March 9, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:16 PM


Illegal border crossings from Canada quietly rising, data shows (Kerry Sanders, Ezra Kaplan and Daniella Silva, 3/09/19, NBC News)

DERBY LINE, Vermont -- More than 960 people crossed into the U.S. illegally from the northern border with Canada last year, according to data released from Customs and Border Protection.

While that number is a tiny fraction compared to the migration across the border with Mexico, it represented a 91 percent increase from the prior fiscal year, the data showed.

The Trump administration's rhetoric on border security has largely homed in on the southern border, which has seen an influx of thousands of families with children from Central America seeking asylum in the United States.

It's the coastal walls that are really going to be expensive.

Posted by orrinj at 6:42 AM



"Pitching is what makes me happy. I've devoted my life to it. I live my life around the four days between starts. It determines what I eat, when I go to bed, what I do when I'm awake. It determines how I spend my life when I'm not pitching. If it means I have to come to Florida and can't get tanned because I might get a burn that would keep me from throwing for a few days, then I never go shirtless in the sun. If it means when I get up in the morning I have to read the box scores to see who got two hits off Bill Singer last night instead of reading a novel, then I do it. If it means I have to remind myself to pet dogs with my left hand or throw logs on the fire with my left hand, then I do that, too. If it means in the winter I eat cottage cheese instead of chocolate chip cookies in order to keep my weight down, then I eat cottage cheese. I might want those cookies but I won't ever eat them. That might bother some people but it doesn't bother me. I enjoy the cottage cheese. I enjoy it more than I would those cookies because I know it will help me do what makes me happy.

"Life isn't very heavy for me. I've made up my mind what I want to do. I'm happy when I pitch well so I only do those things that help me be happy. I wouldn't be able to dedicate myself like this for money or glory, although they are certainly considerations. If I pitch well for 15 years I'll be able to give my family security. But that isn't what motivates me. What motivates some pitchers is to be known as the fastest who ever lived. Some want to have the greatest season ever. All I want is to do the best I possibly can day after day, year after year. Pitching is the whole thing for me. I want to prove I'm the best ever."

Tom Seaver is the youngest pitcher in the history of baseball to sign a contract for more than $100,000 a season. He has averaged 19 victories a year for the New York Mets. At the age of 27, after five full seasons in the major leagues, he had won 95 ball games. Walter Johnson, who won more games than any pitcher in this century, won only 80 in his first five seasons. Grover Cleveland Alexander, second to Johnson, won 70 games by the time he reached his 27th birthday; Sandy Koufax, 68; Bob Gibson, 34; Warren Spahn, 29.

Thomas George Seaver has one of those smooth, boyish. Middle American faces that would be a burden to some men. He possesses the handsomeness so prized in the 1950s of Pat Boone and Tab Hunter. It is a temptation to describe his face as having too little character when you would more rightly mean too few characteristics. It is a face of undistinguished parts, which are subordinate only to a single clear impression of uncluttered good looks.

Seaver stands 6'½" and weighs 210 pounds from November to February when he indulges himself with an occasional breakfast of fried eggs and beer, and he weighs 205 pounds from March to October when he allows himself no fried eggs and beer. He has a squarish, heavy-chested body that tends to fat but is deceptively muscled. His arms, shoulders, chest and thighs are thick with muscles acquired from years of lifting weights. He believes, unlike most pitchers and coaches, that a selective program of weight lifting will add speed to a pitcher's fastball. As a high school senior in Fresno, Calif. he stood 5'9" and weighed 160 pounds. He was the third-hardest thrower on his team. He did not pick up speed until he began lifting weights in college and had grown three inches and put on 30 pounds. Because he has worked so diligently in developing those parts of his body that relate to his talent, Seaver is highly critical--one might almost say contemptuous--of less conscientious players. He will say of a teammate whose chest is noticeably undeveloped, "Do you know he hit 20 balls to the warning track last year! Twenty! Another 10 feet and they would have been home runs. I know I'd find the strength to hit those balls another 10 feet."

Although he is not conscious of it, Seaver shows his disdain for men who he feels have not fulfilled their potential.

Posted by orrinj at 6:35 AM


In another blow to Trump, judge rules in favor of ACLU in family separation case (MARIA SACCHETTI, 3/08/19, THE WASHINGTON POST)

In a legal blow to the Trump administration, a federal judge ruled Friday that all migrant families separated during the government's border crackdown should be included in a class-action lawsuit. But he stopped short of immediately ordering the Justice Department to track them all down.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in California said the universe of separated families should extend beyond the 2,700-plus children taken from their parents last spring, and include families forced apart as early as July 1, 2017, and the months afterward, when the Trump administration was denying that it had a policy of separating families.

Sabraw said a government watchdog report in January that potentially thousands more families were separated than the Trump administration had admitted publicly compelled the court to look into the matter.

"The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders," he wrote in a 14-page ruling. "That Defendants may have to change course and undertake additional effort to address these issues does not render modification of the class definition unfair; it only serves to underscore the unquestionable importance of the effort and why it is necessary (and worthwhile)."

