North to Nowhere

A Mostly Mindless Ramble

Does Baseball Have a Foul Ball Problem?

§ Filed Under: sports

A few points in response to the Bloomberg story:

  1. When the Tulsa Drillers opened their ballpark in 2010 the team originally planned to start games before 7PM. They ended up moving the start of games back because a kid sitting on the third base line ended up in the hospital after getting hit by a foul ball the family couldn’t see with the sun in their eyes.
  2. The ballpark has one level of bowl seating and a lot of them are prone to foul balls getting sharply hit into the stands. Yet there’s lots of seats that families with small kids can sit in and be generally safe from fouls, but many chose to sit closer in the hopes of getting a ball. In turn many parents don’t pay even attention to the game or sit their kids closer to the plate instead of shielding them.

It’s All About the Fans

§ Filed Under: sports


The growing number of empty seats in student sections across the U.S. is a sign of soaring ticket prices, more lopsided games and fewer matchups against longtime rivals, and the proliferation of televised games that make it easier than ever for students to keep tailgating long after kickoff

So college tuition is soaring through the roof and students can’t afford to attend games and when they do they’re stuck with match-ups that are nowhere near as good as ten years ago. Awesome.

Markwayne Mullin Will Only Defend Parts of the Constitution He Likes

§ Filed Under: idiocracy, links, oklahoma

Oklahoma’s version of Joe the Plumber doesn’t care for the first amendment and the ban on state sanctioned religion unless it means more Christianity:

The next caller, a woman from Antlers, said she was worried about “the way they’ve taken prayer out of school and the direction this country is headed with this one-religion ideal.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the early 1960s that schools could not impose mandatory prayers in public schools. Subsequent decisions have allowed “moments of silence” and student-organized voluntary prayer. Mullin said that isn’t good enough.

“How can we ask our kids to do something we’re not willing to do ourselves?” he asked. “We’re saying to our kids, ‘We’re not willing to take a stand; our teachers are not willing to take a stand; our superintendents are not willing to take a stand.’

“That is hypocritical,” Mullin said. “If we want to put prayer back in our schools, our communities have to stand up; the churches have to stand up; the parents have to stand up. They have got to say, ‘No, we want it in our schools.’ We’re going to do what we want to do because it’s our schools. It’s our public schools.

“Prayer is the root of this country.”

Mullin said his own children attend a rural public school in which “the superintendent stands up and prays every morning.”

Hopefully someone knows the district Mullin’s kids attend and file a complaint against the Superintendent (if it’s true). Or in the very least get Mullin rejecting led Islamic, Jewish, Pagan, or any other prayer in school.

Too Many Beers

§ Filed Under: alcohol, links,

In the ’90s, it was effortless to select a craft beer: It was the one that tasted different. Today, quality is no longer the sole differentiator. To stand apart, breweries must enlist new tricks to make consumers look at their beer. “We’ve looked at our packaging for 20-plus years, and we felt that we needed to see something new,” says New Belgium PR director Bryan Simpson. After much debate, New Belgium swapped its iconic watercolor imagery for a colorful contemporary look featuring hand-painted imagery. “New labels provide people with a reason to give a beer a second look and perhaps try something they’ve walked past for years,” Simpson says.

More selection is terrible for breweries competing for space, especially true local craft brewers, but at least at the moment it’s fun to spend some time in a decent liquor store exploring new beers.

Always Take First Hand Accounts With a Grain of Salt

§ Filed Under: dissertation

One of the many books I picked up today at the library was We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of The American Indian Movement, a good looking large glossy text produced by the Minnesota Historical Society Press which included photographs by Dick Bancroft and text by Laura Waterman Wittstock. Both Bancroft and Wittstock had interactions with AIM during the height of the Red Power period; Bancroft as a sympathetic photographer and Wittstock as a journalist. Yet in both of their introductions to the text, they argue that the death of Raymond Yellow Thunder was the major contributing factor that lead to the occupation of Wounded Knee. Here’s how Bancroft describes it:

One thing leading to Wounded Knee was the death of Raymond Yellow Thunder, which happened in Nebraska, just over the border from Pine Ridge. Very tiny liquor stores were selling enormous quantities of beer and spirits to Indians from the reservation, and race relations were just terrible. Four white men seized Yellow Thunder from the street, stripped him of his pants, beat him, made him dance at a VFW hall, and left him badly hurt. He died of injuries and exposure.

Bancroft correctly provides the basics of the Yellow Thunder incident but he gets off track when he writes:

AIM came in as a result of that incident, and then there was a strategy session about what to do next. AIM always said during that period that it never went anywhere unless it was invited. The traditional leaders had contacted Russell Means. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and everybody converged. And they got into Pine Ridge and then they decided, “What are we going to do?” Well, the most famous site on the reservation is Wounded Knee.

