Many of the fundamental laws of modern physics are based on laws of symmetry. (Which makes Emmy Noether a founder of modern physics.) Just as the Yin-Yang metaphor offers a way to view and deconstruct existence, symmetry is also a way to understand the world around us.
In the past (here and here, for instance) I’ve looked at various sports in abstract ways designed to bring out commonalities among groups of game types. (For instance, tennis, ping-pong, volley ball, badminton, squash, and racquetball, are all “volley” games with similar operation and constraints.)
Today I’m going to look at symmetry in various sports. As always, of course, focusing on baseball, because it’s so unique.
Nope. Never liked’m.
Watching the Thanksgiving episode of the rebooted Murphy Brown on CBS, where Murphy decides to cook dinner with easily anticipated and well-worn results, it struck me exactly why I don’t find the show very funny. And why I really don’t find any of the CBS comedies since the 1990s very funny: Idiot Clowns.
In general, it’s why I don’t find a lot of comedy very funny. Idiot Clown comedy requires an idiot clown — someone so stupid they are unaware of basic reality, a blindness forced on them to enable a (typically) lame joke. I find it cheap and easy and without much value.
More to the point, I just don’t like idiots or clowns in my entertainment.
I’m not sure Eric Clapton is the greatest guitar player ever. I can think of a number of other guitar “gods” that seem in his class (Carlos Santana and Lindsey Buckingham, to name just two). But I am pretty sure the late (great!) George Carlin was without peer. I can’t think of anyone else who lasted longer (50 years!), worked harder, gave us so many classic bits or been more consistently good. He died in 2008, at 71, having done his 14th HBO special just four months earlier.
I thought he went through an angry period (the 1990s, maybe?) where he seemed to lash out indiscriminately at everything and everyone. He seemed a little less funny to me then, but he was never really wrong… just angry. I only ever really disagreed with him once.
And that was on his view that you shouldn’t vote.
I was tempted to call this Sports Thoughts, which would have been a great title, but which also would have implied a connection to the previous four posts. And there isn’t one. At all.
Instead, this one ties back to a post from last June: Digital & Analog Sports (which, obviously, you should go read now). That one mainly explored how sports can be grouped in terms of continuous (“analog”) versus interrupted (“digital”) play. It also touched on how sports can be viewed in terms of their MacGuffin (often some type of ball, but sometimes a puck or “birdie” or some other object), and it considered their field of play (location, size, configuration).
This time I’ll explore sports in terms of opponents and teams.
Last week Vinton “Vint” Cerf was the guest on The Colbert Report. The elegant Mr. Cerf is one of the two acknowledged fathers of the internet (the other is Bob Kahn). Among other things, those two invented the TCP/IP protocol that allows all internet communication.
Briefly, the need to connect different computers together goes back to the 1960s. Researchers in the 1970s sought to create a network for government (especially military) and academic computing (the ARPANET). The 1980s saw the birth of the internet — the first “dot-com” name was registered in 1985. And only six years later, in 1991, the “interweb” began!
It got me thinking back to those early text-based days before “the web”…
I’ve gotten spoiled. Writing about the con carne topics is much harder than writing about the life stories and the off-the-cuff opinions. Meaty topics require research and fact-checking (and often I need to create the images). And I expect they’re also harder to read!
My intention here was always to write mostly about ideas with a fallback of writing about things and, to a lesser extent, writing about life (which is to say, about people).
Today’s post keys off a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoon I saw a while back. At first the cartoon spoke to me, but the more I thought about it, the less I agreed with it.
Today is the last day of the All-Star break. Monday was the Home Run Derby, and Tuesday was the All-Star Game itself. Wednesday and Thursday are days off for everyone in Major League baseball. In fact, yesterday and today are the only two days during the entire season that there are no baseball games played.
Tomorrow the season resumes, and all 30 teams begin working their way towards winning their Division and getting the pennant. At this point in the season, just past the halfway mark, no one is out of the race, but for some teams winning requires a major change in team performance. And some teams already stand out as the presumptive winner.
It’s the season’s “weekend,” so let’s talk about baseball stories!
While I’ve always — and I do mean always — been a “class clown,” I’ve never been much of a joke teller. Mostly because I have trouble remembering them. I don’t mean the punch line. If I can remember the joke, I can remember the punchline. It’s generally the entire joke I can’t remember!
Which is somewhat odd considering all the joke books I read in my younger days and all the comedians I’ve enjoyed in my older days (RIP George; you were the greatest of them all).
The mind being the associative wonder that it is, sometimes some part of a conversation triggers an association, and that surfaces a joke from my mental archives (think Damian Lewis’ memory library from Dreamcatcher).
And sometimes when a new joke I’ve really liked is fresh in my mind, I go around telling it to everyone.
Which takes some doing, liking a joke that much. As I said, I’ve been reading joke books and following comedians a very long time, so it takes something a bit special to impress me. Most new jokes are just variations of old jokes.
But I heard one recently that cracked me up… and managed to be a truly new joke. Maybe it’ll have the same effect on you. Plus, it’s Friday and time to start goofing off.
So without further ado, I give you…
The universe is perverse. I don’t mean that in the peeking into windows sense (although the universe is indeed peeking into all our windows every moment), but in the ironic sense. The universe is deeply, hugely, fundamentally ironic in ways that are incredibly perverse.
It is ironic in that the only constant is that nothing is constant.
It is ironic in that the only absolute truth is that nothing is absolutely true.
It is ironic in that its most basic everyday aspects are its greatest mysteries.
It is ironic in that the toast always lands buttered side down.