Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Pujols Legacy

It's the end of an era. In a bit of news announced today and anticipated by some for years, and by many for days, Albert Pujols has accepted a deal from the Anaheim Angels worth $250 million over 10 years. News of this deal and Albert's decision has left a lot of people with a variety of feelings, thoughts and reactions.

Comparisons are flying around. ARod, Stan Musial and LeBron James are just a few. Whatever the case may be, it is a little confusing to know what motivated Albert throughout this process. For many years, Albert has professed to want to be a Cardinal for life and had also said that it's not all about the money. Was he just playing the game, or was he playing us? It's not impossible to believe that someone's opinions or attitudes might change over 11 years, but a hallmark of Albert had been his consistency and his words matching his actions, both on and off the field.

Another facet to this seemingly complex story is Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano. By one report, Lozano is a total sleezeball, even in the world of agents, were sleeze is a currency. Was Pujols led down a path by the guy who was professionally trying to show him the money? Lozano's wisdom, without the sleeze attribute, has also been called into question by the deal he previously brought Pujols through -- a deal that made little sense from Pujols' perspective, locking him up through his prime at a severe discount to then try to make a deal in his early 30s.

Publicly, Pujols was an enigma in STL. In many ways you couldn't ask for a better franchise player: A family man and Christian, and a man who made efforts for certain charities he championed. On the flipside, Pujols seemed to only show up to the press after games where he was a hero, and seemed to disappear when he was less than stellar. He was also notorious for being critical of the press and not signing autographs for kids. As time wore on, many fans started noticing what they claimed were attitude changes on the field, including arguing with umpires on borderline pitches, not hustling to first and ignoring coaching staff. Maybe these are just the things that people notice in star players, or maybe Pujols didn't like or want the total package of what it means to be a star player in today's game.

From the perspective of the Cardinals brass -- the men who have to run the business side of this game -- it is hard to find fault. The offer on the table from the Cards that Pujols turned down was already a risky proposition that could have over-extended the entire franchise for years. However, I think many thought that the deal was warranted for Albert even though that kind of deal would probably never be offered to attract a free agent. It begs the question then, was there more to this deal for the Cardinals than just money? Was there some benefit from our perspective of keeping Albert a Cardinal for life? For many fans and for this writer, absolutely. There was nothing I wanted more than to give Pujols the chance for being immortalized next to Stan the Man and for in many ways elevating the entire game itself, still smarting from steroids and other problems. For plenty of other fans, though, no way. The deal was too big, and many are glad to see him go. In any case now, it is confusing. Will the Cardinals retire his number? If he enters the HOF, will he wear a halo or a bird? These are questions that most fans didn't want to have to ask.

There is also the question of his age. Albert is 32 in January, so a 10 year deal brings him through his 41st year. This is assuming he is actually 31 now. Many, many people highly doubt this, and with good reason. There is no birth certificate, and there is an unfortunate pattern of some Latino players lying about their age (or even names). If Albert really turns 34 this January, how much could he have left in the tank? His body type is also not the kind that typically ages well, as so many 20+ year players are skinny most of their career, not stocky or fat.

Either way, the first 11 years of Albert's career speak for themselves -- incredible. And he was loved in St. Louis despite all of his short comings. If it is difficult to compare players from different generations, it is impossible to compare the economics of the game now to those of, let's say, Musial's generation. Pujols walks in rarified air so far and is already considered an elite, all-time player. And although the game is a business, it is not only a business. Many are saying how hard it would be to turn down $50+ million, and that would certainly be true for your first 50. But if it is not about the money, and you already have $250+ million for your family, your children and your great-grandchildren, and you play for a team that has given you two rings with a history and tradition that is junior only to the Yankees and that has arguably the best, most loyal fans in baseball, then what is it really about? The darn humidity?

Let us hope the best for dear Albert, at least they wear red in Anaheim. I hope he breaks every record. But if the game is a business, then I have already given him everything he has earned. I will not bad-mouth or boo the man upon his return, but I will not stand to cheer him either. It's not in my contract.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ron Paul

This is as funny as it is sad. Part of the reason I stay at all in tune with national politics is because I believe that if we can promote honest discussion on important issues, especially in the media, we will have a chance at reforming Washington.

All this tells me though is that the MSM pretty much comes from the same big business sources and that FOXNews is not really a "conservative" news channel, unless all the major networks are conservative in that they viciously protect the status quo at all costs. Honesty in important topics?

