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January 26, 2004

The Koufax Awards
Posted by Teresa at 11:20 AM *

The nominations are out for this year’s Koufax Awards for liberal weblogging. (They’re named for Sandy Koufax, the Dodgers’ great southpaw pitcher. Go figure.) Voting is going on right now over in Wampum. I’ve been nominated in three categories, which is an honor and at the moment is making me feel almost paralytically shy. I expect I’ll survive.

Anyway, the nominations are great, and I’m egobooed as all heck, but what I really want to say is: Dear readers, thank you all, very much. The point of Making Light is that you should enjoy it; and if you have, I’m happy.

For the record, the categories in which I’ve been nominated are Best Writing; Best Post, for The Fabric of the City; and Best Series, for my posts on the destruction and whereabouts of Iraq’s antiquities and national library [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Also, Patrick’s weblog Electrolite was nominated for Best Design.

I still think the comment threads are the best thing about Making Light, but that’s not one of the award categories. Naturally, I think it should be.

Thanks again.

-t.

Comments on The Koufax Awards:
#1 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 01:05 PM:

I second the proposal for a new category, "Best Comments Community" or similar. It would be a tough competition, but ML would get my nod over Alas, A Blog and Crooked Timber.

BTW, how do you pronounce Koufax? It looks like KOO-fax to me, but I've heard KO-fax (long 'o' like the word 'owe').

#2 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 01:24 PM:

All the baseball nuts I know say KO-fax. Like it's the facsimile machine that gets another copy, or something.

#3 ::: Mockingbird ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 01:33 PM:

Congratulations! Awards well earned. I agree with you that the comments embellish the blog, and they deserve an award too. I have enjoyed visiting your blog--and cannot leave until I read the comments!

#4 ::: Mockingbird ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 01:34 PM:

Congratulations! Awards well earned. I agree with you that the comments embellish the blog, and they deserve an award too. I have enjoyed visiting your blog--and cannot leave until I read the comments!

#5 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 02:17 PM:

Mockingbird, I think someone's imitating you... :-)

#6 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 02:23 PM:

Mockingbird, I think someone's imitating you... :-)

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 02:24 PM:

Arrrggghhh. No, my double post wasn't intentional either! :-( Instant Karma, I guess.

#8 ::: KimGonzo ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 02:26 PM:

Congrats on the nominations! I've voted for you in all of them - I hope they don't throw my votes out because I'm a non-liberal! :)

#9 ::: Toni ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 04:22 PM:

Quoted from the Koufax Awards website:

"These awards (with one exception) recognize the best of the liberal blogs. They are by and for lefties. Sandy Koufax was the greatest left-handed baseball pitcher of his (and my) generation. When looking for the name of an award for the best lefties, Koufax came to mind."

Toni

#10 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 06:47 PM:

It's well-deserved recognition, no matter who wins.

#11 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 08:59 PM:

Congratulations, PNH and TNH!

I, too, have a tendency to be paralyzed by praise, but when I am I try to remember a story by the physicist Richard Feynmann. He'd been given a lavish salary by CalTech (or someplace like that) and was completely paralyzed by a severe case of imposter syndrome. He said he finally cured himself by telling himself that if the university was stupid enough to pay him all that money, it was their problem, not his, and he was just going to do whatever he wanted to do.

#12 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 09:54 PM:

Well, Mitch Wagner, as a long time firend and co-author of Richard Feynman [with one "N"] what you say is true, but slightly out of context.

Feynman did feel that his early success was partly a matter of luck. He was recruited into the Manhattan Project as a teenager, and chanced on being the youngest person with major responsibility. There's a funny story about how that happened. But it cast a tragic shadow, as he died eventually of tumors in the gut from his work at Los Alamos.

Then he felt that he got lucky in working out Quantum Electrodynamics while in grad school, which won him a Nobel Prize.

He was going to "do whatever he wanted to do" anyway, as a matter of style.

But he disdained all organizations which, as he put it, existed primarily for the members to sit around and congratulate each other on how elite they were, and plot on who to prevent joining the club.

More about him and his teachers at:

My Teachers' Teachers' Teachers

A Professional geneology of the very famous people for whom I'm a
student or student's student or student's student's student. Includes
celebrities as various as Andre Segovia, Ezra Pound, Bertrand Russell, and
Albert Einstein.

