Saturday, June 23, 2007

Stranger than fiction

What the Beavers have done this year is almost unimaginable. Honestly - if you wrote this script it would get laughed out of Hollywood:

Reigning National champs lose 3 of their 4 top pitchers and 6 of their 8 position players to the draft, go 10-14 in their conference, finish 6th in the PAC-10, and barely get a bid to the 64-team NCAA post season, based on their good record in a strong non-conference games and a gutsy series win against a very strong UCLA team in the last series of the year.

To qualify for the World Series they would have to travel to Virginia, where the ACC champs, UVA, and the Big East champs, Rutgers stood in their way of advancing to the next level.
The Beavs beat both of them twice to advance.

But danger was ahead. The Beavers' bracket meant they would probably have to next go to Nashville to play the #1 seed in the country, Vanderbilt, who had the #1 draft pick, pitcher Mark Price.

But Michigan upset Vanderbilt. So the Beavs had to travel to Michigan, right? Nope! Michigan did not put in an application to host the "Super-regional" tournament, because they were renovating their stadium. So the best of three series would be played in Corvallis.

To say this was a lucky break is to significantly understate the reality of the situation. The difference in a three game college baseball series in the middle finals week between sleeping in your own bed and travelling across the country and playing in someone else's house is immense.
Michigan was a very good hitting ballclub, and in the first game, their pitcher almost threw a no-hitter! OSU had a freshman on the mound, who threw a brilliant game, but the Michigan pitcher's game was even better. The score was 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth, and not a single OSU batter got a hit.

One man walked, who got to second on a ground-out, and with two out, Joey Wong slapped a single to right field.

Here is where the serendipity strains even the smarmiest Hollywood producer. A runner on second will score from second base on a lot of singles. The third base coach’s job is to decide whether to send the runner to home or not. He judges based on a whole host of factors: where on the field the left fielder gets to the ball, whether his momentum is going right at the plate or at some oblique angle, what kind of speed the runner has, how big a secondary lead he got on the pitch, how hard the ball was hit (and therefore how fast it got to the left fielder,) how many outs there are, what the game situation is, and what he knows about how strong the left fielder’s arm is.

A rule of thumb I always use is – unless the ball is fielded deep, if the left field gets the ball at the same time the runner touches third, the third base coach holds the runner.

On this play, the hit was fielded in shallow left field, and the left fielder ran directly to it in line with home plate. All of his momentum was going straight to home. He got the ball slightly before the runner got to third base.

No way should that runner be sent. Unless … unless they knew something about this left fielder. Unless they knew that he couldn’t throw well because of a shoulder injury that he was not yet recovered from.

The third base coach sent him, and the throw was weak. It bounced twice before arriving late at home plate. The throw itself could not have been more than 150 feet. To put this in perspective, nearly every HIGH SCHOOL left fielder could make this throw with ease. The throw from home to second base is 127 feet, and catchers at the college level routinely make the catch and throw in 2.0 seconds. It takes the fastest runners about 3 point something to run from 3rd to home. Under normal circumstances, a runner sent home in that situation would be out by 8 feet.

But these weren’t normal circumstances. The Beavers are a team of destiny. The Baseball Gods decreed that the one hit the Beavers would get that day would happen with two out in the ninth inning with a man in scoring position, and it would be hit to the one guy in division one college baseball who could not make the routine throw to get the baserunner out.

And that one run would be enough to win the game, because the OSU freshman pitcher, who nine months before was pitching for his 200 student high school team in central Washington, shut out the big-hitting Michigan team for the first time all year.

Are you getting a sense for how improbable this title defense is? It’s even better than that. The Beavs’ pitching staff was worn out in the weekend in Virginia because they had to climb through the losers bracket after losing to Virginia in 13 innings in the second game. One day in Virginia tournament was rained out, and so the combination of the extra innings game plus the extra games they had to play due to being in the losers bracket combined with the extra day from the rainout meant that the Michigan series would start before the Beavers’ pitching staff would have enough rest. They really needed some another day or so.

