Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Name:
Location: Illinois, United States

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How the Cold War was Lost

Tell Me Again How We Won the Cold War, Daddy?
©2012  Ross Williams




My fifth and hopefully last child – third son – was born at the end of last month.  At least I assume it was mine.  Stories I made up about Paulo, my wife’s Brazilian surf instructor, aside there’s a few I have relatively more suspicion are not mine, but except for the one who’s through college and with a family all his own, the rest are on my health insurance, which is all the proof some people need.

Where I work, adding dependents mid-year is all automated ... today.  We have to log into a company-wide benefits system which is “secure”.   Computer “security” is gotten by preventing people who don’t belong on the system from getting on the system.  The easiest assumption to make is that anyone who tries getting on the system doesn’t belong there, and this is the method of security chosen by my company’s benefits system.  Add to it that this is being attempted while I am on a similarly “secure” Defense Department network where network “security” is measured by assuming that any outside connection you attempt to make is unauthorized and the computers won’t actually let you do it.  What you end up with is a frustrating and infuriating 6-day melodrama out of what used to be done by filling out two, maybe three forms and faxing them to HR.

...which is what ultimately ended up happening, anyway.

First, there was the fiasco of simply getting logged on, which took over an hour of convincing the local “secure” network that I should be let out, and then convincing the “secure” company system that I should be let in.  Then finding my way through the labyrinthine maze of my company’s employee website to the proper location to find the online forms – another three hours of my life I won’t get back.

My company, Computer Sciences Corporation, is, ultimately, a software company.  We write software which other companies buy to, in general, run their daily business; my own division writes software which melds together the government data from various military systems so that these multiple military systems can actually talk to each other – which for decades they could not – and so that these military systems can be used to efficiently plan wars, execute wars, supply wars, resupply wars, and bring home the dead bodies but leave the equipment in the field to be scavenged by our Good Friends®, so they can sell it to our future enemies … who are mostly the same people.  What would have taken well over a year to accomplish just five years before while preparing for the Gulf War in late 1990, took less than two months using the system we provided the DoD.  You’re welcome, guys.

But we buy our own software, the stuff that runs our own company internally, from – apparently – Zeke’s Discownt Softwear ‘n Bate Shop, ... from the irregulars rack.  It took me six days to do what used to take me MAYBE a half hour.

I had added four previous children to my medical benefits who did not have the courtesy of being born on New Year’s Eve at 11:58 pm, not to mention removing two wives and adding two others [one wife was both added and removed], and those were all done without the benefit of automation.  Which means they were trivial to accomplish to the point of being thoroughly unmemorable.

Logging in and web “navigating” to the proper place in the company’s website took as much time for this one child as all my other children and wives [current and ex-] combined.  And I hadn’t even done anything yet; this was just to find the forms.

The first form to complete was the “Add Dependent” form.  New child – born in the middle of the year – a not-rare event, right?

You’d think it was the first time they’d ever run across it.  New babies have no Social Security number, and they can’t get a number for “six to eight weeks”, but they have to be added as a dependent within 30 days or they don’t get added at all.  It takes as long for the Social Security Administration to invent a 9-digit number as it does the Department of Defense to transport 500,000 soldiers, all their equipment, and a bazillion extra bombs and bullets to Saudi Arabia.  Nine digits is monumentally more difficult.

I cannot help but think that the CSC HR department is fully aware that newborns don’t have a Social Security number, but Zeke’s Discownt Softwear isn’t.  It requires a Social Security number before you can click “submit”.  Without an SSN, the web page would keep returning with red-lettered scolds about filling in the entire form.  No combination of “we’ve applied for one”, “baby”, or “newborn child” would suffice.  It wasn’t until I looked at the third page of instructions for filling out a half-page form that I found the fine print’s finer print about what to do for a new dependent who does not have a Social Security number.  And “newborn” wasn’t even the top option.  Ahead of newborns who might fit this criterion were ”foreign nationals being added to Employee’s dependent list, either as spouse or spousal dependent”, as well as “foreign or domestic minor child adoptee”.

Seriously?

I understand that computer geeks are, like, geeky and all, but is there really all that many of us who get Ukrainian brides and their eastern European insta-families that it takes top billing from newborns?  Are that many of my fellow employees trekking to the Peoples’ Republic to adopt unaborted Chinese infant girls that they come in over traditional American newborns?

