Thursday, December 29, 2011

We Are Very Small



This picture is from Discovery. That is what the U.S. would like if is was on Saturn.

Top 3 - Guys I Want With the Ball Shooting for the Win

1. Carmelo Anthony - I wouldn't put him in the Top 5 overall guys in the NBA, maybe even the Top 10. But I can't think of anyone who is better at making sure they get a quality shot when everyone know they are about to shoot it. And he makes more of them than anyone else.

2. Kevin Durant - Would be number one if you couldn't push him out on a drive. The best shooter in the league be a wide margin.

3. Derrick Rose - Can get a shot anytime. The shot he made to win the game on Christmas was just crazy. If he was a better pure shooter, he would be nearly unstoppable.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rye Whiskey Is Back... For Better or Worse?


I have been seeing more and more articles recently like this one form the New York Times:
Over the last few years, though, that has changed, as rye has emerged as a go-to craft spirit of the moment. Interest in its production has also come back, as small artisanal distillers, like Templeton and Delaware Phoenix, have popped up across the country, referencing old recipes and archaeological records to create new spirits strongly rooted in tradition. And big whiskey companies that mostly make bourbon — Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill — are not only bottling small batches of specialty rye but offering tours to spirit enthusiasts.
That first sentence has been bothering me. I think I covered similar territory in a blog a while back, but I don't like drinking the "spirit of the moment." It makes me feel weird when I go up to the bar and order the thing that has become chic. That is surely just a bit of hipsterism at best and an appalling display of elitism at worst. But it is still a feeling that is hard to shake.

However, I have decided to make peace with the idea. I am going to choose, instead, to embrace the rising popularity of rye. Because if my favorite drink becomes more popular, the logical outcome is that I will be able to get it more places. And there will be more varieties. And people will invent new cocktails.

So here is to rye whiskey and its new found popularity. May it be the Jack Daniels of the next generation.

Chart of the Day (Maybe the Year)

So what are the 99% upset about? This chart from Larry Bartels (via Kevin Drum) shows it all. It is a graphic representation of how responsive politicians are to the views of different income groups.


The really striking thing is that this data was pulled from voting records in the 90s. When you look at it like that, the 99% have been pretty patient.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Relegation

Freakanomics has a post theorizing about what relegation could do for American sports.


Had the Pirates and Clippers played in something like the English Premier League, the Pirates would have been relegated in 1995.  And the Clippers would have been gone in 1981-82, sparing Los Angeles this team entirely. 
In North America, though, despite years of failure, both teams have been consistently rewarded by their league. The Pirates – via luxury payments from teams like the Yankees – are actually profitable. And the Clippers have routinely been granted high draft choices and – via the intervention of Commissioner David Stern – were recently given the amazing talents of Chris Paul.
Would relegation be good for KC? It would probably mean that we could actually have a team competing in each of the major 5 sports (I am officially counting soccer). There would simply be no reason that we couldn't have a team competing in whatever a step down from the NBA would be competing at the Sprint Center with a chance to make it to the NBA if they did well enough.

On the other hand, all of our current major sports franchises would have been relegated in the past two decades at a point, and one of them would probably have been stuck in Triple A for God knows how long. So, I guess I am still trying to puzzle out how I feel about it as a KC sports fan. Anyone have any thoughts?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best Songs of 2011

I ranked the albums, but I am busy this time of year. Thus, the songs are gettting the alphabetical list treatment. They are all really good though.

21 Great Songs of 2011

A Little Bit of Everything - Dawes
All the Talkers - Centro-matic
Breaker Breaker - Peter Bjorn and John
Cruel - St. Vincent
Die - Girls
Dog's Eyes - Wye Oak
Ffunny Ffriends - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Gold on the Ceiling - Black Keys
Gratisfaction - The Strokes
I Might - Wilco
Lippy Kids - Elbow
Miranda - Surfer Blood
Morning Thought - Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
On and On - Tapes 'n Tapes
Payne's Bay - Beirut
Raw Meat - Black Lips
Revolving Doors - Gorillaz
Ride Ride Ride - Vetiver
Separator - Radiohead
Shredder - Jeff The Brotherhood
Velcro - Bell X1

Best Albums of 2011

Going in reverse order this year because I posted this list on Facebook first and God forbid I have to type it again.

‎10. Arabia Mountain - Black Lips
 This is just a good time. Nothing wrong with having a good time.
9. Nothing is Wrong - Dawes
 There is no song here I love as much as When My Time Comes, but that really isn't much of a criticism. I firmly believe that A Little Bit of Everything is Taylor Goldsmith singing the song he wishes Warren Zevon would have sang before he died.
8. Gimme Some - Peter Bjorn and John
 They may forever be known as the "Young Folks" band, but these Swedes just keep making great music. And they can almost always put me in a good mood.
7. Smoke Ring for My Halo - Kurt Vile
 I'm not sure how you can mean monotonous in a good way, but I would here. This album just feels like a 2 a.m. haze. I also mean that in a good way.
6. El Camino - The Black Keys
 There is more going on here than with Brothers, but I'm not sure that is a good thing. I think I like the production stripped way down with these guys, but the songs are still great and nobody else does 60's blues/soul rock like they do. And I hope to get another chance to see them live. I would recommend anyone who hasn't seen them do the same.
5. Build a Rocket Boys - Elbow
 The whole album is great, but the reminiscence on childhood in Lippy Kids, is the most beautiful song I heard all year.
4. We Are the Champions - Jeff the Brotherhood
 Remember when Weezer was great? I do, and I am glad that Jeff the Brotherhood and the soon to be metioned Surfer Blood do too. I am also glad that Jeff the Brotherhood thought that old -Weezer would be more awesome if they sounded a little more like the Ramones.
3. The King is Dead - The Decemberists
 I shall not name the band that most are invoking related to this album, but if it sounds like them, that is quite an accomplishment. And this time the best song isn't about a dad who kills his kids!
2.The Whole Love - Wilco
 I really hadn't been a big fan of the last two Wilco albums. Then this one comes along and kind of feels like it has all the best parts of Summerteeth and A Ghost is Born, and Wilco resumes their status as one of my favorite bands.
1. The Rip Tide - Beirut
 Everything Zac Condon does is a little different than what he did last time, but this is the first time he did it a little more like everybody else. And yet, there is no mistaking it for anything but Beirut.
Honorable Mention Category 1 - Bands I discovered this week through other Top Ten lists in this thread and will probably be in my revised best of 2011 in 6 months.
Candidate Waltz - Centro-matic
 I have been listening to this a lot over the last two days. I was not at all surprised to find out they were from Austin, because Spoon was the first thing I thought of when I heard it. Thanks to those who put it on their lists.
It's a Corporate World - Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. 
 I have to admit I had been avoiding this band based entirely on their name. Big mistake. I have an uneasy relationship with electronic music, but this is the kind that stays in my playlist for a long time.
Honorable Mention Category 2 - Bands that made great first albums, tried to get fancy and made suspect second ones, then decided to return to what worked and made great third ones.
No Color - The Dodos
Outside - Tapes 'n Tapes
Honorable Mention Category 3 - Album that made me feel a little schizophrenic.
King of Limbs - Radiohead
 My reactions to this album: 
1. Radiohead is releasing a new album!
2. What?
3. I'm not sure about this...
4. Actually, maybe...
5. They got me, these songs are stuck in my head (I really love Separator)
Honorable Mention Category 4 - All Others
Tarot Classics - Surfer Blood (EP)
The Errant Charm - Vetiver
Strange Mercy - St. Vincent 
Father, Son, Holy Ghost - Girls
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Wye Oak - Civilian
Middle Brother - Middle Brother
Alpocolypse - Weird Al (yeah I said it, and I mean it)
Biggest Disappoinments
9 Types of Light - TV On the Radio
Angles - The Strokes

