Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Internet is for Hate...

and bad grammar.

Apologies to those who think otherwise.

There is no greater vehicle in the world for hate than the Internet. Most of the time I can't even read comment sections. They're full of flame wars and trolls.

Trolls are great. While some people try to build bridges, they live under them and fling anonymous insults. Take this brilliant post. It's from Rany Jazayerli's " Rany on the Royals" blog, which is usually about baseball. But he wrote one post on his ancestry, an heroic 19th century Muslim historical figure who risked his life in order to save Christians from massacre. The comments section is full of deserved praise for the writing -- and an anonymous poster who wrote "wouldn't this fit better on a 'Rany On The Sand N-----s' blog?"

Sadly, this is the norm for the Internet. Any attempt at political discourse results in petty name calling. Read the comical comments section here. Good god, people. Or check out any open comments section from a major newspaper. Pure. Hate.

But what really set me off is Wikipedia. Check out this site that a friend steered me to. It's trying to call out Wikipedia for some of its bullshit. The problem is, anyone can create or edit a Wikipedia page. This is great in theory, as it's a way to compile the massive amount of collective knowledge we have. But there's also a lot of collective hate, and it's uneven and irrational. More irrational than even I realized.

Check out this old article from the AV Club, the Onion's non-satirical wing of entertainment junkies. The article is titled, "The scandal of Olivia Newton-John: 12 surprisingly controversial Wikipedia pages."

For the uninitiated, you can set up a Wikipedia page on anything in minutes. You can also edit almost any Wikipedia page just as quickly. When "editors" disagree, there are processes that are meant to mediate what actually gets shown on the page. In the end, consensus usually wins out. In other words, popularity contest. And, on any controversial issue, that is a problem. Partisans can gang up. The truth is determined by a show of hands instead of, you know, the truth.

This isn't a problem for things like why the sky is blue or how many movies Kevin Bacon has starred in. Causes, however, get muddled. Anything that could possibly be controversial gets muddled. And the Wikipedia talk pages are filled with some great hatred. They're often filled more with code words and rhetoric than the above shit, but the hatred is there. In droves.

Why all the hate? I don't know why people hate, but they do. And it's really easy to hate someone you can't see typing from somewhere you don't know, especially when you can remain anonymous. A person isn't really a person when you can make up all the details about him in your mind. You can dehumanize someone you can't see.

Which brings me to my point: Wikipedia should make any registered editor use his real name. Make him get a legitimate account. It's easy for me to walk all over someone named "spankmyballs69." It's much harder if I know his name is John Smith.

I don't know how to implement this. Besides for hate, bad grammar, and porn, the Internet is also for fraud. Just ask my cousin, the Nigerian prince. Maybe make people use their driver's license numbers to verify. Maybe make any senior editor (or whatever they call them) actually interview for a prestigious roll.

I don't know if it'll solve the problems. But I do know that Wikipedia has a problem. It's an Internet-wide problem but a site as influential as Wikipedia has a standard to live up to. It has great power, so it has great responsibility.

Or, to put it in the proper language of the Internet, I can has reponzibilty?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

New Website Alert

Hey trusted readership. How are all three of you doing?

I've decided to start a new website dedicated entirely to baseball. Check it out. I'll still drop by here for my pithy humor, political dribble, and the same bullshit you've come to love when it shows up in your RSS reader every few weeks, or every other day, or whenever I post. But all my baseball stuff that doesn't really fit here will go there, where I will try to post at more regular intervals. Really. I mean it.

Anywhere, go here. Bookmark it. Read it. Love it. Comment. Mail me your bank account numbers.

Once more, here is the address: Enjoy. And if you don't like it, don't complain. It's free content.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baseball Thoughts

I watched lots of baseball the past two days. I'm a Royals fan, but I'd rather not talk about this year's opening day debacle. It looks to be another long season. Instead, I'll share some thoughts on last night's Rays-O's game.

  • Matt Wieters had an impressive at-bat, working the count before hitting a homerun. The most impressive part was that he was fooled on the pitch he hit out of the park -- he was way out in front of a changeup and swung with one hand. He's strong enough to hit a no-doubter with one hand. Also, I've heard that his bat can cure cancer.
  • Even Longoria's homerun was even more impressive. He hit it 470 feet into the upper deck. On replay, it didn't even look like he got his hands fully extended. Scary. The ball was jumping at the Trop yesterday.
  • The two closers were both Braves last year. Both struggled, as Rafael Soriano of the Rays escaped a bases-loaded scenario when Carl Crawford made a good play on a crushed line drive, then Mike Gonzalez of the Orioles blew a save.
  • The Orioles' use of Mike Gonzalez drives me nuts. He's the nominal "closer," so he had to pitch the final three outs. Nevermind that he's left-handed and the first batter of the inning was Pat Burrell, who has made a career out of being good against lefties and average against righties. It also speaks volumes about how far Burrell has fallen that he was the only Ray that Gonzalez was able to retire. The next four guys all reached, and the Orioles lost the game.
  • Intentional walks are normally stupid. Last night was no exception. In a one-run game with runners on second and third with one out, the Orioles walked the bases loaded. The logic behind the move is that the winning run was already on second, so a runner on first scoring means nothing, while it sets up a force out at home. The problem is that it puts the pitcher's back against a wall -- if he falls behind in the count, he cannot afford another walk because that would tie the game.
  • The batter that got to hit after the intentional walk was Carl Crawford. Normally, it is not a good idea to intentionally walk a player in front of an All-Star. The Orioles must have felt that it was worth the above advantage along with the fact that Crawford hits left-handed, and Gonzalez is usually excellent against lefties. The other logical flaw is that Crawford is really fast, so that takes the probability of a game-saving double play out of the equation. Not that it mattered. Crawford ripped a 1-0 pitch to right for a double. Game over, Rays win, 4-3.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Annual Baseball Prediction Debacle

