I just learned that journalist and author Tony Horwitz, one of my favorite writers, died today at the young age of 60.
Horwitz’s writing was part history, part participatory journalism, and part travelogue – three things I love to read, so naturally I enjoyed reading the combination of all three. He had a way of bridging past and present, and shaking the assumptions we have about history. He will be missed.
Here are the Horwitz books I’ve read with links to reviews:
I also learned that he just released a new book earlier this month called Spying on the South, which is about Frederick Law Olmsted of all people, a strange confluence of my interests. Rest assured I’ll be reading that soon!
WBUR News :: Rarely Heard Worcester Speech Shows Another Side Of MLK
Hear Martin Luther King speak in a more relaxed setting than most previously released King recordings, while talking about some familiar themes.
Have You Heard? :: Am I Next? School Shootings and Student Protests
Best of the Left :: The kids are alright and they are leading the way again (Parkland Shooting)
Two podcasts about school shootings and the brave teenage activists leading the way in opposition to gun violence.
How Did the Flint Water Crisis Happen? is an important podcast by the investigative journalism agency ProPublica about one of the greatest criminal acts performed by a government against its people in American history. This is an important listen for gaining better understanding of this still under-reported humanitarian crisis in Michigan.
Believe it or not it’s been three years since I posted how much I hate Daylight Saving Time, and particularly the night in which we must “spring forward” the clock 1 hour. I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow and dragging myself through the day.
I’ve nothing new to write, but here are my previous four posts on the topic:
EDIT ON MONDAY: Here’s something that might make me wonder. How about instead of having the time change occur on a weekend in the middle of the night, why not have the time change on a Monday afternoon. That’s right, at 1 pm on Monday afternoon everyone sets their clocks ahead to 2 pm. A shorter workday for everyone once a year! And yes, employers, you still pay your hourly workers for an 8-hour day.
In honor of this special day let’s revisit one of my favorite posts.
A friend of mine called me “crankypants” yesterday because of it, but I still hate switching to Daylight Saving Time. I’ve been congested and sleeping poorly the past week so I didn’t need to lose an hour of sleep on top of that.
Anyhow, I like this quote attributed to some unnamed Native American (who is thus probably entirely fictional) but speaks the truth:
When told the reason for daylight saving time the old Indian said… “Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.”
I also like this article “The 5 Stages of Daylight Saving Time” by fellow conspiracy victim Jennifer Fulwiler.
Earlier screeds against Daylight Saving Time:
I’ve read on several blogs and new sites about a recent study that apparently links research behavior at American universities with the NCAA Basketball Tournament. According to this study by Charles Clotfelter, after Selection Sunday when the tournament teams are announced, the number of articles viewed on JSTOR drop. What is really frustrating me about this study and all the people passing it along as a done deal in correlation is that it does not take into consideration one important factor.
Clotfelter doesn’t mention — and I haven’t seen anyone ask — what effect that Spring Break has on research behavior. Think about it. Every March colleges and universities have no classes for at least a week and many students leave campus for recreation, volunteer service projects, and job recruiting activities. Of course they’re not looking at JSTOR during Spring Break. Even upon returning to campus, many students aren’t going to head straight to the library, especially if their mid-terms were before Spring Break.
So yeah, college students may be watching basketball, but maybe Professor Coltfetter needs to revisit his assumptions.
Daylight Savings Time begins today meaning that we will have a greater risk of on-the-job injuries according to Scientific American. And The Christian Science Monitor reports that changing our clocks will cost us money. The Monitor rightly asks why is that we spring forward again?
Ugh! Join me in hoping that this silly — and dangerous — tradition will end someday soon.
While most kids look forward to Christmas, when I was a child, St. Patrick’s Day (along with Thanksgiving) was one of my favorite days of the year. It was a big day in my family usually involving going to the parade in New York and seeing family and friends we hadn’t seen in a while. Then there was the music, the stories of St. Patrick, the history of Ireland and the Irish in America. Growing up in a town where the dominant population was Italian-American, it also helped that there was one day a year where everyone wanted to be Irish. The element of pride was strong.
