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Archive for October, 2008

Weekend Reading, Volume 15

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I haven’t posted a collection of links in awhile.  I’ve just been too fixated on the Phillies, I guess.  No—wait!—it’s not even possible to be too fixated on the Phillies.  Anyway, I haven’t stopped wasting spending time on the web, so there’s quite a backlog.

  • What’s the best thing in this week’s New York Times Magazine?  I think it has to be this piece on doughnuts, which, among other things, has Washington Irving saying that a New Amsterdam table “was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat and called dough nuts.”  Be sure to check out Stephen Lewis’s accompanying photographs, too.  They’re amazing.  (That’s not one of Lewis’s above.  Sadly, I can’t afford food porn of that quality.)
  • I’m becoming a big fan of “The Wild Side,” evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson’s NYT blog.  A few weeks ago, Judson blogged about a gene variation in men that was associated, in a Swedish study, with an inability to maintain long-term monogamous relationships.  The very next week, she wrote about the evolution of male-only asexual reproduction in a few unusual species.  It’s good to be reminded just how freaky nature truly is.
  • It’s certainly been a long time—too long—since my last date, but I’m not ready to resort to a cuddle party to get some basic human contact.  Bizarrely, the local paper, The Inky, devoted many, many column inches to the topic.  The article just made me want to buy gallon after gallon of Lysol, hand sanitizer, and various other cootie-killers.  Ewwww.
  • Americans can get married nearly anywhere they want—the backyard, Las Vegas, the halftime of an Oklahoma City Thunder game.  It seems like a basic human right, doesn’t it?  (For straight people only.  Hmmm.)  It’s not that way everywhere, of course.  In England, the rules have loosened up just a little bit, but there’s a long way to go.
  • Pop or soda?  Or just coke? As I’m sure you know, what we Americans call our, um, soft drinks varies pretty dramatically from region to region.  In the Midwest, it’s pop.  In the northeast and California, it’s soda.  In the South, it’s coke.  Strange Maps recently featured a great map that shows off this regional variation.  I grew up in Oklahoma, which, as you’ll see, is one of the places where pop and coke collide.  I grew up with “pop,” in one of those counties in northeastern Oklahoma where 50-80% of the population prefers that term.  But it’s not what I say anymore.  After a decade-plus in Philly, I’ve converted to “soda.”  I’m a traitor.
  • Speaking of great maps, I enjoyed the NYT‘s interactive map showing how well nations have done at the Summer Olympics over the years.  Now is a good time, of course, to get a good view of how the Beijing Games played out.
  • Like any good devotee of Belgian beer, I’ve been closely following the political upheaval between the country’s Flemish and Walloon populations—and just hoping it doesn’t mess up the beer.  If you haven’t been following the steady slide toward devolution, here’s a good primer from BBC News as well as an article on political unhappiness in Flanders.
  • Etan Horowitz, who writes for the Orlando Sentinel and who happens to be one of my “buddies” on Twitter, explains how to change your email address as painlessly as possible.  This is something I need to get my parents—who insist on sharing an email address provided by their small-town ISP—to read.  Horowitz, by the way, is a fan of Gmail.  Me, too.

Written by Jimmy

October 4th, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Philadelphia Phillies 3, Milwaukee Brewers 1

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After 42 years of baseball fandom, I finally made it—personally—to the playoffs.  Last year, of course, my Phillies made an unexpected, but short, visit to the playoffs, but they did it without me.  A good deed (that’s a link to my old site) got in the way.  This year, of course, I was with the Phillies all season, and I wasn’t going to let anything keep me from the playoffs.  So there I was today, in Section 421 (that’s a bit of a come-down from my normal seats), at 3 p.m. on a weekday, ready to root.

If you’re a baseball fan, you know what happened.  Cole Hamels pitched a beautiful game for the Phillies.  The Phillies didn’t show a lot on offense, but they had enough—especially when combined with some ugly defense by the Brewers.  At least for the first eight innings, the Brewers had nothing whatsoever going on offense: In fact, the score for much of the game—Phillies 3, Brewers 0—underestated how dominating the Phillies were.

It’s never easy, though.  And for the second straight game, Phillies closer Brad Lidge looked, well, human.  He gave up two hits and a run.  With two outs, he walked J.J. Hardy, and a wild pitch to Corey Hart allowed Brewers baserunners to go to second and third.  Ugh.  But Lidge held on, managing to strike out Hart to end the game.  There was a massive sigh of relief in Citizens Bank Park.  Final score: 3-1.

It wasn’t at all my most enjoyable day at the ballpark.  For one thing, everything just seemed to matter so dang much.  The attention of 45,000+ fans was on every pitch, every catch, every throw.  I was tense.  Although the Phillies looked like the better team, the Brewers were never out of it.  It was too close!  And worst of all, it repeatedly rained—just enough that I didn’t want to leave my seats, but enough that I was pretty thoroughly wet by the end.

I’d do it all again, though.  Of course.  Go Phils!

Random weirdness at the ballpark: Two straight men in my row were pretty much overcome by emotion.  One hugged the other at the start of the game, apologizing—if I overheard correctly—that he didn’t usually know how to express his affection for his friend.  Somehow or other, the playoff game made the mushiness acceptable.

Straight men are hard to figure out sometimes.  Hee.

Written by Jimmy

October 1st, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Posted in Sports