Really?!

The instructions require the employee to call HR to learn what to do.  HR is half a continent away from me in Falls Church Virginia; I called.  I was on hold for fifteen minutes.

When someone finally answered the phone and I told her what I was trying to do, she said, “Oh, you just use the default SSN in that field and that tells us that there is no social security number yet.  The default SSN is 123-11-1111.”

That’s it?  Why can’t they put this in the instructions?

“I don’t know ... that would certainly make it easier, wouldn’t it?”

There was an email address to ask any questions about HR policies and forms and whatnot; I asked this same question of them.  Their response – two days later – was “If we published what our default SSN was then it would be available to people to use to enroll for benefits they don’t qualify for.”

My response was  ... but unless they were serious about their benefit scamming, their SSNs wouldn’t match and they wouldn’t get any benefits; if they were serious about their scamming then they’d have a falsified SSN in the first damned place and they wouldn’t need a default.  In any event, it does no harm to give a non-SSN value for people to use in the event of a newborn – such as “Newborn” – that Zeke’s Softwear can then convert into the default value.

They didn’t reply back to this.  So I’m publishing their default SSN for them.  It is 123-11-1111.

I put 123-11-1111 into my fifth child’s/third son’s SSN field on his half-page “Add Dependent” form.  I clicked “submit”.  I was given a pop-up that told me my dependent addition would have to be “approved” by HR before I could do anything else.  Of all the arrogant notions.  I was unaware that I needed company approval in order to reproduce.  In any event, this approval was somewhat over nine months late in being advised.

By the next morning I was informed of CSC’s condescending approval of my fifth/third dependent and was told to go back to the same place I had been before in their benighted maze of misnamed web links, dead-ends, gotchas, and spiraling axle-wraps.  The emailed instructions told me about “step three”, which was to actually sign up my fifth/third for the health insurance that would pay part of the hospital bills from his being born and catching an unfortunate lung full of amniotic fluid during egress, and which required him to stay an extra day.

Once I found “step three”, I clicked on the link to get the form I had to fill out for the dependent medical benefits and life insurance stuff – same as I have for the rest of the clan.  I waited for the form to load on the screen.  And waited.  And waited.

And waited.

The little bar on the bottom of the web browser indicated it was still downloading something.  After several minutes, the little bar said “Done” and I looked ... and there was nothing there.  I went back, tried it again.  When it said it was done the window was empty.

I spent all afternoon doing this.  More time I cannot get back.

In exasperation I sent a letter to the guy I work for as well as another to the HR department’s help line stating, essentially, “I was told to do ‘step three’ but when I get there, there’s no ‘there’ there.”

Day Four was spent at home, in part recuperating from bureaucracy overload, and in part driving my wife and fifth/third to various places they both had to go.

By the time I got back to work on Day Five, I had a grumpy set of emails from various people in HR informing me that they, too, were just end users of Zeke’s Discownt Softwear, and to fill out the attached forms and either scan them and email them back, or fax them back.  If I ever need anything scanned, I have my wife do it – she hadn’t come to work with me.  So the fax it is.

I filled out the forms, all but one stupid little detail.  I emailed my wife about it but didn’t hear back, which is not unusual as it sometimes takes a half hour [minimum] for the company email system to figure out where it is and what it’s doing, often getting it wrong.  We bought our email software from Zeke, too.  That night I was informed that my email had been sent to her spam folder.

Day Six I had the last information I needed, and I faxed it all to HR.

Six days to do a half hour’s worth of bureaucracy.

At around the same time, I got a company-wide email from the same HR department informing me that the health benefits for next year were going to be drastically different.  The bottom line was that “well-paid” employees will be paying more for their health insurance next year because younger employees and those who otherwise don’t make as much as, well, me, can’t afford health insurance as easily as I can.

Yes, class, CSC’s Human Resources Department is advising their employees that all employee paychecks are open and fair game for corporate plundering, to be disbursed to those that the company views as more deserving of the employee’s money than the employee who earned it.

I sent an email to HR’s help desk asking if I was reading this correctly.  I forwarded the same stuff to my wife, who works in insurance, and her response was “Welcome to Obamacare.”

