Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Phickle Thoughts

First off, there's a great conversation going on down below, about law and reason, so hop on in if you're so inclined.

Secondly, I was planning on writing a music review sometime of two albums I got sometime around Valentine's Day, from my wife (not to be confused with a Valentine's Day gift). The two albums are Jenny Lewis' (of Rilo Kiley fame) Rabbit Fur Coat and Blake Sennett's (also of Rilo Kiley fame) band The Elected's Sun, Sun, Sun. I'm not gonna get to those, but suffice it to say, they're both awesome. Check them out.

Third, later this week I'll be posting my 2006 baseball preview. I didn't do amazing with my predictions last year, so if anyone wants to send me any information they think would be relevant to predicting the season (like why the team you root for is the best, who you like for MVP or rookie of the year, why you think the Yankees or Red Sox chew monkey butt, etc.), you should feel free forward that information to me at mbnovaksju@yahoo.com

Fourth, notice my new subtitle deally. I'm really proud of this one for some reason or other.

Fifth, you know what I hate? The fact that a bottle of pop now always costs $1.25 in vending machines. I really appreciated when it was a buck. I don't begrudge the higher price - sure, I pay it from time to time, and I understand that with rising oil prices production costs went up, and they can get away with charging it and such. It's just that $1.00 was so perfect for a bottle of pop. It just seemed to fit. Splash down a buck, get a bottle of Cherry Coke, or Mt. Dew, or Pepsi, or whatever. It just worked out right. It was convenient, and handy, and it felt fair. You just never had buyer's remorse when it only cost you a buck, but as soon as you break into that second dollar - even just a little bit - all bets are off. And that makes me sad. Ok, I just realized that I'm 24 and pining like a crotchety old man for the days when prices were more reasonable. Crap.

Finally, I found out last night that if you were to take what is perhaps the funniest line from what is perhaps the funniest movie, and Google it, your first hit would be Philosofickle. Yes, if you Google "How would you like to suck my balls Mister Garrison?" you'll get my blog. How awesome is that?

And it's a surefire bet I'm gonna die
So I'm taking up praying on Sunday nights
And it's not that I believe in your almight
But I might as well
As insurance or bail

Saturday, March 25, 2006

College Basketball (a.k.a. "Another Missed 3")

So tonight Laura and I were watching the NCAA Tournament. It was a close game between the Conneticut Huskies and the Washington Huskies. Shortly after a miraculous 3-point-shot sent the game into overtime it occurred to me that it was a very strange thing for any college, much less two, to name their mascot after fat people.

Hold my breath
And wait until I shake

Friday, March 24, 2006

Reason, Law, and Morality #2

Ok, back to that series of posts I started long ago.

The question for today is: What is the relationship between reason and law?

Before we begin, we should probably think back to what we worked through last time. The comments were tremendously helpful in sorting through what exactly "law" is. Keep in mind that the general consensus seems to be that law is something which controls, or at least attempts to control, people's actions. 'Control' is used in a very loose sense, because different people react differently to laws, and people can always choose to break the law (they'll just face consequences if caught). Ultimately, to be effective, a law must have the power to convince/motivate/bind people to certain actions.

Last time, we looked at the question of "bad" law. This time, to start the inquiry, I want to consider good law. The initial question I pose is: what makes a good law "good"?

In my mind, for a law to be good, it must have persuasive power. In my mind "persuasive" is different from "coercive". That is, if law is to be good law, people must want to follow it, or, even if they don't want to follow it, deep down they recognize that the law is correct. For example, a prohibition against murder is generally the type of thing that people want to submit their will to, because they know the good that such a law can secure for them. And, even when they get so angry that they might otherwise kill, they accede that the law is correct in it's prohibition, and therefore oblige, even though they might not want to. Furthermore, since our desires can change from moment to moment, it is the correctness of the law which is the most essential aspect.

The next step in this inquiry is to consider what people want, or what makes them think something is correct. If we're gonna have good law, we need to know what motivates people to decision and action. I suppose there are several things which can motivate people: Emotions (I was moved from love to propose to my wife), urges (I'm hungry so I'll get something to eat), and reason (I know that if I buy stamps I'll be able to pay my bills, which will enable me to keep my phone working, ergo, I'll buy stamps).