Here’s Wittstock:

…The blowup and occupation of Wounded Knee, which began shortly after the murder of…Raymond Yellow Thunder. He died of his wounds alone sometime between February 12 and 20.…This was the immediate issues that led to the Wounded Knee occupation on February 27, 1973.

Both Wittstock and Bancroft are completely off base in arguing that Yellow Thunder’s death was the immediate cause of Wounded Knee, primarily because Yellow Thunder died in February 1972 not 1973, a full year before the occupation. AIM did show up to Pine Ridge in the wake of Yellow Thunder’s death and lead a protest which shut down Gordon, Nebraska for three days and lead to the District Attorney filing charges against the four attackers and leading the town to form a commission to look at race issues in the area. The Yellow Thunder protest was a major victory for AIM and the success was probably in the back of the minds of those who invited AIM back to Pine Ridge in February 1973 after the failed impeachment of Dick Wilson, which was the prevailing reason for the Wounded Knee occupation.

If I was generous I’d say Bancroft and Wittstock are confusing Raymond Yellow Thunder’s death with that of Wesley Bad Heart Bull, who died in a bar fight in Buffalo Gap, South Dakota and whose attacker also received a lesser charge than AIM and Oglalas had hoped for. However both have the details of Yellow Thunder’s death and neither even remotely mentions the protest/riot at the Custer County Courthouse that saw a small building burned to the ground. Bad Heat Bull’s death along with protests in Rapid City in the period prior to Wounded Knee highlight the racial tensions surrounding Pine Ridge but political corruption rather than race relations led to Wounded Knee. Amazingly a quick glance at the chapter on Wounded Knee, written by Wittstock, notes Wilson impeachment as the issue behind the occupation.

Bancroft and Wittstock’s confusion about the period generously characterizes histories of the period, as evidenced by the general belief that Leonard Peltier was charged and convicted for his role in the Wounded Knee occupation when Peltier actually spent most of the occupation in a Wisconsin jail.

Who’s to Blame for Anna Mae Aquash’s Death?

§ Filed Under: native americans

The New York Times Magazine published a piece of the death of Anna Mae Aquash, an AIM activist murdered in 1976, last month:

On Feb. 24, 1976, a rancher in South Dakota was installing a fence on land situated along the edge of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation when he spotted a body at the bottom of a 30-foot embankment. The badly decomposed corpse, in jeans and a maroon ski jacket, lay with knees pushed up toward chest. A coroner later determined that the woman had been dead for more than two months. The back of her head was matted with blood, and there was a single bullet wound at the base of her skull. She had been shot at close range.

It would take investigators a week to identify the body as that of 30-year-old Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, a principal in the American Indian Movement. AIM was the country’s most visible, and radical, advocacy group for Native American civil rights. The traveling band of militants had forcibly taken over the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington to demand, among other things, the return of valuable federal land to indigenous tribes. “We’re the landlord of this country,” one slogan went. “And the rent is due.”

The article mentions the FBI’s COINTELPRO program which infiltrated AIM and contributed to hostility within the group:

“For a long time, it was a given among Indians that the F.B.I. engineered Aquash’s murder as a way of scaring and destabilizing AIM,” says Paul DeMain, the editor of News From Indian Country, whose aggressive reporting on the case is often credited with spurring investigators’ interest in it. AIM considered itself at war with the federal government and its proxy, the F.B.I., whose Counterintelligence Program was devised to monitor and take down the radicals of the New Left that the bureau deemed “subversive,” including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Weather Underground. AIM’s concerns weren’t entirely unfounded. A few months before Aquash was killed, one of Banks’s bodyguards, Douglas Durham, appeared on national TV to declare that he was actually a “paid F.B.I. operative” who’d been assigned to infiltrate AIM. Adding to the conspiracy theory was a hasty initial autopsy that somehow missed the bullet in Aquash’s head.

Steve Hendricks, who wrote a book on the FBI and AIM, argues in Counterpunch that the article is correct to go after AIM’s leaders for their role in the murder but not sufficiently critical of the federal government:

The article continues in the same maddening vein: Wicked AIM did this, wicked AIM did that, the poor feds had no leads, finally they got some, AIM veterans were sour about coping with the emerging truth, at last the prosecutors got the bad guys. Case closed. Justice served. Konigsberg barely quoted anyone with a critical view of the government and never quoted anyone calling out the government’s lies about how they handled of the case. Nor did he, if you’ll forgive some immodesty here, quote me or my book, which is the most authoritative book on the Aquash case. I am by no means the only source worth consulting. For example, the work of the anti-AIM, pro-government publisher of News From Indian Country, Paul Demain, whom Konigsberg quoted (and should have), is a trove of worthy information. But I am nearly the only authoritative source who is critical of both AIM and the government. Would I be amiss in guessing that mine was not a viewpoint that Konigsberg found convenient to his story? Certainly his editors thought as much, since they did not even reply to my letter attempting to correct a few of his biases.

