Thursday, April 29, 2010

Heath Miller, the second coming?

We all know that Heath Miller can practically walk on water on the football field and is the humblest Steeler, probably the humblest NFL'er. But now comes another sign that pretty much confirms he is the Chosen One. While 110% of other athletes on their day off hit the local links, Heath does this.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bravo! Canadiens

I'm not sure what the talk is around Pittsburgh, but from my lonely Harrisburg outpost, it seemed to me that the Pens were a solid enough team this year with playoff potential -- except for one problem: they couldn't beat the Capitals or the Devils. Now that the Flyers and the Canadiens have done all the heavy lifting for us, what do the stars say about a Stanley Cup repeat?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Superhero Fashions

For all those fans of Project Runway -- Ellen this means you -- here is, as Glen Walden says, Tim Gunn at his Tim Gunniest. What can I say? This is inspired:

Tim Gunn vs. Superhero Costumes

News Roundup (or is that Wrangle)

A few curious news stories surfaced today.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ran an article entitled Crisis management professionals not impressed by Ben's approach. Basically, the owners and principle partners of companies which will improve your image for a fee are saying that whoever Ben Roethlisberger got to write his apology didn't do a good job. In other woods, if he had hired their firm, they could have made Ben sound much, much more sincere. This article is so crazy that its hard to have just one favorite part, but I like:
"It really means nothing," said Mike Paul, who heads MGP & Associates in New York (slogan: "Because Your Reputation is Everything").
I guess the subtext of the slogan is "and what you actually do means nothing"

Just as crazy in a different way was this article on Arizona's new immigration law, Mexico's Felipe Calderon says Arizona laws breed intolerance and hate. In this case the article seems to actually be reporting news, but it reveals the extraordinary lengths people, even smart people, will go to...well...to be liked by others, I guess. Toward the end of the article John McCain is mentioned as having an awkward time with the bill.
He added that he opposed "discriminatory behaviour" by the police armed with their new powers and that, in conversation with police chiefs at the weekend, he had been assured they could implement it without racial profiling.
So, in other words, the police will be looking for western Europeans who legally emigrated to Mexico, but then illegally emigrated to Arizona?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Regaining Respectability

Let's say you have a tarnished image that needs to be re-built. How do you do it? Well, if you are smart like the Steelers, you go to Virginia Tech, Alexandra's alma mater, where three out of 17 Steeler rookies received their training.

NYT Math Series

Chances Are, this week's installment of the NYT math series, explains Peter's cancer statistics baffler, as well as offering an interesting insight in the O.J. Simpson trial.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fat and stupid

The phrase “fat and stupid” seems to roll off the tongue so naturally. Well, there’s a reason for that. According to Olivia Judson, quite possibly the hottest evolutionary biologist on the planet (see photo), being fat makes you stupid. Her article tells you why. See "Brain Damage." She also warns that our alarmingly high rates of obesity may well lead to a dramatic rise in dementia.

Mycroft Holmes may be Sherlock’s intellectual superior for now.
But if Mycroft does nothing to change his ways and continues to lounge around the Diogenes Club all day, he’ll no doubt be a candidate for early onset dementia, while the lean Sherlock will still be solving the most enigmatic of crimes into his 70, 80’s, and beyond (that is, if his cocaine habit doesn't fry his brain first).

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Insanity of Endurance

I had written this earlier in the Competitive Recreational Jogging post, "I have always contended that a psychiatric test would be a far better predictor of running ability than a physical. The degree of insanity corresponding with a runner's ability". Here's proof, this ultra endurance athlete literally goes insane to be the best in the World.

"When the mujahedeen appeared in 2004, Stanovnik (Robic's support team) pretended to see them too, and urged Robic to ride faster."

Cavalcade of Incompetence

To start your Friday morning off right, infomercial incompetence-

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pirates set new record

Another milestone was surpassed today as the Pirates broke their 100 year old record for worst shut out in club history. The old record was losing 18-0 in 1910. The blew past that with a 20-0 loss. In the Pirates 8 losses this year they have been out scored 85 to 13. There are rumors that the Post Gazette writer who listed starting pitching as a plus this year has been transferred to Home & Garden.