Let Jon Stewart say it funny:

I watched most of an episode of the O'Reilly factor show last night for the first time in a long time. I wasn't mad, I just got really bored. What a boring show. A bunch of people arguing over politicians and not one informative let alone intelligent thing is ever said. I couldn't keep watching and eventually had to watch Ryan Dempster pitch for the Cubs. That's how bad it got.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

You've Lost that Lovin Ceiling

One of the biggest things in the news these days is the hubbub the U.S. politicians are making over the debt ceiling. It's absurd. There's not much I can say about it, but I suppose people are talking about it and maybe might want to talk about it around here, which is fine.

The Republicans are hypocrates and the Democrats are Democrats. Both want to take your money and flush it down the Potomac. Actually, they want to pocket it and re-invest it in the greater D.C. area. Did you know that the majority of the top 10 richest counties are right outside Washington D.C. (the others are all right outside of Wall St.'s backyard).

Money continues to pour into our nation's capital, despite the fact that no elected official would send their kids to any of the local public schools, and we are supposed to concern ourselves with a debt ceiling?

There are some reports that the credit rating of the U.S. federal government will be downgraded regardless. There are reports that if we don't raise the ceiling a disaster beyond imagination will occur. There are reports that foreigners are buying up American homes. There are reports that Republicans are fiscal conservatives. Sorry, now is no time for jokes.

I have been thinking for awhile about writing a post about large numbers and trying to break down the scale of the deficits and debts and budgets to try to make them understandable. If there's enough interest, maybe.

Otherwise, does anyone think Obama, Reid or Boehner has the best interest of the American people at heart? This is why I, a patriot and life long Republican voter, have not voted in a federal election since I voted for Bush the second time. What difference does it make?

But I still read a lot and stay informed. I thought this was an interesting interview, and that this was a very informative article.

Debate on...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hump Day Wednesday

In spite of being a "computer guy", I've never given much thought to hackers. I always thought that they were both glamorized in movies but over looked in real security matters (like when Congress gets hacked and the IP addresses are always from China).

But this group seems to wield a good bit of power. LulzSec. Never heard of them before, but the story is pretty interesting. Gotta admit it's probably a lot more exciting than whatever their day jobs are.

I've always been a big fan of looking for more thorough ways to utilize the energy that I think of as just laying around. Gravity is a big one for me, wind, and now I guess sun. This guy designed a machine that does some pretty cool stuff just with sun power, and that's not just what you think of as "solar power" but also the amplified, direct light of the sun.

Forgive me for linking to a NYT article (I believe they're just a step slower than the average paper, or else they would be up on phone hacking charges now too). But this was an interesting observation and something I've been thinking about in general. Are we making childhood too safe for our children to turn into decent human beings? Not sure this article is making any grand claims like that, but it does make some good points.

OK, and so these videos are cool. The skydiving from plane to plane is sort of wild and hair-brained. But the flying squirrel suits this couple dons create some pretty beautiful situations.

Every time a 26-year-old girl in America quotes 'The Bachelorette', a 13-year-old girl in China graduates from college.
--from Twitter, @NotKennyRogers

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."
Greetings, Dear Reader. News Nits is back from our stint on the DL and is currently in our basement ditching a tornado warning. Reminds me of the folks in Joplin, MO, who were lucky if they were able to ditch the storm, as many of them were not so lucky.

Check out the following videos of a group of bystanders in a gas station who got through the storm in a walk in fridge. An incredible testament to just how scary it must have been. Then check out the second video to see just how dangerous it really was and how they all might have died had they remained in the store. Thus, we are in the basement, which is not too bad since the wireless router is still working.

In other news, when a storm does come to town, it is always good advice to find shelter. However, you may want to stand while in that shelter. Turns out, sitting is bad for the body, regardless of exercise rates and other factors. Even NPR agrees, and this is bad news for those of us who have desk jobs and work in front of a computer or on a phone all day.

Did you hear about the rumor about the emails Sarah Palin didn't send? Well, in a rather brilliant move, Alaska released all of the emails that Sarah Palin sent as Governor of the state (after legal teams screened them all). The brilliance of the move comes in the form that they released all the email by paper -- 6 boxes totalling nearly 25,000 pages. And reporters lined up to get their share. Poses an interesting problem, though, how would one actually go about reading through all these emails and finding any juicy tidbits left by Palin's warpath to stardom? An information processing problem indeed. Who knows, maybe this will allow Mrs. Palin to claim she has created more jobs than her GOP opponents if she runs for President.

To round out the nits as our power just went out... there is a rising anti-intellecutalism in the Geek community. Sounds sort of contradictory, right? But think how many successful Geeks bypassed the academic path... and Geeks are always right, right?

High power magnets can thin your blood in seconds, which is cool since TLATL has a strict no drug policy. The drones are here, which is not cool, because they are here to stay. Pretty interesting look into the seedy underbelly of the military-industrial complex. Who will police the drones? I dunno, the Coast Guard?

