Archive for August, 2013

Higher Bar for Universities and Affirmative Action

August 29, 2013

The Economist August 24th, 2013

Briefing Black America: With his “I have a dream” speech, Martin Luther King threw out a challenge to America.  How has it been met, 50 years out?

This is the lead article in the Economist for August 24th of this year. Among the parts of the article, one: Children stripped of their selfhood speaks to the problems for black children, including “in 2011 55% of black children were being raised by a single parent. Such children are four times more likely to be poor than children raised by their married parents.

The roots of many of these problems lie in the legacy of slavery and segregation. but the important question is not where they came from, but how to ameliorate them now.  The era of race-conscious law appears to be drawing to a close.  Last June the Supreme Court invalidated an important clause of the Voting Rights Act (1964), leaving its future uncertain.  The court also set a higher bar for universities that want to use affirmative action, which several states have already outlawed.”

A higher bar makes it more difficult for universities who are committed to affirmative action.  Bars set higher in track meets raise the difficulty.

New Playing Field in the Middle East

August 28, 2013

New York Times, Friday, August 16, 2013


Chilmark, Mass.–“President Obama announced Thursday that the United States had canceled longstanding joint military exercises with the Egyptian army set for next month, using one of his few obvious forms of leverage to rebuke Egypt’s military-backed government for its brutal crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Though the decision is an embarrassment to Egypt’s generals, and will deprive Egypt of much needed revenue, it lays bare both the Obama administration’s limited options to curb the military’s campaign against Islamists in Egypt and the United States’ role as an increasingly frustrated bystander.  Repeated pleas from administration officials to the generals to change course have gone unheeded, and the United States’ first punitive measure, a Pentagon delay in the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian Air force, also had no effect…

While administration officials acknowledge that Egypt could replace the lost American military aid, they said it would pay a long-term price in lost foreign investment and a ruined tourism industry–a point that Mr. Obama made in his statement on Thursday…

“Heather Hurlburt, a former Clinton White House official who is now executive director to the National Security Network, said the administration should cut off ‘targeted’ cooperation with Egypt’s military without halting aid. ‘No matter where you’re coming from ideologically,’ she said, ‘the playing field we face in the Middle East is not the playing field we faced a month ago.”

Comment:  Playing fields in the Middle East seem to be changing much faster than the fields from which the metaphor is derived.

Microsoft: Hitting Ballmer Out of the Park

August 24, 2013

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, August 24-25, 2013

HEARD ON THE STREET: Financial Analysis & Commentary

Microsoft:  Hitting Ballmer Out of the Park

“Merely by announcing his retirement, Steve  Ballmer can more than pay for it.

Shares in Microsoft leapt more than 7% Friday when the software giant announced its chief executive will retire within 12 months.  Owning 333 million shares of Microsoft, Mr. Ballmer’s personal net worth increased by about $800 million on the news.

Microsoft needs a change in leadership.  After establishing dominance in the personal-computing market 30 years ago, the company whiffed badly on two of computing’s next three megatrends:  the internet and mobile…

Luckily, there was a third big trend where Microsoft has done just fine:  the switch from mainframes to the ‘client-server’ set-up people often use at work.  This model, whereby powerful desktop computers access data from servers somewhere else, isn’t sexy.  But in the fiscal year that ended in June, Microsoft’s Server and Tools business saw operating profit rise 13%,to $8.2 billion, nearly as much as Windows…

Mr. Ballmer will be remembered for a series of consumer missteps…Still he leaves his successor a formidable enterprise-focused business, with plenty of scope to reshape Microsoft’s business.”

Comment:  Hitting out of the park is part of a metaphorical complement from baseball;  the other is in the park.  If a baseball is hit out of the park it’s a home run.   As metaphors, out of the park is the best, but the headline seems to have two meanings: yes, Ballmer will be gone, but the stock is up, so, in a way, he and Microsoft have an out of the park hit, as Stever Ballmer’s net worth has gone up as well as Microsoft’s.

Here’s the Pitch

August 22, 2013

The New York Times, Monday, August 19, 2013

Sports Monday

Here’s the Pitch, by Richard Sandomir

“Phelps painted the corner,’ the Yankees radio announcer said, describing a strikeout pitch.  ‘Painting at the corners is sponsored by CertaPro Painters.  Because painting is personal.’