Of all of these things which motivate people to action, only one is primary. That one is reason. The reason reason is primary is because it helps us control our desires and move towards correct action. For example, say I have $3.90. Now say I have the option to buy one of 3 things which costs $3.90 - a flower for my wife, a sandwich, and a book of 10 stamps. Which should I purchase? Well emotions might tell me to buy the flower, and my urges may tell me to buy the sandwich (my urges may also tell me to buy the flower...), but my reason will make it clear to me that the best - the correct - purchase is the stamps. My reason will let me know that if I don't pay my bills I won't have my phone, and without stamps, I can't pay my bills, therefore I need to spend the $3.90 on stamps. The other things might be nice, and if I had more money perhaps I'd have reason to purchase them too. But reason dictates that I eat the food in my fridge and not spend more money, and instead of treating my wife to a lovely flower, I should probably spend the money on necessities. It is reason which leads us to this conclusion.

Yes, other things motivate us, but as the above example demonstrates, reason is the prime motivator. It is reason that sorts through our motivations and determines what we most desire, and it is reason which informs us of which decisions are correct. If law is to be good law, it must conform to reason. A law which agrees with peoples' reason is a law that will be followed, and a law which contravenes reason is a law which will be broken. (I should note here too that one of the great things about law is that it often informs people of what reason says, such that people don't have to come to the conclusion on their own, but rather can elect lawmakers whom they trust to reason through problems on their behalf).

Now, to throw a clinker into the equation, there are different levels of reason. The way I see it, reason breaks down 4 ways.

First off, there's perfect reason. Perfect reason is reason which is unbreakable. This is sort of like math, or syllogisms, or the laws of science. 2+2=4. Period. That's flawless reason. Or if A=B and B=C, then A=C. Or if you drop an object from a height it will fall towards Earth. Those are all objects of perfect reason, and can be considered laws because they motivate people. For example, people, in the fact of mathematical reason, are motivated to declare the truth of an equation. The correctness of these laws is experience through reason, And what's key about them is that they are unchanging and based on what is essentially truth. So the best "laws" are laws which are unchanging, and based on immutable truths. Are there any human "laws" based on such truth? It's hard to say. I don't think I can imagine a single law for which there isn't some exception to the rule (i.e. even killing can be excepted to when it is a necessary product of self-defense). I guess if you split hairs finely enough you could probably come up with some perfect laws based solely on reason. But that would be hard to do. The closest example would probably be a prohibition on killing except in cases of self defense, which is rationally derived from the concept that life is needed for all other goods to exist. Basically though, perfect law - especially in human, governmental terms, - is rare.

The second type of reason is good reason. Good reason is more or less reason which falls short of perfect, but about as close as we can practically get. Good reason leads to good laws. An example of good reason leading to good laws can be seen in a differentiating between the types of homicide (first degree, manslaughter, etc.). Start with a couple of correct principles: 1. Life is needed for all other goods to exist (from which is derived "thou shalt not kill"), and 2. People cannot be held accountable for what they cannot control (from which we derive various levels of intent). Working from these ideas it's not hard to get to a law which distinguishes first degree murder (in which intent and malice are key ingredients) from manslaughter (no intent to kill, but still liable because controlled the action which caused the death). This is a well-reasoned law. It works from a principled viewpoint, and then comes up with a legal regime which reflects those principles. Ideally human laws reflect good reason.

The third type of reason is weak reason. Weak reason usually happens when the conclusion does not connect to the principles, or when certain principles are ignored/forgotten about. Perhaps a good example of "weak reason" can be seen in some of the historical bad laws that our country has had. For example, prohibition, which was a completely ineffective law. Why was it ineffective? Largely because it was the product of weak reasoning. More or less the argument for prohibition started with a fairly solid (and uncontroversial) premise: The loss of self-control is a bad thing. Then, considering that alcohol can cause the loss of self-control, prohibitionists argued that alcohol should be banned all-together. Of course, the problem is that there is no perfect correlation between alcohol and the loss of self-control. People drink every day without getting drunk, and so this law was the product of poor reasoning. Prohibition was based on a faulty syllogism. If A (alcohol) = B (loss of control) and only B, then banning alcohol might make sense. But if A= either B or C (people still have self control), then banning alcohol doesn't make sense, because there is no necessary implication that people will lose self control. The reality of the situation was the second equation, but prohibitionists were taking the action recommended by the first equation. That faulty reasoning led to a bad law, and they over-restricted the consumption of alcohol because of it.

