead in the stands?

Friday's column today

Albert HofmannAn old story retold for the National Post: how a scientist with the soul and perceptivity of a poet discovered LSD, and where it all went wrong.

May 3, 2008

'Free Val Pascucci' cries heard at long last?

The Mets signed ColbyCosh.com favourite and hard-luck ex-prospect Pascucci on Friday. VP broke into the encyclopedia about a year after our lunch but failed to stick in the show; since then he's spent time with Bobby Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines, with whom he struggled, and the Albuquerque Isotopes, for whom he hit .284/.389/.577 in the desert heat last year. (þ: Primer)

May 7, 2008

@Fullcomment.com: Recent bleatings

Temptress! Harlot!Apr. 29: I kick off an installment of "Internal Dissent" with a doomed effort to impose sanity on the Miley Cyrus debate. May 2: a look at Alberta's duck disaster and an analysis of what the province should really be doing to save avian lives. Warning: counterintuitive (but not really)! May 3: brief literary notice. May 4-6: author stayed on his couch gibbering with a 48-hour fever and cough. May 7: a short piece on the ongoing "fiasco" of surveillance cameras in London. Later on May 7: a very fleeting cameo in another long, weird Internal Dissent. Later still on May 7: an assessment of what's wrong and right with Clay Shirky's retrospective on the history of TV.

Which ones to read if you're pressed for time: 1. Cyrus, 2. ducks, 3. Shirky. Bonus content: This editorial on the Maclean's-CIC free-speech battle was a collective board effort but you can probably detect a few of my grubby thumbprints.

Of course you realize this means wor tips

Seth Roberts is right, and whoever is blogging for the Economist is wrong, as he (or she) would suspect if he lived under the broad blue skies of Alberta. The Chinese came to the Canadian West in great waves to build the CPR and other railroads in the late 19th century; for the most part they were, to say the least, neither expected nor encouraged to stay when the work was done. A few did, though, and as happened elsewhere, they often got into the restaurant trade. They didn't do so because a "concentration" of Chinese-Canadian population "created demand" for Chinese cuisine; if that had been so, there would have arisen just as many Ukrainian, German, Scottish, and Dutch restaurants. In fact, the Chinese food entrepreneurs tended to seek out new markets away from their original domiciles, such that every medium-sized town on the Canadian prairies, for most of the 20th century, possessed exactly one Chinese family whose business was running the local Chinese restaurant. I'm sure the tale has been much the same in other sparsely-settled frontier areas of the world.

The real factors that led to the ubiquity of Chinese food in Alberta and elsewhere are, pace Free Exchange, specific to the Chinese experience and the Chinese menu. As Roberts explains, Chinese restarauteurs were not seen to be taking away white men's jobs, and were thus in no danger of being chased out of town with a twelve-gauge in a time of otherwise profound anti-Chinese hostility. Cooking was a "safe" occupation, as were, in the same respect, laundering, gambling, and opium dealing. (Sorry: they're old-timey clichés for a reason.) Chinese cooking also lent itself, in ways other diaspora cuisines didn't, both to the use of low-priced varieties and cuts of meat and to the early adoption of a home-delivery model.

Some of the inherent market advantages of the Chinese chow-house are visible down to this day: they tend to remain open on major holidays, for instance, providing an attractive refuge for those who can't or won't cook and aren't being cooked for. And they continue to exert a mysterious magnetic influence on diaspora Jews—possibly a non-trivial factor in an uncivilized land with a few openly Jewish settlers and an enormous number of Eastern European emigrants whose names suddenly anglicized overnight in the steerage section of an ocean liner.

May 10, 2008

Softball corner cleanup

According to ESPN, the NCAA has officially confirmed that, as suggested herein, the Sara Tucholsky story was entirely the result of a crap ruling by a clueless ump. "If an injury to a batter-runner or runner prevents her from proceeding to an awarded base, the ball is dead and the substitution can be made. The substitute must legally touch all awarded or missed bases not previously touched."

