Lemon-Scented Bivouac  

Fatherly and, eventually, teacherly blather. Also: graphic design, baseball, synthetic fabrics, jug band music and, lord help us, the occasional politics.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003  

Since I remade this 'blog into Babyland I've kept the politics out. It has been a bit of a relief (the tone of debates in this country has become very nasty, and I expect the 2004 campaign will be among the nastiest ever), but sometimes I feel like giving up relief.

Anyway, the Bush administration's attempt to wear Adult Faces and assure us of their commitment to something more difficult than bombing-and-invading, i.e., worthwhile reconstruction in Iraq, seems to be already crumbling. The usual suspects of "senior officials" have begun floating the new spin, that the U.S. should just get out of Iraq quickly before it gets into trouble:

"I don't think it has to be expensive, and I don't think it has to be lengthy," a senior administration official said of the postwar plan. "Americans do everything fairly quickly."

Personally, I'm shocked. Imagine! And here I thought that the defining characteristic of this administration was its gravity, its reasoned follow-through, and its persistent, patient application of diplomacy.

That's sarcasm, people.

The truth is, if the U.S. abandons Iraq and lets it devolve into a chaos of warring factions with a crumbling infrastructure (see: Afghanistan), the same 70% that supported the war in the first place will still view George W. Bush as the guy who got Saddam Hussein. Which will be good enough. Anything more subtle than that is probably too complicated for Fox News.

And these snippets from one of the stories in today's New York Times say a lot, I think:

President Bush's advisers have drafted a re-election strategy built around staging the latest nominating convention in the party's history, allowing Mr. Bush to begin his formal campaign near the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and to enhance his fund-raising advantage, Republicans close to the White House say...

The convention, to be held in New York City, will be the latest since the Republican Party was founded in 1856, and Mr. Bush's advisers said they chose the date so the event would flow into the commemorations of the third anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

The back-to-back events would complete the framework for a general election campaign that is being built around national security and Mr. Bush's role in combatting terrorism, Republicans said. Not incidentally, they said they hoped it would deprive the Democratic nominee of critical news coverage during the opening weeks of the general election campaign.

So: What are you going to do about it?

  posted by Andy @ 3:16 PM §


Don't think we didn't consider the possibility that Elliott would have his name croaked at him for much of his life. He had it happen to him, in fact, in the operating room in which he was delivered, by the surgeon who delivered him. She followed it up the same way as everyone does after saying that thing that everyone says: "I'm sure he'll hear that all the time."

I remember standing in line for the bettor's window at the track (yes, really) in front of a very tall man. Two girls, maybe nine or ten years old, dared each other to approach him and asked: "How tall are you?" "sixfootseven" he said in a monotone. "Do you play basketball?" "noiplayedfootballinhighschool" he said. They went away. He saw me watching the whole thing and I made accidental eye contact. He said to me: "Every time I go to the store it's a press conference."

This amazes me. I assume that adults ask this guy all these questions, the same few over and over. I got a taste of this when travelling in Indonesia. Everyone who has travelled there will be able to rattle off the six or seven Sentences of Interaction with Indonesians, which begin with: Hello Meester. Everywhere, everywhere, Hello Meester. (Apparently women get it too.) On one mountain path I heard unseen children screeching it from the jungle high above: "Helloo meeester!" Then, if it's long enough for a conversation, the Questions: "Where are you going?" "Where do you live?" "Do you have children?" "What is your religion?" "Have you eaten yet?" "Have you bathed yet?" I'm telling the truth: Those questions began 97% of the casual conversations I had.

None of them meant what they literally meant. No one really wanted to know where I was going ("Oh, I'm going back to my hotel room to stash my camera in my big backpack, because it's heavy and I've taken enough photographs of fish stands and pedicabs for one day"). The correct stock response was "jalan jalan," meaning "travel travel" or, more correctly, "eh, not much." Just using that response would get a broad smile and a nod: "jalan jalan," they'd say back in appreciation.

It wasn't bad after a while. If it had been -- if I'd snapped finally and told some poor guy I was going to his mother's house to have children -- I wouldn't have given Elliott the name Elliott. As it is, I figure he can handle the croaking.

Oh, and many thanks to Jana for Elliott's mechanical future friend, and to brotha Ryan for the onesie.

  posted by Andy @ 11:32 AM §

Sunday, April 20, 2003  

I have changed the name of my blog. Please alter your to-do lists accordingly.

Kazuhiro Sasaki (I can't just call him "Kaz," I just can't) had another dire night on the mound last night, with another flub from McLemore at third base for punctuation (and when I say punctuation, I'm thinking ee cummings). All of Mr. Sasaki's secondary numbers are fine -- 10 Ks in 7.1 innings, 3 walks a little high but tolerable -- but he's getting hit: 9 hits in that same time. It's hard for me to hear over the radio if his fastball is on a nice straight line, but it sure sounds like it is, and it has lost some speed. That's a rough combination.

I seem to have given several people the impression that I think Mr. Sasaki is a poor closer, partly because I thought it was foolish to pay him a big-fat deferred-money contract. To clarify: I don't think any closer is worth $8 million a year (okay, no baseball player should earn that much -- thank you, but remember we're in the baseball funhouse here and "worth" is not "should"). An inning pitched is an inning pitched, and if that same money could get you 200+ innings of an ERA near 3, that's a better use than 60 innings of the same quality.

The counter-argument is that outs in the 9th inning are worth more than in any other inning, or at least harder to get. This makes no sense. They may be the last ones we see, and thus the ones we remember the most, but they're three outs, period. If a middle-relief pitcher allows four runs in the 6th inning, the team rallies to a one-run lead anyway, then the closer gives up two runs in the 9th to lose the game, the fans go home cursing the closer. The middle-relief guy's performance is esoteric -- the fifth caller to the sports-radio show will bring him up after the first four have called to bitch about the closer.

This is a well-trodden argument and I can't quite make it interesting (not without more effort than I have in me now). But I'm sure that Mr. Sasaki is a lovable rogue and does nothing in his life to counter the deferent, cute-as-the-dickens impression he gives with that little smile-and-a-bow finale of his. Why, he's almost as plucky and cute as that Jessica Lynch, that little dickens. He should wear a too-large camoflauge cap and an aw-gosh expression for this year's team portrait -- wouldn't that be just too cute? Maybe Kazuhiro could get trapped under a tarpaulin and John Rocker and Mark McGwire could rescue him on live TV.

  posted by Andy @ 11:11 AM §

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