Please enjoy and comment away a slow morning or afternoon, as we strive to enrich our readers. I need to go find a flash light.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Decision Time

This isn't exactly The Loop vs. The Lou, but it is Missouri vs. Illinois. And not on the basketball court.

In downstate Illinois, you have Cairo, IL. Wedged in between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, this town of 3,000 is the southernmost town in Illinois. And now it is being threatened by rising water levels. In 1937 it was the Ohio. This time it's the Mississippi. The solution that the army corps of engineers has come up with is to blow-up a levee and flood over 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland (and 100 homes). This blogs respective newspapers are on top of the story. Chicago Tribune explains the situation here. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch here. Please keep in mind that these links may change as the story develops.

If the state borders didn't go by rivers there is no way Cairo would be in Illinois. Judging from Google Maps, the distance from the Mississippi and Ohio at Cairo is less than 2 miles and appears to be narrower to the north of it. This little piece of land could easily be Kentucky or Missouri. And if it were Missouri, the Supreme Court might not have to step in.

So what's the right move here? Save a 3,000 person town which has been evacuated? Or blow up a levee and destroy 130,000 acres of farmland but only 100 homes? Should Missouri land suffer to save an Illinois town?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bad Idea Jeans

This is not a post about American foreign policy, but it is a post about bad ideas. Or, more accurately, it's a post about ideas that do sound great on paper but in practice end up revealing some je ne sais quoi that was just not in mente following the Eureka moment -- or even upon critical review of the idea by a group of peers.

This is not a slam on the inventive spirit or the people who came up with and produced these ideas. This is like a 20 game loser in baseball, it's a backhanded compliment. I know I've been suckered by both of the inventions pictured, so I have little qualms with paying back a little through mention.

By contrast, here is a great idea, every time -- playing music with your kids.

So what say you? What are some of the worst, good ideas you can find?

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Check out these shanastas:

A sign in Soulard, MO may find itself at the heart of a Supreme Court decision. Freedom of Speech, as ruled by the Supreme Court recently, apparently is more important than decency or common sense as it was recently ruled (8-1) that a bunch of people from a "Christian Church" could "protest" a soldier's funeral by alerting the mourning family members that "God hates fags" and other relevant, constructive stuff like this. I wonder how they'll side when business, not a devastated, private family, has a stake in "free speech". I could see how anyone could start a business, but I can't see how anyone can just start a "Christian Church".

One of the main reasons we invaded Iraq was an informant source named "Curveball". Well, it turns out he was a liar as well. There was a great video about this on CNN, but they have since taken it down, since the 24 hour news cycle has expired. Here's a related link anyway. Again, I'm not into whining or pining, but let's not forget the past. As Stephen Colbert says, "There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good."

This link seems innocuous enough but indicates a couple of indirect, really important points: 1) Despite the misty eyed proclamations of Obama worshippers, GITMO is still alive and functioning, and 2) Despite some concern earlier, apparently the CIA now believes that Osama is still alive.

I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're going and hook up with them later.
- Mitch Hedberg

As of February 17th, Belgium has not had a government in 249 days, which they believe is some sort of record. It's sort of a reality check for us, as our governments -- state and federal -- face shutdowns behind claims that this would lead to disasters beyond our imaginations. But let's settle down a bit and realize that maybe we don't need our governments as much as they need us. How do the Belgians do it? Looooooots of syrup and beer.

St. Louis is again the most crime-ridden city in the nation. Where's Nelly when you need him? However, I heard today on the radio that Chicago was the fifth most miserable city to live in. [don't know how to link to radio]

A product of the evil corporation IBM, code-named "Watson", has defeated the equally evil Mormon Ken Jennings in a contest of Jeopardy that not even Alec Trebec, the evil Canadian, could ruin. Actually, none of them is evil, or comes from evil (though I wouldn't vote for a Canadian Mormon), and Watson represents a pretty incredible feat in a constrained problem in the field of computer science called Natural Language Processing. Deep Blue. Watson. If IBM can develop a machine that can hit a curve ball, I'll be worried.

Uh, you know how AT&T's phone network stinks? Isn't it awesome that Verizon now supports Apple products? Well, it appears that Verizon may have dropped approximately 10,000 emergency calls in one night in one area. Hmmmmm, makes me wonder how that network will handle the flood of users converting away from ATT, especially in big, dense cities.

Sometimes, famous guys get a bad rep. But aren't there those kinds of guys where you still think, Man, it would be fun to hang out and have a beer with that guy at least. Hank Steinbrenner is not one of those guys. In general, I don't want to transform baseball into a sea of equality like the NFL, and I'm not happy with teams like the Royals who pocket their welfare checks and are in the black by opening day rather than competing, but when the Yanks are spending more in luxury tax and revenue sharing than most teams in baseball spend on payroll, something is wrong there. And like I said, Hank doesn't exactly seem like a guy who's in any way decent to hang out with.