Coshery for every reader

My regular Friday signed column for the Post is a look at the chances for a unite-the-left groundswell in Alberta provincial politics—in short, a fairly parochial piece, although if such a movement succeeded it would immediately be of national interest. Meanwhile, everybody in Canada is already talking about the single mother fired from Tim Hortons for giving a child a free 17-cent Timbit; she's the subject of a Thursday morning editorial from me. And my Friday editorial on the FARC-Chávez files already has the Hands Off Venezuela nitwits up in arms. Maybe now someone will start up the organization we obviously really need—Hands Off Colombia.

May 13, 2008

Atlantic records

Alcock & Brown memorial cairn"In June 1919 pilot John Alcock and navigator Arthur Whitten Brown flew a converted WWI bomber from St John’s, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland. It was the first time anyone had flown non-stop across the Atlantic. In June 2005, inspired by a real-life recreation of the flight and an interest in long-distance simulation I attempted the same feat in Microsoft Flight Simulator..." No, he didn't cheat by using the time accelerator, and yes, he did the whole thing navigating by sextant. But did he make it? (þ: Things Magazine)

This is a sincere question

Would you find it odd to walk into a place that billed itself variously as an "internet café" and a "cybercafé" in the year 2008, only to be told "Sorry, [we] don't have wireless [internet]?" This happened to me on Sunday and I am still trying to figure out whether I am the crazy one.

Baseball quote of the day

"First one I've ever seen from the stands." - Ron Hansen, Philadelphia Phillies scout, on witnessing the unassisted triple play turned by Asdrúbal Cabrera in Cleveland Monday night. Cabrera's feat [video] was the 14th such play in the history of the major leagues. Hansen turned the 8th such play on July 30, 1968 as the shortstop for the Washington Senators; his similar UTP had been the most recent to be performed in Cleveland.

Random Wikipedia find of the day

FarthingOnly two circulating currencies in the world are still theoretically divided into non-decimal sub-units: the ouguiya of Mauritania (worth five khoums) and the ariary of Madagascar (worth five iraimbilanja). Sadly, since the ouguiya is 247 to the Canadian dollar and the ariary is 1,649 to 1, the sub-units in question are no longer being minted separately.

Not long ago I wrote that "When it comes to money, tradition should probably have less claim upon us than efficiency, though in practice it usually works out the other way around." Yet here we have a change in our understanding of money that is not only global but probably irreversible (except under local circumstances where currency, as such, collapses altogether and the economy reverts to barter of fungible goods).

May 14, 2008

Sometimes the answer is right in front of your electroreceptors

I don't know about you, but I'd say the prime suspect here has to be Bindi Irwin, doesn't it?

May 18, 2008

Google Translate adds ten new languages...

...and Canada's hockey reporters and webloggers should take special note, because the new languages include three of the sport's six most important mother tongues: Czech, Swedish, and Finnish. (Hockey Rodent, for one, has been quietly dining out for years on translated intel from the Czech press about the doings and sayings of Jagr et al.)

Of course it usually takes a heavy amount of interpretation to smooth out the machine translation, but Ilya Kovalchuk's quote to the Czech press this morning after winning the Worlds with an OT PP goal against Canada comes through loud and clear: "We were lucky. God stood on this a bit more on our side than on them."

Busy, busy, busy

Here's a roundup of the past week's work for the National Post for those who might have missed something (and there is really no excuse, because it all ends up on Full Comment, which has its own RSS feed). From last Sunday: a Full Comment item that asks the question "Why does minor officialdom have trouble understanding rights enjoyed by the individual in Commonwealth countries for hundred of years?" From Tuesday (although the print version ran Thursday): an editorial questioning whether Canada really has anything to apologize for over the Komagata Maru incident. My Friday editorial: do Supreme Court justices need to be bilingual, or just sensible? Friday's signed column: a look at how the eco-conscious will abandon and trample "science" the second it reaches a conclusion they don't happen to like. Filed Friday afternoon: what's really worrisome about the Supreme Court's attack on the Youth Criminal Justice act. And finally, a brief weekend reading recommendation.

About May 2008

This page contains all entries posted to ColbyCosh.com in May 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2008 is the previous archive.

June 2008 is the next archive.

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