Aquash’s death, like Leonard Peltier’s involvement in the Pine Ridge shootout, is one of the many events in AIM’s history that has too many unanswered questions, many of which will have their answers taken to the grave.

Censorship and Diversity in Comics

§ Filed Under: comics, history

These days, there’s a broad consensus that the Comics Code — which has been endlessly discussed and condemned by comics historians — was disastrous, and that it damaged comics. But nearly all of the critiques of the Code focus primarily on its dire consequences for white men’s artistic freedom, or the disservice done to readers in coddlingly denying them explicit sex and violence. What’s less discussed is the fact that independent women, and people of color, and all sorts of stories that didn’t fit with the compulsory patriotism and cop-worship of the 1950s, essentially vanished from comics for decades. This is a loss that comics are still wrangling with. What was left didn’t interest adults nearly as much, and comics slowly began to become less ubiquitous and more associated with pasty adolescent boys.

Update to BIA Recognition Changes

§ Filed Under: native americans

Back in March I finally got around to writing about the BIA’s proposed changes to the recognition process. Today the BIA released a revised version that will probably end any hope of the three Connecticut tribes previously denied recognition getting it in the future. The reason:

The proposed rule says that tribes would have to receive approval from all those who previously opposed their recognition in order to renew their claims. That would make it very difficult for the Eastern Pequot, Golden Hill Paugussett and the Schaghticoke to make another application because the entire Connecticut political establishment has, for years, opposed the tribes’ recognition and still does – strongly.

The recognition process is already heavily slanted against tribes seeking recognition and politicians have long had a major role in subverting tribal efforts (see Dick Blumenthal’s campaign against previous recognitions). While the proposed rule is obviously aimed at quelling fear among local residents about menacing casinos and land seizures, are we really going to place recognition in the hands of people who have no interest in or understanding of whether a tribe is legitimate or not? People who believe a ludicrous idea like this?

A concern is that the tribes may form “splinter groups” who would apply as never-rejected tribes and not need the consent of Connecticut government officials.


The article from the Mirror also continues to suffer from the idea that recognition is a carte blanche for new casinos:

Besides land claims that could take hundreds of acres out of state and local tax bases, federal acknowledgement that leads to new gaming in the state would likely void a lucrative multimillion-dollar agreement the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan have with the state.

As a noted in my older post, tribes in Connecticut would have as uphill a battle for new casinos as they now apparently do in seeking recognition.

Not Sure Senator Shortey Gets What He Is Saying

§ Filed Under: oklahoma

One of my favorite things is when someone attempts to make an honest argument for one position only to make an argument for another one they’d be opposed to without knowing it. In this case State Senator Ralph Shortey manages to discuss the benefits of raising the minimum wage while making a case for heightened prosecution of illegal immigration:

Primarily, he said, his motivation came down to employment. “You have a large immigrant population that works under a different set of rules than a citizen population. They can artificially lower wages. They make competition for those who hire illegals easier, and—”

“How do you mean ‘artificial’?” I asked. He argued that contractors who are willing to hire illegal immigrants as sub-contractors are essentially cheating to gain an unfair advantage.

“Isn’t that the free market at work?”

“It’s the free market when you’re operating within the confines of legality. And when everybody plays on the same playing field, yes, that’s the free market. But that’s not what illegal immigrants bring to it.” “But isn’t that economic protectionism of one class of workers at the expense of the entire economy? It seems like these workers, because they can work for so much less, would lower prices overall, and isn’t that better for everybody?”

“When everybody makes more, you’re going to pay more for goods and services—but you’re also making more.”

“So,” I asked, “you’d be willing to accept a trade-off, in all goods and services becoming more expensive, but more people having more money in their pockets?”

“It’s a trickle-up, I guess, way of looking at it. Everybody benefits from that.”

This is kind of important because Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, in all her wisdom to curry favor amongst Tea Party Republicans, signed a bill banning municipalities from increasing the minimum wage. The minimum wage also provides an avenue for insuring and prosecuting contractors and sub-contractors who illegally pay workers lower wages. It’s also doubtful most Americans would take the jobs illegal immigrants usually work regardless of the pay.