"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Friday, November 17, 2006


Ladies and gentlemen, your 2006 American League Cy Young Award winner.

Our very own Johan Santana was unanimously voted the Cy Young winner after tying for the league lead in wins and independently holding the league lead in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched. That's the Triple Crown plus one, folks.

This almost makes up for him getting screwed out of the award last year.

And finally, in this week's edition of Concepts That Make Your Eyes Cross, here's what Johan had to say about his own performance:

"In the future, I want to be consistent from Day 1. We're still
making adjustments. I still believe that I can be better."

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ryan Named GM of the Year

Ryan is TSN's Executive of the Year

NAPLES, Fla. -- Minnesota Twins longtime general manager Terry Ryan was named the 2006 Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by The Sporting News on Monday night during a reception for the general managers at this year's annual meetings. He won the honor for the second time.

Two executives from each big-league club voted for the award, which was won last year by Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro and in 2004 by St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty.

Ryan, who also won the award from The Sporting News in 2002, received 15 votes, four more than the Marlins' Larry Beinfest and seven more than both Oakland's Billy Beane and Omar Minaya of the Mets. Ryan also won the award in 2002.

"Everyone in baseball admires what Terry has accomplished, sustaining a winning team with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball," said John Rawlings, The Sporting News' vice president and editorial director. "He has proven to be an excellent talent evaluator and a very patient leader. When the Twins got off to a rocky start, Terry never panicked, and the team ended up only one loss away from the best record in baseball. Terry -- and he will graciously credit his staff -- is very deserving of this award again."

Ryan replaced Andy MacPhail as general manager in 1994, when MacPhail left to become president of the Cubs. Under Ryan, a former scout and player-personnel director, and manager Ron Gardenhire, the Twins have won the American League Central title four times in the last five years.

This year the Twins came roaring back from a first-half deficit and won the division title over the Tigers on the final day of the season with a 96-66 mark, the second-best record in the league behind the Yankees and third-best in baseball behind the Yankees and Mets.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Today's the Day

Well, what are you waiting for?
Get out there.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Notable Americans: Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall (1803-1890)

Founder and headmistress of a private school for girls in Canterbury, Connecticut, Prudence Crandall caused a furor by admitting a black student. Many of the other students were subsequently withdrawn by their families, prompting her to re-dedicate her institution as a school for black girls.

When Crandall's "School for Young Ladies and Misses of Colour" began attracting students from several states, the Connecticut legislature passed a law prohibiting the education of black students from out-of-state. She defied the law and retained her students, once serving a short jail term as a result. In 1834, mob protests forced the school to close and its founder to leave the state.

She continued to teach throughout her life and to champion equal rights and the education of women.

Read the Wikipedia article on Prudence Crandall here.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Notable Americans: John Eder

John Eder (1969-present)

As a member of the Maine House of Representatives, currently serving a second term and running for a third, John Eder is the highest ranking elected official to come from the Green Party of the United States.

Leaving an abusive home at 15 only to land in a facility for troubled youth, John Eder briefly studied philosophy at the college level before becoming disillusioned with college life and, still grappling with the traumas of his early life, dropping out to study at his own direction while working at a bus station.

Soon he struck out with little more than a backpack to travel the country, supporting himself by doing migrant farm work. He often involved himself in the communities he passed through by volunteering his time, labor and activism toward various social justice causes. In the course of his travels he met many people and came to feel a great hope for America and belief in the essential goodness of its people.

Settling in Maine in 1997 (initially in a solar-powered shack in the mountains) he became involved in the state Green Party and rose to the position of party co-chair. When a seat opened in the Maine House of Representatives in 2002, party leaders asked him to be the party candidate.

Running against one other candidate, a Democrat, Eder piled up endorsements from organizations, individuals, businesses and newspapers on his way to a decisive victory. Declining the traditional path of small-party officials--caucusing with one of the two major parties--Eder sought and won recognition of himself as the Green Party Caucus, securing an additional measure of influence in the legislature.

Democratic legislators succeeded in a redistricting move prior to the 2004 election which separated Eder from much of the district he had been elected to represent and placing the residence of another legislator (a Democrat) within the new borders. In response, Eder simply moved to a new home inside the redrawn district and handily defeated two opponents, the incumbent Democrat and a Republican challenger.

Eder constitutes a critical swing vote in a legislature otherwise split 74-73 between Democrats and Republicans. He has been active on tax reform issues and also champions a variety of equal rights and conservation causes.

Read the Wikipedia article on John Eder here.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Notable Americans: Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins (1882-1965)

Born in Boston, Frances Perkins earned her master's degree in sociology from Columbia University in 1910 and in the same year was named head of the New York Consumer's League, a position she used to press for better working hours and conditions for blue-collar workers. In 1911, she was eyewitness to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, an event which affected her profoundly.

On her marriage in 1913, Perkins went to court to retain her maiden name and succeeded. Over the next several years she held various positions in state government, including member and eventually the first female chair of the New York State Industrial Commission. Appointed state industrial commissioner by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1929, she reduced female workers' workweek to 48 hours, expanded investigations of factories and pressed for minimum wage and unemployment insurance laws.

In 1933 Roosevelt, now President of the United States, appointed Perkins as Secretary of Labor, making her the first female cabinet member in US history and the first woman to enter the presidential line of succession. In her twelve years as Secretary of Labor, Perkins played an essential role in forming and implementing Roosevelt's New Deal programs and in the creation and approval of the Social Security Act.

