Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Baseball's next controversy

In 1974, Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Tommy John tore ligaments in his pitching arm. At that time, such an injury meant the end of a pitcher's career. Doctors, in fact, told Tommy John that his pitching days were over and it appeared to be the end of a solid career.

Dr. Frank Jobe decided to try an experimental surgical technique on Mr. John in the hope of repairing his arm to a degree where he would be able to pitch again. Tommy John missed the entire 1975 season rehabilitating his arm. In 1976, he returned to the Dodgers and won 10 games - earning him Comeback Player of the Year honors. John went on to pitch to 1989, winning 20 or more games 3 times and earned a Cy Young award in 1978. Tommy John clearly became a better pitcher after the surgery. Now, the question is, did he improve due to natural maturing or did the surgery actually improve his pitching arm?

Before I go too far here, I completely respect Tommy John. He loves baseball and had an opportunity to extend his career by bravely going through the surgery. However, I do wonder today when it seems every other pitcher in the major leagues has gone through what is now called "Tommy John surgery". Pitchers are claiming their arms are stronger after the surgery than ever before.

Pitchers have it tough. Baseball fans tend to love lots of offense so pitching stars don't measure up in popularity as hitting stars do. Throwing a baseball 90 mph repeatedly is not a natural motion for a human being. Damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones are commonplace, even before a pitcher gets to the major leagues. But now, it seems that when a young pitcher gets his first pitching injury, they go for the "Tommy John surgery". As I watch the World Series, I heard the announcer mention how White Sox pitcher Jenks has a "bionic arm" due to his surgery.

Steroids aren't for pitchers since bulking up only inhibits their ability to pitch. So the surgery seems to be their answer to hitter's supplementing themselves. Let's see if this becomes a similar issue as the steroid problem.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Paper is Dead. Long Live Paper!

Remember how the 2000's was going to mark the beginning of the paperless office? Electronic media in the form of documents, forms, letters and even books and magazines were going to replace their electronic counterparts.

Alas, things never goes as they should. I work with attorneys, specifically big city (Los Angeles) attorneys who deal with multi-million dollar lawsuits. When corporate lawsuits occur, each side will inundate the other with invoices, drawings, contracts, letters, emails, financial reports and all sorts of goodies. Many law firms deal with this stuff completely electronically and hand over CDs (or DVDs) filled with electronic documents. Unfortunately, you'll always get the one firm or attorney who insists on actual paper. To me, a CD holding 10,000 pages that I can search through on a laptop computer is far more appealing than scrounging throught 3 25lb banker's boxes. Yet, our office is in a seemingly constant state of printing out and boxing up paper documents because an attorney insists on doing it the old fashioned way. It is not uncommon for a job to consist of 100 boxes or more. That's 300,000 pages that has to sit in some warehouse somewhere for attorneys and paralegals to find their key documents. It's absolutely unbelievable!

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Erik and I got tangled in another topic. Look here. It was another thread that started to get personal. I'm going to rebut here simply because I can illustrate my points better on my blog. Also, I feel this discussion has a broad enough theme to address it here.

The Premise

From Left Over Right

"Terror Level
I wonder when there is going to be a raising of the national terror alert level from yellow to orange. After all, whenever Bush's numbers seem to fail that's when it's raised AND there is an election next year for senate and congress so it seems logical for Bush to use that to his advantage."

Erik states that it "seems logical" that there is a correlation between the terror level and Bush's approval rating. Basically, he believes that Bush and his staff artificially raise the terror level so the American people get a positive feeling that Bush is doing his job protecting Americans. I want to point out that Erik did use the word "seems" because it's important. I called his post a "conspiracy theory" based on:
A. His statements were about a conspiracy of Bush pulling a fast one on the American people.
B. It is a theory given that Erik gave no arguments to support his statement other than alluding to that it "seems" that the terror level rises in accordance with Bush's lowered approval rating.

Theory or Fact?
Erik took exception me calling it a theory. Suddenly, to him, it was factual. His initial post certainly did not have a feeling of fact. In my opinion, Erik took my statement personally and let his emotions take over his brain and turn his theory into fact. I tried to point this out by putting out my own conspiracy theory:
"The Indianapolis Colts are 5-0. Therefore, I can conclude and state as 'fact' that the Colts have bribed the NFL referees handsomely."

I intended this statement to satirize Erik's claim. I don't believe this theory for a second. I just wanted to point out that it's easy to come up with conspiracy theories. I like to use analogies in my arguments. I hoped that Erik would pick up on this and realize that if he wants to convince me his statements are factual and not theory, he was going to have to come up with a better argument.

