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The platinum shield

Greetings from sunny South Carolina!

  • It’s Flag Day. Happy Flag Day, everyone!
  • Despite the Indians losing last night to Albert Pujols (oh, and that team around him too), they are playing better baseball of late and not out of it yet in the AL Central. They’ve bounced back and forth between fourth and fifth place this week, but remain only seven games out of first. One or two really good weeks, maybe an 8-2 run at some point, and the Indians are right in the thick of the race. Jake Westbrook is making rehab starts, and he should provide a much-needed consistency boost to the rotation. The bullpen is looking better and better of late. Offensively however, the Indians are starting to lose their consistency, due in no small part to losing Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore, and Travis Hafner not all the way back. For this reason, I think the Indians will be buyers at the trade deadline, or maybe will try and sign an offensive player who is currently a free agent (Frank Thomas springs to mind).
  • China has been in the news recently, since regulating that starting July 1, filtering software must be installed on all new PCs. This was one possibility I mentioned in my research paper I did for POSC 368 last fall (I’m posting it now because it’s been turned in months ago; for the record, it got an A). My idea for what the Chinese was more along the lines of a tamper-proof hardware chip, however, since not only is it very easy to simply install Linux or a copy of Windows from the US to override that protection, the current software only blocks certain protocols. The other option, of course, is to do this closer to the ISP level, like installing a chip in cable modems, wireless routers, whatever. The software option, however, is not a great idea to begin with and hasn’t been executed well, meaning that the censorship struggle in China will continue.
  • I saw The Hangover last night, and while it wasn’t by any stretch a movie you should take kids or maybe even teenagers to, it’s a hilarious movie that absolutely lives up to the hype. I loved particularly how like the characters, the viewers were dropped into the next day with no clue what happened the previous night, letting only the outrageous events of the next day clue them in.

That’s the news from Columbia, South Carolina. Hope all’s well, wherever you are.

Clear head, new life ahead

I write this evening from sunny (well, it was earlier today) Columbia, South Carolina, where I’ve recently moved. Since a long, unified rant eludes me (although I’m sure I could think of something if I tried long enough) I’ll write some tidbits.

  • After winning again today, the Indians took a series from the White Sox…and are still stuck in last place. However, since it is the AL Central, they’re only 7 games out of the division lead, and still have a decent shot at making a run.

    Fausto Carmona was demoted to single-A, which I felt was a little harsh, but hey, if the guy’s only got one option left, why not? Not only could the guy not throw strikes anymore, but does anyone else remember him throwing like 96-97 in 2007, as opposed to topping out at about 94 this year? We wonder why he’s overthrowing; maybe it’s because he’s used to getting more velocity. I predict he’ll be back up in September, hopefully as a member of the rotation, but at the very least as a bullpen guy for the rest of the season.

    Travis Hafner is back from the DL, and he has a couple of hits in eight at-bats, both of them for extra bases. If the Indians are going to make a prolonged run, they’ll need Hafner healthy and driving in runs to give a some veteran leadership in a lineup that now features Trevor Crowe, Luis Valbuena, Ben Francisco and Josh Barfield. The Indians have to be hoping Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera come back from their respective DL trips quickly.

    Finally, we tend to forget about Jake Westbrook but he’ll be back soon as well, and should provide some much-needed consistency to the rotation. Westbrook was signed to a three-year deal in 2007 meaning he probably won’t be tremendous trade bait, but one person who may be on the move if the Indians don’t start a run is Carl Pavano, who has defied odds and pitched well since May 1.

  • I caught a late showing of Up last night. While I don’t think it was the best Pixar movie I’ve ever seen, it was a Pixar movie in every sense and totally worth seeing. Up was Pixar’s first foray into 3D films. I didn’t see it on a particularly large screen and I sat near the back, so it was tough for me to really be immersed in the illusion anyway, but the reason Up works is not because of the 3D glasses (which are designed eerily similar to the main character’s glasses); the movie is good because of the story. No studio seems to get this as much as Pixar; that’s why they’ve never made a bad movie, that’s why 4-year olds like the movies as much as 22-year olds and as much as 56-year olds. The animation is wonderful and in every sense a treat to see, but it plays second fiddle to the tremendous story that could be told with standard 2D, non-CGI animation and still be excellent. (Also worth noting is the score, which, like most of Michael Giacchano’s work, including The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Star Trek, fits the movie perfectly and is also excellent as a standalone score.)
  • Rush’s classic rock song Fly By Night (the title of this post is borrowed from lyrics from that song) came on the radio on the way home from my first day of work on Monday. Any time a song you enjoy comes on the radio, it’s a good day. But when it’s Fly By Night, it’s a whole new level. Just sayin’.

Still getting settled in Columbia, but hopefully I’ll have some pictures of my apartment with everything completely moved in by the next time I post. Until then, hope the weather’s well in Ohio (or wherever you’re reading this from) and hope things are well with you too.