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Showing posts from September, 2011

Miami mired in mediocrity

Ugh. That's the general feeling I get with the Dolphins. They aren't so bad that they get blown out every game. But they aren't good enough to pull away from other average/mediocre teams when they have small leads and they can't close the gap when they keep it close against good teams.

Defensively this was supposed to be a good team. Last year we were good at pressuring QBs and preventing big plays. And we were great against the run. The big problem was offense where we couldn't run the ball and our passing game was limited to dinking and dunking. So we keep the defense the same, change offensive coordinators, and get new running backs. That should at least ensure that we don't get worse this year. Right?

Not so much. The defense rarely pressures the QB. We still can't cover TEs. And now the secondary is struggling, party because Vontae Davis has been hurt, but mostly because our safeties have been terrible. Against the Browns, McCoy was playing pretty ba…

Moneyball

I was eager to see this movie because I really liked the book. I read it before I had any exposure to statistics. So it was kind of an eye opener for me. Yet it wasn't too difficult to understand. That is one of the reasons Michael Lewis is such a great writer. He makes things easy to understand without dumbing them down too much, all the while keeping the flow of the story he is trying to tell.

As with the movie The Blind Side, which was another book by Lewis, it would have been really difficult to get every nuance from the book into the movie. We see a little bit of Billy Beane's career as a player and how that influenced him as a GM. But it wasn't really fleshed out. And we see a little of the new way in which they start thinking about the game, the Bill James influenced sabermetric approach. But it didn't seem as carefullly constructed as the book.

But that's just the reality of adapting a movie from a book. I'm sure even as great as The Godfather movies …

Community season 3

My favorite show came back on air tonight. I'd call it an average episode by Community standards. I think the reason for it being average is having to resolve the ending from last season where Pierce is not quite in the group. Its not that they didn't handle it well, or that I didn't like how they used Jeff getting kicked out of Biology in order to show how the group has evolved beyond being just simply a study group.

Jeff was the best one to use in order to show how the group has evolved. Remember that he joined it, or technically created it, just to sleep with Britta. While he could still want to sleep with Britta or Annie, that doesn't seem to be his primary motivation for wanting to get back into Biology and thus the group. So showing that growth was important for the show and they executed it ok.

I guess I just didn't completely buy Pierce's change. And they gave me reason not to at the end of the episode. And I guess they are just setting things up for …

Fair shares

This is another phrase that we are hearing a lot lately in regard to taxes. And we hear it from both sides, probably a little more from liberals. Obama himself invokes it when arguing for returning top income tax levels to Clinton era rates and for the new Buffett tax proposal. The phrase isn't nearly as bad as 'class warfare'. But for liberals, I don't think we are gaining a whole lot by using it.

Fairness is something nearly everyone wants, especially when it comes to money and taxes. But as with many things, different people have different perceptions of what constitutes fair. Republicans think nearly all taxes as they currently stand for rich people are unfair. Democrats think many taxes for those same rich people are slightly unfair. The rhetoric from the right makes it seem like the difference in these two positions is bigger than it probably is. But in this environment of divided gov't they are differences that probably can't be bridged.

I guess my poi…

Class warfare

I'm sure you've heard this a lot lately. I understand its rhetoric and it shouldn't be taken completely seriously all the time. But good lord does the GOP love to use this one. That shouldn't be surprising since it combines two of their favorite things, protecting rich people from doing things rich people don't want to do, and war.

And I'm sure they use it because it polls well. I wonder if any Democrats have done polling on what they can call GOP support for no tax hikes for the rich. I'm thinking that since foreign aid polls poorly they should call it something like rich people aid. So whenever Democrats get accused of class warfare they can rebut by accusing Republicans of wanting to increase rich people aid. Raising taxes on the rich already polls well. So there isn't a big framing problem. But even more support would be nice. And maybe it would serve to change the narrative that Republicans always seem to create.

HIMYM's return

It was nice to see How I Met Your Mother back for another season. Nothing earth-shattering happened. Ted was Ted. Nothing new there. Still waiting for the mother to show up. Lilly and Marshall are less interesting now that they are expecting a baby. I miss them being the cute couple they were for the first few seasons. I really only like them now when they are helping the rest of the group with their issues.

The best stuff is Robin and Barney. Barney is fun, but the womanizer thing gets tired. And I like Nora, the girl he is going after. I wouldn't quite call myself a Robin and Barney shipper. But I am a little intrigued by the fact that Robin still has feelings for Barney. I suspect its just a ploy to create a which one will Barney marry dynamic for the rest of the season. If they handle it well I probably won't mind too much.