The Baseball Gods delivered. The first game against Michigan was supposed to be Saturday. But that was Rose Festival Parade weekend. ‘Nuff said. No game. Another day of rest. (I drove to Corvallis with my son, drove back.)

So they played that first Michigan game Sunday, rather than Saturday. Monday, they sent Michigan home with a terrific pitching performance by Mike Stutes, the Beav’s #1 pitcher, whose dad is a good friend of mine. They were headed back to Omaha for the third straight year.

And now they are one win away from defending their national title. One win away from consecutive national championships.

They shocked the baseball world last year by being the only northern US school in fifty years to win the national title. They did it in the most improbable way – losing their first game, winning SIX STRAIGHT games that they had to win or go home (which had also never once been done in more than 50 years.)

Now, this Beavers team now simply has to win one of the next two games to REPEAT as national champions.


I don’t know if you are a Beavers fan, but I can say one thing for sure:

God is.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How to Destroy America

Many of you may have read this before. It's a speech that former Democrat governor of Colorado, Dick Lamm, gave to a stunned audience a couple years ago.

It reminds me of a famous line that came out of the "Nation at Risk" report about the education system in 1983, where they concluded:

"If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. "

The same thing applies to what the multiculturists are doing to America.

Here's Dick Lamm's speech. It is nothing short of chilling.

How to Destroy America

If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that 'An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'

Here is how they do it.
1) Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: 'The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.

2) Invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

We could make the United States a 'Hispanic Quebec' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: 'The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved! Not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'

3) I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.

4) Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.

5) My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.

6) My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity! Unity is what it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games.

A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell.

E. Pluribus Unum รข€” From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'pluribus' instead of the 'Unum,' we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.

7) Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' or 'x! xenophobes' halt discussion and debate.

Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.

8) Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."

Monday, June 18, 2007

A tenured radical

Today I was surfing the net, doing some research for my next BrainstormNW column, and I ran across this education professor's web site.

Incredible that taxpayers pay for this kind of dolt to indoctrinate those who would teach our kids. Read his site - find anything there about teaching kids to read or write or do math? Nope.

For him, being a teacher is all about changing the world, eradicating capitalism and establishing "social jusice." Can't be bothered with teaching kids to read when we have a higher calling.

On one level it is very amusing. The guy is almost a caricature of a moist-eyed, dreamy ivory tower professor. But on another level I just get angry. Guy's like this pervade the colleges of education. They have a virtual monopoly on the supply of people certified to teach in our K-12 classrooms. They act as something of an ideological screen for entry into the teaching profession.

I read a few of his writings and wondered: if this guy wasn't employed by a state institution, safely ensconsed in a tenured position, what would he possibly be qualified to do for a living?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Oregonian hypocrisy

The Oregonian's business section is so often laugh-out-loud funny because it puts on display for all to see their complete ignorance of and hostility to the private sector.

Like the day a few months ago when the global stock markets were down sharply - the biggest one day drop in years - and the across the page, above the fold headline on the business page shouted that the metro area real-estate listing database now indicated which houses had "green" features!

Well, Friday we were treated to another typical Oregonian business story. The paper took aim at one of Oregon's few recent economic success stories, and tried hard to find something negative about it - Bandon Dunes.

Bandon Dunes is the world class golf resort that a Chicago businessman Mike Keiser built on the southern Oregon coast. It is truly a marvel. People travel from all over the world to play these courses, that have rocketed into the top ten lists of great courses.

Keiser took undeveloped coastal property in a remote, economically depressed area and turned it into a world-class resort that people literally travel from every area of the globe to come to. He singlehandedly revived the economy of the southern Oregon coast.

The Oregonian's take: "Subsidies underpin Bandon golf resort."

The article goes to great length to identify ways in which Bandon is being subsidized by the taxpayer. What is funny is that right up front, they acknowledge that the entire construction phase was done with no subsidy whatsoever. The subsidy they find is all for infrastructure that the local area wants to create to handle the crush of visitors that want to come to the resort!