Now, the difference between Reason Type 2 (good reason) and Reason Type 3 (weak reason) is really one of gradation. And this can really be seen in the fact that when laws are proposed or enacted legislators give reasons for those laws. We all know that sometimes those reasons are great reasons, sometimes they're good, sometimes they're mediocre, sometimes they're bad, and sometimes they're awful. So in determining whether a law is a good law or a bad law, basically you just look to the reasons behind it. Good law will be based on correct reasoning, and will therefore be persuasive. Mediocre laws will be based on some good reasoning, but with something to be said against it, and may or may not be persuasive. Bad law will be based on weak reasoning, and will be unpersuasive.

Maybe this all seems obvious, but I think it's pretty important to consider. After all, we don't just want laws that reflect our emotive desires or our urges, but rather we want well-reasoned laws. We should demand of our legislators that they construct laws that are principled and therefore persuasive. Our laws shouldn't be constructed because they serve a constituency, but rather should be constructed because they are the product of reason, (and, if they are the product of good reasoning, they won't overlook any constituency).

The final kind of laws are laws which contradict reason. For example, a law which says 2+2 = 5. No one could accept that because our reason tells us it's false. Another great example of a law contradicting reason is slavery. Our reason tells us that all people have the same moral worth - we're all created equally. Yet a law like slavery denies that principled view. Instead of being based on reason, slavery was based on emotion (i.e. fear and hate) and urges (i.e. laziness, desire for wealth and control).

With this idea we return to the question of last time - is bad law law at all? Well, if the law is so bad that it contradicts reason, then arguably no, it's not law, because it is completely unpersuasive. Perhaps our emotions and urges would persuade us to accept a bad law, but that would be shameful. Reason is, and should be, the prime motivator. It should lead us to reject laws which contradict reason. And if we are completely unpersuaded by a law, then the law doesn't really accomplish what it sets out to do, and maybe in that sense isn't law at all.

Anyways, to close, I'd just sum up by saying that any type of law must rely on some reason. The best laws are ones which work from a principled view. The reasons which stand behind the best laws are reasons which our minds will understand as correct. And if the reasons behind the law are correct, then that law will be persuasive. Not because there is force in the law, but because there is force in reason. The law tries to motivate people to certain actions, but the prime motivator is reason itself. If a law contradicts reason, then it isn't really law. And if a law is constructed of perfect reason, then that law is unbreakable (like laws of nature). The better the reason behind a law, the effective that law will be. Why? Because reason controls our actions and motivates us to behave a certain way.

In that sense, reason is law.

Give me one reason to stay here, and I'll turn right back around

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Weird Al, Eat Your Heart Out. Or Rip It Right Out of Your Rib Cage With Your Bare Hands and Then Throw It On the Floor and Stomp On It Till You Die

There are times when I hear a song and think to myself "why in the world hasn't this song been used in an advertising campaign?" This doesn't just happen with any song I like - I'm talking about songs who's lyrics seem like they've almost been specifically crafted for a particular product or service. It's like the song is just begging to be taken off the radio and altered ever-so-slightly for use in a cheesy television or radio spot.

For example:

The Turtles song Eleanor has lyrics that say "You're my pride and joy, etcetera". That just transforms so nicely into "You're my pride and joy, Excedrin." See? It works so well. If I were the marketing people for Excedrin, I'd be all over this.

And why in the world hasn't Oasis Market stolen Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places?" I mean, just have some cheesy country voice say the word 'market' after the line that goes "Think I'll head on down to the oasis". Again, obvious. Of course, I don't know if Oasis Market gas stations still exist... But I bet if they'd followed this brilliant advertising idea they'd be thriving!

And last, but not least, a thought for any purveyor of fine morning-meal foods. (You know, like General Mills, or Quaker Oats, or Ego). It would be so easy to swipe The Corrs' song "Leave Me Breathless" and transform it into "Leave Me Breakfast". That's like the most perfect fit ever. (I may have mentioned this lyric change one other time on this blog. I don't recall. Regardless, it's still a wicked awesome idea).

Anyways, as you can see, there are a ton of these things out there. I'm sure others have thought of some. And if you have, you should share your lyrics. Because after all, it's obvious that we're smarter than the people trying to sell us stuff.

Well I'm not dumb but I can't understand
How he can lift me in the air just by raising his hand

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Question of Viability

Today I realized a huge implication of our country's current abortion jurisprudence: it's set up so that eventually the Constitution will not protect any abortions!