Doing it Their Way

The old hometown has a new brewery. They make great beer AND great amateur videos.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Down at the Pub

It seems no one has explained to the Brits that employers occasionally check your Facebook page.
The average British person is under the influence of alcohol in three-quarters of of his or her tagged Facebook photos, according to a new study.
Although, if the number sits at 76% I suppose employers can't really hold anything against you because they ultimately have to hire someone. Carry on then. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Performance Artist

I am beginning to think that must be what Ron Artest Metta World Peace really is:


Thanks for passing this along Jackknife.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Government's Role to Play

You can't have free enterprise without government, whether you like it or not.
A study for the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School found that “some form of open access regulation has at this point been adopted by every country in the OECD except the United States, Mexico, and the Slovak Republic.”
When someone tells you they are pro-markets, they usually mean they are pro-business. Those two are very different things...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Kevin Durant Averages 50

According to his facebook post, Kevin Durant needs contacts. Good God, he couldn't see and led the league in scoring. What can he do once he can see???

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Football Analogy Run Amok

In his most recent column, David Brooks argues that Obama has been far from the regulatory monster the right makes him out to be:
In the first place, President Obama has certainly not shut corporate-types out of the regulatory process. According to data collected by the Center for Progressive Reforms, 62 percent of the people who met with the White House office in charge of reviewing regulations were representatives of industry, while only 16 percent represented activist groups. At these meetings, business representatives outnumbered activists by more than 4 to 1.
Brooks says this has the left up in arms, and he is right. I think liberals see this as Democrats embracing one of their most important critiques of the Republican party. Brooks hits at the issue at the end of the column by making a statement that, in its falsehood, describes exactly why liberal support for Democrats is wavering .
Second, it is easy to be cynical about politics and to say that Washington is a polarized cesspool. And it’s true that the interest groups and the fund-raisers make every disagreement seem like a life-or-death struggle. But, in reality, most people in government are trying to find a balance between difficult trade-offs. Whether it’s antiterrorism policy or regulatory policy, most substantive disagreements are within the 40 yard lines.
The analogy at the end is the useful part here. I, and I think a lot of liberals like me, believe the game is absolutely not played between the 40 yard lines. It is played entirely too close to our end zone, say between the 20 and 40. That gives Republicans the chance hit a reasonable touchdown play every now and again, and to get at least a field goal on every possession.

Democrats meanwhile throw the occasional hail mary while spending most of their time trying to run out the clock without turning the ball over. Any football fan knows that is not a way to win the game.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bob Costas - America's Moral Compass

At least that is what Bob Costas seems to think. I had nearly forgotten about this pompous display of blowhardiness, until a post on Slate weighed in feeling the same.



I generally like Bob Costas. I hope NBC pulls the plug on his halftime monologues so I don't permanently change my mind.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

As a Kansas City sports fan and resident of one of the few states that voted for McCain in the last election, I can get caught up in not feeling too appreciative of how the world works. But, by and large, I think humanity continues to improve, and I know I certainly have a lot to be thankful for in my own life. It's nice to think about that every now and again. Friday, I shall resume being downtrodden.

Monday, November 21, 2011

To the Mattresses

Bill Simmons has a great article up at Grantland where he assigns blame to various parties explains how The Godfather is like the NBA lockout. After an opening where he talks about Michael and Sonny, he closes the piece with this:
For the owners, nothing has changed — it's strictly business. For the players, something haschanged — it's almost entirely personal. You can't find a middle ground between those two worlds. You just can't. Maybe it's the opposite of how definitively The Godfather: Part II ended — with Michael Corleone sitting outside by himself, lost in thought, alone in every sense, a ruthless businessman with no personal connection to anything — but even so, that deafening silence sounds the same.
The rest of article where he explains how the various actors have helped bring us to the brink of a year without an NBA season. It's good stuff, but I particularly like the metaphor because I just love movie metaphors. One of my greatest regrets is that I can't find the paper I wrote in high school explaining how The Grapes of Wrath was really the same story as Alien. If I ever find it, be assured it will be making an immediate appearance in this space.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fudging

There are lies, there are damn lies, and there is psychological science:
In a forthcoming paper, also to appear in Psychological Science, Leslie K. John, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, and two co-authors report that about a third of the 2,000 academic psychologists they surveyed admit to questionable research practices. Those don't include outright fraud, but rather such practices as stopping the collection of data when a desired result is found, or omitting from the final paper some of the variables tested.
And this doesn't even include the fact that most psychological studies involve some kind of totally unreliable self-reporting by the subjects. Not a real major point here, just something to remember.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sports Update

A review of my favorite teams:

Kansas City Chiefs - They just lost a game where the opposing QB completed 2 passes. I haven't verified, but this has to be a record. Anytime you hear a story that starts "For the first time in NFL history, Team X did Accomplishment Y, you can safely assume they were playing the Chiefs. The team is a complete disaster on offense. The QB was inaccurate even when he wasn't being driven into the ground by opposing defensive linemen, and now they have to hand things over to his backup. On the positive side, their division is so unspeakably awful that they are still a game out of first after being outscored by 77 points in their 9 games.

Philadelphia Eagles - Actually a game worse than the Chiefs despite outscoring opponents by 17 points. And now Vick has broken ribs.

Kansas City Royals - I am actually looking forward to next season. However, if they don't get any more pitching help than Jonathan Sanchez, you can't possibly consider them an actual contender for the Central crown.

