Happy Accidents

Donald Murray, "Writing Badly to Write Well," Expecting the Unexpected:

You do have to write badly to write well. Of course. Badly in the sense of neatness and completeness, for effective thinking isn't neat and complete. This word processor thinks neat and complete. It is dumb, everything is programmed. It follows orders, everything is a simple matter of yes or no. We think by leaps, by inference and intuition, by hunch, by guess and accident, especially accident. (46)


Silly Dad

Rowan: Is today a sleep over night with Mommy?

Me: I don't know.

Rowan: Well, Mommy doesn't have to go to work tomorrow. So she doesn't have to get up early. So she can sleep over.

Me: Yes, but I'm not sure. We probably have to wait to ask Mommy.

Rowan (tapping forehead): No Dad. We just have to think with our minds. Silly Dad.


Obligatory Post on "Occupy Wall St."

One of my graduate students, Adam Breckenridge, posted a link to Douglas Ruchkoff's CNN article "Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase?" to facebook this morning. The article deserves some quality attention. I was particularly inspired by this paragraph:

What upsets banking's defenders and politicians alike is the refusal of this movement to state its terms or set its goals in the traditional language of campaigns.

That's because, unlike a political campaign designed to get some person in office and then close up shop (as in the election of Obama), this is not a movement with a traditional narrative arc. As the product of the decentralized networked-era culture, it is less about victory than sustainability. It is not about one-pointedness, but inclusion and groping toward consensus. It is not like a book; it is like the Internet.

I've never read Douglas Rushkoff before, but now I will. Soon.

Sometime ago I wrote a post on the Tea Party that argued it was an emergent response to the rigidity of America's two party system, saturated in waves of cynicism, disaffection, and outrage. Of course, then the Tea Party was incorporated into the tradition media-political networks, and it lost its initial affective groping for something other than politics-as-usual. So here, again, I think we see the seeds of a desire for another politics.

Here, here.


Goodbye to Terry Francona

I've been meaning to find time to write this for a few days. Here goes in enthymematic form:

  • The collapse was historic.
  • A historic collapse requires blame.
  • Blaming is often not a rational process.
  • Terry Francona is willing to accept an irrational amount of blame for the Red Sox collapse.
  • Terry Francona is a great manager.

This team started the year 3 and 9. They ended the year 7 and 20. For the other 123 games, they played very well. It is easy to blame Francona for those other 39 games. Too easy. I am not too disappointed or shocked by the collapse. Again, this team started 3-9, and had they made the playoffs they would have set a record for overcoming the worst start to a season. To even get close is impressive. If you flipped the Sox record in September with their record in July, then Francona would be celebrated as a gritty manager who kept his team struggling through adversity.

This team couldn't pitch. After Buchholz went down in early August, they were left with two quality pitchers (Lester and Beckett). It September, even those two struggled. In the past I have questioned how long Francona rides his starters. But there is nothing he can do about Lackey's (understandably, given his personal situation) dismal season, Wakefield's increasing age, Dice-K's Dice-k-ness, etc. The manager says who will pitch, when they'll pitch, and sometimes where they should throw it. But he doesn't make the (repeatedly) bad throws.

Put simply, this team didn't have the talent it thought it had. I have written record regarding my skepticism toward this pitching staff and Carl Crawford from last spring (for all those who defended the Crawford signing--how's that remaining $130 million looking now?).

I am very sad to lose Terry Francona. Like Joe Torre, there are questions regarding Francona's "X's and O's" strategy. But what can't be questioned, I think, is his ability to handle the vicious Boston media and fan base. I think the character with which he ended his tenure in Boston speaks volumes. He will be missed. And he will be difficult to replace.

The soul of Boston might be reinvigorated this off-season. Let's face it, we were never accustomed to winning. We didn't always handle it well. And, while the $170 million dollar payroll prohibits us from becoming lovable losers ever again, at least Boston gets to be what it is comfortable being: pissed.