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Archive for September, 2008

NTSB Chair Strawberry?

September 25, 2008 1 comment
next NTSB chair?

Darryl Strawberry: next NTSB chair?

In the latest installment of Katie Couric’s interview with Sarah Palin, Palin discusses foreign policy. Just past the 3:30 mark, Couric notes that Palin cites Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of her foreign policy experience ans asks Palin why that enhances her foreign policy credentials. In Palin’s response, if I understand her correctly, she emphasizes that when Putin comes into the air space of the USA, he does so over Alaska.

In my previous post, on LaGuardia via Shea, I refer to Michael Schmidt’s article in tomorrow’s New York Times on the closing of Shea Stadium, which has served for 44 years as a landmark for pilots’ visual approaches to LaGuardia Airport. Shea Stadium is the home of the New York Mets. Perhaps John McCain should announce former Mets great Darryl Strawberry as his choice for the next chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. Darryl observed thousands of LaGuardia landings during his career.

Categories: Politics, Sports, Today's News

LaGuardia via Shea

September 25, 2008 Leave a comment
Shea Stadium

Looking into Shea Stadium

In tomorrow’s New York Times, Michael Schmidt writes about the impact the closing of Shea Stadium will have on airline pilots who have used it for 44 years as a landmark in making visual approaches to LaGuardia Airport. (The New York Mets baseball team finish their regular season at Shea on Sunday. If they fail to make the playoffs, that will be its final use. Otherwise, it will be used until their final playoff or World Series home game. The replacement stadium is being built next to Shea and will open next season.)

As a Long Island kid, I watched Shea Stadium go up and attended many Mets game there, plus a some Jets football games. It had the then-cool feature of two small sets of moveable stands. These would face each other during football season, but move towards home plate, almost touching each other, for baseball season, allowing the seating to be customized in a manner suitable for the type of play. Of course, this didn’t actually work well. The Jets abandoned Shea after the 1983 season for football-only Giants Stadium in New Jersey and the Mets will now have, at last, a baseball-only stadium.

I also enjoyed flying into LaGuardia just past Shea, as the article describes:

“We make a sweeping turn around Shea Stadium to land, and you bank the airplane and out of the corner of your eye you can see the scoreboard and the players,” said Joe Romanko, a pilot with American Airlines since 1990, who estimated that he had taken off from and landed at La Guardia 1,000 times.

“As you start coming around from right field to center field around the stadium, the fact that there is no back on the stadium allows you to see all the way in,” Romanko added, referring to Shea’s C-shape design. “It’s more dramatic at night because you track the lights on the stadium from way out. You can follow the lights all the way in and then you see the grass and the players.”

I’ll miss that.

Categories: Sports, Today's News

Cultural Illiteracy

September 25, 2008 Leave a comment
La Baule

La Baule

In my most recent post, I made reference to a stay in the French Atlantic resort of La Baule in August 1999. My wife, son, and I were visiting my sister and her family on the occasion of a major birthday milestone for my sister. They were taking their annual August vacation away from Paris. They had rented an apartment overlooking the beach, and we were staying a ten-minute walk away along the beach at the Hermitage Hotel. It was there that I learned a valuable lesson in cultural literacy. Read more…

Categories: Culture, Travel

I Can See Clearly Now

September 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Really, I don’t get the fuss being made over Sarah Palin’s suggestion that because Alaska is close to Russia, she has some expertise on the country. Seems reasonable to me, as she explained to Katie Couric.

I grew up on Long Island. On many summer weekends during my early childhood, we would go to Jones Beach, one of Long Island’s famous barrier beaches. As I stood ankle-deep in the water and looked across the Atlantic, I imagined seeing France. (Well, okay, I would have had to look over my left shoulder, but that’s not the point.) Our family had, and would continue to develop, a close connection to France. My father arrived in Normandy just a few days after June 6, 1944 and spent quite a few months there. A woman he met in Reims during his stay would come to New York a decade later as an Air France executive and became a regular visitor to our home before her return to France a couple of years later. I stayed with her and her husband in Paris a little over a decade after that. My sister married a Frenchman in 1980 and has lived in France ever since. My niece and nephew are native speakers of French. My son is a French major. In August 1999, my wife and son and I visited my sister and her family in La Baule, on the Atlantic coast, where they used to spend their annual August vacation. We stayed at the Hermitage Hotel, on the beach, along with fellow vacationer Nicolas Sarkozy, then mayor of Neuilly. (My sister told us way back then that he might some day be president.) We even sat poolside with him one afternoon.