Sporting KC - A great season finished with a disappointing home loss to a team without their best player in the Eastern Conference championship. However, the fact that they were even playing in such a game means they are easily the best franchise in town. Here is hoping they can build on this season, and learn from their playoff experience.

Oklahoma City Thunder - N/A (And that sucks.)

Chelsea - They aren't playing well, and now racist fans are distracting a team that needs to be focused on how not to give up five goals at home. Plus, there is talk of a Didier Drogba trade.

Syracuse - College basketball seems to be my bright spot. The Orange are off to a great start. Of course, they aren't playing anyone this time of year, but there is a feel you can get watching a team. The feel I am getting from this Syracuse team is that they will have good offensive balance and they are athletic enough to compete with other top 5 teams.

Missouri State - I have no idea what to think about their 22 point drubbing of Nevada. Either expectations were too low for the Bears in the MVC, too high for the Wolfpack in the WAC, or the MVC is wwwaaayyy better than the WAC. I think it is probably mostly the first, and a little of the second. Pretty sure it isn't the third.

So there it is. Thank God for college basketball since the NFL has been a disaster and the NBA probably won't even have a chance to be a disaster. March Madness here we come!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

First New Page Up

I'm working on adding static pages to the blog. The first is places I like to eat in KC, and you can find it in the menu to the right.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Riveting News

Here is the entirety of a story on the front page of the Kansas City Star's website today:

Firefighter Twists Knee Battling South KC House Fire 
A firefighter twisted his knee early this morning while battling a south Kansas City house fire. The fire was reported about 6:35 a.m. today in the 10900 block of Forest Avenue. The firefighter was being evaluated at the scene. 
There were no other injuries. The cause of the fire was being investigated and no estimate of damages had been determined this morning.
In other news, I stumbled in the parking lot and nearly spilled my coffee this morning.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

College and Learning

There seems, out there in the great big world, a growing buzz that college diplomas are not offering all the same benefits they once offered. Politicians, journalists, and college students themselves have been more vocally criticizing high prices and less robust returns on those prices over the last few months. You can see it in such varied forums as OWS rallies and Republican presidential candidate debates. An interesting article from the New York Review of Books discusses a point made by the authors of Academically Adrift:

For most of them, in the end, what the university offers is not skills or knowledge but credentials: a diploma that signals employability and basic work discipline. Those who manage to learn a lot often—though happily not always—come from highly educated families and attend highly selective colleges and universities. They are already members of an economic and cultural elite. Our great, democratic university system has become a pillar of social stability—a broken community many of whose members drift through, learning little, only to return to the economic and social box that they were born into.


 I put the italics in because this just strikes me as one of the most patently obvious issues with our education system. College for many people is not a place to aspire to learn, but a place to earn the right to get a better job. And it would be crazy for us to be surprised by this because this is exactly how we sell college as a social institution. "A college degree is the ticket to a better future... college graduates earn x% more than non-college grads... the opportunities afforded you by college." These are things you hear. You do not hear things like "college is a place to help you be a more reasonable, critical, and thoughtful human being." Why? Probably because there is no certain profit in that.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Old Fashioned 2

A great story in Slate today designates the Old Fashioned as the ultimate symbol of our pluralistic nation. It also makes a pretty strong case that it is a drink built to expose our more tribalistic and pretentious nature.

The old-fashioned is at once "the manliest cocktail order" and "something your grandmother drank," and between those poles we discover countless simple delights, evolutionary wonders, and captivating abominations. Because of its core simplicity and its elasticity—because it is primordial booze—ideas about the old-fashioned exist in a realm where gastronomical notions shade into ideological tenets. It is a platform for a bar to make a statement, a surface on which every bartender leaves a thumbprint, and a solution that many a picky drinker dips his litmus paper in. You are a free man. Drink your drink as you please. But know that your interpretation of the recipe says something serious about your philosophy of fun.
Very true. I would recommend the whole article as it does a nice job of describing the issue with a hipsteristic influence on modern day cocktail making. It also made me think about an issue I have become more and more familiar with in my own life, which is my attempt to thread the needle in my own tastes between crass popular culture and the overly precious tastes of the denizens of speakeasies and indie-music sites the world over.

Indeed, my struggle to find an equilibrium between the mass and peculiar results in a regular self-questioning about how my perceptions of the audience of a drink, show, album, book, etc. are affecting my appreciation of that thing. I am afraid more often than I would like, that affectation is clearly present.I reported on my thread-the-needle approach to the Old Fashioned a couple of years ago. Notice my obvious disdain for the neanderthalic addition of club soda, but my defense of the heretical muddled fruit at the bottom of the glass. I am a creature of two worlds I suppose... or I just know what I like.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Gripe

In reading the news and listening to the radio, it seems to me that what we seem to be having - more than anything else - is a breakdown in faith that we can do anything as a collective. Whether that be govern ourselves, raise children, build good neighborhoods, or improve an economy, it all seems the same. Our national thought process has truly been hijacked by people who believe "every man for himself" is the best way to run a society. Leaving aside the incongruity of this idea with many of these same people's supposed religious beliefs, this is still a baffling issue. How did this train of thought become dominant? Is it a climate of skepticism in one another that has caused it? Is it social, moral, or functional? I don't know, but I am afraid of what we may do to ourselves before we figure out otherwise.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blogger Stepping Up in the World

I think I may be about 2 or 3 months behind, but I just looked around and see it is now easy to all kinds of things with this blog. I think the project through November may be to start adding some features...

Monday, October 31, 2011

80s Movie Line for Halloween


Got to see Ghostbusters on the big screen Saturday night. It is still one of the funniest movies ever made. Here is a classic line I'll use to wish you a happy Halloween.

Ray: "Listen! Do you smell that?"


Office Space

More people work at desks doing clerical types of things than at any other type of profession.

So why is Office Space the only great movie that has been made about the subject of working in an office job? Maybe The Office has been filling people's entertainment needs around office jobs for the past few years, but I have to think that an era beyond fax machines and TPS reports has plenty of new material for another great movie. Office Space 2????

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Where the Money Went

The chart below provides a nice, tidy summation of income inequality in this country. It shows how different people's household incomes would have been if income distribution would have stayed the same since 1979. All the money, that the middle class and poor would gained wasn't lost in the ether. It was added to the income of the top 1%. This is a pretty good reason for people to be out asking the 1% what's up...


