2017-02-25T16:37:56.526-05:00Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.
2017-02-21T00:30:33.919-05:00Today marks the the 101st anniversary of one of the events that changed the world forever. On February 21st in 1916 - the Battle of Verdun began. The battle was to change the course of Western Civilization. The idea for the battle was from German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn. He believed that if he could take-out France with a major set battle and discourage England to a point that Germany could be in a position to negotiate very favorable terms. To accomplish his goals - Falkenhayn proposed unrestricted submarine warfare to starve Britain and a knockout blow against France at Verdun. With this major battle at Verdun, Falkenhayn hoped to "bleed France white".It was an ambitious plan - an aggressive plan. Falkenhayn knew that to attack at Verdun he'd have to take resources away from the Eastern Front and that unrestricted submarine warfare ran the risk of bringing the U.S. into the war. Falkenhayn reasoned that Russia was on the brink of revolution and internal civil war in Russia would allow them to take those resources from the Eastern Front and that the decisive blow to France would come before the US was dragged into the war. He was right on the former but wrong on the latter.Verdun seemed the perfect place to attack. It actually jutted out into the German lines - so it could be attacked from three sides. It was also of historical and psychological significance to Frenchmen (somewhat akin to what the Alamo is to Americans).The job of attacking Verdun fell to German Crown Prince Wilhelm. He planned to assault the town from both side of the surrounding Meuse River but that plan vetoed by Falkenhayn. After coming up with a daring, aggressive plan - Falkenhayn was suddenly cautious. Falkenhayn ordered the attack to be confined to one side of the river. Similar to a poker game, Falkenhayn was beaten on the river. Falkenhayn had pocket Aces of a plan but he failed to put enough chips at risk to drive the other player out. By not being aggressive when he should have he gave France free cards and allowed himself and Germany to literally be beaten on the river.With so many people who eventually died in the battle, a poker analogy may seem flip but the fact is the Germans had one million troops against 200,000 defenders. They did hold Aces before the battle.When the attack finally began, the Germans bombarded Verdun with 1,400 guns that rained Verdun with 100,000 shells every hour. The Germans failed to immediately follow up the bombardment with an full-scale infantry attack and what resulted was a stalemate which was to last for months and months.The dead and wounded from both sides piled up so that both countries were being "bled white". The French begged Britain to open up a diversionary attack elsewhere on the Western Front to drain resources and men away from Verdun on the German side. Thus the Battle of the Somme was born. By the time the battle of Verdun ended almost one million casualties had been inflicted in roughly equal numbers for both sides. The Battle of the Somme resulted in about 1.1 million casualties (about 400,000 British, 200,000 French and 500,000 German). The unrestricted submarine warfare resulted in the Americans being dragged into the War (remember that President Woodrow Wilson was elected on a peace platform). The American joined the fight just as both sides were literally exhausted from being "bled white" from Verdun and the Somme and the rest is history (including the harsh terms imposed on Germany that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party).[...]
