After the troubles I had with my computer late on Friday night, I’m actually feeling pretty lucky to even be here to talk about anything today. Just before going to bed, I was net-surfing some of my usually online haunts when pop-up windows begin to litter my screen. They were supposedly there to warn me of impending doom at the hands of “viruses” that were apparently attacking my computer, though all there were doing in actuality was freezing up my screen.
I knew something was fishy from the start, as I have both anti-virus and spyware programs — and none of the warnings were coming from them. Coupled with the language in the warnings, which was the grammatically incorrect phrases that I’ve seen in phishing e-mails before (like one pop-up telling me “you computer” is infected0 and I was pretty sure that the warnings were the problem my computer was suddenly having. Running my spybot check and my antivirus program revealed a malware program called Fraud.SysGuard on my system somehow, but neither could initially fix the problem. So I spent the next four and a half hours fighting through a combination of solutions — including a system restore — before I felt comfortable that I’d rid myself of the pesky problem. Here’s me hoping none of you end up with the same issue (which I’ve since learned has been a widespread problem lately).
— The big news story of the weekend was the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, but it was the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili that has overshadowed all of the competition so far. Kumaritashvili was killed when he wiped out on the last curve of a practice run Friday, the accident sending him careening uncontrollably through the air before he struck a metal poll off the side of the final straightaway.
Apparently, there were concerns voiced by several of the athletes about the track being dangerous, but it took this tragic accident for any changes to be made: now, among them, the luge competitors will start their runs from lower down on the track (which will lead to slower speeds), and the wall on the final turn where the accident took place has been raised, blocking the deadly poles that killed Kumaritashvili. Better late than never, I guess.
For my own part, I had two immediate thoughts about the incident. The first was my being surprised to see the actual footage of the accident displayed — videos that ran all the way through the impact that killed Kumaritashvili. I’m watching a debate unfold on a baseball message board I frequent about the merits of showing the accident in its entirety. I’ve heard it described as one step short of a snuff film — I watched it once, and I have no intent of seeing it again; seeing it that one time was more than enough to make me feel incredibly uneasy, uncomfortable, and a little sick to my stomach.
My second thought was that I don’t need to see the actual footage to realize that something in the track design was incredibly flawed; the reason being that, just a still photo of the area surrounding the last turn — with the metal support girders in plain view just a few feet off to the side of the edge of the run — was more than enough for me to shake my head in disbelief. Metal posts — something akin to what you’d see in building construction — that close to the track … really? Forget padding them — hitting padded posts at 90 miles per hour is still going to result in similar, serious injuries. Whose brilliant idea was it to design the track with that feature in mind in the first place? What’s next — spikes and flaming lava surrounding the run too?
— And finally, former Chicago White Sox (and Oakland A’s and Toronto Blue Jays) slugger Frank Thomas, known as the “Big Hurt” throughout his career, announced his retirement this weekend. Thomas ends his career as one of the greatest sluggers in the history of the game: in addition to his .301 average and 521 HR (18th all-time), Thomas also posted a ridiculous .974 career OPS, good for 15th all-time. Across numerous lifetime statistical offense categories, Thomas is surrounded by names that are the all-time greats of the sport: Williams, Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx and others. While his defense was sub-par and he was a pretty bad baserunner, Thomas was the greatest pure hitter of his generation and one of the most feared men at the plate of all time.
What’s more, Thomas was an outspoken advocate for steroid testing in the sport, and unlike many of his peers (Bonds, Ramirez, A-Rod, and McGwire for starters), Thomas achieved his remarkable numbers cleanly. He was the only active baseball player to be interviewed during the preparation of the Mitchell Report, something he did so of his own accord while many players around him ducked and dodged the inquiry into the sport’s seedier side with as much energy as they’d exerted during their careers themselves. Thomas wasn’t the most charismatic of players, but no one can make an intelligent argument that he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame as soon as he’s eligible. As a lifelong White Sox fan, I can’t wait to see the greatest hitter in Chicago baseball history take his place in Cooperstown.
— Tomorrow: My memory of The Greatest Boxing Upset of all Time (computer cooperation needed, of course). See you then!