Via Kevin Drum.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mainstream Media Bias

Not much time today, as I am heading back to day 3 of my civic duty. But I wanted to pass this chart along from the Pew Research Center (via Kevin Drum), showing just how beat up all the Republican candidates are getting by the mainstream media. Must be nice to be Saint Obama and have 9% of the press fawning all over you.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Prom Disaster

Three restaurants at Crown Center are closing including the revolving Skies. Apparently, the wealthy have decided that nice views and motion sickness are not for the proletariat as Skies will become a "Sheraton Preferred Guest Lounge." Amorous Juniors and Seniors all over the metro will have to find new ways to impress their dates this spring. Gentlemen, the Cheesecake Factory is not the answer!

Chart of the Day

This chart via Kevin Drum shows Wall Street salaries versus other New York private industry salaries. Obviously they are worth this much since the market tells us so. Good thing we have the market, otherwise we might have wondered how the group who drove the economy into the ditch ended up being "worth" so much more than the rest of us.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Big 12 Basketball

So the Big 12 could still fall apart. I acknowledge that, but I would like to dream of what could happen if it doesn't. If the league can get its act together and everyone can get along, I love the possibility of what we could have here.

First off, let me say that I don't care about college football at all. Until college football championships have more integrity than WWE belts, I just won't get too wrapped up in it. I do, however, care about college basketball. And a great basketball league is what the Big 12 can become (and really a good football league as well).

All we need to do is add Louisville and Cincinnati or Memphis. If that happens, and Missouri stays, then all that really happened after all this turmoil is that we traded Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas A&M for Louisville, TCU, and Cincy/Memphis. In basketball terms, that is a huge upgrade. This makes us a much better basketball league. Average RPI from the last 5 years tells the story (thought to be fair playing in the Big East improves Louisville and CIncy's RPIs). Anyway, here they are:

Average RPIs over the past 5 years:

A&M - 27
Nebraska - 102
Colorado - 164

Memphis - 20
Louisville - 21
Cincy - 97
TCU - 188

Of course, averaging produces slightly skewed numbers since a 230 hurts you much more than a 4 helps you. So for comparison, over the same time period KU's average is 6 (despite two #1s) and MU's is 61. Looking at it another way here are the number of NCAA Tourney wins  for each group over the past 5 years:


A&M - 5
Nebraska - 0
Colorado - 0

Memphis - 9
Louisville - 7
Cincy - 1
TCU - 0

There just really is no way around the fact that this league gets MUCH better with the addition of Louisville and either Memphis or Cincinnati. I, for one, would love the idea of a Big 12 tourney round of 8 with Kansas vs. Oklahoma, Louisville vs. Oklahoma State, Texas vs. Memphis, and Missouri vs. K-State. That is an incredible lineup of games!

Get it together Big 12. I live in KC, and I need good basketball to happen here. Now get out there and do it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fantasyland

In sports make-believe world, Kansas City would have one of eight teams in a rogue NBA substitute league where the players pick their own squads...

And Kansas City is a no-brainer as the fifth team: It has a state-of-the-art NBA arena, and it's also on suicide watch right now with the Chiefs and Royals. Nobody needs this league more than Kansas City. You're right, Seattle needs it more. My bad.
In this hypothetical league, we get a starting five of Derrick Rose, Amare Stoudemire, Al Horford, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.

In the real sports world, we are probably losing the only major basketball event in the city sometime in the near future. The real world sucks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Inequality Hurts Economies

A new study points again to the idea that inequality isn't just bad for the poor, it is bad for everyone.

"Countries where income was more equally distributed tended to have longer growth spells," says economist Andrew Berg, whose study appears in the current issue of Finance & Development, the quarterly magazine of the International Monetary Fund. Comparing six major economic variables across the world's economies, Berg found that equality of incomes was the most important factor in preventing a major downturn. 
So how important is equality? According to the study, making an economy's income distribution 10 percent more equitable prolongs its typical growth spell by 50 percent.
The graph below shows the examined factors, and the effect each has on growth.


Of course, we have a nice long study going on this subject here in the U.S.A. It's the middle of the 20th century versus the last 30 years. It shows the same thing. People do better when society is more equal.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Good News!

Most of my sources seem to be bringing me a steady stream of news that makes me more pessimistic about humanity. So it is nice to stumble across someone who has something good to say about mankind.

Modern homicide rates in Europe—one of the few regions where records are trustworthy enough to permit such comparisons--are 10 to 50 times lower than in the Middle Ages. Murder rates fell by two orders of magnitude in the northeast United States between 1625 and 1900. The past few centuries have also seen precipitous drops in state-sanctioned violence. That includes corporal punishment (from cutting off the hands of thieves to whipping students) and capital punishment, especially combined with torture (drawing and quartering, burning at the stake). Slavery and despotism (which allows tyrants to kill and torture on a whim) prevail only on the margins; 800 years ago they were the rule. As for war, Pinker presents evidence that it killed on average about 20 percent of the population of pre-state societies in the Old and New Worlds, a casualty rate higher than that of the most war-torn modern states.
It seems for all of our problems, we are at least killing one another at much decreased rate. Way to go humanity.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Easy Explanation

Rashard Lewis never went to college. However, that didn't stop him from offering an accurate and simple explanation of why the NBA is stuck in a lockout:

“Talk to the owner. He gave me the deal,” Lewis said. “When it comes to contracts, the players aren’t sitting there negotiating that contract. I’m sitting at home and my agent calls me, saying, ‘I got a max on the table.’ I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘Naw, that’s too much. Go out there and negotiate $20 or $30 [million] less.’ ”
Maybe college is overrated.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life Imitates Art

Isn't this the basic premise of Idiocracy?

Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor women into sharp relief. One, from the Guttmacher Institute, shows that the rates of unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women now dwarf the fertility rates of wealthier women, and finds that the gap between the two groups has widened significantly over the past five years. The other, by the Center for Work-Life Policy, documents rates of childlessness among corporate professional women that are higher than the childlessness rates of some European countries experiencing fertility crises.

Monday, September 26, 2011

More On The Intersection of Inequality and Sports

This time it regards the NBA lockout. The Grantland site continues to put up great pieces, and today the contribution is from Malcolm Gladwell.


