Wes Covington’s Batting Stance

connie mack stadium

It was a long way from home plate to that Ballantine beer scoreboard in center field at Connie Mack Stadium, home to the Philadelphia Phillies when Wes Covington platooned in left for Gene Mauch in the early 1960s.  Whether or not he hit a ball over the scoreboard is in some dispute, but there is no disputing that he was a powerful man.

The bulk of Covington’s power came from a very unorthodox batting stance, one in which he hunched over the plate from the left side and let his bat dip to the point where it was almost parallel to the ground.  The odd thing is that despite all the resources of the Internet, you won’t find any picture of Covington’s unique stance.  It is forever etched, however, into the memory of young boys growing up in Philadelphia who imitated his casual pre-pitch posture, recoiling like a shotgun blast into the mighty swing.

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A Theory of Donald Trump

Aaron James,  a Ph.D. from Harvard and professor and chair of philosophy at UC Irvine, has a theory about a**holes:

While James may be the first professional philosopher to squarely hang the a**hole designation on politicians in print and other forms of media, the great amateur philosopher George Carlin advanced this theory in his own wry way to a gathering of Washington journalists:

The back jacket notes of Professor James’ new little volume on A**holes reads as follows:  “We are note asking whether Trump is, in fact, an a**hole.  On this much there seems to e broad consensus.  (Can you think of a better one-word name for him?)  Indeed, to many of his supporters, this may be a primary selling point.  The question, instead, is what kind of a**hole could pull off such a [political] feat so spectacularly, which is to say, it is a question of a**holeology.  Among the many species in the a**hole ecosystem, what exactly is Trump’s type?  And should it, or should it not, qualify him for high office?”  With that kind of buildup I couldn’t help resist taking this short, stubby volume home from Booktowne to read and savor.

Trump Cover Store


James positions Trump as the class-clown type of kid who tries to get a rise out of his classmates and craves attention.  Only in the designation of a**holeology, he is an a**-clown – a toxic blend of Barnum and bully – as James cites from an opinion blog by Nicole Hemmer on Trump’s Gaslighting of America.  In the current genre of disruptive innovation in business, Trump the political anti-politician has successfully disrupted the Republican Party.  Can Trump keep the Republican Party united?  One wonders if that’s really important to him, once he formally wins the nomination.

Trump Hat Rally

Until several months ago, few aside from Trump envisioned The Donald capturing the Republican nomination.  But once he ditched the tie, adopted the Make America Great Again hat, and hired Don Rickles as his campaign manager, the other candidates succeeded in self-destructing.  As Marc Rachmuth commented last September on the blog piece, Is Donald Trump Saving Our Democracy?“Trump’s run for the Republican nomination may be ‘great’, in that it provides a mirror for where we are as a nation and as a civil society.”

Update 5/10/16:  Savannah State University will offer a summer course to study The Trump Factor (political deals being more art than science).

Update 5/10/16:  How Political Dysfunction Fueled the Rise of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day יום השואה

What an emotional day.  It began with a riveting story from the Jerusalem Post about Sophie Helcman, a kindly next door neighbor of ours in Fair Lawn who emigrated to Israel. Capped off this evening with a stirring performance by the 8th grade class of Yeshivat Noam, featuring a young lady of whom we are immensely proud – our granddaughter Kayla Goldstein.

H - Noam Program

H - Kayla Awaits

H - Kayla Sets Mood

H - Hitler Plots

H - The Jews Bicker

H - The Scenes Begin

H - The World Debates

H - Nazis March

H - Zachor

H - Dedication Individuals

H - Kayla Classrm

H - Oma & K



H - Hatikva

H - Me & K

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Lebensborn: Hitler’s Forgotten Children

It was 71 years ago, on April 30, 1945, that Hitler reportedly committed suicide in his bunker and on May 23, 1945, that one of his equally infamous henchmen, Heinrich Himmler presumably followed suit while in British custody.  History has borne witness to the heinous crimes of Hitler and Himmler in the name of Aryan eugenics through the Nuremberg trials, but the focus of these crimes has been on the incarceration and extermination of Jews and other “undesirables” who elicited the furor of the Führer.  Much lesser known is the Nazi purification program involving a set of eugenically cherry-picked children groomed in a network of maternity and children homes known as Lebensborn (which literally means fount or source of life), and the impact this had on these individuals.


