Archive for January, 2011

Egypt: The Army Appears to be Calling the Shots

January 31, 2011

FINANCIAL TIMES:  Monday, January 31, 2011

Egyptian Protesters reject new government: Mabarak clings to power, by Andrew England in Cairo, Daniel Dombey in Washington and Roula Khalaf in London:

“Protesters across Egypt kept up the pressure for the immediate removal of Hosni Mubarak..,”

“The regime‘s opponents said they were forming a committee to negotiate with the army, the power that appears to be calling the shots.”

Calling the shots is used in pool;  the player says what ball he or she is going to try to put into which of the six pockets in the table. If they call the pocket correctly and the ball goes into that pocket, they gain a point and continue to “call the shots’.  

In the case of the Egyptian rebellion, the army appears to have the power to call the shots.  What “pocket” and which “ball” remains to be determined, as does their success.

The Clever Shall Inherit the Earth

January 31, 2011

The Economist, January 22nd 2011: A special report on global leaders

The clever shall inherit the earth:

“As technology advances, the rewards to cleverness increase… Cognitive skills are at a premium, and they are unevenly distributed…”

In this Economist article, school reform is mentioned among other attributes needed to develop clever children, such as university educated parents, genetic dispositions for intelligence, and ” assortative mating”–highly educated persons marrying each other.  However, “school reform helps, but cannot level the playing field.”

Most games need a level the playing field to be fair to the opponents.  In the case above for developing cleverness, school reform is not enough to overcome the other factors listed.

Richard Holbrooke Played Hardball

January 23, 2011

Obituary; The Economist, December 18, 2010:

“Richard Holbrooke, diplomat and troubleshooter, died on December 13th, aged 69”

Richard Holbrooke was President Obama’s “special envoy” to Afganistan and Pakistan for the U.S. when he died.  This obituary not only spoke to his latest mission for the U.S., but a previous one as an emissary for war and peace in the Balkans.  The Serbs were not making “concessions at the (negotiating) table”;  he “more or less singlehandedly decided to play hardball with the Serbs.”

The idiom “hardball” is explained in  Go to the alphabetized list for the explanation.  It also referred to in the previous blog.


Skilled Politicians Playing Hardball

January 18, 2011

From a new novel, Scorpions, “The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices”, by Noel Feldman:

Chapter 5, Southern Pride, p. 51, 52

But the man who would become his (Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s) first Supreme Court nominee, Senator Hugo LaFayette Black, was someone Roosevelt did not meet until assuming the presidency of the United States in March 1933.  From the start, their relationship was competitive.

Roosevelt’s first order of business was to stimulate the economy and put people back to work.”  However, Senator Black had already introduced an economic recovery  bill himself in 1932.   Roosevelt’s advisors had  much more comprehensive ideas, but their ideas had not been made public.  “Black’s bill…was setting the agenda.  It sent a mesage to the newly elected president that Black was a man to be reckoned with, not a team player who would wait for an order before taking action.”

“Beneath the surface pleasantries, these two skilled politicians were immediately playing hardball.”

Team player is used all the time in sports, politics, and business to emphasize a group of people who play and/or work together to achieve a goal.   To play hardball in American sports usually refers to baseball, as the ball is quite hard and goes farther than in softball.  Playing hardball in sports, politics, and business denotes a tough approach to a goal.

Enough With The Pitch. What’s the Concept?

January 4, 2011

The New York Times, Sunday, December 26, 2010


SCENE STEALER, BY Michael Cieply

Enough With The Pitch. What’s the Concept?


Winston J. Perez is the “guru of ‘Concept Modeling”.  He believes that, as the headline intimates, that the underlying concept of an idea is as important as the idea, or “the pitch” of the idea to Hollywood businesses and screenwriters.

Pitching ideas is integral to Hollywood.    Ideas for movies are thrown out all the time.  Ideas for marketing and advertising are also pitched before management accepts them.   In sports, a pitch is what a pitcher throws to the batter in baseball and cricket. There is a pitch in soccer, but it is on the field.

2010 in review

January 4, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 72 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 92 posts.

The busiest day of the year was October 29th with 56 views. The most popular post that day was From NY Times, “On Language”.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for coming from left field, sports idioms, estate tax legislation, how wall street fleeced the world, and sports idioms commonly used in business.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


From NY Times, “On Language” October 2009


Something coming from left field could relate to field of vision problems. Out in left field usually relates to someone or some party that does “not get it”. They don’t quite know what is happening. However, in baseball parlance good baseball players are generally put in left field because right hand batters normally hit to left field. So sometimes the idioms don’t quite fit their literal use, but are still fun to think about. A few years ago, the retail clothing business, “The Gap” advertised on fences somewhere in midfield, a clever idea, because of gaps between fielders. At a recent St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves game e two of the outfielders ran into each other in a gap midfield. Don and Doris Fisher, however, did not name their business because of baseball, but because of a niche: no one store in San Francisco, where they lived, had jeans in many sizes and shapes. October 2009


Punting Estate Tax Legislation January 2010


How Wall Street Fleeced the World October 2010


Roll the Dice October 2009