Posted by orrinj at 6:32 AM


Another Trump flack leaves over bad press (GREG SARGENT, 3/08/19,  The Washington Post)

Consider the headlines we've seen in recent days. Some of the most unflattering ones are just straight reporting of ways in which Trump has failed by his own metrics. For instance, migrating families arriving at the border just spiked to new highs -- meaning Trump's efforts to deter them from coming through all manner of cruelty have failed. When those numbers were low, he saw that as a sign that he was succeeding. But now they're spiking. This is just a factual matter that no amount of magical spinning can make disappear.

On North Korea, Trump got slammed with headlines after his efforts at a deal with North Korea abruptly collapsed. But it was Trump himself who inflated expectations by absurdly blustering early on that "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea." This also led to more bad headlines when administration officials were forced to contradict it.

Then there's the trade deficit in goods. It has now ballooned to its largest point in U.S. history. This is a fact that Trump's own Commerce Department announced. It has always been idiotic of Trump to invest this metric with the importance that he has, but he did that, and so he is failing by a metric that he established for himself, out of folly and ignorance. No amount of magical spinning can make that disappear, either.

Also on trade, Trump is getting hammered by headlines reporting that he's likely to end up making a face-saving deal with China that doesn't produce the concessions he originally wanted. But it's Trump who sold himself as the Greatest Dealmaker in History, then launched us into a trade war while absurdly claiming that "trade wars are good, and easy to win."

This guaranteed that the headlines showing the damage being done by those trade wars, and the failure to secure the deal he wants, would be all the more brutal. Trump's total lack of interest in learning the complexities of issues, and his unshakable confidence in his ability to bluster his way through anything, is the problem here.

From Jane Mayer, we have now learned in unsettling detail that the hiring of Shine, a former Fox News executive, represented a key part of the near-wholesale merger of Fox and the White House into one large and unified propaganda operation on Trump's behalf.

Posted by orrinj at 6:18 AM


Into the woods: how one man survived alone in the wilderness for 27 years : At the age of 20, Christopher Knight parked his car on a remote trail in Maine and walked away with only the most basic supplies. He had no plan. His chief motivation was to avoid contact with people. This is his story (Michael Finkel,  15 March 2017, The Guardian)

Knight said that he couldn't accurately describe what it felt like to spend such an immense period of time alone. Silence does not translate into words. "It's complicated," he said. "Solitude bestows an increase in something valuable. I can't dismiss that idea. Solitude increased my perception. But here's the tricky thing: when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. There was no audience, no one to perform for. There was no need to define myself. I became irrelevant."

The dividing line between himself and the forest, Knight said, seemed to dissolve. His isolation felt more like a communion. "My desires dropped away. I didn't long for anything. I didn't even have a name. To put it romantically, I was completely free."

Virtually everyone who has tried to describe deep solitude has said something similar. "I am nothing; I see all," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. Lord Byron called it "the feeling infinite". The American mystic Thomas Merton said that "the true solitary does not seek himself, but loses himself".

For those who do not choose to be alone - like prisoners and hostages - a loss of one's socially created identity can be terrifying, a plunge into madness. Psychologists call it "ontological insecurity", losing your grip on who you are. Edward Abbey, in Desert Solitaire, a chronicle of two six‑month stints as a ranger in Utah's Arches National Monument, said that being solitary for a long time "means risking everything human". Knight, meanwhile, didn't even keep a mirror in his camp. He was never once bored. He wasn't sure, he said, that he even understood the concept of boredom. "I was never lonely," Knight added. He was attuned to the completeness of his own presence rather than to the absence of others.

"If you like solitude," he said, "you are never alone."

Posted by orrinj at 4:52 AM



The fundamental design of the violin has changed only once since the times of Antonio Stradivari, considered the ultimate master craftsman of the instrument.

The new findings could rock the music world, so to speak, and alter the way we construct the stringed instruments in the future.

Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, has conducted violin research for 40 years. After exhaustive tonal frequency tests, chemical analysis, and detailed measurements of key parts, he believes that making violin fingerboards lighter and shorter would bring their sound closer to the level the instruments of Italian masters produced centuries ago. His work will appear in the music journal the Strad.

Posted by orrinj at 3:35 AM



I was brought up on real hockey, before the slap shot and head-manning the puck all but displaced stickhandling. Mine was a six-team league, charged with talent, wherein the bruiser who scored 20 goals in his debutante year was going some. Last season, on the other hand, rookie Center Gil Perreault was able to score more than 30 with nobody worth mentioning on either wing.

In my time records signified something. Nobody committed an outlandish 100 points a year. But only last season four Boston Bruins--Orr, Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk and Ken Hodge--did better. Any league in which Bucyk and Hodge can look that good is holding up not a mirror but a magnifying glass to nature. To take a socially relevant, rather than esthetic, point of view it must be said that the cause of this decline in quality--a febrile expansion from six to 16 teams in six years--has allowed aging or mediocre players, like wilting corporation presidents, to retire to California, permissive California, where they continue playing, insufficiently, for untutored fans. Fans who simply cannot appreciate hockey as we do. (Look here. Such is our devotion, Canadian voters once even sent a defenseman, Red Kelly, to Parliament. And when it turned out that legislating and hockey conflicted, he had the good sense to quit--Parliament, of course.)