So the airport upgrades, which is paid for by a tax on commercial flights and by lottery bonds, is mentioned. But the funniest part - where they are REALLY showing their vigilance as tax-subsidy hawks - is where they try to impute the tax treatment subsidy of corporate jets that fly to Bandon and pin that on the resort as a subsidy!

Huh? Ok here's their argument, as far as I can understand it. Corporate titans who get flown by their Gulfstream to Bandon don't have to pay their companies back for the cost of the travel. Rather, the value of the trip is added to their compensation. The Oregonian claims that results in a $12 million subsidy from taxpayers, which, presumably results from essentially being able to pay for the trip with before-tax dollars.

That is really scraping the bottom of the barrell to make a case that the resort is highly subsidized. That is like saying we subsidize Office Max because when I drive there to buy office supplies, I can deduct my mileage cost.

What makes it even more laughable is that I've never seen a similar article by the Oregonian scrutinizing the subsidy on other developments where the subsidy might be just a little more direct. For instance: South Waterfront!

Bandon Dunes was built with no subsidy at all and is a fantastically successful enterprise that has created jobs, opportunity and economic vitality in a depressed area of the state.

South Waterfront is being built at huge public expense, and has already failed with regards to its central economic premise - attracting a biotech industry to Portland. Yet the Oregonian never once writes an article scrutinizing the billions in public subsidy thrown down the rathole to feed Homer-The-Rat.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Del Monte raid

There's one angle of the whole illegal immigration issue that the amnesty crowd such as the Oregonian editors and Mayor Tom Potter never seem to mention.

In the Del Monte raid news accounts and the followup editorial in the Oregonian, everyone was quick to mention that the folks who trafficked in fake federal documents should indeed be arrested. "That's a crime," said Potter, and the Oregonian.

Well, guess what, guys? Using a stolen Social Security number is also a crime. And I'll bet that 100% of the people arrested at Del Monte had fake SS#'s. Isn't that a crime?

What would happen if I gave a fake SS# to my employer? Would they just look the other way?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

OK, I realize this will be perhaps the most unpopular post I ever made to this blog.

Honestly, I understand. I didn't want to wipe the beautiful visage of my daughter off the top of my blog either. That's one reason I've not posted anything since.

I mean really - put yourself in my shoes. People wander to the blog from one place or another and see my daughter's picture. They'll probably hang out awhile. I'd rather look at her than read my stuff too. But the blog must go on. Sorry. I gotta bump her picture down.

So,what is so darn important as to take precedence over my beautiful daughter? Nothing. This post won't bring up another topic - that will be for tomorrow.

This post is just to warn everyone that you will no longer be greeted on the front page by the beautiful face of Jessica when you come.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

To Jessica

Today my daughter Jessica graduates from high school.

Yesterday, she was in diapers. It's a cliche to say how quickly it goes - I guess cliches are cliches because they are true. That one is certainly true.

Seventeen years ago, when Jessica WAS in diapers and we were expecting our second child, we decided to get off the treadmill of our big city finance industry Chicago lifestyle and move back to my native Portland so we could have a more family-oriented life. We literally quit our jobs, sold our house, and moved. No job waiting for me here. Mary wanted to be a full time mom. I figured I'd be able to make a living somehow.

We left behind in Chicago a life pathway of almost certain wealth - but a lifestyle which made it 100% certain that we'd barely see our kids on weekdays, would have full time nannies, and would not be there for baseball games and choir concerts and all the other associated youth activities that accumulate to make up childrens' childhoods.

It was an easy call.

Their childhood goes fast enough as it is. You can't slow it down, but you CAN make sure that you don't miss it. I will never, ever regret our decision to quit our jobs in Chicago. My beautiful and talented daughter is reward enough.

Jessica is a dream. Years ago she decided that she was going to make things easy on mom and dad. All the prototypical adolescent girl difficulties - the defiant stage, the eye rolling stage, the boy crazy stage - she decided all that wasn't for her.

