Sunday, July 17, 2005

Orwell,Don Quixote,Baseball and Toads

Friday 15 July 2005
Retreated to the relative coolness of the ice rink that occupies the first 3 floors of my apartment building.Exceedingly hot and humid today..even my eyeballs are sweating.
32degrees outside humidity 99.9% air conditioning factor high.
Despite the apparent lack of activity on this site i've been reasonably busy,what with books ,dvds and other trifles to distract me from the opressive mid rainy season weather.
Orwell
Well, i laboured through Orwells essays.To be honest i skipped a few of them.His stated wish was to 'make political writing into an art.' He did have some interesting thoughts on Don Quixote and Sancho describing them as 'a dualism of body and soul in fiction form' ....'the two principles noble folly and base wisdom that exist side by side in nearly every human being.'
Again i think hes an author better sampled or picked at rather than consumed in one sitting.
Don Quixote
Seems you cant read much of anything these days without a mention of Don Quixote.A CNN sports writer Bill Syken lists it as his favorite novel.
Claims that William Faulkner read it once a year.The Venezeulan government is giving away 1 million copies to celebrate its 400th anniversary.By way of honoring the book Syken listed 11 Quixotic tasks or quests doomed to failure though heroic..as an example he gave Leyton Hewitts quest to beat Roger Federer..currently Federers beaten him 7 times in a row.
More interestingly for me given that ive just finished reading MoneyBall by Michael Lewis was the 11th quest.The 11th quest is for lowpay moneyball teams to win a baseball World Series.Oakland couldnt do it and this year Syken contends the Twins and the Nationals will also fall short.
Ok lets backtrack and fill in the gaps...Moneyball is a novel about a low budget MLB team the Oakland A's.The 2 principal characters are Billy Beane the A's general manager and Bill James , a baseball writer who elevated the use of baseball statistics into an art or science called 'sabermetrics'.In a nutshell Beane uses sabermetrics to build a team and trade players to remain competitive.Given the disparity between MLB budgets (Beanes budget was at one time $40 million against the New York Yankees $120 million) Beane wanted to adopt a more objective system rather than the traditional subjective scout based approach.
The book claims using such a system the A's have remained competitive.It traverses the evolution and adoption of sabermetrics.It has been questioned by many.This week in the local paper Bobby Valentine manager of Lotte thought it was an unworkable system.In 'Faithful' Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King also expressed doubts based on 'the standpoint of strategy and business morality'.The fact that the Twins had managed to 'put together a better, steadier team with even less money' was also stated.
Now i thought a book about baseball statistics would be boring but in fact it was the reverse as Stephen King wrote 'the book was jaw-dropping'.Bring on the second half of the baseball season..
Toads
In between these books i also re-read 'The Wind in the Willows' a childhood favorite.I think Orwell would see Rat and Mole as the Don and Sancho paradigm.Toad represents the moneyed,priviledged,corrupt classes while the weasels and stoats are the disaffected masses.
Im currently reading 'Fermalts Last Theorem' another numbers book like Moneyball but this time with Pythagoras,triangles and the world of mathmatics.Only read 39 pages but am intrigued already.
Cool Reception
Went to a wedding party last Sunday afternoon.Very Japanese.Very organised.Ran like clockwork.Started as stated at 1pm on the dot.Finished at precisely 3pm.One was mailed an invitation with the directions and the cost..yes one pays over here to attend such celebrations...apparently i got off lightly at 6,500 yen.
Glad i caught a taxi it took the driver 3 circumnavigations of the same block before even he found the building.
The seating comprised separate tables for the locals and one for the gaijin i.e anyone else.Dead on 1pm a staff member armed with an unnecessary mircophone given the small size ofthe room began proceedings.After the happy couple paraded in their traditional European style suit and white wedding dress complete with veil and train there followed speeches in Japanese and English.Some drinks and food arrived and several games including Bingo were also played.Finally a piece of sponge wedding cake brought proceedings to an end.Very pleasant company and surroundings...tho my senior area manager reminded me of some photos taken 5 years ago...in my defence i plead mitigating circumstances..it was hot,it was summer..the bar's air conditioning was broken and finally your honor it was a case of mistaken identity...

2 comments:

kwok said...

read that it a company in spain are doing tours based around quixote's travels around that area, even going to el toboso (or however you spell it) the home of dulcinea.

can't escape the don...

Steve said...

Perhaps toads just represented fat warty people who don't like getting wet very often.