Lebensborn has flown under the radar because its surviving proponents under Himmler were apparently exonerated during the Nurmberg trials as running a children’s welfare society, rather than conspiring in a massive program to breed and kidnap children into a master race.  Himmler, who majored in agronomy in college, is reported to have been an unsuccessful chicken farmer choosing instead to channel his inner chicken-sh*t into human experimentation and exploitation with Lebensborn as a centerpiece of his legacy.

Tim Tate is a British author and investigative filmmaker who has made a documentary about Lebensborn, and most recently collaborated on a book with one of Lebensborn’s survivors – Ingrid Von Oelhafen, who was extracted from her Yugoslavian roots and her birth identity as Erika Matko.

Lebensborn Book

The woman born as Erika Matko was sent to Germany, and placed into Lebensborn where she was ultimately claimed as a foster child by the Von Oelhafen family.  In her stead, the Nazis substituted another child to assume the identify of Erika Matko in Yugoslavia – a real life doppelgänger to take the place of the sanctioned kidnapping of the child also known as Erika Matko.  The story of Ingrid-Erika’s secret life is summarized in her poignant interview on radio_gorgeous, and told in gripping detail in her newly released book co-authored with Tim Tate.   Its concluding chapter begins at follows:

“What is identity?  How is it formed?  And does identity shape the person – or is it the other way around?”


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According to Wiki, a mandala – which literally means circle in Sanskrit – is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions representing the universe.  In common use however, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that symbolically represents the universe.  Our granddaughter Kayla never ceases to amaze us with her artistic (among other) talents, the latest of which is her first place entry into a mandala drawing contest.

Here is one of several favorites she drew:

Mandala 1

And here is her first place winning entry:

Mandala Winnder


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When Baseball is Truly a Team Sport

Baseball is obviously a team sport, as opposed to tennis or wrestling or any of the contests in which the competition is solely between two combatants.  Yet the principal drama is between the hurler and the hitter on every pitch, until the ball is in play.  And then the principal action typically revolves around one fielder once the ball leaves the bat.  An unusual triple play occurred over the weekend in the Rangers-White Sox game which showed a team aspect of the game on defense that underscores why clubs go through so many drills  to simulate these actions during spring training.

Here’s the beauty of the sequence.  The Rangers load the bases with no one out, and on an 0-1 count a ball is lined toward the right field corner setting the runners in motion.  But the ball is caught on a nice play, so the runner at first scrambles to get back and the RFer fires it a bit off line to first base giving the runner ample time to return.  Were there a speedier runner on 3B he would have tagged to go home, but it’s the lumbering Prince Fielder.  Knowing this, the first baseman lunges after the runner who has overrun the first base bag into foul territory in his zeal to get back to the bag.

Look at the communication on the play, as the second baseman notices that Fielder has frozen a little off 3B, but the there’s a logjam there as the Rangers’ player on 2B took off for 3rd thinking Prince had ample time to lumber down the line.  So the second baseman motions to the first baseman to throw home.  Then watch the beautiful communication by the pitcher who has run home to back up the play — he immediately points to 2B, seeing that the runner is trying to scamper back from third toward second so he doesn’t get tripled off the base.  The shortstop takes the throw and chases the runner back toward third, and the lumbering Prince now has no choice but to head home.  As he does, the shortstop tosses the ball to the catcher, who throws to the third baseman to apply the tag to Prince.

The quintessential team play involving exquisite nonverbal communication.


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Random Acts of Kindness

I received the following message this morning, and was moved by this phrase:

“In lieu of flowers, the family requests those touched by Dr. Alexander’s life to extend their hand in random acts of kindness.”

What a wonderful gesture.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if this were done routinely as a tribute to the kind souls who have graced us?


LAlexanderIn Loving Memory of
Larry Alexander, OD, FAAO

The Academy is deeply saddened to report the passing of Academy Fellow Dr. Larry Alexander of Venice, Florida on April 16, 2016 at the age of 68.

Dr. Alexander became a Fellow of the Academy in 1975 and served as Clinical Editor for Optometry and Vision Science for five years, in addition to making frequent contributions to the journal.

Originally from Plainfield, Indiana, Dr. Alexander graduated from Indiana University School of Optometry and served as an optometrist in the US Navy. He practiced in Elizabeth City, NC, Louisville, KY, and Jeffersonville, IN. Dr. Alexander also taught at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Optometry and most recently consulted for Optovue. He was an educational author of the textbook titled Primary Care of the Posterior Segment, and was a lecturer who was passionate about his work.

There will be a private military service on the beach at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests those touched by Dr. Alexander’s life to extend their hand in random acts of kindness. Several scholarship funds are established in his name for education.


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