She is a musician - her voice is her instrument. Ever since she was small, she sang all the time. We could tell, even with our own amateur ears, that she had talent. She sang in school choirs, in the Portland Symphonic Girls Choir, took voice lessons, did singing competitions. I love to hear her singing spontaneously around our house - I will miss hearing it when she is off at school this fall.

She won a $1000 scholarship in a singing contest two years ago, where the three girl final was judged by audience applause at PGE Park during a Rose Festival event. She sang twice at the Rose Garden to kick off KXL's "Talk Fest" events, as I stood backstage with Tony Snow, watching her lovely face on the big screen video feeds that bookended the stage. She sang many solos with her various choirs.

I was able to be there for virtually all of them.

Woody Allen once said that 90% of success in life is showing up each day. I think that is very true about parenting. Let's face it - none of us really know what we are doing. We are just winging it, dealing with all the various issues, situations, conflicts and decisions by making day-to-day judgments about what seems right. Showing up - being there - doesn't take any particular genius, but it just might be the most important part of parenting.

There isn't any magic formula. Great parents can have kids who stray. Lousy parents can have great kids. Bottom line, we do what we can, and we are all hoping we get lucky.

Well, my wife and I got lucky. But we did show up every day.

To my daughter: Jessica, you are the light of my life. You are beautiful in every way. I am more proud of you than I can tell you. You bring joy to everyone you know.

You graduate today, and at the end of the summer, you'll start a new chapter in your life, largely removed from your mom and me. We are in no way anxious for that to start, but the job of a parent is to work your way out of a job. It is bittersweet, however, because we like this job!

Your talents and spirit will take you wherever you want to go, and I am eager to watch your journey. Wherever it takes you, whatever you do, your mom and I will still show up every day.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hard to kill a Beaver

Update: 12:15PM

Beavers Win!!!

If you're not following the Oregon State Beavers baseball team, you should be, because it is one of the best good news stories to come out of Oregon in a long time.

Last year's improbable national championship was incredible enough. But that team lost nine players to the Major League Draft, and all the smart people thought it would be a rebuilding year for the Beavs. In a pre-season poll of the top forty teams, OSU was not even listed.

Then they ran out and won about 25 of their first 30 games, getting ranked as high as second in one poll.

During Pac-10 league play, they stumbled. But a gutsy road series win against a good UCLA team in the last weekend of the season secured them a berth in the regionals, which is at UVA.

The playoffs work like this: there are 16 regional sites, each with 4 teams who play a double elimination tournament to get the field down to 16 teams. The next weekend, those 16 teams are matched up into 8 three game series, and the winner of those 8 series go to the College World Series in Omaha.

This weekend the Beavers (who were seeded #3 in the four team regional at UVA) beat a good Rutgers team, then lost a marathon 13 inning game to UVA. That put them in the losers bracket, where in order to win the regional, they would have to beat the winner of the game between the two first round losers, then beat UVA TWICE.

The first two of those games were supposed to happen Sunday, but it rained all day, so the team had to sit around. They played them yesterday. They dispensed with Rutgers again, then in the afternoon came back from a 3-0 deficit in the 8th inning to take the lead 5-3 and win the game.

That forced the final game, which starts about an hour and a half from the time I write this.

This team showed so much heart yesterday. Their pitching staff is weary, but the team just won't go down easy. Just like last year in the College World Series when they won SIX elimination games on their way to the national title. That had never been done before.

If they win today, they will make it to the "Super-Regional" round for the third straight year. And the good news is that the series will be in Corvallis! That itself is serendipitous: The Beavs thought they would have to go throught the #1 team in the country, Vanderbilt, at the Super-Regional. But Vandy got upset by Michigan, and Michigan did not put in a bid to the NCAA to host the Super- Regional, so it goes the Beavs!

Think how key that is: not only do they NOT have to play the #1 team in the country at their place, but they get to host the series!

Starting to look like another Cinderella story - but can the reigning national champs be a Cinderella story?

Win or lose today, Coach Pat Casey has established OSU as one of the elite college baseball programs in the country. Not an easy thing for a northern school to do. Better yet- he's done it with a lot of northwest talent.

It's a great story, and it's great for Oregon.