#13 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 26, 2004, 10:36 PM:

Jonathan Vos Post's life has brought him into contact with many famous persons, but his strict code of personal behavior prohibits him from mentioning them more than twenty-seven times per day.

#14 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 12:14 AM:

"Who's the guy with the funny hat standing next to Jonathan Vos Post?"

#15 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 04:20 AM:

Patrick, Mitch, of course you are right. But if I do so with a straight face, it can be taken as self-parody;)

Once King Carlos of Spain rode through the streets of Manhattan. My father and one of my younger brothers (Nicholas) stood on a balcony of the Churchill Building, I think on 2nd avenue. My father and Nicky swear that the king looked up and waved to Nicky.

My mother-in-law, as a little girl, had an old, old man come to her school and tell how, when he was a little boy, he saw Napoleon ride into some capital city or other. My wife knows the the details. We are all very close (6 degrees of Kevin Bacon) to anyone famous. I just make a point of figuring it out. Soon, that process will be automated, and I'll have to shift to another obsession.

Every Mathematician in the world knows his/her "Erdos Number." The very eccentric and astonishingly prolific mathematcian Paul Erdos has an Erdos Number of 0. All of the 500+ people who co-authored with him have an Erdos Number of 1. All of the thousands of people who co-authored with any of those have an Erdos Number of 2. And so on. My Erdos Number is 5, so I am VERY far from the center of mathematics.

A classmate of mine at Caltech, Bruce Reznik, has an Erdos Number of 1, and a Kevin Bacon Number of 2. Bruce was in "Good Will Hunting..." So his sum of Erdos Number and Kevin Bacon Number of 3 is considered a record low. Since Erdos never appeared in a movie at all, let alone with Kevin Bacon.

So, strange as it seems, this specific oddity of mine is relatively common in some social settings.

I'm openly egotistical, yet I can claim that my web page of teachers' teachers' teacers is a selfless honoring of people far greater than I. My wife wouldn't buy that for a second. I know, I tried.

Also, to keep up my average of building 2 web pages a week for 8 years, I sometimes wander far into basketweaving.

Thanks for enjoying the unabashed quirkiness. In our tribe, it is considered harmless, right? hello? Why is everyone leaving the party...

#16 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 05:12 AM:

Oh dear. Just looked at the list of finalists. Now (even though I am very keen on this site/blog indeed I'll have to go & check them all out too. There goes the next night or two ... :(/:)
Fair and balanced, y'know

#17 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 12:04 PM:

My Erdos number must be something like 673. I have trouble calculating a tip in a restaurant.

#18 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 12:13 PM:

Since I've never authored a mathematics paper (well, not one I submitted), let alone co-authored one with anyone, I assume my Erdos number is infinite. So is my Kevin Bacon number, come to think of it.

#19 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 01:11 PM:

What's Kevin Bacon's Erdos number?

#20 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 01:48 PM:
He was recruited into the Manhattan Project as a teenager, and chanced on being the youngest person with major responsibility.

He may well have been the youngest person with major responsibility, but he couldn't well have been a teenager. Feynman was born in May 1918 and the Manhattan Project was started in June 1942, so he was 24 when recruited (if he was recruited earlier in some sort of unofficial super-secret fashion, 23).

#21 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 02:07 PM:

Talking of Kevin Bacon reminds me of the Noble Gases seminar in Brasilia where Gregory Benford, Richard Dawkins, Buddy Ebsen, Arundhati Roy, and I all got to comparing our analyses of the Mixolydian mode in traditional plainsong. Dawkins was so excited that his friends had to break out the epinephrine pin an hour early! Back when my father attended the Sorbonne with that crowd, they used to smoke cigars and compete at impromptu Latin poetry.

Down in my basement I may still have the box of mathematical proofs Dorothy Day, Robert Silverberg, and I worked out when we all found ourselves in the same first-class cabin. We gave up somewhere between Fermat and the existence of God. Boy, those were good times.

My great-aunt, the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, invented the jump rope, but she never got a cent for it. I meant to mention this in the other thread. More about this can be read on the Pioneer 10 plaque, in very tiny letters.

#22 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 02:11 PM:

I'm still laughing three minutes after reading the last post.

#23 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 05:36 PM:

Patrick, I'm trying to place it, but...

It also reminds me of a guy I know in the Pagan community who has a long routine that begins with "one time, Gerald Gardner and I were having sex..."

