Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

2007 in Review, pt. 4: The agony of defeat…

Hi, and welcome to day four of our 2007 review. Today’s topic – the year in sports. And what a year it was – great competition, exciting on-field action, outstanding team accomplishments, and all of it trumped by off-field drama.

Barry B*nds: The real homerun king is Hank Aaron, and don’t you forget it. It wasn’t a pretty summer in sports, and the ugliest of the ugly was this roided-up icon of arrogance and entitlement. He may go to jail and he may not, but rest assured, nobody is ever going to write a Field of Dreams-style epic about him. Let this be a lesson, kids – flaxseed oil is for losers.

In other news, some of Barry B*nds supporters called our anti-Barry hatred racism. Hank Aaron was reportedly stunned to learn that he’s been white all these years. Continue reading


[C]learly this was not something that we expected to happen, given the history of this bridge, the inspection process, and how this bridge was rated.

— Mary Peters, secretary of Transportation, during an Aug. 4 White House press briefing about the collapsed Minnesota I-35W bridge that “[s]tate bridge inspectors [had] warned for nearly a decade before its collapse that the Interstate 35W bridge had ‘severe’ and ‘extensive’ corrosion of its beams and trusses, ‘widespread cracking’ in spans and missing or broken bolts … [with] certain components were ‘beyond tolerable limits’ … ”

This record is not tainted at all, at all. Period. You guys can say whatever you want.

— San Francisco Giants right fielder Barry Bonds at a press conference after breaking Hank Aaron’s career home-run record of 755 home runs Tuesday night.
Continue reading

Great week in baseball history

We’ve seen some major historical moments in baseball in the last few days.

First, Alex Rodriguez became the youngest man to hit the 500-homerun mark, doing so at 32 years and eight days old. There are no guarantees that he’ll break Hank Aaron’s all-time mark of 755 taters, but even if he never plays another game it’s a remarkable accomplishment.

Next, Mets lefty Tom Glavine became the latest pitcher (and maybe the last) to win 300 games. The way the game is played and managed these days, a 15-win season is a big deal, and doing it 20 times is just about unthinkable.

Two very big moments. Two great players. And now, listen to me carefully: during this historical stretch of days, nothing … else … happened. Got it? Good.

Summer of scandal and the death of sport?

I love sports. Always have. I grew up playing all the usual sports and eagerly tried out a lot of others when I got older. I’ve always been a big spectator, too, watching everything from football, basketball and baseball to soccer, track, cycling, volleyball, water polo – whatever was on, you know?

But these days I watch less sports than at any point in my life, and it seems likely that this downward trend is going to continue. The why is pretty simple. I was raised old school by a grandfather who grew up playing through the Depression. People who knew him back then and saw him play said that under different circumstances he might have been good enough to play in the Bigs. Maybe. Hard to say, because the hard realities of life intruded on the dreams of many in his generation. So he wound up working for a few dollars a week and playing ball on the weekends.

There was a right way and a wrong way to play. Hard, but fair. Sportsmanship mattered. Continue reading