The Thoughts and Musings of Tom Allain

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it

Stephen Colbert
(b.1964)

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Archive for December, 2007

Year End Changes

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

As they year draws to a close I’ve made a few minor changes in this page. On the left side of column I’ve added a few buttons. In the weeks (and even months) before Christmas we were being flooded with catalogs from companies we’d never heard from and never intended to purchase from. Earlier in the month I found out about Catalog Choice. You have to register and give them your name and address but it gives you the opportunity to list the catalogs you don’t want to get. They will then notify the company and ask them not to send anything to you. Additionally when you receive a catalog you don’t want, you can put in the name and customer number and they will ask the company to take you off their list. I know, I know, this depends on the catalog company actually doing it, but it seems that they wouldn’t want to send you more catalogs if you’ve told them you don’t intend to order anything from them. If this turns out to be a complete failure I’ll remove the link.

Just below the link to the Hunger Site I have a link to Donors Choose. If you have children in school, or live near a school, or work with people with children in school, or….OK, if you’re reading this, you know that schools are increasingly underfunded. If you’re tired of having to sell cookie dough or wrapping paper or other assorted stuff, or feeling like you are expected to buy, this is your site. Teachers from all over the country develop ideas and submit proposals that are put on the site. Donors can identify projects they want to support and make targeted donations. Great idea!

Finally, if you scroll down a little to the list of Presidential candidates you’ll see some changes. A few have dropped out of the race and I’ve taken them off. I’ve also included several names of people who are running as independents. I’ve gotten their names from a number of places, mostly Google and Wikipedia. I purposely didn’t include people like Al Gore and Michael Bloomberg because while there are groups that want them to run, they haven’t declared. As always, I’m always looking for updates.

Baseball, Steroids, and the Mitchell Report

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

It’s been the buzz of the baseball world, but this past week former Senator George Mitchell released his report. It’s an understatement to say that the results are stunning. He did not have subpoena power and couldn’t compel anyone to talk to him and there was the fear that his report wouldn’t reveal much. It did. You can read a list of the players. There were the names of those we expected to be there (Barry Bonds) but there were also players I wasn’t expecting, like Paul LoDuca and Eric Gagne. It appears that many of the players listed were told where to get the steroids from other players.

Aside from the long list of players the other part of this that was so sickening was the implied complicity of management. I was obviously looking for the names of former Padres, but here is what I found with former pitcher Kevin Brown (it’s on page 216). These are notes from an October 2003 meeting of Dodgers officials:

Kevin Brown – getting to the age of nagging injuries . . . Question what kind of medication he takes . . . Effectiveness goes down covering 1st base or running bases. Common in soccer players and are more susceptible if you take meds to increase your muscles – doesn’t increase the attachments. Is he open to adjusting how he takes care of himself? He knows he now needs to do stuff before coming to spring training to be ready. Steroids speculated by GM

Those same notes quote this about pitcher Eric Gagne: “he probably takes medication and tendons and ligaments don’t build up just the muscle.”

There is much more but this gives a flavor. I’m troubled by this because it was clear that not only was there pressure on the players to use steroids, there was also winks and nods from management. There are a few superstars on this list (Bonds, Clemens, etc.) but there are many more “2nd tier” players who used this stuff not for records, but just to make the team. They are competing against those who are cheating and many felt they had no choice if they wanted to stay on a level playing field.

Lots of comparisons are being made to the 1919 Black Sox scandal (this is where 8 players for the Chicago White Sox took bribes to throw the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds). I hope it’s not that serious; baseball had a very difficult few years and was only popular again with the rise of Babe Ruth. But the sense of betrayal is the same and I can’t help but feel that some of the fan base will simply leave. I won’t be one of them because I still enjoy watching the game and there are still the Tony Gwynn’s and Cal Ripkin’s out there.

For What Indeed Is the Sound of a Thousand Termites Dying?

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Today we got back from a few days at the Marriott Residence Inn. It was hardly a vacation as we were there because our house was being tented for termites. Yes, the little critters had found us and were attempting to run the entire house through their digestive system. We worked with Lloyd Pest Control who tented the house on Thursday the 29th and removed the tenting today. They use a lethal gas called Sulfuryl Fluoride (it goes by the brand name Vikane) and it’s serious stuff. Not only did we need to vacate the house but we had to remove all the plants and double bag all the food. It’s nice to know that the house is no longer infested but I’m glad it’s over. It was a major pain having to go to work while living in a hotel; it was also strange knowing that I couldn’t get back into my house. In any case I highly recommend both the Residence Inn and Lloyd Pest Control but I hope you don’t need to use them.