The next day I was informed by HR that yes I was reading it correctly, because there is a “nationwide” problem of health care “accessibility” and that stealing my money for in-house redistribution was the way CSC was helping to fix it.  And was that a heavy dollop of pride I was reading in the email’s tone, indicating that stealing my money to give to others was a good and proper thing to do?  It was indeed.  Yes, class, Computer Sciences Collective is robbing people of their paychecks and they are proud to do so; veritably tickled pinko.

It did not seem to cross any of their Marxist minds that this money is mine and that I might have a use for it myself.  Like putting a new roof on the house.

I sent another message to the help desk people informing them that I was not really interested in assisting others through “our socialist president’s brainless socialism within our company”.  It is bad enough that it’s being done as national policy so that we need to take out another China-backed mortgage which China will not forgive when our country finally defaults.

I further mentioned a “corporate Marxist” as a vague and undirected gripe, that I was grossly offended by the prospect of my paycheck being the “from each” of the Marxist Dialectic, and to please tell me the names of the “communist collective” which made this company decision to plunder and redistribute paychecks so that I might be “rude directly to the people who more properly deserve it.”

I heard nothing more from them.

Instead I heard from the project director two days later.  It seems that someone in HR took exception to my many references to socialism in the new corporate healthcare benefits, and the vice president of Human Resources, a person by the name of John Heim, started at the top of my division and went south until he finally found someone that knew who I was that he could chew out and threaten my job at.

How dare someone actually use the feedback mechanism for feedback!  Why, why, it’s unprofessional.  Which is a term that I heard more than once myself when *I* was chewed out by the project director.  And, well, I’m sorry, but professionalism cannot be acquired in the absence of honesty and accuracy, which my comments to HR were brimming with.  What they were not brimming with, on the other hand, was diplomacy.  No, I’m not diplomatic – if you’re fine being a socialism-apologist, I’m fine saying you’re being one; I have never been diplomatic and doubt I ever will be.  I also casually mentioned that I’d worked with and for this project director for a few decades and know that he is no more diplomatic by nature than I am, so he of all people can understand the situation.

Well, we aren’t talking about him, we’re talking about me, and what would I do if I had received such an email critical of my response as I had given to HR?  “You’d be the first one to complain,” I was told.

About this?  No, I’d be the last.  I’m the first one to complain about counter-productive activities, about dictatorial high-handedness, bureaucratic  fiat writ stupid [and, typically, in childish crayon scrawls], imperiousness, officiousness, dishonesty, disingenuity, duplicity ... that’s what I complain about, continually, to the point where no one listens to me anymore.  Not that they ever did; no one wants to hear that their favorite emperor is naked.  But someone challenges me, my words, and my ideas?

Honestly, I’d laugh.  Because, first, I don’t put out a position under my name that I cannot intellectually support.  I would not have heavily implied that it was each well-paid employee’s duty to devote his paycheck for the benefit of lesser-paid employees, and to do so willingly.  I would have stated, instead, that it was Stupid Socialism Gone Wild, and so I would not have gotten a challenge directed at me on this subject.  Other subjects, where various emperors are being described as naked, perhaps.

Second, I am far from a novice in the clash of words and ideas; if I had indeed received a challenge to a position I’d taken then it’d be just like any of a thousand others I’ve received over the years.  It’s not a big deal at this point, and my ego can take it, which apparently John Heim’s can’t.  If someone challenges me to a battle of words and ideas, he is asking me – veritably begging me – to hand his ass to him in little tiny pieces.  I do not mince words and I don’t take prisoners.  You wanna challenge me, go for it.  I’ll even let you draw first.  It’s your funeral; get there how you wish.

But in the end, it was impressed upon me that plundering others’ paychecks is a professional thing to do, while objecting to it as Stupid Socialism Gone Wild is not.  And if we don’t believe it when the project director says it because he’s told to, then the vice president of Human Resources has volunteered to be available for a phone call so he can tell me this imperious, officious, dishonest, disingenuous, duplicitous bureaucratic dictation as well.  And he believes it.

Yeah, well, not without a loyyer, I won’t call.  Who trusts the man who threatens your job because you were correct and uncomplimentary about something he does because he believes in it?

For among the corporate ethics violations I’ve spotted here are the disallowance of feedback through the stated feedback mechanisms when that feedback is critical of the department being feedbacked upon, and the implied and stated attempt to seek retribution against critics.  Both are unethical corporate no-nos significantly more no-no-ish than merely being “unprofessionally” direct in an email.

