Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 in Review

In which I revisit my preseason picks and marvel at the credibility one man can sacrifice in a year.


My NL East Predictions:

  1. Philadelphia Phillies (90-72)
  2. Miami Marlins* (86-76)
  3. Atlanta Braves (84-78)
  4. Washington Nationals (79-83)
  5. New York Mets (65-97)

What REALLY happened:

  1. Washington Nationals (98-64) +19 wins
  2. Atlanta Braves* (94-78) +8 wins
  3. Philadelphia Phillies (81-81) 9 wins
  4. New York Mets (74-88) +9 wins
  5. Miami Marlins (69-93) 17 wins

This is an all-around misfire.

NBR: Clash of the Champions 3

CLASH of the CHAMPIONS XXVII: June 23, 1994

Championship Unification Match
Sting (NWA International Champion) .vs. Ric Flair (WCW Heavyweight Champion)

Sensational” Sherri comes out and goes to Sting’s corner. RIP Sherri.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

NBR: Clash of the Champions 2

CLASH of the CHAMPIONS XII: September 5, 1990

NWA U.S. Heavyweight Title
Lex Luger (Champion) .vs. Ric Flair

NBR: Smacking Down Bad Historians

My response to Chapter 12 of Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream by Lerone Bennett, Jr. Excerpted from a message board discussion for a graduate history class at Western Kentucky University.

Mark --
I heartily agree with you. Bennett commits a number of crimes against critical thinking and honest discourse in his often smarmy effort to destroy what he considers to be the Lincoln myth.
Bennett believes that you cannot give much credence to what Lincoln said about ending slavery, since his words did not always match his political actions. There is a good deal of truth there, but Bennett undercuts himself since his greatest weapon against the Lincoln myth are Lincoln's words. Bennett bludgeons us with quotes from Lincoln's senatorial campaign (particularly on page 249), urging us to take Lincoln's words about white supremacy at face value. So according to Bennett, when Lincoln spoke of white supremacy his words should be wholly believed, but when he spoke of equality and emancipation, he was simply politicking. In other words, you should only believe Lincoln when it serves Bennett's thesis. This is confirmation bias at its worst.
Also, the Lincoln "myth" that Bennett attacks is an utter straw man argument; Bennett uses Dr. Seuss-ish parallelism in a juvenile attempt to attack Lincoln -- "He said it in Illinois. He said it in Michigan. He said it in Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan, Connecticut, Ohio, and New York. He said it everywhere." (Bennett, 249). (Bennett also claims on page 248 that during one speech Lincoln said it "in capitals," although I have yet to determine how someone can SAY something in capitals). Bennett says all of this to convince us that Lincoln was a racist in 1858. Among serious historians, though, that matter isn't really in dispute.
Bennett refers dismissively and in patronizing tones to "Carl Sandburg wannabes," (251) and the "fallacies of Lincoln historiography and museumography" (252) -- but not ONCE does Bennett actually quote anyone who is perpetuating the Lincoln myth that is, according to him, all-pervasive. Also on page 252, he refers to the shortcomings of "so many Lincoln enthusiasts" and yet refuses to name a real-life person. On page 254, Bennett attacks the myths that he sneeringly claims "that every schoolchild knows" (254) even though I am myself a schoolchild and didn't know that particular myth. On page 257, he refers dismissively to the "mythologists" while still leaving the reader wondering just who these bogeymen are.
As if that weren't enough, Bennett has the gall to claim that these Lincoln myths are perpetuated by a conspiracy among the white historical establishment. Lincoln loved the Constitution, "as almost every major white historian says" (Ibid., 260) -- a ridiculous claim that is not backed up. Perhaps the problem is that "twentieth-century scholars find it so difficult to decipher the Lincoln code in the white silence of their libraries." (Ibid., 264). Bennett's insinuation that the historiography of Lincoln is protected by a conspiracy within a racist historical establishment -- an insinuation that names no names and offers no evidence -- sullies the reputation of the many historians who have done so much to further our understanding of the period. The "white silence" he refers to is a myth that is easily dispelled by the works we've read so far in this class, which offer many different interpretations of Lincoln's character and attitudes, many of which are quite critical of his mythical role as the Great Emancipator. Not only that, but his depiction of the discipline as an insular white enclave is an insult to the diverse group of historians -- many of whom are African American -- who have added to the understanding of the period and been widely recognized and praised as having done so.
As if all this weren't enough, I wasn't able to find one Lincoln quote that was dated after September 1862, when Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Here Bennett has egregiously cherry-picked his data to make his argument seem stronger than it is. When you confine your work to pre-1862, it's much easier to make Lincoln look like an anti-emancipation racist. What Bennett is essentially telling us is that before Lincoln believed in emancipation, he didn't believe in emancipation. That he is able to take such a facile argument and add nothing but the most obnoxious cynicism -- "for the hard of hearing and those with reading difficulties" (Ibid., 262) is offensive. Any credibility behind Bennett's argument is therefore destroyed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

NBR: Clash of the Champions Part 1

Collected thoughts while watching the new WWE DVD Set The Best of Clash of the Champions.

It’s so great to see Dusty Rhodes in promo mode.  It’s still spellbinding.

CLASH of the CHAMPIONS I: March 27, 1988

NWA World Championship Match:

Ric Flair w/ J.J. Dillon (Champion) .vs. Sting

Friday, August 31, 2012

NBR: The happy slave?