The fact that I hadn't yet realized this made me feel a little obtuse, but hey, better late then never, right? I am personally convinced that life begins at conception, and therefore in the abortion debate I've centered my thoughts around this idea. This means that I'm usually arguing against the current abortion regime, which uses viability as the relevant point in determining whether or not the state has an interest in protecting the fetus. The Supreme Court has said that prior to viability there is a right to an abortion, while after viability that right can be restricted by the state.

In arguing that life begins at conception, I've always pointed out the reasons why viability is an unsuitable alternative. The general gist of my argument against viability is that it is unstable; the better the technology available in a particular time and location, the earlier the fetus will be considered viable. As our technology gets better, fetuses are viable at a younger age. Yet, "When does life begin?" is not the type of question that should have a transient answer. The answer should be fixed and consistent.

Today it finally occurred to me that using viability as a relevant criteria in the debate is a problem for pro-choice advocates as well. Think about it: as technology progresses, viability happens at a younger and younger age. Not only that, but we are able to sustain - and even create - new life outside of the womb. Presumably someday medical science will progress to the point that a fetus can be conceived and nurtured completely outside of the womb.

When technology advances to that point, viability will be coterminous with conception. The natural conclusion is that when medical science advances far enough, states will be allowed to outlaw all abortions. The rule will be the same - after viability all abortions can be outlawed - but the practical effect will be very different. I don't know how many pro-choice advocates are aware of the issue, but someday they may hate the same legal regime they now hail.

Thoughts?

It's so hard to see streets on a country road

Monday, March 20, 2006

Just Wait for the Cherry Blossoms...

I've, let's say, "expropriated" the following from a friend's Live Journal. Because, well, she puts it well. And it's true. Here you go:

So I need to talk about something quite serious for a moment. Yesterday it started. I didn't even know that March 16th was the official date, but it was. It is happening. They are standing on the left side of the escalator. They are looking around. They are walking at approximately a quarter of the speed you are. They're here: TOURISTS! They get on the metro with cameras around their neck and talk really loud in their southern accents about how they love their hotel and the Washington Monument was SO COOL! I am sorry, but no matter where I travel to I do not wear my camera around my neck. Maybe I am just a more conscientious tourist, but I say when in Rome...

If you've got no place to go

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Brownback Mountain

Tonight Laura and I attended an event at my school featuring Senator Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican, and potential 2008 presidential candidate. The Senator spoke about stem cell research and other issues on the forefront of bioethics, such as cloning and chimeras (creating animal/animal or animal/human hybrids).

Frankly, I was surprised at how lucid and considerate the Senator sounded. From his sound bytes, I was expecting a man with a much more narrow viewpoint who would relentlessly harp on a single point (specifically that life begins at conception) without really drawing the fine distinctions that bioethics requires.

To be sure, Senator Brownback had a point of extreme emphasis - that life begins at conception - but he also clearly understood the appeal of stem cells. He was a man who obviously had his mind made up, but had also clearly first approached the question with an open mind. I expected he would be someone too obtuse to listen to the other side - but he clearly hears the flip side of the argument.

The Senator stressed the importance of doing everything - within certain ethical bounds - to help eliminate diseases. He was quite well versed in the alternatives to embryonic stem cells, namely adult stem cells and cord-blood stem cells. The Senator urged using these stem cell lines for research, and pointed out that much of the success which has come from stem cell research in the past has actually come from lines which are non-embryonic. As someone who has been doing plenty of bioethical thinking this past year, I appreciated the Senator's position; not necessarily because I agreed with it, but because it shows an understanding of the relevant issues. Quite simply, most bioethicists recognize a substantial difference between embryonic stem cells and other forms of stem cells.

The Senator really tried to engage the crowd in the question and answer session, and though at times he was a bit heavy-handed with his responses ("Well, let me ask you a question: when did your life start?")(gotta love those politicians), for the most part he was engaging, sincere, and really took the questions to heart. He even went so far as to do a little impromptu dissection of the President's position on stem cells, showing why, for those who believe life beings at conception, it can be seen as both an ethically tenable and potentially troubling position. That kind of fine moral distinction demonstrates sound thinking on the Senator's part.

Of course, I don't just mean for this post to be a huge love-fest for Senator Brownback. Sure, I agree with him that we shouldn't use embryonic stem cells, but often enough I've found myself disagreeing with his sound clips and his tactics and his politics. I really went to the talk because I was expecting a more extreme view, and a little more ire from the crowd. I didn't get either, but then again, that's what made the talk a success.