As far as Robin goes I'm leaning towards wanting them to let her just be a single woman, or someone who dates but doesn't settle down. I'…

BSG ctd.

I haven't written about Battlestar Galactica in a while. I'm about halfway through season 2. I'm still really enjoying it. The first of the two episodes I watched this weekend was the one where they Battlestar Pegasus finds the fleet. The big story in this episode is Odama having to give up command of the fleet to the higher officer aboard Pegasus. Until now Odama was the more military minded counter point to the President. He tended to make the cold, calculating decisions based on military strategy while the President made the more sympathetic decisions.

They were good checks on each other. Their conflicts tended to result in good decisions being made. Now we get to see a more extreme version of Odama, which I think serves to cast Odama in a more sympathetic light. And that was before I found out about all the crazy stuff the Admiral was doing, or letting her crew do. What they did to the cylon they had captured gets at what I think is a central question the show raises, …

Perry vs. the Lap Dance Lobby

That's the headline to this article. Here are the details:

The $5-per-customer tax on strip clubs that Perry signed in 2007—which goes by a number of nicknames, the most clever of which is the “pole tax”—was to fund an array of programs relating to sexual assault prevention and counseling, as well as subsidies for a sliver of the six million Texans without insurance. In a state with no income tax, helping those without health coverage fell to, well, those looking for women who aren’t covered. “That’s where we’ve come to,” Garnet Coleman, a Democratic state representative from Houston, told me.
The first thing that strikes me is that this seems to be legislating behavior, which apparently conservatives only like when its in regard to an act they don't find moral. The funding was supposed to go good causes. But I'm not sure there is a connection between strip clubs and sexual assault, or with health care in general. If they had data that suggested this was the case then I…

More choices

My last post was about the role of choices when it pertains to conceptions of freedom. Today I saw this post from TP shooting down Speaker of the House John Boehner's claim that homosexuality is a choice. I don't mind that TP does this. In fact, I appreciate that they are keeping tabs on this kind of stuff. But I don't see why its necessary to argue with Boehner on the point of choice regarding any issue pertaining to homosexuality.

The evidence seems to suggest it is not a choice. But let's say that one day we find out that homosexuality is a choice. What does that change regarding the arguments for extending rights to them? Isn't the whole conservative conception of freedom and the purpose of rights that people should be able to make their own choices about how to live their lives? Of course it is. And rightfully so for the most part. So what is it about someone choosing to be a homosexual that makes them throw conservative logic out the window and argue that go…

Choices and freedom

A libertarian discusses those concepts in relation to health care policy. Ari Kohen makes this point:

The difference that exists between my own position and that of the Tea Party, at bottom, is that I don’t feel less free when I look at the amount of money that comes out of my check every month, even though I’d rather have that money in my pocket. The reason is that I’m actually making a choice too: I choose to live in this country, with its government and tax structure and social safety nets. In fact, I embrace it. We can certainly do better in terms of those safety nets by working to make our government more efficient and effective, but that’s not what Paul is advocating; instead, he thinks that the vast majority of the government — and the services it provides — should simply be eliminated. To my mind, that would mean we’d be living in a very different political community, one that I wouldn’t like nearly as much. I want to live in a political community that chooses to take care of o…

Dolphins vs Patriots

It hasn't been all bad for the Fins tonight. But whatever good we have seen has been equaled by some aspects of the game that were pathetic. Starting with the special teams, they seem to be setting the pace for another very mediocre year. If they weren't getting poor returns they were holding and forcing the offense into poor field position. There is no excuse for the special teams. They have had plenty of time to get the players and coaches.

I think the defense was largely pathetic. They couldn't get lined up because they were tired and confused. Some of that has to go on the coaching for not having them prepared enough for the Pats' hurry up offense. But even when they got lined up they weren't getting pressure on the QB, they weren't covering well, and they didn't tackle quite as good as they needed to. The biggest problem was the pass rush, especially up the middle. You can't let Brady step up in the pocket and buy time. He was able to do this all …

Remembering

I don't completely get the whole thing yesterday and whenever the date 9/11 comes around when people say 'never forget'. What shouldn't we forget? We all know what happened. We all know many people lost their lives. Its not like sufficient time wasn't spent detailing what happened. So who is in danger of forgetting it? I haven't run into anyone of proper age who doesn't remember. So as with most things involving the media, I think this whole thing got overblown.

What didn't get enough attention was the things we should remember that were either thrown out in the wake of the attacks or things that just weren't given much attention to begin with. Examples of the former have been talked about in the years since. But they weren't talked about yesterday, and that is part of why many people just don't care about civil liberties and the other things that were done.