That, baseball fans, is called a drop-in in advertising parlance.  Drop-ins have proliferated in recent years as radio stations have tried to offset the rising costs of broadcast rights…”

Here’s the Pitch uses a sports metaphor for the title of this article about ads in sports radio.  Of course, the pitch is used a lot in advertising to “pitch” an ad campaign, in business for the same reason, and now about ads in sports radio.  The metaphor gives the reader a good lead-in to the topic.

Thrown by Life’s Curveballs, A Star Missed the Signals

August 5, 2013

The New York Times, Monday, August 5, 2013

Sports Monday

Thrown by Life’s Curveballs, A Star Missed the Signals, by George Vecsy: Sports of the Times

“The singular event in the life of Alex Rodriquez is not his imminent suspension, or the career home run record that now will never happen.  The event that makes him so remote, so rudderless took place when he was 9, when his father disappeared…Many athletes, many people, grow up without a parent or two.  Some get through it.  But Rodriguez stands on the brink of the suspension that could take him out of baseball, perhaps through the 2014 season, or forever…Baseball seems to have evidence on Rodriguez, going back to his admission that he used the stuff (certain stimulants and bodybuilding drugs) from 2001 to 2003–when he was young and foolish, he later contended.”

The curveball mentioned in the title of this piece is a pitch that is difficult to hit: life’s curveballs are tough, as was Rodriguez’s loss of his father.  Catchers and coaches send signals to players, such as Rodriguez.  He missed crucial life’s signals, according to the author of this article and others.

A Grand Slam…Maybe

August 5, 2013

New York Times, Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sports Thursday

Grand Slam..Maybe, by Karen Crouse

(I thought this article, a sports article, might be of use to the reader, even though the term grand slam is not used in its metaphoric sense as in other sports or games terms in this blog.)

The golfer, “Inbee Park is seeking her fourth major title of the year.  It might not be enough,” by Karen Crouse

St. Andrews, Scotland—Grand slams are generally seen as quartets:  a four-run homer in baseball;  four major victories in the same calendar year in tennis and golf;  four items from a list of choices in a Denny’s grand Slam breakfast.

With the Women’s British Open starting Thursday, Inbee Park of South Korea will try to add a fourth major victory to the three she has this year.  No professional, male or female, has accomplished that I the same calendar year.

But if she wins, should she celebrated for completing golf’s Grand Slam? What completes a Grand Slam in women’s golf is unclear at the moment…

The Merriam-Webster definition of grand slam is ‘a clean sweep or total success.’  In sports, the term originated in card games like bridge, in which since the 19th century, a grand slam hs meant taking all 13 tricks.  According to the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, grand slam was first used to describe a home run with the bases loaded in 1929.  The term gained popularity in golf and tennis during the 1930s, when the American golfer Bobby Jones won the United States Open, the British Open, the United States Amateur in 19, and the British Amateur in 1930, and the American tennis star Don Budge won the Australian championship, the French championship, the United States championship and Wimbledon in 1938.

Rugby union might provide the most relevant example.  A Grand Slam used to be four victories: when a team in the Five Nations Championship defeated the other four teams during the annual. Competition.  When the event became the Six Nations Championship in 2000, a Grand Slam became five victories.

Park, 25, is carving out a new frontier in golf,…becoming the first player on the L.P.G.A. Tour since Babe Zaharias in 1950 to win the first three majors of the year.”

The Medical Equivalent of a Hail Mary Pass

August 3, 2013

The New York Times, Tuesday, July 30, 2013

THE DOCTOR’S WORLD: Lawrence K. Altman, M.D.

A Kennedy Baby’s Life and Death: The battle to save a president’s premature son would likely have a different outcome today.  Washington–Fifty years ago this summer, the nation was transfixed by a medical drama that is now largely forgotten: the desperate struggle to a save the life of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the first baby born to a sitting president and first lady since the 19th century.  Five and a half weeks premature delivered by Caesarian section on August 7, 1963,… Patrick immediately began to have trouble breathing…

Patrick died just 39 hours after his birth, a victim of what was then the most common cause of death among premature infants in the United States, killing an estimated 25,000 babies each year: hyaline membrane disease, now known as respiratory distress syndrome.”

Transferred from Cape Cod to Boston’s Children’s Hospital, the physician’s tried for the medical equivalent of  a “Hail Mary’s Pass.” to use a pressurized device …to increase blood oxygen, which the hospital had tried on premature babies two or three times without success. Unfortunately, Patrick died.  The effort didn’t work.

A Hail Mary’s Pass is a football term, which can be understood by looking at previous blogs or at http://www.sports