2017-02-20T21:10:56.546-05:00Today marks the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons episode Homer at the Bat. Below is a parody of that episode I wrote in 2005. I think it still holds up.The Curse of the SimpsonsHello, my name is Bob Ley and welcome to Outside the Lines. Tonight we look at what is being called “the Curse of the Simpsons.”On February 20, 1992 the Simpsons’ episode “Homer at the Bat” aired and featured some of baseball’s brightest stars but the question now comes up – what did these stars have to do in order to be on the show and what price did they pay for that momentary bit of extra fame?According to the Official Simpsons Website the episode’s plot was the following: Mr. Burns makes a million dollar bet with his arch-rival Aristotle Amadopolis that the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant team will beat the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant team in the softball championships. To ensure victory, Burns hires a number of ringers, including pro baseball players Darryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs and Mike Scioscia to replace the plant employees he cut from the team. But as game day approaches, the pros all succumb to various strange ailments and accidents that prevent them from playing and it's up to Homer and his teammates to beat the Shelbyville team. With bases loaded and the score tied in the ninth inning, Homer is sent to bat and wins the game when the pitch hits him in the head and accidentally scores a homer."Most of the stars were at the top of their game before agreeing to appear on the show but after the show most started hitting the skids. Coincidence – Outside the Lines thinks not.In studio we have one of the stars of the show – Homer Simpson. Homer, welcome to Outside the Lines. You get many big name stars on the show – is there any special arrangement to get these stars? What about the baseball players featured in “Homer at the Bat”? Homer: To answer your question Kent – normally guest stars work for scale to be on our show because it is such a status symbol to be on the Simpsons. However, in this case the boss wanted something extra.Who is your boss? What was the something extra required of the baseball players?Homer: Well I report directly to Satan or as we like to call him – Ned. In order to be on the show the baseball players had to sign over their souls. You know standard stuff.Wait a second are you saying that Ned Flanders is Satan and that the baseball players had to sign over their souls to be on the show?Homer: Yep. You deaf or something? All the players really wanted to be on the show and Ned made them pay. Darryl Strawberry?Homer: Hmmmmmm strawberries……….Oops – sorry. I felt bad about Straw. He was such a good kid before he came on the show. I’m afraid we introduced him to a little too much of the Hollywood lifestyle. You know constant drugs and hookers. I guess it made quite the impression on him.Ken Griffey Jr.? Homer: Yep. Satan is still screwing with him. I guess Griffey has become sort of a hobby for Ned.Steve Sax?Homer: Oh boy! That was a good one. You know the throws to first were my idea. Jose Canseco?Homer: Do you even have to ask on that one? The guy slept with Madonna. I guess he figured he was doomed anyway.Don Mattingly?Homer: You know Don started off as a really nice guy but working for so long with Steinbrenner just sorta wore him down. I still remember watching Mattingly’s last game on the set of the Simpsons. Ned comes over - sees Don on the TV and says, “Next year the Yankees win the World Series" and then he starts with that laugh of his.Mike Scioscia? Homer: Well Mike was sorta of a charity case. He sold his soul to get into the major leagues. Wade Boggs? You can't say Wade Boggs sold his soul - I mean he was just elected to the Hall of Fame.Homer: Actually Wade Boggs was the only one that wasn’t asked to sign away his soul. If you remember - in the show Wade ge[...]
2017-02-19T09:59:14.556-05:00Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.
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2017-02-18T13:15:19.945-05:00Before I go on this rant let me state for the record I did not vote for Donald Trump. Anyone who wants to accuse me of being a "Trumpkin" can suck a long brown snake out of my ass.
2017-02-17T11:41:56.248-05:00Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.
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2017-02-16T10:08:17.215-05:00Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.
2017-02-15T10:07:17.709-05:00So last week the Boston Bruins fired head coach Claude Julien, then this past weekend under new interim Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy Boston beats the Montreal Canadiens 4-0, and then yesterday Montreal named Claude Julien their new head coach. What a
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2017-02-13T00:30:10.807-05:00Today is General Yeager's 94th birthday. Happy birthday General!
2017-02-12T11:58:36.246-05:00Now it can be told. At half-time of Super Bowl 51 I switched from drinking Bud Light to Wachusett Nauti Seltzer. The bartender asked me why I was switching it up and I said, "To change the Patriots luck."
2017-02-12T11:14:11.868-05:00Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.
2017-02-12T10:57:25.863-05:00American hero Lt General Hal Moore has passed away. He would have been 95 tomorrow.
2017-02-11T10:13:05.916-05:00Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.
2017-02-11T09:39:54.089-05:00The New York Knicks under James Dolan are a mess. This stupid feud vs Charles Oakley is just the cherry on top. I would love to see the Celtics or another team add Oakley to their coaching staff just to force a showdown the next time they visit Madison Square Garden. If the Knicks try to bar a "coach" then the Celtics would have a grievance to file with the NBA front office.
2017-02-10T09:51:06.131-05:00Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.
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