But, then, at one time, also a no-no was pillaging paychecks for redistribution among new-hires who don’t make as much as those of us employed for around a quarter of a century, or the union feebs without a college degree who are unskilled labor.  Our socialist president may feel sorry enough for them to give them his money [not to mention China’s], and so may I.  But if I do, it will be because *I* choose to, not because some Marxist dweeb chose for me.

Time was, these were the folks I was hired to protect us from.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Groveler-in-Chief

Groveler-in-Chief
©2012 Ross Williams




For a superpower, the United States is acting as timid as a church mouse.

Scratch that; let’s make that a mosque mouse.

It’s well-established that no one in the Obama Administration has the first clue about foreign policy and international politics. Of the entire cabal of incompetents, Hillary Clinton is the most knowledgeable and accomplished. In a distant second is the Democrats’ Dan Quayle, Tweedle-Dummer to Hillary’s Tweedle-Dum: Joe Biden.

It is shameful for US foreign affairs to be nearly as neophytic as a freshman Poli-Sci class, where the pair bending the bell curve to the right, sporting gold stars on their homework, makes Neville Chamberlain look like a hard-assed prick. At least the clown prince of post-Versaillean pseudo-diplomacy can make the excuse that he was up against a charismatic megalomaniac when he gave Czechoslovakia away; the US isn’t up against anybody worth noting, mainly mobs of vandals, and yet we’re ceding our interests in the entire Middle East to all claimants and takers.

...unless their name is Israel. Of course.

The Religion of Peace® has gone on another bender recently because some Jewish-American flack in California, who may instead be a disgruntled Coptic christian, but who calls himself an Israeli, made a short [and reportedly bad] film portraying Mohammed as a “fraud, womanizer and madman” in the words of the Associated Press. Close on the heels of the womanizer claim is child sex-abuser.

In all fairness, having multiple wives is common in many cultures even today and certainly was among Arabs of Mohammed’s day, and marrying women who were barely menstruating was standard practice in virtually all cultures 1,400 years ago, up to and including Dark Age Europe. It is only by today’s Western standards that “womanizer” and “child sex-abuser” has any resonance at all ... and then it is only among the cultural and historical illiterates whose opinions on the subject have less than no relevance.

The assertion that Mohammed was a fraud is – or should be – nearly as easily dismissible. A fraud is someone who isn’t what he claims to be. And that criticism applies to every single person ever, including the “Jewish”-American “filmmaker” who made the now-notorious “film” exposing Islam. He’s not a filmmaker any more than Hillary Clinton is a diplomat or Barry Hussein is a statesman. They’re all frauds. Mohammed is too? Color me shocked.

The label “madman”, however, is not so readily discharged.

Mohammed was a guy with a chip on his shoulder roughly the size of the Arabian Peninsula who got into a pissing contest with the city elders of his hometown of Mecca over idol worshippers making pilgrimage – essentially, Mohammed, like every xenophobe ever, didn’t want tourists or their money sullying his city if those tourists were different from him. Because he was not in the city elders’ clan, his criticisms of their administration were ignored ... until he started a rebellion, of course. Rebellions tend to attract attention. Mohammed and his clan lost their rebellion against Mecca’s rulers.

Many of Mohammed’s relatives were rewarded by being kicked out of town, exiled to “Ethiopia” – which is the ancient term for any place in Africa that wasn’t Egypt. Mohammed himself was placed under house arrest, and there he stayed until he escaped and [to make a long, megalomaniacal story short] enlisted the help of two tribal groups squabbling for control over Mecca’s rival trade-hub city, Medina, to come help him conquer Mecca. This time Mohammed was successful. And until his death he continued to conquer city after city in the Arabian Peninsula until he controlled all the major trade hubs – and the money they brought in.

Once in control, he could impose any travel restrictions on idol-worshippers he wished – and he did. ...by killing idol-worshippers who refused to accept forcible conversion to his own strident religious philosophy, thus making everyone like him.

The lengths to which Mohammed went in order to make his xenophobic and intolerant point upon Mecca’s city council were not the actions of a reasoned and articulate academic; they were dogmatic, autocratic ... in the vernacular, the actions of a madman.

The fraud of a filmmaker has a legitimate point here, but not one that hasn’t been made countless times before and, frankly, better.