A Better Argument

I didn't get such an argument from Erik. Instead, he chose to call my conspiracy theory nonsense (which it probably is, but that's not the point). Worse, he decided that I had to come up with facts to prove his statement incorrect. Wait a minute! It is Erik's statement, not mine. In fact, never once did I ever say he was wrong. Yet, he tried to put the ball in my court when the ball is clearly in his. I have nothing to prove but Erik does. I asked for facts, but Erik, in turn did the literal equivalent of cupping his ears and stammered that it was up to me to provide facts to prove him wrong. This was clearly childish behavior and when I called Erik on it, well, he didn't take it so well. So, I walked away from the discussion as it was going nowhere.

So, my point is; If you are going to make accusations about people, politicians or not, either call it a theory or provide comprehensive evidence to support it. You can't call your own theories "fact", you have to convince others and have them agree with you to even begin to consider it fact.

If Erik wants to support his theory, then he needs to provide something like the following:

(Please note: the figures here are purely made up and are for demonstrative purposes only)

Click on image for full sized view.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Solution

Last week, I posted about the world-wide problems that confront the human race now, and even more so, in the future. If we do not confront the issues of overpopulation and consumption of resources, one of two things is going to happen eventually.

1. Nature will balance its books one way or another. Disease, natural disasters, and/or a giant meteor will wipe out most if not all of the human race. If and when this happens, the world will be restored to its relatively balanced self in 10,000 years and all will be fine on Earth and there will be no more humans.

2. The human race will beat nature to the punch and destroy itself in nuclear holocaust.

So, when I hear solutions like "tax incentives" (sorry Erik) or anti-poverty programs I sadly shake my head because I realize that most humans are too self-centered to see big picture problems and big picture solutions.

The answer's up there
Look upwards, not at the birds, or the airplanes or the clouds. Look at the universe. It's really, really big. It's loaded with solar energy and hydrogen. Ultimately, the answers to all of humankind's major problems are in outer space. Solar collectors can be installed and provide all the clean energy we could ever want. Hydroponic farms in space stations can produce food in abundance. The Moon has as much real estate as planet Earth and there's Mars as well. Why not live there? Does this all sound like science fiction? Yes, I'm afraid it is but it doesn't have to be.

So why are we not colonizing space?
Unfortunately, we keep these ideas in the realm of science fiction because most of us don't really believe it can be done. Also, even if it can be done, too many of us feel that there are too many earthbound problems to deal with before we go to space. Yet another problem for most people is that we won't see space exploration realize the promise it can offer for many, many, years, perhaps, not even in our lifetimes.

This saddens me as I realize more and more, that we are too short-sighted to survive. We are always going to have domestic problems. The economy will never be good enough. We always find an excuse to not fulfill what should be our destiny of leaping from our planetary cradle. In other words, we are too self-centered and when it all comes down to it, we really care more about our individual lives than we do for our children and their children.

For me, this is the issue of our time. I look to any leader with the courage to restart the space program that Kennedy started over 40 years ago. We need to start now and we need to realize that we need to stay committed to it. I like President Bush's proposal of going back to the Moon and to Mars. I'd like to believe we will stay the course and take the baby steps needed in order to get our foothold in space. Let's do it, not for ourselves but for our children's children's children. (Thank you, Moody Blues)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hockey's Back!

It's good to see one of my favorite spectator sports on TV again. (It's purely a spectator sport for me, I can't skate.) I'd gripe about greedy players and owners but I've pretty much given up on going to games a few years ago.

I want to make a few comments on some of the new rules:


Losing the redline and allowing passes from inside the blue line to center ice: A rule that makes sense and promotes a more free and faster-paced game.

Limited equipment and padding on goalies: This rule also promotes a faster games. Goalies were able to practically cover the entire net making goals almost impossible to get from a good shot. Goal scoring was getting ugly where it required big men up front to get rebounds and knock out defenders. If Wayne Gretzky had come up in 2000 instead of 1980, I doubt he would have been nearly the player he was as the NHL got big and slow. The new rule promotes more athletic goaltenders.


Shootouts in the event of a tie: I've got several issues with this one. First of all, the other rules should open up a faster, more wide open game. Breakaways should be more common than before so there is no need to have this. Also, teams with the better pure scorers are apt to sit on a tie in the third period so they can have their chance to win in the overtime shootout, thus, slowing down the game. Finally, a shootout is just plain not hockey.
My solution? How about having a 15 min sudden-death overtime period. If someone scores, they win. If the game is still tied after 15 min. both teams lose. Think, maybe we'd see some exciting action in overtime with this rule in place? I do.