By the way, this is a good place to point out that the mercy rule was used in Major League Baseball for the first time in the record breaking (for the D-backs) 13 run inning. With two outs, but walks and hits still coming in rapid succession, the pirate pitcher managed to get 2 strikes on the batter. The next pitch was no where near the strike zone but catchable by Doumit, so the umpire, who had a late dinner engagement, called strike three, much to the shock of the Arizona fans but the relief of the Pirates.

On top of everything else, women now to blame for earthquakes

Carole King sang that "I feel the earth move under my feet" whenever her truelove is around. Now, an Iranian cleric suggests that women behaving promiscuously are also causing the earth to shake. "Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes," says Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, a senior Iranian cleric. See Women to blame for earthquakes, says Iran cleric.

We have seen this same causation confusion in our own country. Jerry Falwell claimed that the ACLU, pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians brought on the attack of 9/11. And then Pat Robertson claimed that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for abortion and later said that the earthquake in Haiti occurred because Haitians a long time ago made a pact with the devil to help them throw off the yoke of the French.

This all underscores a theme Karen Armstrong likes to return to: that fundamentalists of any stripe have more in common with each other than they have with the more reflective members of their own faith. I'm sure that if Robertson and Hojatoleslam ever got together, they would end up nodding a lot in agreement with each other.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Krugman Invokes the Dark Ages

I like "Blankfine" but I'm sure we can come up with some better terms

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/a-terminological-suggestion/

Big Ben

I assume we would get to him at some point, so I might as well start. What's the mood in Pittsburgh (disgust, apathy, etc)? I was listening to sports radio this afternoon on my drive home from work, and of course even here in Mass, he was all anyone could talk about. Someone made a good point though, that if Goodell is going to suspend him for alleged issues and potentially crimes (I know, I know, it is probably more than just alleged, but for the sake of argument), then what about all the NFL players who have actually or will actually commit crimes and be prosecuted for them? Does Goodell suspend all of them?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marriage, Health and Milton

With James and Ali’s nuptials fast approaching, I keep running into items about marriage.

In the 1984 made-for-TV version of “A Christmas Carol” – the one with George C. Scott as Scrooge – Old Fezziwig catches young Ebenezer and his then-beloved Belle together at the office Christmas party, and remarks with a slight twinkle in his eye: “What a difference it makes, Ebenezer, to travel the rough road of life with the right female to help bear the burden, eh?”

As he was about so many things, Old Fezziwig was absolutely right in this observation. Studies have shown that it does, indeed, make a huge difference to travel life with the right female or, if you happen to be a woman, with the right male.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Is Marriage Good for Your Health?”, in the 150 years that the health effects of marriage have been studied,

scientists have continued to document the “marriage advantage”: the fact that married people, on average, appear to be healthier and live longer than unmarried people.

Contemporary studies, for instance, have shown that married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer or have heart attacks. A group of Swedish researchers has found that being married or cohabiting at midlife is associated with a lower risk for dementia. A study of two dozen causes of death in the Netherlands found that in virtually every category, ranging from violent deaths like homicide and car accidents to certain forms of cancer, the unmarried were at far higher risk than the married.

Of course, it’s also important that we travel the road of life with the right companion, as Fezziwig so astutely notes. The Times article elaborates that rocky marriages do not produce the same health benefits as cheerful ones. In fact, health-wise, you’re better off remaining single than being married to some lout. Divorce is no help, either. All the beneficial health effects of marriage go right down the drain in a divorce; even remarriage doesn’t repair all the damage.

As early as 1643, John Milton in his Divorce Tracts was saying much the same thing about marriage (as I discovered recently in another article) without the documented evidence. In commenting on how God in Genesis saw that it was good for Adam to have a companion, Milton says, “if it were so needfull before the fall, when man was much more perfect in himselfe, how much more is it needfull now against all the sorrows and casualties of this life to have an intimate and speaking help, a ready and reviving associate in marriage….” Indeed, for Milton, marriage is the “mutual enjoyment of that which the wanting soul needfully seeks.…” The explanation given in the New York Times article is that stress over the “sorrows and casualties” of life compromises the immune system. A good marriage reduces that stress and boosts our immune response. One point for Milton.