Oh, but if he does get the Presidential nomination, odds are good he won't get my vote. After all, there are consequences for a speaker who's 20 minutes late.

You'll be his, you'll be his, you'll be history

Monday, March 13, 2006

Question:

Here's the scenario: You are one of the foremost experts in your field. You write a groundbreaking book. Unfortunately, your publisher is broke and your book tour can consist of only one television show. The choices are Oprah, Larry King, The Today Show, or The Daily Show. Which do you pick, and why?

Smooth shoes and cool tattoos

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Response to the Troll (This is like that incident with the Ben Affleck Aficionados)

This comment was "anonymously" posted in response to my last post:

"Why is Bonds so terrible for using steroids, while Puckett, who beat the hell out of several women, has gotten three posts worth of accolades?"

Because I deemed this no more than an attempt to irk me, I simply deleted the comment and moved on. After all, the person who posted this comment was clearly trying to be offensive. The poster was insulting Puckett, who has been recognized as a hero and role model on this blog. In the process of insulting Puckett, the poster was attempting to discredit anyone who admired Puckett.

But the poster made several mistakes. First, he started with two false premises:

False premise #1: That the faults and shortcomings of one person (Puckett) mitigate the faults and shortcoming of another (Bonds). They don't. And yet the poster implied that my esteem of Bonds should be higher because of allegations regarding Puckett. The reason this comment was phrased this way was because, in addition to insulting my hero, the poster was trying to make me look inconsistent and hypocritical. However, the truth is that regardless of what Puckett did or did not do, Bonds is (presumably) guilty of using steroids and therefore of insulting baseball's integrity (also, he's guilty of incredible selfishness, egoism, and general lack of courtesy). So, given the faulty premise, the poster failed in his attempt to discredit me. But hey, maybe the "anonymous" poster just doesn't grasp logic.


False premise # 2: That Puckett "beat the hell out of several women". Anyone worth their salt would be able to figure out what accusations had actually been leveled against Puckett, especially this last week. In almost every article written about him the writers mentioned these accusations. The most well known was the alleged fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment charge. Of which he was quite easily acquitted. Several knowledgeable commentators even said that the prosecutor should never have pursued the case. The second charge was from Puckett's ex-wife Tonya, who, in divorce proceedings, claimed Puckett threatened her and had been abusive in the past. Given that she was vying against Puckett in an adversarial divorce proceeding, it remains unclear how accurate these allegations were. What is clear is that regardless of what she alleged at the time, Tonya now says, "I know that I've made peace with Kirby. And for me, that came a long time ago. I can tell you that I've never loved a man like I loved him."

What is also clear is that even if you add up all the accusations you can't get anywhere near "beat the hell out of several women". Which means that this comment was clearly an exaggerated statement, made either in ignorance or dishonesty, with the intent to upset those on this blog who have expressed their affections for Kirby.

Now, lest I seem completely naive, I'm well aware that Puckett was a human, with all the faults that come with. It was hard for me to deal with these allegations, but when they came out I had to. After all, Puckett obviously had shortcomings.

But it wasn't just this fact that the "anonymous" poster was after. If he was really trying to get at the question of how I have dealt with the shortcomings of my hero, then the poster could have just asked that question. And I would happily have answered it. But instead, the poster decided to be a jerk-ass by insulting my hero with lies and exaggeration, and then by implying that I am either inconsistent or a hypocrite.

Thankfully, I was able to see through this "anonymous" poster's intentions, and that helped me avoid any real anger.

Update: Some of you may also be wondering why I keep using quotation marks around the word 'anonymous'. Well, that's because I was reasonably certain I knew who this "anonymous" person was. Truth be told, my suspicisions were incorrect. My apologies to the person the person I suspected. I had some good facts, and combined those with some bad suspicions, and naturally, the result was tainted. My bad, and I'm truly sorry.

That said, regardless of who the Troll is, I'm hoping that they will read this post. And if he does, I want him to realize that even if one of my heroes had a few shortcomings, at least I'm not an illogical, ignorant, lying jerk-ass without integrity.

Don't let the days go by

Friday, March 10, 2006

Lately

First off, the second Reason, Law and Morality post is coming sometime in the very near future. I've even got it outlined already, just haven't had the chance to sit down and write it. So if you're checking in because you were interested in that, keep an eye out.