Thanks for tuning in. Be sure to come back soon, try not to be overwhelmed with all the choices out there on the web.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Time To Get The Led Out

This Friday and Saturday, Celebration Day returns to the Pageant for two nights of Led Zeppelin. The band (most of whose members also comprise the Pink Floyd tribute band El Monstero) sells out the venue for two nights of LZ cathexis.

If you have ever had a period in your life where you dug Led Zeppelin, catching this show at some point is a must. This isn't just another tribute act. This band puts everything into the show, playing for over 3 hours straight each night. They do their best to recreate a real Zeppelin show, too: double-necked Gibson guitars, an acoustic set in the middle of the show at the front of the stage, the violin bow during Dazed and Confused, the rest of the band leaves the stage while the drummer does his best Bonham during "Moby Dick", and Jimmy even plays a theremin solo during Whole Lotta Love (who the heck has a theremin just laying around?).

I was a geek enough that last year I actually noted the setlist:

Celebration Day
Black Dog
Rock 'n Roll
Trampled Under Foot
Thank You
Immigrant Song
The Lemon Song
No Quarter
Dancing Days
The Ocean
Dazed and Confused
Since I Been Lovin' You
Moby Dick
Going To California
That's The Way
The Battle Of Evermore
The Song Remains the Same
Over The Hills And Far Away
All of my Love
In The Light
The Rain Song
Whole Lotta Love ->
Bring It On Home ->
Whole Lotta Love ->
How Many More Times ->
Whole Lotta Love

Stairway To Heaven

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Day In Pictures

Dawson is devastated.

Dwight is delirious.

Doogie is distraught.

Dennis is distressed.

Dana is disheartened.

And McCain is mad.


They're all Cardinal fans, of course. The Cards and Pujols failed to reach agreement before Camp Pujols' deadline. This all but ensures Albert Pujols will be wearing the uniform of another team in 2012. Yes, the Cards will have the opportunity to compete with other teams when Pujols becomes a free agent after the 2011 season. But the failure to reach an agreement now indicates that the Cards are not willing to spend the money (estimated to be in the neighborhood of 10 years / $300 million) that at least one team will pitch him in November. It's hard to blame the Cards for not wanting to spend that kind of dough, but I'd always had a boyish dream that Pujols would retire as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and as a career Cardinal.

Oh well.

I suppose not everyone feels this is bad news.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I heart Egypt!

The American people demand information about Egypt, so why not let them eat cake?

The brief discussion, started in another post, has flooded over the banks of the Nile and is now threatening Cairo. As we at TLATL constantly meet the needs of our Dear Reader, we stand ready to provide. It is always hard to speak broadly, for example of the "media". Exceptions abound. It may be even harder to speak usefully of events in foreign cultures. For as much as Egypt is a neighbor in this global village, it is perhaps more important to point out that Americans seem more enamored with our interest in Egypt than in the actual country or people of Egypt. Whatever questions have been raised, they are usually with the devilish smirk of how to frame our position, our involvement. Buyer beware.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Ben Bernanke

In a coincidence of events today, I came across the issue of "Quantitative Easing." This fancy term was a hot topic for awhile, but now apparently plays second fiddle to the chaos in Egypt. Is anyone following what is going on in Egypt? I personally find it rather uninteresting, and as the name of this blog references two fine cities in the great Midwest, I find it more interesting to talk about stuff that affects us more directly.

The mainstream media is a constant dismay for me. I know, I know, that's now an overused and cliched term, but upon finding this article on the NYT website, not only was I saddened by the level of reporting on a really important topic, I was further dismayed to view the home page and find it listed in the second row, behind Egyptanistan. I revisited the NYT Home page just moments ago to reference it, however it is not a static link. Now the reference to Bernanke is totally gone (as is the Egypt story) and there's just a picture of a shirtless doofus politician from NY.

A good friend of mine is a highly accomplished and respected journalist, and he has mentioned to me in conversation how he is not happy with the attacks on "mainstream media" and that bloggers are not professional journalists. This is true, and the attacks are indeed sad. But when videos like the one below contain more information (and are more entertaining) than a NYT reporter can scrap together, I am not surprised to see the Super Bowl ad for, the first tablet-oriented, virtual news"paper" I know of. Happy viewing, dear Reader.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Exit Michael Steele... Enter Reince Priebus

Here he is ladies and gentlemen!

OK... haha... but really - it's not that far a stretch:

And the secret word of the day? 'Blood libel' of course!!