As a footnote, this for me just underscores again the utter folly of opposition to same-sex marriage. If marriage to the right person is so good for your health, why aren’t we encouraging it for everyone, including same-sex couples? Barring this sizeable portion of the population from marriage is detrimental to gays and just adds to the health care costs of everyone.

Mt. Eyjafjallajokull

As always The Big Picture at Boston.com has awesome pictures. This set is of Mt. Eyjafjallajokull. The lightning is so beautiful.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'll take the elephant

I'm reconsidering my stance on dogs. If elephants think they make good pets, that's good enough for me.

I have often recounted a TV program about a school for elephants in Indonesia. I saw it when I was young. It was for the now defunct Teak wood logging industry in Indonesia. At 'graduation' there was a rodeo of sorts displaying all the things the elephants could do. For the last 'event' children from the village would all come down from the stands and lie on the floor of the arena forming a big circle. The elephants would then walk over them carefully placing their feet between the children.

I sensed a bit of skepticism whenever I told the story to the point where I started to doubt that I remembered the show correctly. This video reconfirms my belief that my memory is true.

(Sorry for the Miss America moral to the story. I don't know how to cut that out.)



Monday, April 12, 2010

Competitive Recreational Jogging

This article reminded me of a few weeks ago passing a guy around my age, only to have him speed up, forcing me to go faster. Suffice to say one of the fastest "jogs" of my life, (oh and he broke going up poplar hill).

Supplmental images

Wanted to supplement Petes post with some humorous images of my own.

Link1


Link2


Both links are appropriate for all ages and concern Winnie the Pooh as well as Calvin and Hobbes. Ipso Facto this should be the most popular blog post of the century.

The End of Utopia

Weird that my Career adviser at Hopkins never told me about this job.

Not for Everyone

This is mainly for Sean because when I first saw this I thought of him. For everyone else who wishes to maintain the images of their beloved childhood characters unsullied do not view the link.
Winnie the Pooh

The shock of the old: Welcome to the elderly age

"Of all the people in human history who ever reached the age of 65, half are alive now. Meanwhile, women around the world have half as many children as their mothers"

The shock of the old: Welcome to the elderly age

Bad Times for Thomas Jefferson

It's amazing -- the power of the vote. It turns out that by a simple vote, you can do things normally thought not possible. Some years ago, the town of Dover voted God out of their city, at least according to Pat Robertson. Now, the Texas School Board, by a count of 10-5, has voted Thomas Jefferson out of history:











There's a second punch-line to this joke. Not only does the Board want to get rid of Jefferson, but it wants history books to read that the inspiration for America came more from the likes of John Calvin and Thomas Aquinas rather than those secular enlightenment guys. Aquinas was a smart enough guy, but here's what he had to say about religious freedom:
With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yahoo! Answers

Is anyone else blown away by the sheer number of strange questions that populate Yahoo! Answers?

Case in point.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Response to Ted

(This should be a comment to Ted's comment and article reference on the iPad, but comments, as others have commented, are so confining.)

I also liked the article, Ted. Variations on this theme, of course, have been going on for years. Some would say they started with the Mac in 1984 (or the Lisa before that). The language at that time was taking the computer out of the hands of IT people and making it more like 'an appliance.' So you could look at this as a long history of making a computer more like a toaster. John Sculley, former CEO of Apple, made a video of an imaginary 'Knowledge Navigator' device. (Surprisingly, the video was made in 1987, before the internet and, curiously, it looks a bit like an iPad--with multi-touch.) Game consoles and other application specific devices also contributed to this sense of creating a less technical, more consumable device. Also, as with any activity, more people are interested in consuming information or entertainment than creating it.

There have been other articles about this same theme. One I found interesting talked about how the iPad finalized the dominance of Steve Jobs' view of a computer over Steve Wozniak's view. Steve Wozniak is the ultimate playful engineer. He wants all the power placed in the hands of the people. You're welcome open it up and modify both the hardware and software.

Steve Jobs, on the other hand, wants the complete Zen experience where everything works perfectly without distractions or modifications. Focus is solely on the task at hand.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Probable eating

Tired of baking cookies using the old Bohr model? Here's your chance to embrace more advanced quantum and baking theory. Turn your old Rydberg states and shell structures into probability clouds.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What I was going to do...