One of the great forgotten facts about the United States is that not very long ago the wealthy weren't all that wealthy. Up until the 1960s, the gap between rich and poor in the United States was relatively narrow. In fact, in that era marginal tax rates in the highest income bracket were in excess of 90 percent. For every dollar you made above $250,000, you gave the government 90 cents. Today — with good reason — we regard tax rates that high as punitive and economically self-defeating. It is worth noting, though, that in the social and political commentary of the 1950s and 1960s there is scant evidence of wealthy people complaining about their situation. They paid their taxes and went about their business. Perhaps they saw the logic of the government's policy: There was a huge debt from World War II to be paid off, and interstates, public universities, and other public infrastructure projects to be built for the children of the baby boom. Or perhaps they were simply bashful. Wealth, after all, is as often the gift of good fortune as it is of design. For whatever reason, the wealthy of that era could have pushed for a world that more closely conformed to their self-interest and they chose not to. Today the wealthy have no such qualms. We have moved from a country of relative economic equality to a place where the gap between rich and poor is exceeded by only Singapore and Hong Kong. The rich have gone from being grateful for what they have to pushing for everything they can get. They have mastered the arts of whining and predation, without regard to logic or shame. In the end, this is the lesson of the NBA lockout. A man buys a basketball team as insurance on a real estate project, flips the franchise to a Russian billionaire when he wins the deal, and then — as both parties happily count their winnings — what lesson are we asked to draw? The players are greedy.
Read the whole article. It involves the sale of the Nets as insurance for an eminent domain property grab. And it is one more indication that not only is inequality a growing problem, but it is also a problem that is screwing up our sports.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

90s Style (Hornets Edition)

An article on Grantland claims that the #1 best thing about being a sports nut as a kid in the 90s was the Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket. I'm not sure about that, as I believe NBA Jam, Beckett Monthlies, and parkboard athletics all trump the Hornets jacket. However, I did happen to have an affinity for the Hornets, and I also happened to have some excellent Hornets gear. So then, here are my top 5 Charlotte Hornets related pieces of clothing from the 90s.

1. The striped grandpa jacket
This is the kind of jacket your grandpa always wore, but his was probably tan. It had elastic around the bottom, a traditional collar, and is stopped right about the belt line (often rising above the belt on account of the elastic). The difference in the Hornets version was that instead of a nice khaki or baby blue, this one was striped with the classic Hornets teal and purple. Had I walked onto the set of any 90s Batman movie or Bel Biv DeVoe video wearing this jacket, no one would ever have questioned me.

2. Converse Grandmama Shoes (Version 2)
Larry Johnson was my favorite Hornet. For two seasons, he was the man. Then he got injured. But those two seasons were enough for me covet a pair of LJ's signature Converse shoes. I believe they made only two editions, and I had both. The best version, however, was clearly the one pictured below. It featured classic 90s contemporary styling, Hornets teal, and that thing your strapped over the top to.... well I guess to keep your shoes tied? I have no idea. But they were awesome. Until they broke. And what did I do when faced with a pair of shoes that broke after a month? I took them back to B&B Athletics, and returned them for a brand new pair of the exact same shoes. Because if they weren't LJ, they weren't Grandmama.

3. XL LJ Jersey
It was LJ due to reasons described previously. It was extra-large because I obviously needed room to operate. My power game at the age of 14 simply couldn't be contained by the medium I actually needed. My favorite part of the LJ jersey buy, however, was that my two best buddies bought Magic Johnson and Larry Bird jerseys respectively, and I earnestly believed my jersey would be the one that we would all look back and determine was the most worth saving. In related news, adolescents don't have a lot of perspective.

4. Purple and Teal Hornets Hat
Hats were very popular with young teen boys in the 90s (maybe they still are). Little did we know that we were burying our hair for a large percentage of the only time in our life when we would have much. Hats were critical for two reasons. One, if you didn't have a hat to go with your jacket, shorts, and shoes, you didn't have an outfit. Two, 14-year-olds are short (unless they play on AAU teams). A purple and teal hat is pretty easy to spot in a crowd. A final note: any hat of the sort should have been worn as demonstrated in the following photo.

5. Charlotte Hornets Looney Tunes T-Shirt
I believe it was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year when I told my parents I wanted more Charlotte Hornets gear for my birthday. My dad told my mom not to worry about it, he knew just what to get me. As you can see from the previous four items on this list, my sense of fashion was not particularly enlightened. But even someone willing to dress up in all the aforementioned nonsense knew immediately upon opening that birthday present, "I will never wear this." That wasn't true, I did wear it. I knew how proud my dad was of figuring out what to get me, so I couldn't tell him to take it back. So I wore it from time to time making precise calculations on the number of strangers or girls I might encounter on a given day. 

After an acceptable period of time, Bugs and company went into the box with my Rickey Henderson cartoon shirt, my Winston Garland practice jersey, and the pair of shorts that had Patrick Ewing's face screen printed on them (no kidding). Unfortunately, I found some of those items recently and the Looney Tunes tee was nowhere to be found. I can only assume it is in some other undiscovered box with several other pieces of Hornets gear, and an LJ jersey that still wouldn't fit me.

When You've Made It

Dan sent me this. Thanks Dan.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Should the rich fear the Big 12?

The Big 12 conference is still a functioning BCS conference, but barely. At the moment, Baylor seems like the only thing kiboshing the full break-up by threatening to sue to keep the conference together. Since pending litigation isn't a very good way to keep friends, it looks like the Big 12 is just about tits up, but what's really to blame?

I'm sure there's a case to be made that the pending dissolution has a lot to do with ego or geography, but I think the root cause of this now 2-year mutiny is income inequality. If Texas hadn't been predictably Texan and tried to grab a bigger slice than anyone else, would they be talking about possibly moving to the ACC in 2012?

Is it too much to call the collapse of the Big 12 a microcosm of the American wealth gap? Is it going too far to propose that the Big 12 serves as an object lesson in the dangers of top heavy economic architecture, which has the potential to establish a tipping point towards populist backlash against the rich? Probably.

Speaking as a member of the lower classes (i.e., 99% of Americans who don't fill their swimming pools with diamonds), we prefer to focus our attention on mascot buffoonery and cheerleader boobery than to think about things like economics or parallels to La Grande Révolution, so I think the rich in America are safe. Now, if income inequality leads to a pornography shortage, then we have a problem.

We Are Getting Poorer


Matt Ygelsias pointed me toward this handy graph from USA Today, reminding us that most of us are, in fact, worse off than we were 10 years ago.

The Sporting Scene

In the midst of all the news about the Chiefs season being nearly over before it starts, the long-finished Royals season actually finishing, and all of our local colleges on the verge of being homeless, let's remember that we have a bright spot here in the metro - Sporting KC.

A great piece from the Star's full-90 blog helps explain why Sporting has been so successful this season. And it has video of 5 of Sporting's best goals of the year.

Also remember that to find great coverage of Sporting KC you can check out the aforementioned full-90 blog, and "down the byline," another great local blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Tea Party and Religion



I hear that the Tea Party is religious, then they aren't, then they are. Here are a few voices that suggest if they are, they need to rethink their religion.

The Land of Ineqaulity

Inequality continues to grow, and now corporate America is taking notice.

Manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, the household-goods giant responsible for everything from Charmin and Old Spice to Tide, are concentrating their efforts on luxury and bargain items, putting less emphasis on products aimed at the middle class, the Wall Street Journal reports.
What else does rising inequality bring? More poverty!

An additional 2.6 million people landed in poverty last year, bringing the total to 46.2 million -- the highest number since the government started tracking poverty in the 1950s.
For the record, our current inequality ranking is 72nd, nestled comfortably between Turkmenistan and Turkey. The last we were so unequal? Right before the Great Depression.

On a final note, I think I posted this chart last year, but it is worth looking at again. It shows inequality in America in reality and in the heads of Americans.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How You Become a Pro Wrestler

It's a long story how I ended up on Bruno Sammartino's Wikipedia page, but I'm glad I did. Most people's life story doesn't include this kind of paragraph:

While working in construction in 1956, Sammartino wrestled an orangutan at a carnival. After taking much punishment, Sammartino punched the orangutan in the stomach and was disqualified by the animal's owner. Sammartino left the cage with swollen eyes and shredded clothes. Because of the disqualification, the owner refused to pay Sammartino the $50 he was promised for the match.
I walk away with three questions.

1. Wouldn't life be more interesting if men still wrestled animals?
2. Is there anything the orangutan can do to get disqualified (other than eye rakes and hitting below the belt, of course)?
3. Is this really the day Bruno said "You know, this is what I should do for a living!"

Today's Depressing Chart

Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting Dangerous in Congress

I finally found this photo my friend Rusty took of the Star a few weeks ago. In this scenario who is Luke Skywalker? Who is Jabba the Hutt? Who is that unlucky Gamorean guard? All important questions.


Bank Accounts and Patriotism

If only the poor could just realize that they aren't really a part of America:

"Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor," Vadum writes. "It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money. It's about raw so-called social justice. It's about moving America ever farther away from the small-government ideals of the Founding Fathers."

This is conservative columnist Matthew Vadum on the un-American nature of encouraging people to vote. They are getting bolder...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Medium Chill

This article (via Matt Yglesias) provides a blueprint I think I see my generation adopting, and something I think is admirable.


We now have a smallish house in a nondescript working class Seattle neighborhood with no sidewalks. We have one car, a battered old minivan with a large dent on one side where you have to bang it with your hip to make the door shut. Our boys go to public schools. Our jobs pay enough to support our lifestyle, mostly anyway. If we wanted, we could both do the "next thing" on our respective career paths. She could move to a bigger company. I could freelance more, angle to write for a bigger publications, write a book, hire a publicist, whatever. We could try to make more money. Then we could fix the water pressure in our shower, redo the back patio, get a second car, or hell, buy a bigger house closer in to town. Maybe get the kids in private schools. All that stuff people with more money than us do.

But ... meh. It's not that we don't think about those things. The water pressure thing drives me batty. Fact is, we just don't want to work that hard! We already work harder than we feel like working. We enjoy having time to lay around in the living room with the kids, reading. We like to watch a little TV after the kids are in bed. We like going to the park and visits with friends and low-key vacations and generally relaxing. Going further down our respective career paths would likely mean more work, greater responsibilities, higher stress, and less time to lay around the living room with the kids.
The point of the article is that it is social connections that make us happy, and tend to provide a more lasting happiness. I can say that it truly is my wife, family, and friends that provide 95% of the satisfaction in my life. Great events in your life are only great if you get to share them with important people. I hope I always remember that.

Loving the Game

Another reason why Kevin Durant has become my favorite athlete:

Rawls words would prove to be on point later in the evening, as the late-arriving Durant eagerly accepted the challenge of being the lone all-star for the Goodman League against the all-star trio of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul that led the Melo League.

“Playing against those guys was a lot of fun for me. I’m excited I got that opportunity playing against some great players, playing with some great players as well,” Durant said after his team lost, 149-141, in a game that was lopsided until the final five minutes.
And another:

Durant lost the game, but continued to add to his burgeoning street ball reputation, after earlier scoring 66 points at Rucker Park, then having 44 in the Goodman League’s win over the Drew League on Aug. 20. His cross-country exploits have caught the attention of players all over the league. “Durant’s gone on a rampage this summer,” Anthony said. “I told him to ‘Slow down.’ Because every other night I see him in a different city playing. But that’s just the love of the game that he’s got, and I respect that. I’m glad he actually showed up and played in this game, too.”
The guy just loves to play basketball. Another part of the article talks about him trying to get Kobe to play for the opposing team in one of his upcoming games. He challenges himself, and works, and works, and just plays. Easy to be a fan of that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Question About America

What does it say about America that the double digit presidential poll leader for one of its two political parties is a guy that wrote a book six months ago and now says you shouldn't assume that book contained his actual views on anything?

Basketball Never Stops

Apparently, the words in the title of this post have become the motto for many NBA players this summer. There are NBA players playing all over the place this summer. L.A. and D.C. recently did battle in a game that featured Kevin Durant, John Wall, Brandon Jennings, James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee, and others.

The L.A. team traveled to play in this game on their own dime, and didn't get paid for being there. They just wanted to play basketball. I think this sort of thing is worth remembering the next time someone starts talking to you about how great the college game is because the players aren't just playing for the money like those greedy good-for-nuthin pros.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Grease Makes 'Em Slippery

Funny and slightly disturbing photo set on the Daily Beast featuring politicians connecting with real Americans by eating fair food. Unfortunately, I believe none of them are trying the newly created deep-fried stick of butter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Context

Thank God the GOP race is heating up so I can remember why I like Obama.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

School Board Karma

This is what I get.

When I heard that the Republic, MO school board had banned Slaughterhouse Five and another book I couldn't help it. I felt superior. Couldn't have been helped. Republic was home to our mortal enemies as I grew up after all. So, I certainly took no pleasure that books were being banned. If it was going to happen, however, I supposed there was no better community to play the fools than the Republicans.

Then a column appeared in the Springfield News-Leader defending the school board on the grounds that the book wasn't really banned because you could get it elsewhere and that colleges are full of liberals. At least, I think this was the point. It was a profoundly useless piece of claptrap, and under normal circumstances I could simply have filed it in my conservative idiocy mental file. But this column concluded with a devastating final paragraph:

I have two disclaimers. One, I have not read any of the three books in question. Two, I am a member of the Willard R-II Board of Education. The opinions expressed in this column are solely mine and not necessarily the position of the organizations of which I am a member. It's a sad commentary on our society when I have to state the obvious.
If you think the devastating part is that this man has never read Slaughterhouse Five, well you have a point. But it was the next line that was the knife to my heart. Willard R-II Board of Education?

NNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Now my hometown is caught up in this mess as well. And its demonstrated opinion is apparently that book banning and poor logic are both perfectly acceptable behaviors out of school board members.

And in case you fear that this man's column is just a momentary lapse in judgement, I point you to his very own website. One the the nuggets of knowledge you will find there:

"Plight of the homeless -- People who are victims of their own poor choices with the exception of the mentally incompetent"
The man also has many of his own Powerpoint presentations explaining various conservative tropes, but never providing any evidence they are true.

I couldn't be more proud.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Forces of Economics

Via Andrew Sullivan, the top 5 on the UK Amazon Movers and Shakers list after three days of rioting are:

1. Nightstick
2. Aluminum Baseball Bat
3. Wood Baseball Bat
4. Wood Baseball Bat
5. Aluminum Baseball Bat

questions

Is the road to hell still paved with good intentions, or has a more efficient surfacing material been developed?

Was the Bridge to Nowhere constructed from high ideals?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

That Which Is Bad

Is probably getting worse. Planned layoffs just hit a 16-month high. Consultant John Challenger put it pretty well.

"A casual observer certainly might conclude that the wheels just fell off the recovery wagon," said Challenger.
Right...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kevin Durant - Good at Basketball

This lockout thing is actually turning out to be pretty entertaining. Most summers a guy like Durant wouldn't be showing up at Rucker Park to make a bunch of people lose their minds.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Power of the Dark Side

A classic piece of imposing the everyday on the fantastical. This is an old one, but a very good one.

From McSweeney's:

The Death Star clearly has a garbage-disposal problem. Given its size and massive personnel, the amount of waste it generates — discarded food, broken equipment, excrement, and the like — boggles the imagination. That said, I just cannot fathom how an organization as ruthless and efficiently-run as the Empire would have signed off on such a dangerous, unsanitary, and shoddy garbage-disposal system as the one depicted in the movie.
The piece goes on to describe several issues with the system such as the inefficiency of two moving walls, the inanity of having a creature to deal with organic waste, and the danger of ejecting giant dense pieces of garbage into space.

Yet, all I could really think about was whether Darth Vader poops.

I imagine him standing proudly over the contents of his toilet announcing "I am your father!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Limits

So the debt limit may or may not be increased, and an endless number of other possible policy implications could come out of any deal. It is at times like this that I think our ability to get an endless amount of information cripples us more than it enhances us. You can read a report on just about any solution you can think of for the debt crisis. For each of those solutions you can read pieces offering nearly every possible opinion on whether the solution is good, bad, or just implausible.

And if you don't find a piece that endorses your preferred solution, you can simply write your own. Then you can blog about it(or tweet about it if it is a short idea), and the whole world can access it. Someone might even think it is a good idea, and that you know what you are talking about. I mean it's on the Internet right?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Makes Your Money

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a chart out with almost every major profession in the U.S. and salary info for each one. It is very interesting.

The lowest paying job in the U.S. - Fast Food Cook.

The highest paying job in the U.S. - Surgeons

These don't mean much, of course, because the salary ranges for each of those positions aren't very large. There just aren't any highly paid fast food workers, and very few low-paid surgeons. Other occupations, like lawyers for instance, can have pay that varies quite widely.

This also, I believe, is salary only. Stock options and other such non-salary bonuses are not figured... I think.

Anyway, if you ever wondered what career you might take up next, maybe this is a decent place to start.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Point Guards are Important... Somewhat

Over the last few years I've been making the argument (only to those who care about NBA basketball) that point guard and center are the two most important spots on the floor. It makes some sense. Point guards run the team on the floor, and centers are an integral piece of both your offense and your defense. I still think this is true to a degree, but started thinking about the ideas limits in this year's draft.

The Cavs took point guard Kyrie Irving with the first pick instead of forward Derrick Williams. Now, it is important to start with the caveat that neither is considered to be a "can't miss" guy. Because of that, it makes sense that a team this is horrible would likely take either whoever they clearly thought was better or who played a position they more valued. Perhaps they were convinced that Irving was the better talent. I thought he looked good in college, but never did I watch a Duke game and feel the way I felt watching Derrick Rose, John Wall, or Allen Iverson play in college. In contrast, I did find myself blown away in a couple of games by Derrick Williams. So I feel like it is more likely that Cleveland looked at a roster and thought it made more sense to fill the most important position first. That is where my opinion would diverge.

Here is why:
old Jason Kidd
Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher
young Rajon Rondo
Tony Parker
old Gary Payton
Tony Parker
Chauncey Billups
Tony Parker
Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher
Avery Johnson
Ron Harper
Ron Harper
Ron Harper
Kenny Smith
Kenny Smith
John Paxson
John Paxson
John Paxson
Isiah Thomas

That is the list of the last 21 starting point guards for NBA champions. The only two that were among the 5 best players at their position (at the time they won) were Thomas and Billups. You don't need a great point guard to be a champion, you need a great player. I think Derrick Williams has a better chance to be that than does Kyrie Irving.

The point of all this, I suppose, is to say that every maxim has its limits. In this case, the idea that point guards are a vital position on your team is limited by your opportunity to draft a great player at any other spot.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bad News Friday

Jobs are down.

Debt limit is unresolved.

Newspapers are now spies.

Science is getting whacked.

Michelle Bachmann is still nuts.

Kansas City is getting beat up.

Dammit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Word Needs Definition

There are several words out there where you can substitute a each single vowel and have a real word. For instance: pat, pet, pit, pot, and put. Unfortunately, one great group of letters is missing a single word to join this group. That group is champ, chimp, chomp, and chump. Every single word in the group is a fun word. But there is no such thing as a "chemp".

My interest is in developing some sort of definition for chemp that can make it available for daily use. The urban dictionary claims three possibilities, though the first one is a bit crude for daily use and the last just isn't convincing to me. The second definition holds possibility:

To vent frustration by riffing creatively about a situation. This is not the same as kvetching or bitching, though it is a form of complaining. A good chemp is funny. The person or people who chemp or listen to a chemp walk away feeling that the situation still sucks, but at least they can laugh about it.
Of course, most people at urban dictionary prefer the more lude definition, so this may not work either.

I also like the possibility of chemp being somewhere on the continuum between a champ and a chump. Obviously, it is much closer to being a champ than a chump, however. So the definition would have to be something like almost being a champ but not quite. Second place maybe? I don't really like that because chemp definitely does sound a little derisive. Perhaps it is more like a champ who clearly doesn't deserve it. Like the Duke Blue Devils were the chemps in 2001. Or Lance Armstrong is a seven time Tour de France chemp.

