Cold Shaw.

March 3rd, 2015

Brian Shaw out as head coach of the Denver Nuggets.

56-85 over a season and a half.

News of his firing comes days after general manager Tim Connelly said Shaw is “absolutely” safe as the team’s coach for the remainder of the season.

And also…

February 27th, 2015

I don’t want this one to get lost: Earl Lloyd has died.

For those who don’t recognize the name, Mr. Lloyd was the first black NBA player.

A rugged 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward, Lloyd played in the N.B.A. for nine seasons. He was a strong rebounder and so tenacious on defense that he sometimes guarded the Minneapolis Lakers’ 6-foot-10 center George Mikan, the league’s first superstar. In 1955, Lloyd joined with Jim Tucker, also a forward, as the first two black players on an N.B.A. championship team, playing for the Syracuse Nationals.

Nimoy.

February 27th, 2015

For the historical record: NYT. LAT. WP. A/V Club. Lawrence.

Other people have pointed this out, too, but he went beyond Spock. He replaced Martin Landau in the original “Mission: Impossible”, and is described as being one of the more memorable “Columbo” villains.

And here’s a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore I ran across while searching for “M:I” episode openings featuring Nimoy:

Kids, ask your parents about Y2K.

One more for the road:

Obit watch: February 27, 2015.

February 27th, 2015

Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame. WP.

Father Hesburgh further inflamed his conservative critics by leading a group of Catholic educators to assert a degree of doctrinal independence from Rome. Meeting at the Holy Cross retreat in Land O’Lakes, Wis., in 1967, the group issued a landmark policy statement declaring that the pursuit of truth, not religious indoctrination, was the ultimate goal of Catholic higher learning in the United States. That position had implications for what could be taught at the universities and who could be hired to teach, issues that remain contentious to this day.

Rev. Hesburgh’s name came up earlier in the week in my office. One of my cow orkers has been promoted to a leadership position, and our group was exchanging leadership advice.

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.

The NYT goes into the tank…

February 25th, 2015

The Port Authority Bus Terminal has new bathrooms.

Chris Valens, a spokesman for the agency, said 16 bathrooms in the terminal were being redone at a cost of $13 million. That is about $812,500 each.

Off the top of my head, that doesn’t sound unreasonable, considering the special needs of the Port Authority bathrooms. But how are they?

The color scheme is contemporary, with grayish-silverish floor tiles. The partitions are dark and have textured surfaces. The urinals in the men’s room look like some on the website of the manufacturer Toto, with the $1,071 flushometer valve. The toilets, made by Kohler, have similar-looking Toto valves.

But that’s only one reason I brought this up (though I am notably bathroom obsessed, as those who know me well will testify):

A second person who checked out the women’s restroom — and who asked not to be identified because she has always wanted to be an anonymous source — reported her findings by email: “Black shiny granite-y sink. Arched faucets by Sloan. Tasteful slate gray and powder gray tiles.”

Does NYT policy on the use of anonymous sources allow for the use of same if the only reason they want to be anonymous is that they’ve “always wanted to be an anonymous source”? I know this is just a light story, but you make an exception here, an exception there, and before long you end up with Jayson Blair.

Edited to add: Well, well, well. The public editor has weighed in.

Random notes: February 23, 2015.

February 23rd, 2015

Am I understanding things correctly? They made a movie out of “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law“? And it won Best Picture?

Ackquille Pollard is a rising young rapper under the name Bobby Shmurda. Mr. Pollard’s rap career has been temporarily sidetracked:

Mr. Pollard was arrested for what city prosecutors said was his role as the “driving force” and “organizing figure” behind the street gang known as GS9, an offshoot of the Crips. In one incident just a month before he was signed, prosecutors said, Mr. Pollard shot at his brother, shattering glass at a Brooklyn barbershop. He faces up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy, reckless endangerment and gun possession; others charged, including Mr. Pollard’s childhood friends, face more serious accusations, including second-degree murder.

Mr. Pollard is being held on $2 million bail. And he’s upset that his record label hasn’t bailed him out.

But as rap has become more corporate, that kind of aid is unusual. Matthew Middleton, Mr. Pollard’s entertainment lawyer, said that while Epic is not obligated to cover bail or legal fees for Mr. Pollard, the artist expected more support, financial and emotional, especially after the label’s spirited pursuit of the rapper made them business partners.

“These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world,” Mr. Middleton said. “To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.”

Obit watch: Herman Rosenblat. Mr. Rosenblat was a Holocaust survivor who wrote a memoir of his experiences. In that memoir, he told a story about a girl who threw an apple over the fence to him while he was in a concentration camp; later, after he moved to the United States, he met the girl again and married her.

This was, of course, a great story. Mr. Rosenblat made “Oprah” twice, got a book deal, and there were plans to turn his story into a movie.

And sadly, it turned out that Mr. Rosenblat completely invented the story about the girl and the apple. The book was never published and the movie was never made.