But yours is funnier.

#24 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 05:53 PM:

News to me that the Wabanaki indians have a domain name.

#25 ::: Jonathan Edelstein ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 06:32 PM:

The nominations are all well deserved.

#26 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 07:19 PM:

So is yours, O Mr. Head Heeb, sir.

#27 ::: Bill Higginnnnns-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 08:09 PM:

Mitch Wagner:
I, too, have a tendency to be paralyzed by praise, but when I am I try to remember a story by the physicist Richard Feynmann.

Jonathan Vos Post:

Well, Mitch Wagner, as a long time firend and co-author of Richard Feynman [with one “N”] what you say is true, but slightly out of context.

Do you mean Richard Feynma or Richard Feyman?

#28 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 09:11 PM:

Glad to see people so tactfully distracting Teresa's attention from her nomination for a Koufax Award. Wouldn't want to add to that almost-paralytic shyness.

(P.S., t., the nomination is well-deserved. Huzzah!)

#29 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 09:58 PM:

We gave up somewhere between Fermat and the existence of God.

That Dotty. No sticking power.

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 11:00 PM:

Now that I think, I'm a little suspicious of Patrick's story. Couldn't put my finger on it right away, but finally got it.
Dorothy Day would never fly First Class.

#31 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2004, 11:37 PM:

Well, I've never paid for a first-class airline seat in my life, but I've flown first-class many times.

On one occasion it was because the plane was nearly empty, due to a scheduling glitch, and they seated all half-dozen passengers in first class and regaled us with stories about how horrible it is to work for Northwest. (Honest.)

Most frequently it's been because I was travelling with somebody with more frequent-flyer miles than God, and a mere wave of their hand has been sufficient to get me seated in an otherwise unsold first-class seat. (On more than one occasion it was Tom Doherty, who has flown so frequently for so long that his frequent-flyer cards are named after trans-uranic elements.)

So no doubt Dorothy was in a similar situation. In fact, I bet it was Silverbob with the extra miles. In fact, yes, now it comes back to me...

#32 ::: Elise Matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 12:26 AM:

Mitch, you were still laughing three minutes after reading that post. I read it out loud to Mr. Ford just now, and both of us almost sustained falling-off-of-chair injuries. (If going out the window is defenestration, what's going off the chair?)

#33 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 01:43 AM:

I know a guy who flies so often on business that he's platinum on something like three airlines. One year he didn't fly that much, and two of the airlines actually sent him letters saying they hadn't seen him in a while, was everything okay, was he mad at them, could they do anything to make it up to him?

And that man's name is ... Michael Rowe. No, not the famous one, just a guy I grew up with named Michael Rowe. He doesn't like to be called Mike.

#34 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 02:37 AM:

I don't know anyone. On the bright side, they don't know me.

#35 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 10:56 AM:

pericat makes a good point in writing: "I don’t know anyone. On the bright side, they don’t know me."

The complete ancient Chinese Curse is:

May you live in interesting times...
AND come to the attention of powerful people.

I have learned the hard way that it is dangerous indeed to be a designated enemy of a politician so rich and powerful that he declined to accept his party's offer of a Congressional seat, on the grounds that he didn't want a demotion.

I'm talking about sending one of his security agents, with a blue-steel Walther PPK, carrying forged federal ID and a stolen police badge. That agent was arrested for brandishing a loaded gun in a public place, and forced to return the stolen police ID, but the local DA declined to prosecute him, and jailed me with a warning to jail me again.

Long story, not interested in going into it, but I speak from experience. Powerful people do not need to "fight fair." There are significant reasons to keep a low profile and not come into their gunsights. Security by obscurity.

#36 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 11:41 AM:

Patrick: I too giggle. And they never realize it's about them do they?

MKK

#37 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 11:54 AM:

Tom Doherty, who has flown so frequently for so long that his frequent-flyer cards are named after trans-uranic elements.

"Lawrencium members may be seated prior to the arrival of the plane. In fact, please board day before yesterday, or whenever you wish."

JvP, why aren't you hiding in a cabin in the woods somewhere? You have powerful enemies, and are an insider to so many groups that someone might kidnap you just to get to THEM. Also, it's a time-honored tradition for math whizzes to go hide in the woods...but please don't send out letter bombs. That would be gauche.

