MLB Parks Tour

tourMy Minnesota Twins played their first spring training game last night. It was an exhibition game against the University of Minnesota. And, wouldn’t you know it, those professional experienced baseball players managed to beat the college kids. That hasn’t been the case for some other teams (the Philadelphia Phillies lost to the University of Tampa Bay last Sunday, for example).

In about three hours the Twins begin Spring Training games for real by hosting the Boston Red Sox (who beat two different college teams in a double-header Tuesday).

To celebrate, I thought I’d share my MLB Parks Tour plan.

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The End of the Affair

good-byeOnce I’ve decided that I like something, I tend to be pretty loyal. That’s even more the case when it comes to people. But hate is very close to love; both are very strong and persistent emotions — they just have opposite polarities. The true opposite of love (or hate) is indifference.

And it does happen that, sometimes a single event that gets on the wrong side of me instantly flips the polarity of my feeling. Sadly, it’s always been from positive to negative. I’ve never had the movie experience of hating and then loving.

Recently two things have flipped my switch, and a third one is tugging at it.

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Synchronicity Strikes Again!

UNCLE 0I don’t know that synchronicity plays any greater role in my life than it does for anyone else. I seem to notice it fairly often, and I love when it happens. It’s generally an illusion; coincidences occur all the time. Sometimes they stand out in a way seems like evidence of greater import or design.

But that is usually a matter of selection bias. Coincidence that impresses us is memorable. Cops, as well as doctors and nurses who work ER shifts, often think the full moon brings out the crazies, but the data doesn’t really support that.

Regardless, synchronicity is fun when it happens.

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Morals and Ethics

mug-0As one ventures ’round the ‘web, a topic that arises time and again is the endless debate — or perhaps war might be a better term — between the poles of theism and atheism. I’ve determined, at least as far as my participation elsewhere, to recuse myself from that war. I’ve served my time on both sides, and I’ve pretty much heard it all, said it all, bought many tee-shirts and a couple of souvenir coffee mugs.

So this isn’t about the war itself, but about a topic that frequently arises as part of that debate: the idea of morality and/or ethics. A sub-question is whether those are different things, but the main question is how we define morality and how we ground that definition.

Here’s my stab at defining the difference along with some ideas about morality.

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SF Hardness

science fictionScience Fiction — or rather Speculative Fiction — has the general quality that it contains all other fiction genres. There is mystery and detective science fiction. There is romance (and sexual) science fiction. Action? Horror? Psychological thriller? Drama and pathos? Allegory? Westerns? Science fiction has them all and more.

In a sense, SF is just a property that fiction can have. I’ve tried to explain what I think that property is. I also took a stab at separating science fiction from fantasy. Now that thread resumes to explore the idea of SF hardness.

But first we return to and start with…

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Movies: Being There

Being There-0I recently had the pleasure of re-watching the 1979 Hal Ashby classic, Being There. It stars an aging Peter Sellers and was the last film of his released during his lifetime. If you enjoy thoughtful stories with deep currents under their surface, this is a must-see, a best-of-breed. The film was critically acclaimed, and Sellers and the screenplay rightfully won a number of awards.

A core motif of the film is mistaken identity with hints of The Emperor’s New Clothes contrasted with our reaction to authenticity. It’s also a political satire and a look at the ever-growing relationship we have with television.

That’s a lot to bite off, but it does it almost flawlessly!

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The Differential

e-fence-1

Zzzzzzzzzzz-t!

One of those annoying-to-those-who-know-better shortcuts that movies and TV shows sometimes take is the visual trope of throwing a piece of wood (or a rock) at an “electrified fence” and producing an exciting shower of sparks. Typically, one character is just about to touch the fence, only to be pulled back just in time by another character who throws something at the fence to show the first character how they almost bought it.

It looks good — everyone loves a good sparking. In fact, you may have noticed how many action scenes take place in factories that seem mainly to manufacture sparks and steam. You may have noticed how often welders seem to be creating showers of sparks in the background of every action movie.

But this isn’t about our love of sparks.

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Time Travel

The Time MachineOne of the great things about science fiction is how it allows an author to explore the human condition in contexts that ordinary fiction cannot. For example, it can explore the idea of immortality. Is boredom a problem? If you are immortal, but others aren’t, what is it like to see everyone you know age and die? Is it as desirable as it seems?

Some themes occur repeatedly in science fiction. Immortality is just one. A very common one is the idea of alien races — or even intelligent machines. Such stories view humanity through new eyes.

Another common one is time travel, and that is the subject of today’s Sci-Fi Saturday!

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Baseball Battery

snowballIt’s snowing here in Minnesota right now (exactly why we call it “Minnesnowta”). The recent temperatures rival — sometimes excel — the temperature in my freezer (which is to say: zero degrees Fahrenheit). To be clear, by “excel” I mean ‘colder than’ — we would disdain a February that didn’t chill our bones and nip our nose.

But down south, in Florida and Arizona, MLB pitchers and catchers are reporting for Spring Training after having the winter off. (Teachers get summers off, baseball players get winter.) Depending on the team, the report date varies from the 19th to the 22nd. The rest of the players, depending on team, report from February 23rd through the 27th.

So I thought now would be a good time to talk about pitching.

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Remaking the Classics

The Day the Earth Stood StillIt started out as conversation about how Edge of Tomorrow is the best big screen SF movie to come along in a good long while. That led to a ranking of recent SF movies with very high marks going to Elysium and Ender’s Game. It also touched on that Tom Cruise has made four — no, five! — SF films, at least two of which are very good.

Of course that led to talk of actors and how Jodie Foster and Matt Damon seem (unlike, for example, poor Sandra Bullock) to have excellent taste in what scripts they accept. If either of those two — let alone both — is in a movie, it’s probably pretty decent. Talk of actors in SF films naturally lead to Keanu Reeves whose ancestry and acting style make him such a perfect choice in certain roles.

And that lead to what a damn shame it is they tried to remake The Day the Earth Stood Still.

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