Dave Weigel talks about Paul Krugman's reflections and the criticisms that cam…

Nature and nurture in Buffy

I'm watching the episode "Enemies" right now and the differences in Buffy and Faith's upbringing made me think of the nature and nurture dynamic in how children turn out as adults. In this episode Buffy and the gang find out definitively that Faith has turned on them and is on the mayor's side. Before Faith is about the torture Buffy she explains why she has turned to the dark side and why she hates Buffy.

We had always known Faith was the bad girl who didn't have any family or friends. But for a while she fought on the good side. In this episode Faith reveals that her mother was an alcoholic. And unless I missed it, she doesn't even mention a father. So needless to say she comes from a pretty bad home. Thus when it comes to the nurture part of Faith's upbringing she didn't make out well.

Compare that to Buffy, who despite her parent's divorce while she was in high school, had a pretty standard upbringing. THe biggest difference seems to be …

The NFL and federalism

The start of the football season is finally here. Normally I'd be driving to my dad's house so we can watch the Dolphins play. But they are playing on Monday night against the Patriots. So I don't have to worry about finding a place to watch the game. That gave me time to think of the semi-monopoly DirecTv has on the NFL and how it relates to federalism.

DirecTv isn't the only place you can watch you favorite team, which is why I call it only a semi-monopoly. If you live in the same area your team plays in you can either go to the game or watch it on local tv. Though if not enough people go to the game you may not be able to watch it on local tv. So even if you don't have the money to spend on a ticket you are dependent on enough people having enough money and wanting to go. Relating this to federalism, this scenario is like if you are a very conservative person who lives in a very conservative state. For the most part you are happy that your state makes conservati…

What political science says about shifts in opinion

Ezra Klein asks why the GOP turned against stimulus. In other words, during the Bush administration, Republicans used the same arguments Democrats now use in favor of stimulus spending when they were arguing for tax cuts. But now they reject that very same logic. Ezra doesn't think pure cynicism on the part of Republicans is the answer why and he cites a study that I've read that might explain the shift:

My favorite study (pdf) in this space was by Yale’s Geoffrey Cohen. He had a control group of liberals and conservatives look at a generous welfare reform proposal and a harsh welfare reform proposal. As expected, liberals preferred the generous plan and conservatives favored the more stringent option. Then he had another group of liberals and conservatives look at the same plans, but this time, the plans were associated with parties.

Both liberals and conservatives followed their parties, even when their parties disagreed with their preferences. So when Democrats were said to …

The newest GOP boogeyman

The EPA is really getting hammered by Republicans lately. Here is Rick Perry's latest regarding the agency:

“I’ll tell you one thing: The EPA officials we have an opportunity to put in place, they’re going to be pro-business, and there’s not going to be any apologies to anybody about it,” he said. “Those agencies won’t know what hit ‘em.”
He is basically saying he doesn't want the agency to do what its supposed to do, what it was created to do, which is protect the environment. Its right there in the name of the agency. Yet Perry and Republicans just don't care. Their logic is that whatever businesses say hurts them, it must be bad and the gov't shouldn't do it.

Nevermind that air, for instance, is a public good. Air isn't owned by anyone. We, as people who need air to survive, and the gov't have every right to keep a business from damaging the air. Its a matter of public health. And if the gov't can't regulate in order to protect public health the…

If we don't like something, it must be un-American

For Matthew Vadum, that something is registering poor people to vote:

Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.
Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. 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 ranks right up there with some of the ridiculous crap I've read lately, maybe ever. Our country was founded on the belief that people should be able to vote. The very act of voting is American. Therefore it would follow that encouraging or helping people to perform a civic duty like voting would be …

No apologies necessary

Mitt Romney won't apologize for America being awesome:

“Have we ever had a president who was so eager to address the world with an apology on his lips and doubt in his heart?” Romney said. “He seems truly confused not only about America’s past but also about its future.”
That's not to say Obama has apologized for anything. That whole thing was made up. But think about what this no apologies thing from Republicans could mean. Our drone strikes have led to innocent people being killed, even children. Obviously that is not our intention. But these kinds of mistakes happen. Does Romney and every other Republican that criticizes Obama for made up apologies really not intend on apologizing for mistakes that lead to the loss of innocent life? Do they really believe that the gov't (yes, the military is part of the gov't) is so incredible that it never makes a mistake? Or do they simply believe that good intentions mean you don't ever have to apologize? I think their answer …