Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Big kudos go out to Ragged Mountain in NH for letting us ski fresh powder from yesterday's storm. Two or three trails hadn't been groomed, but were open to skiers, and we got to experience it throughout the day: skimming through fresh powder in the morning, carving the natural moguls in the afternoon. My other ski-day highlight was being challenged by my brother to a summit-to-base race (1250' drop), and then beating him by less than a ski-length. He won the rematch.

Ragged is a modest mountain with prices a little high for its lack of elevation. But it beat out Waterville Valley today, which shut down most of its mountain with fear of wind gusts, and left us out in the cold after a long early-morning drive.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beer Belongs

Great image at 1000 Awesome Things.

Best line in the ad: "And you'd be surprised how good free beer tastes!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Technical Fix

Tina Rosenberg pens a cool NYTimes commentary about the "Kangaroo Care" method of incubating prematurely-born babies. Often, as economists like to point out, a new 'technology' is actually an idea, not a machine.

Kangaroo incubation should be studied rigorously by the medical establishment, and (if it holds up) be promulgated throughout developing-world hospitals. In richer hospitals, one can easily imagine mixing mechanical incubators with human mothers, exploiting the best of both technologies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Carl Crawford and Cotton Mather

Has a city ever wooed an athlete before with the opportunity to open an antiquarian Puritan bookstore? This had to be a consideration when Carl Crawford chose the Red Sox (after the $142 million, of course). RoyalsReview has the scoop:
Crawford's passion for New England history began at Jefferson Davis High School in Houston when he read William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation in the 9th grade. "At Jeff Davis at that time, it was very much the old Bercovitch reading of history that dominated. To prepare, I'd read The Puritan Origins of the American Self in eighth grade. Eventually however, I wanted to return to the primary materials."

"It's not only that most of the old archives, private libraries, research collections, and book dealers in seventeenth century books are on the East Coast... there's also the spirit in the air. Sure, you can run a great bookstore in Tampa. Yea, there's a strip mall out on the highway to Orlando that's perfect," Crawford said, laughing.
Do we give this guy an honorary doctorate instead of an MVP if he has a great year? And has the athletes-supporting-education movement ever had a more convincing black representative? Will he turn out to be a poor fit for the Red Sox because he's always missing practice squirreled away in the Special Collection at Harvard's Houghton Library?

Crawford intends to live in Salem, Massachusetts. Of course.

Hat tip to Soxaholix. A somewhat more truthful story (probably) is here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Carl Crawford, take 2

My brother was so excited about the Red Sox signing Carl Crawford that he emailed the family the following analysis:
Carl Crawford. we stole him right from under the Angels noses with a 7 year, $142 million deal. he has lots of speed, won a Gold Glove last year, and also hit .307, with 110 runs, 30 doubles, 13 triples, and 19 HRs. he drove in 90 runs too. this was all for Tampa Bay fyi. this gives us the fastest outfield in the world, as well as the freedom to trade Ellsbury if we need the bullpen help. Also we can now platoon Drew and Cameron which will be great because Drew has never been able to hit lefties. Another bonus is that because Crawford and Jayson Werth signed 7 year deals, the Yankees #1 target, Cliff Lee, will demand 7 also. The Yankees have been firm in stopping at 6. So either they fold and sign a risky deal, or they lose the best pitcher on the market.

To sum up, the Sox now have under contract for at least 5 years: Lester, Buccholz, Bard, Pedroia, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Wakefield, and Crawford (Gonzalez will sign an extension after the season starts to avoid luxury tax - he is in the last year of a $6 million per year contract but will get a SIGNIFICANT deal, probably 6 years, $15-20 per year) and are in a great position to win the east for the next 3 at least.
But check out these stat lines:

They're pretty similar in outcomes, although the style is different. The first player has a low average, but walks plenty and hits for home-run power. The first player does not walk much at all, steals a lot of bases, and plays more games. He of course is Crawford, with career averages adjusted to reflect the number of games a year he's played since 2003.

The second player is J.D. Drew. But it's not Drew's career average numbers, it's his 2010 season, which was his worst since 2002,. Drew saw a steep dropoff in average, walks, and power, leaving his OPS 100 points below its average. But even the worst year of J.D. Drew appears to be about as good as Crawford on average.

Crawford's hardiness (only in 2008 did he have real injury problems) should command a small premium, but if Drew is overpriced at $14 million, as most Bostonians think, how can Crawford be a good purchase at $20m per year?

Carl Crawford

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Julian Assange, Public Servant

Wikileaks founder and international man of mystery Julian Assange has apparently been arrested in London on Swedish charges that he lied about whether he was using a condom.

This is a travesty of justice, quite figuratively. Under the pretense of prosecuting a sexual offense (and I won't even mention the absurdity of Sweden's he-said, she-said laws), the governments of the developed world are colluding to persecute a man who embarrassed them and broke the rules of the good-old-boys club. Why haven't they arrested him of espionage or something? Because he did not break any real laws. So while lawyers spend days finding some law in some country under which they can charge him, they want him safely held in a Swedish gaol.

This persecution is wrong on two counts, substance and form. In form, it mocks the systems of justice and fairness that underlie our societies. Global Review has long held that unenforced laws are nefarious, since they allow unscrupulous authorities pretext to arrest whomever they want. Thus in Assange's case. In substance, Assange should not be charged with a crime because he did the world a service. The soldier who gave him the documents should no doubt be court-martialed: he stole data and broke all kinds of professional codes. But Assange chose to release the data altogether at once, not using it as blackmail or to gain power. He published it responsibly, and did the world a service by showing what really goes on in diplomatic circles. The Arab governments fear Iran: everybody knew it, but now it's public, not an "open secret". And if the U.S. Department of State was used for illegal acts of espionage, that should be laid at the door of Secretary Hillary Clinton and her predecessors, who ordered the violations.

Transparency in government is vital for democracy. Assange should be applauded for presenting this valuable data in a transparent and straightforward way. If the governments of the world are so desperate to shut him down, we should ask: are they just angry at being caught, or do they really have something to hide?