There is an Indian actor named Amitabh Bachchan. He’s apparently not well known in the United States, but he’s hugely popular in India. “He has appeared in more than 150 Bollywood films and served as a longtime host of the country’s wildly popular version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'” according to the LAT. He also had a small part in the 2013 “Gatsby”.

And because of that small part, a group of Sikhs in the United States are claiming Mr. Bachchan is subject to US jurisdiction.

The group has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. making the improbable argument that Bachchan’s work with a U.S. film company gives American courts the ability to hold him responsible for the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in India three decades ago. The group alleges that the actor, now 72, made statements that incited a violent mob.

More:

The suit hinges on the Alien Tort Statute, which in recent years has become the center of a debate over whether American courts can and should be the arbiter of human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world by non-U.S. citizens. The 1789 law, which was passed by the first Congress and initially used in cases of piracy and stolen goods, states that federal courts shall have jurisdiction over wrongs “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

It seems unlikely this will work, at least according to the LAT: the Supreme Court has restricted the ability of plaintiffs to pursue claims under the Alien Tort Statute, and they are also likely to have issues accomplishing service on the defendant.

One Wisconsin suit was dismissed after it became clear the process server hired by the group mistakenly served another Sikh man with a long white beard and turban, not the chief minister of the state of Punjab. Hospital security and Secret Service agents proved a hurdle in serving another Indian politician at a New York cancer treatment facility. A case against Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister at the time of the suit, was thrown out after the U.S. State Department stepped in to declare to the court that Singh was entitled to immunity as a head of state.

On at least one occasion, the group resorted to offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who could successfully serve the lawsuit on Punjab’s chief minister.

Obit watch: February 19, 2015.

February 19th, 2015

Dr. John P. Craven, a hugely important figure in Navy history.

From 1959 to 1969, as chief scientist of the Special Projects Office, Dr. Craven led the Navy’s drive to expand its presence into the crushing depths of the sea. Among other things, he turned submarines into spy machines that could reach down miles to inspect and retrieve lost enemy matériel, including nuclear arms.

Dr. Craven shows up frequently in the many recently published histories of the US Navy during the Cold War. His own book, The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea is well worth reading.

Oliver Sacks is dying. I don’t want to write this obituary now; I plan to wait until I have to.

Cry havoc! and let slip the dogs of Westminster.

February 17th, 2015

A shih tzu called Rocket was picked as the top toy dog at Madison Square Garden.

So? Well, one of the owners of Rocket is…Patty Hearst. No, really: from “Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people!” to “Who’s a good dog? Yes, you are!”

Meanwhile, can a bloodhound win “Best in Show”? Maybe. But Nathan, one of the favorites to win this year, is out of the picture.

Obit watch: February 17, 2015.

February 17th, 2015

Arnaud de Borchgrave, journalist and author.

Lesley Gore. A/V Club.

Not really an obit in the conventional sense, but: the Bob Feller museum in Van Meter, Iowa is closing. One of the interesting things about this is that the Feller museum was one of the last remaining “free-standing” museums devoted to one player:

Only two remain: the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, two and a half blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, and the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library in Greenville, S.C. Six others, including the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State University in New Jersey, are either housed at or supported by larger entities.

Also interesting: some of the memorabilia will stay at the musueum (which is going to become the new city hall), some of it is going to Progressive Field, and some of it is going to the U.S.S. Alabama:

In Van Meter, Feller is equally revered for his military service. He enlisted in the Navy two days after Pearl Harbor, the first United States professional athlete to volunteer, costing him three full baseball seasons and most of a fourth. He saw combat in the Pacific theater as a gun captain aboard the Alabama. Feller proudly called himself the only Navy chief petty officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#18 in a series)

February 13th, 2015

Gosh, I love writing these.

The recently re-elected governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, has resigned.

I started a post yesterday about the Kitzhaber scandal, but I was having trouble finding a way into it. Ace posted a good summary: as I understand it, much of the scandal involves Kitzhaber’s fiance, who is accused of influence peddling, not reporting income, ethics violations, and getting people fired who failed to respect her authority.

More coverage here.

Edited to add: this link was broken at the time of the original post, but the Oregonian‘s timeline of the scandal is working now.

10/9/2014 Hayes apologizes and admits to making a “serious mistake by committing an illegal act” when she married an 18-year-old Ethiopian national to help him secure residency in the United States. She appears at a news conference without Kitzhaber, saying she takes responsibility for the 1997 sham marriage.

Also, quote of the day:

There has been no word as to whether Kitzhaber required emergency surgery to remove his face from his palm after his assistant informed him that she had EMAILED orders to delete his EMAILS to EMAIL accounts that were subject to open records requests.

Obit watch: February 13, 2015.

February 13th, 2015

David Carr, prominent NYT journalist, passed away last night.

Carr also wrote the critically acclaimed memoir, The Night of the Gun, about his struggle with drug addiction.

I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end any time soon.

Edited to add: nice tribute from Amy Alkon.

Edited to add 2: A/V Club.

Obit watch: February 12, 2015.

February 12th, 2015

Bob Simon, for the record.