I was going to write 'Yet Another Article About The iPad'™ where I would mention things like how book publishing will join games, music and movies as something one individual (or a small group) can now do affordably from creation to publication to distribution and actually, possibly earn a (partial) living. I was going to mention things like how vacationing in Burgundy (with Peter and Lisa), or in Southern France (with Steve, Ted, Dan, and Patrick), or in Gettysburg (with Peter, Myk, RenĂ©e, Francis, and Michael) would be nicer with a device where we could write our journals, (and with Steve and Dan draw in their journals), and also look up history, cultural, and driving information. I was going to mention that carrying around a small (iPhone) or large (iPad) screen is the logical progression of the computer/internet and social connection/information and entertainment media. I was going to do that, but then I found this comment to 'Yet Another Article About The iPad'™ and thought I would just quote it instead.

Until you get an iPhone you won't get it.

I have a choice of zillions of pretty good programs, most of which are free. The rest cost peanuts. I can pay for and install them in a couple of clicks.

The programs are a piece of cake to use. They do almost everything I can conceive of, and 10 times more.

Geocaching programs, for gods sake, for less than £2. Which connect very easily to servers where you can share stuff with others.

Music tuning programs for a couple of quid, that are better than professional instruments costing £100. Star programs that know where you are and what direction you are looking at.

Teach yourself cooking. With videos and recipes. And shopping lists. for a couple of quid. Car mpg programs. Electric and Gas metering programs.

I've got access to 25000 books - I've downloaded 50 - for a couple of quid. I can download the Sound of Music for my daughter. We can share stuff we've bought on up to 5 devices in our family.

I can play scrabble with my 9 year old girl - she on her iPod Touch, me on my iPhone. Monopoly with my son.

The entire works of Shakespeare, searchable, for free. Want to read Sonnet 111? The entire works of DH Lawrence for a couple of quid. I have read The Count of Monte Christo - a big book - on my iPhone. The whole bible for free.

I've got a phenomenal Collins Professional French Dictionary - that cost £15 - but worth every penny for my two kids.

I've got every road in Europe in it - in a TomTom version for the iPhone - used it to drive from Nice to Monaco and back a couple of weeks ago.

I've got teach yourself French, Spanish, Greek and Arabic programs on it!

If you can think of it - somebody is writing an app for it. I've read that it is 100 times easier to write an app for the iPhone than for the Blackberry - 20 years of work have gone into the development environment.

I can watch all the Freeview TV on it. with the iPlayer I can watch and listen to all last weeks BBC TV and Radio - I usually listen to Melvin Bragg's "In our time" a couple of days after it has been broadcast. Or I can listen to it again, and pause it and replay bits I want to hear again.

Last week I videoed my daughter in a school play - 35 minutes without a break.

Last week I sold a prewar bike and a 2.4m commercial sink on eBay on it. I bought a couple of books using the free Amazon app.

I've got several thousand notes on it. Email. Yesterday I spoke to my friend in Australia for an hour using Skype while I wandered around my house - I called his landline - it cost me 60p.

This afternoon I showed a 92 year old my iPhone - he asked me if it had a program for him to replan his bedroom. I found one in two minutes, downloaded it it one, and 10 minutes later had figured it out. Drawn the room accurately, and fitted it with customised furniture!

What did I leave out? Gardening programs, weather, movies, restaurants, decibel meter, mini 4 track recording studio, synths, accounts, F1 and football, Audiobooks, Underground, Bus and Rail programs, time trackers, Radio Times, Paypal, Political programs, Sim City, Classical Concert finder - it goes on and on and on ...

Do I think the iPad is going to succeed?

The funny part is I have neither of these devices and no plans to get them (other than possibly for testing software I'm writing). But I am not mobile. I can see, however, that, whether the device is an Apple one or not, a portable screen (device) is where the future is heading.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Response to Myk

I always thought the internet was boundless, but for some reason comments are limited to a paltry number of words. Thanks for stifling free speech, Blogger. So, yet another new post.

Myk, you ask which of our current behaviors will be critisized by future generations. I'm willing to bet one of them will be our meat eating practices. Sooner rather than later we'll be eating meat grown in petri dishes, and our society will look back at the industrial slaughter of cows as some kind of primitive barbaric practice. I am honestly looking forward to the looks of horror that my grandkids will give me when I tell them I was responsible for cow genocide.