I've just started graduate work at Western Kentucky University, working toward an MA in History degree. One of my first classes is entitled The African-American experience during the Civil War.
We were asked on our discussion board to what extent southerners were deluding themselves in claiming that slavery was a benign institution that the slaves themselves were content with.  My response:
I wonder, though, how much of the southern talk of the "happy, contented slave" was not a true belief but rather a conscious attempt to refute the claims about the horrors of slavery made by the abolitionists. In this sense, it may be that southerners were willing to tell the tales of happiness on the plantation for practical reasons and as propaganda, even if it wasn't a concept they honestly believed in.
Levine quotes Confederate congressman Henry S. Foote as asking the question "If this government is to destroy slavery, why fight for it?" (5). The basic idea here - that arming slaves would prove destructive to the institution - is very telling, I think, in that it disputes the very claim that the slaves were happy and content. For if they were indeed so happy with their masters and content with their station, why would it be a threat to arm them? Wouldn't one suppose that they would fight hard and well for a society that they loved?
Neither Foote nor any other anti-emancipation Confederates quoted by Levine couched their opposition in purely racist terms; there was fear not just that slaves would make poor soldiers for reasons of race, but that arming slaves would produce revolt. The modern observer must remember that a slave insurrection was the greatest fear of the Confederacy, moreso perhaps than Yankee domination.
The story of southern slavery - enforced illiteracy, the absence of freedom of movement and communication, the harsh discipline of the whip - all of these imply a slave population that must be forced into their societal role. The idea that the slaves embraced their lot in life is belied by the words and actions of their very masters. Levine quotes an Atlanta editor who refers to the condition of slavery as "an enviable one" (7), but a modern observer must question whether the editor a) truly believes this, b) is trying to rationalize and sanctify his own worldview or c) is cynically lying to make slavery seem more acceptable.
All three options mentioned above - a, b and c - could explain the words and deeds of many of the words spoken by southerners on the slavery question. I'm inclined to believe that explanations B and C may explain the actions of these people moreso than A. Or am I just being cynical? What do you think?
The text referenced is Confederate Emancipation by Bruce Levine, University Press of Kansas.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

10 Things That Books (Not Movies) Taught Me About the Nazis

  1. The decision to invade Russia was stupid only in retrospect.

  2. They weren’t emotionless drones.

  3. They weren’t a ruthlessly efficient killing machine.

  4. (Despite what George Bush might say) Things aren’t easier in a dictatorship.

  5. Nazi ideology was … flexible.

  6. Along the lines of Point 5, the Nazis were neither Christian nor Atheist.

  7. The holocaust didn’t just happen in concentration camps.

  8. Despite the billion Hollywood movies about D-Day, north Africa, Italy and the Pacific, the deadliest (and arguably most important) front in the war was in Eastern Europe.

  9. Many westerners preferred Hitler to the Communists.

  10. Hitler’s early successes were the worst thing that could have happened to him.

Taken one at a time …

Monday, April 16, 2012

Actors Robbed of an Oscar, Part 2

Once again, an asterisk indicates that the actor was nominated for, but did not win, an Oscar.

  • Peter O’Toole, My Favorite Year*

2012 Predictions (Late)


  1. New York Yankees (93-69)
  2. Boston Red Sox* (89-73)
  3. Tampa Bay Rays (86-76)
  4. Toronto Blue Jays (82-80)
  5. Baltimore Orioles (68-94)


  1. Detroit Tigers (91-71)
  2. Cleveland Indians (83-79)
  3. Kansas City Royals (78-84)
  4. Minnesota Twins (74-88)
  5. Chicago White Sox (70-92)


  1. Los Angeles Angels (96-66)
  2. Texas Rangers* (93-69)
  3. Seattle Mariners (76-86)
  4. Oakland Athletics (68-94)

AL MVP:  Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
AL Cy Young:  Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
AL Rookie of the Year:  Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
ALCS:  Angels over Yankees
WS:  Angels over Reds


  1. Philadelphia Phillies (90-72)
  2. Miami Marlins* (86-76)
  3. Atlanta Braves (84-78)
  4. Washington Nationals (79-83)
  5. New York Mets (65-97)


  1. Cincinnati Reds (91-71)
  2. St. Louis Cardinals* (89-73)
  3. Milwaukee Brewers (84-78)
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates (78-84)
  5. Chicago Cubs (73-89)
  6. Houston Astros (63-99)


  1. San Francisco Giants (83-79)
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (81-81)
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks (80-82)
  4. Colorado Rockies (78-84)
  5. San Diego Padres (66-96)

NL MVP:  Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
NL Cy Young:  Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
NL Rookie of the Year:  Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds
NLCS:  Reds over Phillies
WS:  Angels over Reds

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Actors Robbed of an Oscar, Part 1

I present:  Actors who deserved to win an Oscar but did not. An incomplete list:

* – An asterisk indicates that the actor was at least nominated for the performance.

  • Robert Duvall, The Apostle*

Sunday, January 01, 2012

World Champions – Best Player = ?

So I wanted to take a quick at World Champion teams that lost their best player in the same off-season.  Seeing Albert Pujols go the Angels makes the fate of the 2012 Cardinals interesting. The team has signed Carlos Beltran to fill in somewhere, and they will also be getting back ace starter Adam Wainwright from Tommy John surgery.  Will this be enough to keep them in contention?