So seeing the game popularized, catching on in the other America, CBS paying the NHL a million dollars for the rights to the Sunday-afternoon game of the week, Bobby Orr making the cover of U.S. magazines, Derek Sanderson in Life, Esquire and The New Yorker, hockey books proliferating--well, we are pleased, we are flattered, yes, yes. But we are also apprehensive. Outsiders have stumbled onto our secret four-star restaurant and, while we applaud its new affluence, we fear for the quality. These days hyperbole is all.

In this new order, Bobby Orr is being touted as the game's savior, something of a latter-day Babe Ruth, and the resurgent Bruins as the greatest team ever to take to the ice. I shall always cherish them for the brilliant, exciting East Division final they lost to the Canadiens in 1968-69. The following season the Canadiens collapsed, and the Bruins ran away with everything. Then last season--which Cheevers writes about in Goaltender--Boston became the first team ever to win 57 games in a season and accumulate 121 points and score 399 goals. But come Stanley Cup playoff time, the serious hour, and the Canadiens beat them again. It was a stunning rookie goaltender, Ken Dryden, who really did them in.

Posted by orrinj at 12:36 AM


This Hipster Neighborhood is a Food Paradise in Europe (PARITA SHAH, 11/13/18, National Geographic)

Berlin is no longer playing catch-up with other culinary capitals but is a destination and foodie center in its own right, due in no small part to the influence of its Turkish immigrant population.

Nearly three million people of Turkish descent live in Germany today, making it the single largest immigrant group in the country. The biggest wave arrived in West Germany in the 1960s to replenish the labor supply cut off by the newly constructed Berlin Wall. The Turks arrived looking for reasonable rents, and headed to a part of West Berlin that had been largely destroyed in World War II.

That neighborhood, Kreuzberg, became a haven for Turks and other foreigners, including those who immigrated from the Maghreb and West Africa. The current mix of immigrants and underground, antiestablishment Germans transformed the neighborhood into a true hipster's paradise today. Since it's the best place in Berlin to get a taste of Turkish cuisine, Kreuzberg should be a part of any foodie's itinerary.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM



One day some years ago I drove from Miami to Palm Beach for a business appointment, and it was on the kind of day that causes a man to move to Florida in the first place. Bright, sunny, with just enough homemade divinity in the sky to break up the monotony of the flat horizon. It was a goof-off day, and because I was goofing off I took the slower but scenic AIA route after the maze at Fort Lauderdale.

I crossed a drawbridge past Deerfield Beach and noticed the cluster of ancient fishermen on the crest of the bridge, their lines dripping over the concrete balustrade. But there was one old man down at the end of the bridge, well away from the other fishermen. The water was shallow near the bank, and I wondered why he didn't move higher up, where he could cast into deeper water. Perhaps the old man had discovered a deep pool or an eddy that could not be seen from the highway. Perhaps, if the old man had not been standing all alone, I would not have noticed him.

The business transaction in Palm Beach was pleasant. The man who gave me the check was happy to do so because the money belonged to his company and not to him, and I was happy to get the check because I had already worked out a great way to spend it when I got back to Miami.

Going home, I drove even slower than on the way to Palm Beach. This time when I approached the drawbridge below Deerfield the jaws were open. I parked on the side of the road and walked over to the abutment to watch a powerboat chug through. The captain, or pilot, wore a Navy blue flannel jacket and a yellow silk scarf. The woman with him, however, was wearing an orange bikini and a heavy layer of suntan oil. I could smell the woman and the coconut in the oil as the boat passed. The boat was almost out of sight before I spoke to the old man, who was still there, still fishing.

"Catching anything, Pop?"

He nodded. "Three bream. More'n I wanted to catch."

He was a clean old man, wearing stiff khaki chinos, blue canvas tennis shoes and a long-billed cap. His long-sleeved sport shirt still had starch in it, even though he had been standing out in the sun all day. His face was close-shaven and there was a scaly circle on each cheek the color of a ripe Valencia orange. Sun cancers. Benign, of course, but potentially dangerous--and sometimes they itch a little. I had one carved off my left temple by a dermatologist for $50, and it left a round white scar the size of a dime. Now that we are all wearing our hair a little longer, the scar is almost hidden. Florida fishermen get them constantly. Even if you wear a hat the reflection from the water gets to your face. But the prospect of sun cancers has had no statistical effect on the mass migration of old men to Florida.

I looked into this one's yellow plastic bucket. It held a Col. Sanders snack box, an empty Nehi bottle and a wadded Oh Henry wrapper.

"Where are the fish?"

He shrugged. "I turned 'em loose."

"But bream are supposed to be good eating."

"If you like to eat fish, they are."

"You don't eat fish?"

He shook his head. "No, and I don't like fishin', either."