The apologists for the Religion of Peace® continue to not have a point in their mopish excuse-making of islamic hooliganism, though. The US Embassy in Cairo was attacked by islamists denouncing Israel over the existence of this “film”; the US Consulate in Benghazi Libya was attacked by same, and the US Ambassador and three of his staff were killed. It was and is, in IntLaw-speak, an act of war.

It has been 33 years since a US Ambassador has been killed in anything other than a traffic accident. One was killed during the Johnson Administration, one during Nixon, one during Ford and two during Carter – all by what are considered “terrorists”, before “The War Against Terrorism” was conceived, and when actual terrorism against the US was significantly more likely to occur. While it is not necessarily best, or even wise, to respond to the act-of-war assassinations of US diplomats with F-18s, battleships and cruise missiles, the appropriate response is not to say – as the US Embassy in Egypt did – that the US condemns “misguided individuals” trying to “hurt the feelings of Muslims.”

In our culture, hurting others’ feelings is called Free Speech, and is what our nation was founded upon. The misguided individual is himself called a Free Citizen. Feelings be damned. The US government has no business taking sides among US interests full of free citizens jawing at each other until one of them throws a punch, and when non-Americans take issue with what free American citizens say to them or about them, the business of the US government is to side with the Americans in the dispute, regardless of how rude they may have been in their free speechifying.

The Obama Administration, through its diplomatic mealy-mouthpiece in Egypt, has essentially gone on record as saying that US political rights are wrong when they annoy foreigners to the point they can no longer control themselves. Their murderous rampage becomes understandable, veritably forgivable; our rudeness becomes damnable.

Not to pick at scabs, here, but isn’t this President the same guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize, just for being black? [Or was it just because he wasn’t Dubya? I forget] Isn’t he the same guy who bows and scrapes to leaders of muslim nations as a subordinate would, while giving the diplomatic finger to Israel? who refers to muslim leaders – religious, political, and in between – by the titles required for use by subordinates, and not by the terms diplomatic protocol sets aside for use among heads of state? ...while not doing the same to, say, the Queen of England?

Yes, it’s the same guy. Curious.

I have steadfastly refused to play into the “Barry Hussein is a muslim” game of easy denunciation, being content to let his gross ineptitude speak for itself in shouts of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance; I’ve even pointed it out from time to time when others were disinclined to ...which, noting most of the US medias’ own bowing and scraping to him, is just about always.

A President who refuses to meaningfully challenge those who malign the US, its values, its character, its people, and its diplomats, is a President refusing to do his job. He is effectively assisting those who take potshots at us with the stated intention of taking us down.

There’s a good argument to be made that foreign policy as enacted by Dubya was ham-fisted and awkward, making the US look ungainly and slightly unhinged, but in baseball terms that can be seen as being “effectively wild”. A batter facing such a pitcher is more likely to bail out on a grooved fastball as he is to stand in the box and swing.

Barry Hussein isn’t wild, he’s mild; he sure isn’t effectively wild, and to be effectively mild requires carrying a big stick – which he certainly has at his disposal, but he wants nothing much to do with it ...even in an election year.

Needless to say, in foreign affairs, he isn’t effective. All his groveling and prostration does is make the US look insipid and weak, an easy mark for hooligans. He’s either doing this because he is inept, because he is overmatched, because he is incompetent, all as Carter was ... or it’s because he has certain personal philosophies which interfere with him accomplishing his secular duties as President of the United States to first and foremost protect the interests of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The only relevant distinction lies in whether he should be voted out by We The People in an election, or by the US Senate in an impeachment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vindication

Vindication
©2012 Ross Williams





In 2006, right around the time it happened, I essayed on an incident in a baseball game involving the team I follow – the Chicago Cubs – in which the Cubs’ catcher was clobbered at home plate by a baserunner who failed to make use of the available basepath to avoid collision. The argument I made at the time went roughly as follows:

1] the Cubs’ catcher was in a position to take a throw from the outfield and make a play on the baserunner
2] the rules of baseball prohibit baserunners from interfering with fielders in position to make plays – and taking throws is among the plays fielders can make
3] the baserunner is given a basepath of 3’ on either side of a direct line between his position and the base he is attempting to reach in order to avoid contact with a fielder attempting to make a play
4] a baserunner not using the available basepath when he can do so shall be called out for interference, just as he would be at first base, or second base, or third base if he’d have run over the fielder taking a throw

Others with whom I had discussed this rather notorious incident prior to my essaying upon it pointed out their feeble criticisms with my argument:

A] the rules of baseball prohibit catchers from blocking home plate.