Second off, I've been pretty busy this week - well, the last day or two - working on the two papers I have to write this semester. I took me forever to get motivated to work on them, but now that I'm doing the research and really getting into it, I'm totally pumped to be writing these. They both deal with Method Tracking, that crazy idea some of you have heard me talk about. Basically, it's a revolutionary-ish way of approaching health care, that will have all sorts of benefits. The long and the short of it is that we require detailed tracking of the practices and procedures (i.e. the methods) that doctors use. It's being done in limited forms, and I'm advocating a much wider application of the principles. It's strange how simplistic the idea is, and yet how revolutionary it could be. I wrote a paper last semester about how great Method Tracking could be for patient autonomy, and this semester I'm looking at some of more concrete implications of Method Tracking - implications for the tort system and what role the law should play in implementing systems of Method Tracking. If you want more information, you can feel free to e-mail me at mbnovaksju@yahoo.com, and I'll send you my paper from last semester (I'm gonna be trying to get it published, as soon as my professor gives me the grade on it...).

In other news, I think Barry Bonds is a duche bag, and he needs to just finally be honest with the public. Regardless of his steroid use I think he should be admitted to the Hall of Fame (his pre-steroid numbers were still awesome). I also don't really give a flying flip if he beats Ruth's home run record, so long as he doesn't take over Aaron. I might be checking out that new book on his steroid use when it comes out at the end of the month.

In other baseball news, I still miss Kirby Puckett.

In other baseball news, the World Baseball Classic has been awesome. If you haven't watched any yet, see that you do. Great baseball, great atmosphere, lots of cool stories coming from around the world - it's freakin' sweet. Now if only they could change the timing so that it was in the middle of the summer...

Finally, this last week was spring break for me. Which meant basically that I did homework and caught up on sleep/mindless television. It's been good. Today I just went and sat on the mall for a while, reading journal articles for my papers. Next week the semester kicks back into high gear. Only 2 months left of school for me, and then it's out into the real world.

Oh yeah, and I still don't have a job. But I'm looking. If anyone knows anyone in the health law fields, let me know. I'd love to just make some contacts and ask people some questions... Ok, time for bed. Goodnight.

Oh, bonus points for the song.

For all the lies you told
This is what you owe

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

In Center Field, Number 34, Kirrrbeeeyyy Puckett!

When I was ten years old I met a man named Kirby Puckett. An amazing athlete, he was doing the splits on the stairs which led down to the Metrodome field, where I was throwing out the first pitch. He must have seen my jaw drop, because as I passed he stuck out his hand and passed on a simple, joyful, knowing hello. "Hey kid."

To a ten-year-old kid, baseball players are celebrities and the stars are heroes. But in the upper-Midwest, Kirby was more than a hero. He was a living legend.

In 1991, we all learned what a living legend can do. In game 6 of the Greatest World Series Ever, on the brink of elimination, Kirby Puckett famously told his teammates to climb on his back, because that night, he would carry them.

He did.

Before that night he had been a tremendous - if unconventional - ballplayer. He put up amazing numbers, and he earned himself a spot in the Hall of Fame. And on that particular night, Kirby Puckett confirmed what every ten-year-old kid already knew: The man was special.

His heroics - both on the field and off - earned him well deserved accolades. He was both a 10-time All-Star and the Roberto Clemente Man of the Year. But it wasn't the heroics alone that made Kirby special.

When I was ten years old, I knew that what made a great baseball player was the same thing that made a great person: heart. For those that knew him, and for those that watched him, it was his heart that made Kirby a living legend.

"I did what you're supposed to do in life, and that's what I tell my kids every day: Pick one or two things in your life, and put your heart into it. I gave my all to the game of baseball."

If another player had said it, the words would sound hollow. Coming from Kirby Puckett, they're an understatement. The man was a force of energy and excitement. He played baseball because he loved baseball. He was always keenly aware of how blessed he was to play for a living, and Puckett played every game like it could be his last. That passion was truly unique.

There are few ballplayers who can top Puckett with their on-the-field performances. There are fewer still who were able to inspire like he did. But there are none who played the game like Kirby.

When I was ten years old, my hero was a man named Kirby Puckett. He was my hero not because I wanted to play baseball as well as he did, but because he wanted to play baseball as much as I did. Kirby Puckett played baseball with the joy, the enthusiasm, the love, of a ten-year-old boy.