Read the Wikipedia article on Frances Perkins here.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Notable Americans: John Muir

John Muir (1838-1914)

The third of eight children, John Muir was born in Scotland and immigrated to America at the age of eleven. Though he had little schooling after the move to Wisconsin, in his youth he became a prodigious inventor, creating such things as a thermometer so sensitive it would register the body heat of a person standing several feet away and an alarm clock that worked by tipping the bed and thereby ejecting the sleeper.

Leaving his family's Wisconsin farm for Madison in his early twenties, he came to the attention of several people associated with the University of Wisconsin. Despite his lack of formal education, he was admitted to the university. An early botany lesson inspired in him a passion for the natural world and the wilderness--perhaps a natural product of his rural upbringing when combined with newfound scientific understanding--and for over two years he pursued an eclectic course of study focused on the natural sciences.

Muir spent the next several years working as an industrial engineer (mostly in Canada, perhaps to avoid the Civil War) and taking wilderness trips whenever he could. In 1867 an accident on the job deprived him of the sight in one eye, and the other soon went dark in sympathy. His eyesight did return, slowly, and at the end of this experience Muir felt he had been reborn. He resolved to spend his life among the sights of nature that had been denied him during his recuperation.

Muir walked a thousand miles from Kentucky to Georgia. He turned south, hoping eventually to walk to the headwaters of the Amazon in South America, but he was laid low with a case of malaria in Florida. He rambled across the south of the country and ended up in California instead. There, his quest for wilderness immersion led him to Yosemite. He spent six years there, working as a shepherd, a sawmill operator, and a tour guide, all the while studying the natural world around him.

In time he married and settled near San Francisco, running a fruit farm and writing about his experiences in the natural places of the country, though he often travelled to wilderness sites. In his later travels he became deeply concerned about the effects of domesticated animal grazing on wilderness areas, pushing for protection of the Sierra high country and pushing for the introduction of the Congressional bill that would create Yosemite National Park. The bill eventually passed, but while it did protect the high country it left the Yosemite Valley under state control. Muir then formed the Sierra Club in 1892 to promote conservation efforts.

In 1903, President Roosevelt visited Yosemite National Park with Muir, who told the president about state mismanagement and exploitation of the Yosemite Valley. Roosevelt urged the conservationist to show him "the real Yosemite", and the two men set off on their own for several days, hiking through the back country and sleeping in the open. With the president's support, the Sierra Club pressured Congress to protect the valley, and in 1905 ownership of the valley and of Maiposa Grove were transferred to the national park and placed under federal control.

"Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation? And what creature of all that the Lord has taken the pains to make is not essential to the completeness of that unit - the cosmos? The universe would be incomplete without man; but it would also be incomplete without the smallest transmicroscopic creature that dwells beyond our conceitful eyes and knowledge."
--John Muir, A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf

Read the Wikipedia article on John Muir here.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Notable Americans: Alice Paul

Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977)

Alice Paul was a leader of the American suffragist movement and instrumental in securing women's right to vote in 1920.

Born into a Quaker family, Alice Paul reached educational heights rarely seen in women of her generation. She received her BA from Swarthmore College and her MA in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. She then pursued further postgraduate study in England at the University of Birmingham and the London School of Economics before returning to the University of Pennsylvania to complete her PhD in political science in 1912.

As an activist with Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) and the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA), she frequently ran afoul of the authorities and was once force-fed while on hunger strike with other WSPU members.

Paul formed the National Womens Party (NWP) in 1916 with like-minded friends and, relying on activist tactics she had learned in Britain, made headlines with demonstrations, pickets, hunger strikes and other such attention-grabbing activities. She and a number of followers were arrested in 1917 for conducting a peaceful, silent picket of the White House. The charges against them were "obstructing traffic", for which dubious crime they were confined to a workhouse.

In protest against poor conditions in the workhouse, Paul organized a hunger strike which was joined by other inmates. The attendant press coverage along with continuing demonstrations by the NWP's free members and sympathizers finally pressured the White House into acknowledging in 1918 that women's suffrage was an important issue. Two years later, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granted American women the right to vote.

The right of citizens in the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Having secured this essential liberty, Alice Paul dedicated much of the rest of her life to fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment, which remains in limbo as of this writing, requiring ratification by three more states to append it to the Constitution. Five states*, it should be noted, ratified the ERA only to later rescind it.

* Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The ERA has been ratified only by the House or the Senate (not both) in Nevada, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
States which have never even partially ratified the ERA are Utah, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia.
All other states have ratified the ERA.

Read the Wikipedia article on Alice Paul here.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Notable Americans: Hiram Revels

In this week before the election, I think we've all heard quite enough (and then some) from and about the candidates in our area. Over the next few days, TBL will endeavor to remain in the political spirit of the season without beating the metaphorical dead horses, by presenting information on some interesting characters from our nation's political past.

Hiram Rhodes Revels (1827 – 1901)

The first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate, Hiram Revels represented Mississippi during Reconstruction. The son of a free man of mixed race and an emancipated slave, Revels was born free in 1827 and trained as a barber before studying at a Quaker seminary, Knox College, and a black seminary prior to being ordained as a minister. He served as both chaplain and soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War, returning to the ministry at war's end.

After being elected to the post of city Alderman in Natchez, MS, then to the state senate, he was selected to fill the last year of the Senate term formerly held by Jefferson Davis, who had left the US Senate to become President of the Confederate States of America. During his short term in the Senate, he worked with little success toward racial equality.

After leaving the Senate, he went on to serve as president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College and later as interim Secretary of State for Mississippi.

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