On to the serious stuff! I agree that every society has moral gaps. I will also concede that our society has gaps we don't even know about yet. But that shouldn't stop us from trying to close them, even with incomplete knowledge.

The idea that "making pronouncements about good and evil is a dangerous business" begs what I think are two far more important questions, which are:

1) We must grapple with the corollary of that quote: "NOT making pronouncements of good and evil is a dangerous business." (See any Orwell essay attacking Britain's intellectual left in the years before WW2)

and,

2) Isn't it apparent that there exists a degree in difference- and even in kind- between various cultures' moral "gaps"?

In other words, the witch trials in Spain four hundred years ago were a kind of moral gap. Do we have any comparable gaps like that in our culture today? In parts of Africa right now, albino children are murdered for their body parts, which are supposedly valuable for black magic rituals. Do you think that we'll be returning to that type of darkness and ignorance any time soon?

Can anyone here honestly make the claim that we can't really know if these behaviors are morally stunted? I feel fairly comfortable making a pronouncement about these practices, and I bet all four people reading this blog do too.

So, then, I can agree with your point about the haziness of absolute moral truth without coming to the conclusion that such a realization dooms our quest to failure. I guess I see moral progress as a kind of asymptotic curve which can get very, very close to absolute truth without necessarily touching it. As Martin Luther King said, "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice."

I think this is historically accurate. Can anyone honestly make the assertion that Finland or Sweden or Canada runs the risk of sliding back into slavery or gender apatheid or superstition? Will these countries suddenly come to the realization that Sharia Law is the best political and legal scaffolding for their people? No, of course not. And, as democratic countries with large atheist populations, their morals rely on no deity. No one accues them of relativism when they commit to free speech and universal civil rights, and I'm willing to bet these principles won't be considered hasty or un-nuanced by humans in any future society.

Your paragraph on the 60's seems to touch on this idea of moral progress. Civil rights for homosexuals or the handicapped weren't on the majority of protesters' minds because they were focused on comparatively larger, more flagrant moral issues. Who had time to focus on equal marriage rights when a crippling war was on and racial segregation was still rampant? Once we exploded the idea of legal separation based on skin pigmentation, we were able to turn our attention to the unfairness of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Progress, progress. Maybe not fast enough, but it comes.

It also bears repeating that even though Hitchens and Harris may come across as smug, arrogant or "just as dogmatic as the fundamentalists they decry" (a criticism I've often read by reviewers), they say continually- and very humbly, in my opinion- that science does not claim certainty. Scientific findings, by definition, are always subject to revision in light of new evidence. It seems to me, though often imperfect, this is a principle with the best chance of advancing us to the closest version of moral truth.

More on Harris

Blogger wouldn't let me publish this response to Jim's latest comment on Sam Harris using science to answer moral questions because it was too long. Here it is in a separate post.

Here’s what I think Harris is up to: He wants to establish a moral norm without reference to a higher authority – moral certainty without God. He at least recognizes that he can’t come up with a rule that covers every situation. That’s why he makes his distinction between answers in practice and answers in principle. But he still wants an approach that can establish that certain conduct, like killing your daughter because she was raped, is objectively and absolutely wrong.

As much as I sympathize with this effort, I don’t think that the project will work. As both a practical and theoretical matter, there’s simply no way that we can escape the “twilight which the historical situation spreads over good and evil.” Given the endless complexity of the world and our limited perspective, making final pronouncements about good and evil is a dangerous business. Oliver Wendell Holmes had it right: “Certainty generally is illusion and repose is not the destiny of man.”

All cultures and times have their own blind spots. Jim has talked about the idealism of the 60’s. And, yes, I agree that it was a very idealistic time. I would go so far as to say that it was a moral time. We wanted to end all wars, eliminate poverty and establish racial equality. But no one at the time ever gave much thought, for example, to gay marriage as a moral or a justice issue and my bet is that if someone had brought it up, it would have been shrugged off as irrelevant and ridiculous. The same thing for handicapped access or other considerations for the disabled – no one in the 60’s ever thought that that was a moral issue worth worrying about. So, where are our blind spots today? Does anyone have any doubt that a century from now people will be scratching their heads wondering how we could have ever been such inhumane brutes?

