- My friend Tim Harrison has some thoughts on Tucson, Ariz., his hometown, in the aftermath of the Giffords shooting.
- My friend Jim Walsh compares teachers during winter break to soldiers on leave: “While the rest of us go back to work or celebrate back-to-school peace and routine,” he writes, “the teacher’s job is to prepare hundreds of kids for the white-hot competition of life/careers/college, while at the same time making sure they take something away from the classroom that can’t be measured in grades or monetary success.”
- My friend Andy Engelson, living in Hanoi, tries eating man's best friend.
- My man Jackie Chan on his White House visit.
- My kindred spirit, Josh Wilker, with a short post on the connection between dry Xmas trees, writing and “Let Her Dance” by the Bobby Fuller Four. “Life seems thin sometimes,” he says, “most of all when I’m between the writing of books.” (As an aside, it's depressing that someone who has written a book as deep and entertaining as “Cardboard Gods” still has a day job. Help the brother out. Have you bought your copy yet?)
- On the other hand, in this interview with Graham Womack, Wilker talks about how the stability of a regular job helps him with writing even as it eats into what little time he has. Also why he admires Chekhov (who had a day job, too).
- Quick quiz, baseball fans. When is a single worth more than a walk? Only when runners are on base. It's in all of those first-to-third or second-to-home situations. This leads Bill James, the granddaddy of all baseball statisticians, in a subscription-only series on the Hall of Fame, to write the following: “500 walks, according to people who study this, have almost the same value as 325 singles.” And this leads Joe Posnanski to do the calculations to see who might benefit from such a trade to improve their Hall chances. McGwire, yes, McGriff, yes, Palmeiro, no. He points out the players who couldn't do it since they don't have 500 career walks (Raul Mondesi; Juan Gonzalez). Then he gets to my man:
Actual line: .312/.418/.515
After the trade: .341/.405/.536
Make the trade: Abso-freaking-lutely.
Edgar was so good at getting on base that he could just give away 175 times on base and STILL keep his on-base percentage above .400. His batting average would soar to .341, and people might finally realize that when it came to hitting a baseball very hard, very often, there are not many people in baseball history better than Edgar.
- I've always like these “Familiar Faces” posts Nathaniel Rogers writes for Film Experience, and his latest, on the recurring actors in Darren Aronofsky's movies, is a trip. “Okay, in this scene, Dad, I want you to...”
- I've got an iPad now and one of the bells and whistles in the 1/24 New Yorker (which costs $4.98 even if you already have a subscription: that's Conde Nasty), is this great, short video piece by Richard Brody talking up Harry Langdon, a silent film comedian I barely know.
- Also recommended from that issue is Louis Menand with an historical analysis of Betty Friedan's “The Feminine Mystique,” and Ken Auletta in a subscription-only piece on Tim Armstrong, AOL's new CEO, and his attempt to save both AOL and journalism. It's not going well. Here's Auletta's sharp downer of an open: “In the past three years, newspaper advertising revenues have plummeted, a fourth of all newsroom employees have been laid off or have accepted buyouts, and more than a hundred free local papers have folded. During these unhappy times for the profession, a surprising savior has appeared: America Online....”
- In an interview with FrumForum, ousted RNC chair Michael Steele complains about incoming RNC chair Reince Priebus. “I know exactly how Caesar felt,” Steele says. “I trust my friends. Well, I guess the adage is right. In Washington, you should get a dog… We put a lot of resources in Wisconsin over the last two years… that’s what you do for [the] team.” FrumForum also implies that Steele made Priebus, by appointing him RNC general counsel, but it ignores how much Priebus helped make Steele. From an article Kevin Featherly wrote for my magazine, Wisconsin Super Lawyers & Rising Stars, in December 2009, just over a year ago: "I wouldn’t be here without [Priebus],” Steele said. “And I don’t mean in Wisconsin, I mean as chairman of this party. … He just laid down a nice pathway to this chairmanship by being honest, by being genuine and by being the counsel in my ear.” Doesn't mean Steele's advice isn't correct. We should all get dogs.
- Speaking of, this heartbreaking photo of love and loyalty comes via Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.