#38 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 11:56 AM:

"the local DA declined to prosecute him, and jailed me with a warning to jail me again"

As Philip K. Dick once wrote, here the possibility of recursion looms large.

#39 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 11:59 AM:

Patrick: I would roll on the floor laughing but this office hasn't seen a mop since before I started working here, so it would be unpleasant. Are you guys coming to Boskone--I shall tell you of my admiration at greater length then.

#40 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 12:28 PM:
If going out the window is defenestration, what’s going off the chair?

Unless someone with actual Latin knowledge wants to argue, I hereby declare it to be "desessiation."

On a related note, does anyone know of a really good LatinEnglish web site? A quick search turned up only one that was useful to find a simple word such as "chair," and Yahoo's Dictionaries area appears to contain none for Latin, astoundingly.

#41 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 12:36 PM:

We are certainly coming to Boskone, along with our usual entourage of Oliver Sacks, Arthur C. Clarke, Yo Yo Ma, Steven Jobs, Ian Hislop, Edgar Lee Masters, Lydia Pinkham, Scott of the Antarctic, and Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy.

(Jo Jo goes back with our family. He and our cousin Loretta went to the U of A together, before he left for points west. I think it was the cross-dressing that got to Jo Jo. Loretta was always a character, as Andrew M. Greeley and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem were the first to observe.)

We expect to arrive on Thursday sometime, well in advance of our usual pursuit by the CIA, FBI, MTA, Food and Drug Administration, S.H.I.E.L.D., SMERSH, and the Canadian Opera Company.

Long story. I speak from experience. Experience at speaking. Speaking long stories. At length.

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 01:12 PM:

Dan: The term you want is de cathedra, which refers to pronouncements made while lying on the floor next to the chair.

#43 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Geez, I always thought de cathedra was the process of converting a big church into condos...guess not, huh?

#44 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 01:55 PM:
Dan: The term you want is de cathedra, which refers to pronouncements made while lying on the floor next to the chair

See, that's just what I mean - a good Latin dictionary website would have given me cathedra instead of pushing sessio on me. Hrmph.

#45 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 02:10 PM:

Patrick wrote:

"'the local DA declined to prosecute [me], and jailed me with a warning to jail me again'"

"As Philip K. Dick once wrote, here the possibility of recursion looms large."

Actually, on the advice of the "dean of criminal defenders" in L.A., who'd gotten a Black Panther out of jail (Geronimo Pratt), I invited the DA to arrest me again. I pointed out that, if he did so, then I would sue him personally for malicious prosecution, on the grounds that I was clearly expressing my First Amendment Rights, and would keep doing so. After all, I'd been arrested -- on TV -- for asking questions at a Town meeting, in my assigned time period, while I was an elected Town Councilman, and therefore VERY protected by the First Amendment.

Then I sued the Sheriff, and forced him into medical retirement, for the initial bad bust.
Daffyd ab Hugh made a particularly splendid speech to the judge. The Defense attorney objected. The judge praised Daffyd ab Hugh's writings. How about that on a blurb?

Then the FBI jailed the crooked sheriffs deputies who'd been laundering gangs' narcotics money, which is what I was asking about at the meeting... The FBI dug up a quarter million bucks cash from the lawn of the former Chairman of the Town Council, whose son, a deputy, turned state's witness...

On the down side, they never did catch the folks who put the bullet through my livingroom window, or the one through my windshield. And only about 1% of Altadena residents turn out for the Town Council elections, said body having rather discredited itself. The Altadena Town Council had started as a meeting at the home of Richard Feynman's secretary, honest.

Notice that I didn't bring Daniel Webster or Judge Learned into this posting until just now...

I do think that your parodies of my self-parodies are funnier than my original postings, Patrick. I'd parody those, but, as Donald Knuth (whom I knbew at Caltech) put it: "the possibility of recursion looms large."

#46 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 03:38 PM:

Dan - On a related note, does anyone know of a really good LatinEnglish web site?

I've got one bookmarked here.

#47 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 04:44 PM:

"Hello, Gate 17? Louise?...Yeah, this is Alan down in baggage claim. Lissen, when the New York flight pulls up, could you tell a Mister--I'm sorry sir, what was the name? Thanks--a Mister Nielsen Hayden that his marching band is waiting for him down at carousel six?...Um, USC, I think...right, the funny hats, that's them...uh huh...anyway, you got the name? Okay, thanks a lot..."