It's that time of year again! Time for me to make bad, indefensible baseball predictions, promise to revisit them in October, then do no such thing. As usual, when these predictions look horrible before the All-Star break, I will deny ever having made them and will blame the cocaine cough syrup I am currently on.


AL East Wins Losses
Yankees 97 65
Red Sox 95 67
Rays 93 69
Orioles 75 87
Blue Jays 67 95
AL Central    
Twins 87 75
Tigers 81 81
Indians 80 82
White Sox 80 82
Royals 74 88
AL West    
Rangers 89 73
Mariners 85 77
Angels 82 80
Athletics 75 87

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez

AL Cy Young Award: Zack Grienke*

AL Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz

*I was a big believer in Cliff Lee this offseason, but he is currently battling a strained oblique, the kind of injury that may or may not linger. He also had foot surgery this offseason. However, given his pitching style, a move to SafeCo field in Seattle with the best defense in baseball behind him makes Lee a dangerous pitcher.

NL East Wins Losses
Phillies 90 72
Braves 85 77
Marlins 80 82
Mets 74 88
Nationals 72 90
NL Central    
Cardinals 87 75
Reds 85 77
Cubs 84 78
Brewers 79 83
Pirates 73 89
Astros 67 95
NL West    
Rockies 90 72
Dodgers 85 77
Giants 80 82
Diamondbacks 74 88
Padres 65 97

NL MVP: Albert Pujols. Again. Who else?

NL Cy Young Award: Ubaldo Jiminez

NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Hayward


ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees

NLCS: Rockies over Phillies

World Series: Red Sox over Rockies

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where is your money coming from?

The two biggest donors to the University of Kansas School of Business, as far as I can tell, represent Koch Industries and Phillip Anschutz. More on them in a minute.

I spent two years at KU earning my MBA. I studied in the Anschutz library. The lobby of the business school building is named for Koch (pronounced "Coke") and it has nice little plaques and whatnot thanking Koch Industries. Representatives from Koch came to speak with us, recruit us, and to describe their business practices.

Koch Industries is the second largest privately held company in America. They got their start in oil and natural gas and spread out to synthetic fibers made from petroleum derivatives. Lycra and Stainmaster are Koch products. From there, Koch diversified and started buying up other companies. While I was in school, Koch bought Georgia Pacific, the makers of Dixie cups and other paper products, and paid in cash. Koch has a lot of money coming in, although we don't know exatly how much because it's privately held and they don't have to disclose such numbers.

Philip Anschutz has a similarly diverse portfolio, one that started with railroads. He has a hand in petroleum. He as the CEO of Qwest, a communications company. Anschutz is a man I find particularly evil. Fortune named him "America's Greediest Billionaire." According to the bastion of truth that is Wikipedia, he:


So Anschutz uses his money to discriminate against gays, push his religious agenda in a war against science, and censor television. Nice.

I bring all this up because of an article I just read in the Huffington Post detailing Koch's spending habits. It seems that the petroleum company has spent millions of dollars propping up questionable "studies" about the effects of climate change. Of course, Koch has obvious conflict of interests here. I want their business to stay out of my debates.

There are questions that should be asked of the Al Gores of the world, but they shouldn't be asked by Koch. They should be asked by climatologists not oil barons who are paying people to call their opponents "Nazis," and "Hitler Youth" for their stances.

Good thing I had the sense not to work for Koch when their recruiters came rolling through Lawrence. I wouldn't want to be contributing to this nonsense.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Money and baseball

There's a good discussion of the time-value of money over at Baseball Prospectus. If you want to understand long-term investments, or if you want to understand why the Twins feel they can pay a catcher $184 million despite being a mid-market team, this is a good start.

That is all.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry

Per Royals Review, quoting TMZ:

An ugly love triangle made its way to court today between Rod Stewart's son, Sean Stewart, Kansas City Royals catcher Jason Kendall and his estranged wife, Chantel.

TMZ was in court this AM as Kendall's lawyer made a bid to allow Kendall to take the divorcing couple's two kids to Kansas City for baseball season.
Chantel, who came to court with boyfriend Sean Stewart, is trying to block the move. There have been numerous accusations between Jason and Chantel of physical and emotional abuse.
Chantel has suggested in legal papers that Jason is overusing Adderall, which he says he's taking for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Read more:


Wow. That is all.