...the rules of baseball prohibit any fielder from blocking any other base as well. So what? “Blocking” a base is defined to be impeding a baserunner’s ability to get to a base to which he is entitled without having possession of the baseball or being in a position to take a throw. The Cubs’ catcher in this incident was awaiting the throw from the outfield, ergo he was not “blocking” home plate.

B] yabbut, the rules of baseball specifically single out catchers when prohibiting blocking the base.

...yet the rules of baseball still define “blocking” a base as not having possession of the baseball, nor being in a position to catch a thrown baseball, so it still doesn’t apply. In any event, the Cubs’ catcher was in possession of the baseball at the moment of [unnecessary] impact, because the baseball was dislodged during the collision. The Cubs’ catcher was not blocking home plate period get it through your heads.

C] the rules of baseball allow catchers to be run over by baserunners trying to score.

...no, they don’t. The rules of baseball do not allow any fielder making, or attempting to make, a play to be run over by a baserunner when there is a way to avoid a collision. It has merely become a practice of baseball – a practice unsupported by the rules – which tolerates baserunners clobbering catchers [and only catchers], devising a whole series of unwritten “clean hit” rules to gauge it by, none of which are supported by the rulebook and all of them clearly disingenuous rationalization. If the rules don’t support it happening at second base on a stolen base attempt, I concluded in my earlier essay, then the rules should not support it happening at home plate when a runner tries to score from third on a sacrifice fly. The only reason it’s tolerated is because a stocky catcher wears armored equipment that is not worn by the thin, third world shortstop making a tag on a stolen base attempt.

The asshole A J Pierzynski clobbering Michael Barrett in the incident above is widely [though not universally] seen as being one of these arbitrary “clean plays”, however Pete Rose clobbering Ray Fosse is widely [though not universally] viewed as not. Yet, of the two, the one where the catcher was not in physical possession of the ball at the time he was steamrolled was Ray Fosse, so any further attempts to excuse what makes one a “clean hit” and the other not based upon “blocking the plate” is ... and I may have used this phrase before ... disingenuous rationalization. A more popular term for it might be bullshit.

The reason this comes up six years later is that the baseball team local to where I live, the St Louis Cardinals, recently had their catcher clobbered by a baserunner trying to score. In this instance, the catcher was the demi-god Yadier Molina, and not the hotheaded Barrett who liked to swing his fists to punctuate his points. Unlike Barrett, Molina held onto the ball but [reportedly, and fleetingly, and also unlike Barrett] not his consciousness. And while many baseball people, including the drunken Cardinals’ radio man, Mike Shannon, did their valiant best to portray this as another of these ill-defined “clean hits”, you could tell from the endless radio and television replays of the incident that no one’s heart was truly in it. Molina was to miss much of the rest of the season for having ouchies, whereas Barrett was suspended ten games for denting the asshole Pierzynski’s jaw with his fist.

After all, this wasn’t just any catcher taking a shoulder to the chin, this was one of the vaunted Molina boys; and it didn’t happen to the catcher of a toss-away team everyone loves to sneer at like the Cubs, it happened to the Yankees of the National League, the Cardinals. You simply can’t get away with enforcing unwritten rules against the Cardinals. It’s just not done! The only saving grace in all this is that their prior manager, Tony Larussa, had retired the year before, otherwise the Cardinals would have gone on a season-long revenge against every opponent on their schedule ... while denying they were doing so. And they still may.

Right on cue, the sports media, from local StL newspapers to grandpappy ESPN – which in 2006 lambasted Michael Barrett for starting a brawl by cold-cocking the asshole Pierzynski for sliding elbows first into Barrett’s face– has come out, nearly in unison, calling for an end to the unwritten rule that allows catchers to be clobbered, deliberately run into and run over, by baserunners trying to score. Because, sure, the catcher is wearing all that equipment, but it’s not a guarantee of protection – just ask any football player, Ray Fosse or Yadier Molina. Besides, it’s not allowed at second base on an attempted steal; why should home plate be any different?

…words that couldn’t have sounded better if they’d come off my own keyboard. Which they did. In 2006.

I don’t stop being wrong because an ESPN columnist finally reads the rulebook and echoes my sentiments, so I guess I was right all along … as I usually am. You’d think at some point others would simply stop their pointless quibbling.