Monday, July 24, 2017

The Day the Fire Came

I highly recommend that you read this very well written story about three of the victims of this spring's Great Plains fires.  It is very moving. Well done, Skip Hollandsworth and Texas Monthly.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Townball in Minnesota

This is something I wish we had here:
The uniqueness of the Stearns County League is that it dates to 1950 in what is basically its present form. Regal was an early member, as was Freeport. Meire Grove and Greenwald were Green-Grove until separate teams were formed in 1959.
For nearly six decades, it has been those two, plus Farming, Lake Henry, St. Martin, New Munich, Richmond and Roscoe. Of course, 1983 saw the admission of Elrosa and Spring Hill.
“Those teams had to come up with the expansion fee,” Schleper said. “They each had to buy a case of beer for the league’s board of directors.”
The 10-team Stearns County League forms a family, both in spirit and in reality. Herman Lensing is a reporter from Star Publications, the publisher of weekly newspapers such as the Melrose Beacon, Sauk Centre Herald and Albany Enterprise.
Herman is among the 222 residents of Greenwald. He’s famous for having his camera always at the ready. He has been chronicling the exploits of this league and other area townball teams (29 total in Stearns County) for decades....
There are generations of names associated with every team in the league. That’s a tribute to the large Catholic families of farmers. The farms are fewer and the families are smaller in current times. Still ...
“To be a true Stearns County town, you need a Catholic church, two bars and a ballfield,” Schleper said....
What astounds is standing at a ballpark in Farming, Spring Hill or Elrosa, looking across the prairie, and trying to figure out how Stearns County League teams renew themselves. Richmond is near Cold Spring and close to 1,500 in population, but the rest of these little places are a Catholic church, two bars (or one) and a ballfield.
The basic radius rule for player eligibility is 6 miles. The old saying was, “You should play where you go to church.”
The four 15-mile exceptions to the radius rule are still low by state amateur standards.
Most important, the SCL runs Little Dipper (Little League age) and Big Dipper (Base Ruth and Legion age) programs as a feeder system. Parents pay no fee, and the kids swing with wood bats to get ready for the town team.
Many of the bills are paid through pulltab sales at local bars, where the ballclub is the charity. There are also offseason fundraisers.
That is awesome.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hot Dog Eating Record

On a lighter note, but no less a sign of American dysfunction, FiveThirtyEight gives us this:

Idiots At The Gates - The Future of the United States

I recommend this New Yorker article on the recently concluded session of the Texas legislature.  The second-most populous state in the union is almost under the control of complete morons.  Only a few somewhat sensible elected officials prevent them from riding roughshod over reason and logic.  As I sit here on the eve of Independence Day and contemplate the immediate and medium-term future, I have little faith that the sensible folks will win out.  I'm pretty sure we will see these cultists foist their ignorant bigotry and witch doctor economics on the rest of the nation, and only after their policies are complete disasters will we be able to vote them out of office.  In the meantime, I am concerned we will end up seeing unacceptable amounts of violence as regular citizens suffer under their doomed-to-fail rule.  I wish I could be more optimistic, but the last two years have rendered that almost non-existent characteristic in my personality extinct.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Qatar Airlift

This probably isn't the best idea for a desert country with no rain-fed agriculture, but it is notable:
The showdown between Qatar and its neighbors has disrupted trade, split families and threatened to alter long-standing geopolitical alliances. It’s also prompted one Qatari businessman to fly 4,000 cows to the Gulf desert in an act of resistance and opportunity to fill the void left by a collapse in the supply of fresh milk.
It will take as many as 60 flights for Qatar Airways to deliver the 590-kilogram beasts that Moutaz Al Khayyat, chairman of Power International Holding, bought in Australia and the U.S. “This is the time to work for Qatar,” he said....
Most of the fresh milk and dairy products for Doha’s more than 1 million population came from Saudi Arabia up until a week ago. That milk is getting scarce after the kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and two allies cut transport links with a country that spends $500 million a week to prepare stadiums and a metro before the soccer World Cup in 2022.
Al Khayyat, whose main business is a construction firm that built Qatar’s biggest mall, had been expanding the company's agricultural business at a farm 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Doha. Food security is part of Qatar’s government strategy to steer the economy away from petrodollars, known, like in Saudi Arabia, as “Vision 2030.”
On a site covering the equivalent of almost 70 soccer fields, new grey sheds line two strips of verdant grass in the desert with a road running through the middle up to a small mosque. It produces sheep milk and meat and there were already plans to import the cows by sea. Then Qatar was ostracized, so the project was expedited.
I would say that trying to produce cow milk isn't the best investment of resources in the Middle East, but Saudi Arabia's investment in a war on Shiite Islam and anyone who supports the Shiites is even worse.  I don't understand how Obama supported the Saudis' war on Yemen, and it is scary as hell that Trump feels the need to encourage the ultimate terror sponsors to start even more shit.  Hopefully we manage to avoid the idiotic war with Iran so many morons in this country want us to pursue (such as the commander-in-chief).  I'll be rooting for Qatar in the current fight.

Your U.S. Open Host Origin Story

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a really interesting story of how this year's host course Erin Hills was built, and how it came to host the U.S. Open.  It is hard to believe.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Planting 2017

Well, we finally finished planting (at least the first time) for the season.  May as well watch it rain some more:

FRACTAL - 4k StormLapse from Chad Cowan on Vimeo.