#48 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 05:26 PM:

Jonathan, please don't ask me to credit a story that has Daffydd ab Hugh making "a particularly splendid speech."

I'm not saying it's formally impossible for it to have happened. I'm saying that I've known DaH online for years, and the presence of that element in a story makes it formally impossible for me to believe it.

#49 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 05:46 PM:

Teresa:

Actually, Daffydd ab Hugh first addressed the Altadena Town Council, and dared them to arrest him, too. He said that it could only help his sales.

He quoted Jefferson in that speech, and later in the courtroom. By this time, the Altadena Town Council had retained a "pro bono" counsel, one David Hotchkiss, who (strangely enough) was simultaneously a Deputy DA for the City of Los Angeles. Altadena is an unicorporated town in L.A. county, but the City of L.A. has no jurisdiction. Hotchkiss sneered at Daffyd that Jefferson was a slaveowner, a rather 3rd degree of Kevin Bacon kind of ad hominem attack (Jefferson->ab Hugh->Post). ab Hugh responded with a counter-ad-hominem about "jack-booted thugs." a good time was had by all.

Later, David Hotchkiss tried to charge me many tens of thousands of dollars for what he said in court was pro bono work, and never exhibited any signed Attorney-Client Agreement to show that he was attorney of record. The judge was puzzled that anyone would try to charge for pro bono work. Then the judge cut the amount down to $1,500. At that level, or above, Hotchkiss was prohibited from appealing the amount as too small. I have been busy ever since fighting to not pay. In theory, I have a Federal action possible, according to experts I consulted. But, to put it mildly, I'm burnt out on courtrooms. But, for the sake of anyone who intends me or my family harm, I can always have the whim to fight another round.

Is it his Star Trek books, or his Arthur Warlord book that has the poor speeches, in your opinion, or maybe certain overly political Sam Lundwall-WMD-related-activities things said in SFWA Forum not for uninitiated ears?

Andrew Willett : There's a story about a marching band, a hook & ladder, and the streets of Hell's Kitchen, when my maternal grandfather returned from the trenches of Aix-la-Chappelle after World War I, and continued courting my maternal grandmother. Among the amazing people I've known, I can't slight 2 parents, 4 grandparents, and 2 great-grandparents all alive through my youth. Plus some colorful aunts, uncles, great aunts & uncles, and cousins of various degree. Though those numbers may seem small to Catholic or Mormon families.

My son, sad to say, has only 2 parents and 1 grandfather alive, in toto. Family trees are more abstract to him than the homework he was doing last night on simple harmonic motion of masses coupled to two springs.

#50 ::: Ronald Reagan ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 06:03 PM:

Oliver North and I once had a long conversation on why arresting Jonathan vos Post would harm national security. I talked, Ollie listened. He may have even bought the reason I gave at the time. The real reason was because Jonathan and I were fellow Lodge members; he was the one who kept J. Edgar Hoover from black balling me (and wouldn't that have been an ugly sight?).

Ever since then JvP has been -- off limits.

#51 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 06:30 PM:
Dan - On a related note, does anyone know of a really good LatinEnglish web site?

I've got one bookmarked here.


Thanks. I had actually seen that before, but I couldn't figure out how to use it for what I wanted. This time I was more patient, and got results. Unsurprisingly, there are a passel of Latin words meaning some variety of "chair," but of course "cathedra" is the best.

#52 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2004, 09:17 PM:

Dan, check the Particles backthread. Should be several.

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2004, 12:09 AM:

I am reminded that "vos" is Dutch for "too often".

#54 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2004, 03:03 AM:

Teresa:

So THAT's why the fans at the Hague Worldcon kept squinting at my badge, handing me glasses of gin, and tiptoing away...

They also pronouced my last name "Pooost."

What do I know, anyway?

In my work-a-day life, I'm deep into the fifth mathematical research paper written this month of January 2004 (this last one my "four nines" web page, findable through the "New" link of my magicdragon.com). The resulting excitement and lack of sleep may make me even a little more eccentric than usual. Or maybe I'm possesed by a Maxwell's Demon...

Thank you again for such a wonderful blog, and the sheer decency and wit of the writers therein. "It's an honor just to be nominated." But, of course, I'm rooting for you to win. Maybe even square rooting...

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