Who can doubt that my close relationship with France and the French people began on Jones Beach?

Let us give respect where it is due. I have my doubts about Palin in other areas, but not Russian affairs.

Categories: Politics

Pennant Races

September 25, 2008 Leave a comment

With four days to go in the regular season, all eyes are on the White Sox and Twins, as they battle for supremacy in the American League Central Division and the final playoff spot in the junior circuit. Over in the National League, the Mets and Brewers are tied in their battle for the wild card playoff spot, though the Mets could still overtake the Phillies and win their division outright. Pennant races — they ain’t what they used to be. The good news: many more teams are fighting for playoff positions than they would have in the era when only two teams made the playoffs per league, or the still-earlier era when only one team made it per league. The bad news: how excited can we be about battles between mediocre teams? Yet, one of those mediocre teams could get hot and be the World Series Champion. So attention must be paid.

But let’s go back to the good old days. A wonderful website allows us to do so. (Thanks to my son for showing me this site last season.) Once there, you can select a year, as well as a division or league, and hit play. The pennant race will then unfold in front of you. Hit pause and you can click on the arrows at the left and right of the slider bar to go forward or back a day at a time.

Ready? Let’s give it a try. I propose that we follow the 1967 American League pennant race. Remember, there were no divisions at that time. No playoffs within a league. Just the World Series. One of the ten American League teams would represent it in the Series against one of the ten National League teams. Everyone else would go home at the end of the regular season.

Carl Yastrzemski, Triple Crown winner, 1967

Carl Yastrzemski, Triple Crown winner, 1967

Go here, enter 1967 for the year, and enter AL for the league. Click on “Play,” but get ready to click on the button again (now reading “Pause”). Do so when the date reaches 8/22/67. You’ll find that at this point, with 121 or 123 games played out of 162, so essentially the three-quarter point in the season, there was almost a dead heat among four teams. The Red Sox and White Sox were in a virtual tie for first, with the Twins and Tigers in a virtual tie one game back in the standings.

From here on, click the forward button a day at a time and watch the race unfold. And remember, one team goes on to the World Series; the rest go home.

You’ll see that on 9/6/67, there was a virtual four-way tie for first with about 22 games to go. On 9/18/67, with 10 or 11 games to go, there was a three-way tie for first with the White Sox a half game back. Entering the final weekend, all four teams were still in it. Keep going to see how it ended.

Categories: Sports

Sarah Palin, VII

September 25, 2008 Leave a comment

In the wake of Sarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald has done an about-face. Here’s one passage:

But Sarah Palin’s performance in the tiny vignettes of unscripted dialogue in which we’ve been allowed to see her has been nothing short of frightening — really, as I said, pity-inducing. And I say that as someone who has thought from the start that the criticisms of her abilities — as opposed to her ideology — were much too extreme. One of two things is absolutely clear at this point: she is either (a) completely ignorant about the most basic political issues — a vacant, ill-informed, incurious know-nothing, or (b) aggressively concealing her actual beliefs about these matters because she’s petrified of deviating from the simple-minded campaign talking points she’s been fed and/or because her actual beliefs are so politically unpalatable, even when taking into account the right-wing extremism that is permitted, even rewarded, in our mainstream. I’m not really sure which is worse, but it doesn’t really matter, because with 40 days left before the election, both options are heinous.

What seems most likely is that she’s perfectly conversant in the exceedingly narrow and parochial range of issues she’s concerned herself with as Wasilla Mayor and Alaska Governor — oil drilling on the North Slope, specific local budget items, corruption issues inside the Alaskan State GOP, and evangelical and religious matters. She really doesn’t seem to have any thoughts about anything outside of that — or if she does, she is suppressing them — and is thus capable of spouting little more than empty right-wing slogans.

Categories: Politics, Today's News

A Beautiful Mind

September 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Katie Couric interviewed Sarah Palin yesterday. Given the limited access to Palin, this is required viewing.

See the comments of hilzoy and the Anonymous Liberal.

Categories: Politics, Today's News