Kirby once said, "I've always tried to play the game the right way." Kirby did not just play the game the right way, he set a whole new standard. The way he played baseball made him more than a man, it made him a living legend.

When I was ten years old I said hello to a man named Kirby Puckett. Today, when I am twenty-four years old, I say goodbye to a legend.

Monday, March 06, 2006

"Just don't take it for granted, because tomorrow is not promised to any of us." - Kirby Puckett

Rest in Peace, Kirby.

Look at me, I could be, centerfield

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jesus Even Loves Non-Furry Animals, Like Salamanders

I have been on the "Christianity requires environmentalism" bandwagon for quite some time. My undergraduate thesis was an environmental ethic based on Benedictine values. Last year for my Natural Law class I wrote about the interaction of the Eternal Law and human Natural Law. I argued that the higher Eternal Law, which applies to all of creation, requires people to take the environment into account when discussing the content of Natural Law.

In all of my attempts to convince Christians that they should care about the environment, I've used various reasoning, pointed to historical Christian leaders and values, and quoted several Bible verses.

But today at Mass, I realized there might be even more Biblical support for my thoughts.

Genesis 9:9-10 "See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark," (emphasis mine).

If God is making His covenant with every living creature, and not just humans, that seems pretty significant. It really groups humans and animals in the same boat (pun intended).

Interesting, this is one of the sections of the Bible that environmentalists critics of Christianity point to when they argue that Christianity is not environmentally friendly. 9:7 says "... abound on the earth and subdue it." Critics says lines like this pit humans against the environment, as if it's some sort of enemy to be overcome. Apparently though the critics didn't read far enough. Because when you consider that God's covenant was with people and the rest of creation, well, there's just no basis for claiming the two are set in opposition.

No, as the Scriptures tell us, people need to care about out fellow living creatures. That's part of our calling as Christians: to be environmentalists.

I wanna walk up the side of the mountain

Friday, March 03, 2006

Play Ball!

It's finally here! Meaningful baseball games!

In early March? Yup, that's right. It's the inaugural World Baseball Classic! For those not familiar, it's like soccer's World Cup, but with a good sport. There are 16 teams from countries around the world, divided into 4 pools, and they're playing for the pride of their country.

Some teams you can understand being in the tournament and those teams will probably do pretty well (U.S.A., Japan, Dominican Republic). Some teams, on the other hand, well, they're a little more baffling. (The Netherlands? I mean, I know baseball and chewing tobacky go together, but baseball and wacky tobacky?)

Players from around the Major league have left their teams' spring camps, and traveled to join up with their national teams. Which is pretty cool, because players you know and love (i.e. Johan Santana, and Ichiro Suzuki) will be playing for teams you wouldn't normally root for (i.e. Venezuela and Japan). This gives you a rare chance to root for teams based on the players, and not just team loyalties. Of course, we'll all root for the U.S. of A. more than any other team, but I'm also jumping on the Venezuela bandwagon (jumping on? I've been firmly ensconced on this thing for weeks). But I'm also hoping to see teams like China, Chinese Taipei, and Italy make a strong showing. If the underdogs play well, that'll help baseball's popularity overseas.

Of course, there might be some problems with the system. It's pulling players away from spring training, and that might hurt their major league teams in the long run. And some teams, like the Twins and Mets, are losing a ton of players, while other teams aren't losing too many at all.

There's also some concern that players will play "too hard" in the World Baseball Classic, and since they haven't properly prepared for meaningful ball (i.e. through spring training) that might end up causing injuries. To be sure, I'm very afraid of my Twins and Nats ending up injured (especially my Twins pitchers). But then again, there's always a chance that it'll be the White Sox players who come up gimpy. We can only hope.

So maybe putting the World Baseball Classic right in the middle of Spring Training isn't the greatest plan. But it's a ton of fun to have meaningful games right off the bat. In fact, I'm watching Japan and China play right now. China is a huge underdog, but they just retired Japan 1-2-3 in top of the first. Just seeing the smiles on those players faces erased any doubt in my mind: the World Baseball Classic is a great idea.

Look at me, I could be, centerfield

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Overheard on the Metro

Regarding an article about Iraq:

"I don't care how you pronounce it, it's still just 'shits' with an extra 'i'."

The school yard's up and the shopping mall's down

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Question:

What are you giving up for Lent?
For Laura and me it's The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. And computer games. I know that doesn't sound like a ton, but it's gonna be tough. I love those shows...