Friday, August 28, 2009

Rotating the (Pitching) Tires

Well, I was going to post this in the comments on this blog entry by Rob Neyer, but it won't let me. Anyway, I'm realizing that for some reason, I'm politics-heavy recently, so let's lighten it up a bit with analyzing the five-man rotation in baseball.

From Rob:
Let's say these magical evaluations tell you that you've got two starters who will thrive on just three days of rest, two who will do better with four days, and one old left-hander who's most effective with five days of rest.

Let's call them 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, and 5 (or you can call that last one 6, if he's the new Ted Lyons and is going to just pitch every Sunday afternoon). OK, now try to slot those guys into an actual baseball schedule. I fooled around for a few minutes, and I couldn't do it. I couldn't come close.

From me:

If a team really wanted to implement this, I imagine that instead of pigeonholing each starter into a number of days rest, they'd create a chart of how effective (in terms of both duration and quality) each starter is on 3, 4, 5, and 6+ days of rest. Sure, CC might be best on 3-days rest, but if there's only a slight drop-off pushing it to 4, maybe Girardi should do that so Pettitte doesn't go 12 days between starts or Brett Tomko doesn't get a fill-in start.

As far as creating a pitching schedule, that's what a computer is for. Maybe the ideal pitching schedule is impossible, but there's a good chance it would find something better. In fact, the worst thing it would come up with is the current 5-man rotation, since we know that already works.

One interesting thing is we're assuming the best starters are those that would thrive with the fewest days off. But maybe Wakefield (on the Red Sox) goes every 4 days and Lester goes every 6.

I think it could work in theory. I think it will fail in practice, because:
  • Pitchers would not be convinced this is the best for them, and for the team.
  • Injuries would upset the rotation much more than they do now (if your 3-day starter goes out and your replacement is a 5-day starter, that won't work).
Oh well, I guess this will remain in the realm of baseball simulations.

Why Universal Health Care?

I've raised this issue with friends in my church community, and I always seem to get the response that Universal Health Care is wrong.

First, the secular reasons:
  • It's socialism. But...
  • The cost is too high. But...
  • The government shouldn't tell us who to see. But... (this is a great explanation of the whole issue)
And more health care myths are shot down.

That's all well-and-good, but the biggest issue for me is that we're commanded to care for the poor over and over and over again, and the early church did just that, again and again and again.

The response I've heard is that it is the job of the Church and Christians to give freely, not to be taxed into giving. My response to that is if the Church and Christians were doing their job (myself included), there wouldn't be a need for health care reform. For that matter, there wouldn't be a need for health insurance at all. Anyone who needed medical care and couldn't afford it would be subsidized by the Church.

I think Richard Beck of Experimental Theology puts it best:
Where's the moral outrage in the Christian community about the uninsured? Churches by and large botched it during the Civil Rights Movement. Let's get on the right side of history this time around.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Scopes Redux

So, apparently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to challenge global warming, in court:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.

Chamber officials say it would be "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" -- complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.
My brain is exploding with reactions to this:
  • How is the courtroom the right place to decide the truth of scientific matters?
  • Well, maybe it is. It is the place where the facts are determined behind criminal matters. In these cases, it is not the law that is in dispute, but rather the facts that determine how the law should be applied.
  • Is this more of a PR stunt than a legal stunt? Is it a way to get Joe Public on the side of business?
Maybe the real issue comes down to this quote:
EPA is set to formally declare that the heat-trapping gases scientists blame for climate change endanger human health, and are thus subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.
And more questions:
  • Is it right for the EPA to expand its regulatory powers to include carbon dioxide?
  • Do businesses affected by this expansion have the right to fight it in court?
  • Why attack the science instead of attacking the interpretation of the Clean Air Act?
  • And maybe most confounding, why would the U.S. Chamber of Commerce invoke the Scopes monkey trial when the scientific standpoint won out (and the opposition is seen as a laughingstock)?
I'm still processing all of this, but my initial reactions are:
  • I'd love to see a balanced debate on the issue of global warming, where scientific studies are brought to light.
  • On the other hand, there does seem to be something wrong with having a legal expert decide scientific theory.
  • Regulating greenhouse gases by the EPA should take an act of Congress, not an interpretation of the Clean Air Act.
[Story seen through Slashdot]

Monday, August 24, 2009

If Geeks Ruled the Universe

After seeing this comic, I just had to put in a plug for xkcd:

Crude? Sometimes. Off the charts geeky? Always. Blowing my mind with humor and/or that someone else thinks like this? Often.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bahama Mamas

I came across this article on this blog about a bill in the Bahamas that would make it illegal for a husband to rape his wife. I found this appalling: first, that a man would even consider raping his wife; second, that they would use the Bible to justify it; third, that others could use this as evidence for how backwards and cruel Christianity is. Here's a quote (of a quote):
"I disagree with the bill because I disagree that a man can rape his wife. The Bible tells me that a man's body is his wife's and her body is his. How could he rape her?" asked Ms. Sweeting.
True, the Bible says that (mostly):
The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.
-- I Corinthians 7:4
First, note the "to her alone": the wife's body is not solely her husband's now, but belongs to both of them. Second, the context indicates that believers should not withhold sex from their spouses except in special times of prayer, so they will not be tempted (by sexual sin).

The biggest issue, though, is not found in this context but in another of Paul's writings: Ephesians.
... husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
-- Ephesians 5:28
This is written in the context of men being challenged to love their wives as Christ loved the church, giving Himself up for her. This passage is not about ensuring the sexual desires of the husband are met, but that he is focused on meeting his wife's desires.

When the Bible talks about the two bodies being one, it means that the husband should treat the wife's body as if it were his own, which he protects and cares for, not abuses. A rape of a woman would be analogous to--no, far worse than--being kicked in the groin over and over again. I know of no man, husband or not, who would wish that on himself.

Using the Bible to justify marital rape is distorting the entire text and the Message of Jesus: love. It is instead a feeble attempt by men to justify their desire to live for their own purpose rather than show sacrificial love.

Compound Guilt

In every financial investment class, they teach on the principle of compound interest. The way you make money over time is not by having your initial deposit earn interest, but having your interest earn interest.

I've been finding myself in a similar spot over the past few weeks, except it's been my guilt that's been earning interest. I set a goal in July to blog every other day, then proceeded to blog twice during the whole month. But once I had gone a week, I found it much harder to write than before. I was not only facing laziness and atrophy (i.e. I'm out of practice), but also the guilt of not having written for a while. As the days went, it was harder and harder to start, and the guilt piled on. "Aren't I supposed to be a writer? Didn't I get this goal of blogging from my time with God?" I asked myself. "Then why aren't I carving out the time, sitting down, and typing out words for His glory?"

This month, though, I've been reading God is Closer Than You Think by John Ortberg, and one of the points he makes is that when you fail, you can start over immediately. God doesn't hold it over your head and keep laying on the guilt; that's the work of the Enemy. God's only desire is to get you back on track, following Him; once you've turned back, there is no more lingering guilt. If you ask Him about the guilt, He'll respond: "No, we're cool." (I'm sure that's in some modern translation.)

So, here I go diving back into blogging. I'm back to my goal of once a week, but more if I'm so inspired by a post. I don't know if there are any readers still lingering around (other than my ever-faithful wife), but I'm so grateful God sticks around to listen to every word I write or say.