This definition also has the possibility of being used antagonistically towards friends. For instance, your buddy makes basket in a game of H-O-R-S-E and gets a little too amped up about it pumping his fist and grunt-yelling, "Yeah!" You could respond with "Nice one chemp." I think this would piss him off.

Anyway, that is where I am with it now. Other suggestions are certainly welcome.

Not Great Times for the Little Guy

As if the general business of Congress, Wall Street, and big business as a whole wasn't discouraging enough, this term the Supreme Court bascially became advocates for just about every way the average American could be screwed by our corporate overlords.

As the Boston Globe editorialized, the new rule "lets Janus and similar companies hide false information in a complicated organization chart [and] can only undermine public confidence in the mutual fund industry over time." Ask yourself whether you really want the Supreme Court to be in the business of teaching corporate giants how better to deceive you about your investments. Yet Thomas, like Scalia in the AT&T case, was more worried about Janus, and its possible exposure to burdensome new lawsuits, than he was about the investors who were deceived. The purpose of civil litigation isn't solely to redress past wrongs. It's also to encourage better future conduct, particularly in situations where the parties have vastly unequal power. When you obliterate the very possibility of civil litigation, you are, by definition, helping big business screw over the little guy. But when you teach big business precisely how to screw over the little guy, and how to do it faster, cheaper, and without detection … well, that's not even an illusion of justice anymore. It's enabling.
Sometimes it is hard for me to imagine how we dig ourselves out of this hole.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Try Not Forget You Are Overpaid

The percentage of recovery dollars going to corporate profits and to wages.



Via Kevin Drum.

Serious Leverage

This strikes me as probably one of the most effective ways I've ever heard of to get what you want:

Known as the "strike of crossed legs," 300 Colombian women have decided not to have sex with their husbands until the men pressure local authorities to repair and maintain the road that connects Barbacoas to the next town, which is about 35 miles away.


I'm betting that road gets fixed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Headline of the Week

From a Slate article following the Supreme Court's decision on violent video games.

Bush v. Gore
Is it worse for a child to see pornography or graphic violence?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Can't Measure A-Hole

An important article for sports fans over at Grantland today. Jonah Lehrer explains why, although sabermetrics can be great in a sport like baseball, in most other sports the fact that teammates actually play together makes things far more complex. He sums up his point pretty nicely in this passage:

But sabermetrics comes with an important drawback. Because it translates sports into a list of statistics, the tool can also lead coaches and executives to neglect those variables that can't be quantified. They become so obsessed with the power of base runs that they undervalue the importance of not being an asshole, or having playoff experience, or listening to the coach. Such variables are the sporting equivalent of a nice dashboard. They can't be quantified, but they still count.
Thus a Dallas Mavericks team who was woefully undermatched on paper knocks of at least 3 teams with an obvious talent advantage. It is why sports are great.

Back to Work

Hey everyone who might still be out there. I'm officially hitched, back from some relaxation time, and ready to be a moderately active blogger once again. The break was kind of nice actually. The blog will henceforth continue with my usual links to other things I thought were interesting, and occasional original thoughts. I also hope to add a few more creative things in, but we'll see how that goes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Making Life Complete

Thanks to Kansas City blogger Ekey, I believe I may now have seen everything.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Independence Police!

The Independence police and I have a strenuous relationship due to their insistence at clocking people at the bottom of hills on 35 mph roads. It is good to see that despite this consistent nonsense, they still have time to keep the public safe.

By the way, you have to get past the monkey part...

 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dunk You Very Much

I made a rash comment to ESL the other night that Kevin Durant is a great player, but in some ways he is more of a Dirk Nowitzki type than a league MVP type.

That now looks stupid for two reasons. One is that Dirk himself has looked more like a league MVP than simply a great scorer/shooter. Two is that Dirk has never ever ever done anything like this:



That was just incredible. It was so unbelievable to James Harden that he thought he needed a check-up from is doctor.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Blog that Isn't

Hello everyone - yes, all 12 of you. As most of you know, I am getting married soon. Not surprisingly, as the date gets closer my free-time dwindles further and further. Thus, the recent infrequency of blog posts may well continue for the next month and a half. Then I am quite sure I will be back to a regular schedule of bringing you information you didn't know you wanted.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Comedian in Chief

Obama goes after Trump in one of the funniest presidential performances ever...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fun With Wordle

I still have trouble with the concept of word clouds. I understand they are supposed to be a nice visual way for me to see what is important, but I still like an old-fashioned ranked list. Anyway, Wordle provides word clouds that at least look really cool. I decided to Wordle this blog and see what we could come up with. I'm still not sure what the criteria are, but this is what it gave me:



Need? Not sure about that one. I'm pretty sure I only wrote about the OECD once, and a Republican from Columbia seems to be getting a bit too much run. I suspect maybe it is pulling from the main page only, but I don't know. What I do know is that the subject matter seems right.

To check it, I threw Gone Mild in there...



For any of you who know Mr. Mild, the accuracy is astounding. And I appreciate being one of the featured words...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inequality Chart of the Day



This is from an OECD report. It shows inequality in member countries before and after social spending. We go from third from the bottom to fifth from the bottom with that added in. Eat it Poland and Greece.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Then They Come for the Hairspray

The Tennessee House just passed a bill protecting teachers who want to teach Creationsim and anti-global warming theories. You might think that this is about a bunch of people who want to instill right-wing views in classrooms. You'd be wrong, however, this is about high school beauty:

Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, said when she was in high school, “we gave up Aqua Net hair spray” because of fears “it was causing global warming.”
So it all makes sense now (other than the confusion between global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer). This is, like most things, about high school popularity contests. If she could have kept that hairspray, she could have been prom queen... and then who know where she might be today.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Recipe for Disaster

Dear Taco Bell,

I am not a scientist, but I do know that "Signature Recipe" does not appear on the food pyramid. I believe you should consider not putting out PR that informs people that your ground beef is 12% "Signature Recipe" if you don't already know that "Signature Recipe" is something people enjoy and are comfortable with. That is all.

Jim

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Rules

In a piece on the 2011 NBA non-playoff teams, Bill Simmons provides a simple and yet profound explanation of what makes a good team.

You only need eight and a half guys to win in the NBA: five starters, three bench guys, then an 8½th man who doesn't mind playing 0-10 minutes a night and being on call if a rotation guy gets into foul trouble, gets hurt or whatever. Of those eight and half guys, ideally, you need two scorers, one ball handler, one perimeter defender and one rebounder. You need to be able to play defense. You need everyone to know their roles. You need to know who's playing crunch time and who gets the ball in those last few minutes. And you need a coach competent enough not to screw things up. That's it.
That is exactly right, and it kind of makes you wonder why so many NBA GM's are so bad at putting teams together.
 

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