Things started to change when I moved to Virginia. If people celebrated St. Patrick’s day at all it was at a most superficial and sterotypical levely. Mostly it was just an excuse to get drunk. I thought St. Patrick’s Day would be better when I moved to Boston, but even in this most Irish of American cities I find the magic of my childhood lacking. I still look forward to St. Patrick’s Day but usually end up a little disappointed. Here are some things that contribute to my ambivalence:
- Wearing of the green – not bad in itself although some people really stretch the definition of green to include lime, chartreuse, olive drab and teal. Worse, they wear all those colors at once. I’m more perturbed by the self-imposed enforcers who critcize anyone in green. In years past I’ve worn sweaters made in Ireland thinking it more authentic, but there’s no pleasing the Green Team. Which brings me to:
- Pinching – Who came up with this crock? I lived 18-years in an Irish-American family interacting with Irish-American communities before I ever heard of the idea that you pinch people who don’t wear green when I started college. People act as if it’s some ancient Irish tradition, but I’m certain it’s a fairly recently innovation created to appeal to everyone’s inner sadist and I hope it goes away soon.
- Beads – It seems that wearing cheap plastic green beads is the thing to do these days on St. Patrick’s Day, even though it’s an obvious rip-off of New Orlean’s Mardi Gras. Granted, both holidays are about a month a part, have Catholic roots, and have a lot of revelry, but IIRC even in Mardi Gras the beads are a cheapening of a richer holiday tradition. Lets can this one too.
- 364 days a year, one can visit a pub in the greater Boston and hear a great performance of Irish music – traditional or contemporary – and meet interesting people while quaffing a tasty Irish beer. One day a year you can wedge yourself into an Irish pub with a bunch of drunken frat boys, listen to cheezy Oirish music and drink green-dyed Corona and pay a 20$ (or more) cover charge for the privilege. Guess which day this is?
- Danny Boy – once upon a time this was probably a lovely song, but these days this performance is not too far off the mark:
- Parades on St. Patrick’s day are a good way to celebrate the arts, culture, faith, and history of the Irish people but (in America at least) they are tainted by homophobia, militarism, and racism.
- The stupid t-shirts
Could be I’m just a grump. I’m cheered though that my wife brought home Dubliner cheese and Irish soda bread for supper which we enjoyed with (German) beer and (Italian) pasta. Then we danced to some Irish music with our little boy. I’ll need to find some new traditions to make St. Patrick’s Day as memorable for him as it was for me.
The recent hullabaloo over CitiGroup’s 20-year contract to name the New York Mets new ballpark has reminded me of some ideas regarding stadium naming rights. Corporate naming of venues is a trend already unpopular with sports’ fans but not really all that new. After all, the oldest surviving ballpark in baseball was named to promote the owner’s Fenway Realty Company. So I’ve put together a list of guidelines for stadium naming rights that may help future sports franchise, building management, and potential sponsors.
- First, if the company owns the team and/or stadium, then naming is a no-brainer. It may even pay off in the long run as fans in Chicago would be aghast if Wrigley Field ever changed names while in St. Louis, the Busch name transferred over to a new ballpark even though the chewing gum and beer companies are no longer tied to these franchises.
- If the company doesn’t actually own the team, they should at least be a major employer with a long history in the city or region where the stadium is built. Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts are good examples. Although if your company processes nuclear waste you may want to consider other options of advertisement.
- If a stadium has been known by a certain name for years, fans will still call it by that name regardless of your attempts to rebrand it. San Francisco’s Candlestick Park has been labeled numerous ghastly corporate names over the years but fans still call it Candlestick Park, and it is once again officially so. A better approach is portmanteau renaming like Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver or the classy callback of TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, although those names fail on other grounds. Specifically:
- Companies in the banking, telecommunications, and energy industries are right out. These industries are too unstable for the long-term naming that sporting venues deserve with their frequent mergers, failures, and often ridiculous renaming of these companies. I’d also rule out any company with .com in their name since they should know by now how to distinguish between what’s a proper name for a company and that company’s url.
So that’s my take a sensible approach for stadium naming rights. As for CitiField, despite what some congress members have to say, I do believe that despite the support of taxpayer money, CitiGroup has the right to spend their advertising dollars for as long as they remain a company. If the deal does fall through though, I think Gil Hodges Field has a nice ring to it.