Unfortunately, our rationality tends to be wrapped around these moral gaps and rarely helps us see them. How often does rationality end up being rationalization?

I concede that “maximizing human well-being” is an excellent moral principle, and it may be the tip-top of all moral principles. But I don’t think it gives us much by way of a final answer about anything. Among other problems, there are two huge variables staring us in the face here. The first variable is “maximize.” How do you “maximize” the well-being of over 6 billion people, all with competing interests? That notion seems to raise a lot more questions than it answers. And, second, we have the question of “well-being.” People disagree plenty on what’s good for them. The fellow who murders his own daughter because she was raped may well be thinking that this is the best thing for her under the circumstances.

If all Harris is saying is that we should think hard about what we’re doing rather than just follow blindly what somebody else says, I would agree 100%. As Bonhoeffer says, a responsible person must on his own “observe, judge, weigh up, decide and act. [He] must examine the motives, the prospects, the value and the purpose of his action.” But, I’m just not seeing how applying rigorous rationality to the process eliminates the moral ambiguity. Giving another nod to Bonhoeffer, the truth is that, even after all the careful thought and analysis, we necessarily must still act “without any claim to an ultimate valid knowledge of good and evil. Good, as what is responsible, is performed in ignorance of good…”

It just seems to me that, by making rationality or scientific thinking some ultimately validating principal, Harris has jumped back into the boat that he’s trying to get out of, namely the problem of handing off the responsibility for our decisions to some other authority. I don't think that we can escape judgment by claiming that our conduct was morally justified because it followed the dictates of rationality. Aren’t we just back at Nuremberg?

Tarrou in Camus’ The Plague says at one point, “Can one be a saint without god? – that's the problem, in fact, the only problem, I'm up against today.” And he’s right: the moral problem is how to be a saint without being able to appeal to any validating authority – not some book written 2000 years ago, not the Pope, and not even the direction of our own rationality.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pirate Preview!!! (2010)

The biggest surprise for this year's Pirate Preview!!! is that they are fielding a team at all. Is there no shame left in the world? In fact, it is a real stretch to call this team the Pittsburgh Pirates. Everyone on the (predicted) opening day roster is from another baseball organization except for Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Doumit, Zach Duke and Paul Maholm. After 17 years, management, to their credit, finally realized they have no baseball savvy and is hoping that other organizations have selected and developed talent better than we have.

Actually, I feel embarrassed to be even writing a Pirate Preview!!!. The only reason I am is because last year's Pirate Preview!!! was so successful.
thus far in Spring training the big concern is "Will Nyjer Morgan hit?" In fact, among the 3 'rookies' Nyjer Morgan is the only one who has!
As I predicted, Nyjer Morgan hit (so well that he was traded) while the other two, Andy LaRoche and Brandon Moss, did not.
This sounds pretty bleak and definitely confirms that the main problem is starting pitching—our nemesis last year. So even if our players each duplicate their best year, pitching most likely will bring us another losing season.
We were 14th out of 16 teams in pitching (in BA against and in runs against) and, in case you forgot, we had, indeed, another losing season.

This year there is really nothing to predict. Everyone knows we will have a losing season. What is surprising is that some, like the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, think that one of the positives (other than the usual team chemistry and that Zambelli fireworks are from nearby New Castle) is team pitching.
Why they could win
3. The pitching
"The potential is there,"
Oh, when will they ever learn? The Post Gazette even says "This same group had a subpar 4.59 ERA last season, with opponents batting a league-high .284." They got that right except for the "subpar" bit. As I said last year, if each pitcher has his best year, we will have an ERA of 4.486. We almost got that. As Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Unless there is some divine intervention, our starting pitching will be bad. The real problem is that our bad pitching last year was mitigated by a superior defense. With Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson and Adam LaRoche, we were the best defensive club in the National league. We had the least number of errors, 73, and the highest fielding percentage, .988. Often we were able to bail out our weak pitching. This year, we will not be so fortunate.

So will there be anything good about the upcoming season? Well, some of our batters may hit, the view from the stadium is still good and Zambelli fireworks are still in New Castle.