Thursday, March 31, 2011

Braves win opener

1 down, 161 to go.

Baseball has thankfully started. The Braves opened at the Nationals in what looked like a miserable day weather wise. And that's fitting since most of spring here in Memphis has been pretty miserable.

But they were able to overcome the weather with a really solid start from Derrek Lowe and great work from the bullpen. It was great to see Chipper Jones healthy and in the lineup (legged out a double). He got on base and was drove home by Brian McCann. Dan Uggla didn't have a good debut. But for the second year in a row Jason Heyward hit a homer run on opening day.

I'm not quite sure what the new manager is doing batting Heyward 6th in the lineup behind Uggla and in front of Alex Gonzalez. Heyward has great plate discipline which was evidenced by his .400 on base % last year, which is incredible for a rookie. The only reason I can see is to give Uggla some protection since Gonzalez and Freddie Freeman aren't going to scare anyone. But I'd rather have Heyward getting on base in front of Chipper and McCann.

Regardless of where Heyward bats I like this lineup. Prado, Heyward, Chipper, McCann, and Uggla should provide a good mix of getting on base and hitting for power. If Freeman can provide some power from the bottom of the lineup this could be a dynamic offensive team.

I was kind of surprised to see Lowe pitching today because Tommy Hanson proved to be Atlanta's best pitcher last season. I'm guessing the manager wanted to give it to Lowe as a seniority thing. And I'd bet Tim Hudson will start the next game for the same reason. I'd also bet that the bullpen rotation is what we will see for most of the year barring any major struggles.

I like this Braves team. I think at worst they should contend for another wild card spot. At best they should be a strong contender with the Phillies for the winner of the division.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Duke done

That's the problem with the Tournament. One bad game and you're gone. One great game from your opponent and you gone. Duke encountered both of those things last night against Arizona. Arizona shot 56% from the field, 60% from three and 76% at the line. No matter how poorly Duke played defensively, which was pretty poorly, the other team still has to make the shot. And Arizona did so with a high level of frequency.

Duke shot the ball fairly well. They were not good from three. But overall they were adequate offensively. Perhaps if Nolan Smith didn't have one of his worst games in the last two years the offense would have been able to keep pace with Arizona. But the guy who scored 20 points per game over the course of 30 games had one bad night and ended up with 8 points.

It happens. The best teams in the NBA and MLB don't sweep every game in the playoffs. Those teams have bad games. The best players shoot the ball poorly, can't get a hit, or can't get a batter out. Tom Brady throws INTs. His offense, which led the league in points per game last season, didn't play well enough to win.

Having said that, I think Arizona would give Duke a tough seven game series. They are the type of team that Duke has struggled with ever since coach K stopped recruiting elite athletes. Duke couldn't stay in front of Arizona. And coach K didn't switch to zone. Yes Arizona was already on fire from three. But if that is already the case going to a zone can't make it worse.

A big part of Duke's success has been coach K getting the types of players he likes and helping them grow into good players. But being smart or a good leader doesn't always make up for the fact that Williams of Arizona can play above the rim and then go outside and hit threes. I think coach K needs to do a better job of finding the right mix of players who are supremely athletic but still fit his mold. Because Jason Williams and Kyrie Irving don't come around every year. And when they do they don't stay for very long.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Obama created the Reavers

I couldn't resist the "Serenity" connection with Glenn Greenwald's post on Obama changing Miranda guidelines. The post is titled "Miranda is Obama's latest victim"

Today, the Obama DOJ unveiled the latest -- and one of the most significant -- examples of its eagerness to assault the very legal values Obama vowed to protect. The Wall Street Journal reports that "new rules allow investigators to hold domestic-terror suspects longer than others without giving them a Miranda warning, significantly expanding exceptions to the instructions that have governed the handling of criminal suspects for more than four decades." The only previous exception to the 45-year-old Miranda requirement that someone in custody be apprised of their rights occurred in 1984, when the Rehnquist-led right-wing faction of the Supreme Court allowed delay "only in cases of an imminent safety threat," but these new rules promulgated by the Obama DOJ "give interrogators more latitude and flexibility to define what counts as an appropriate circumstance to waive Miranda rights."

For that reason, the WSJ is surely correct when it calls these new guidelines "one of the Obama administration's most significant revisions to rules governing the investigation of terror suspects in the U.S." Note that, in 7 years of prosecuting the War on Terror after 9/11, the Bush administration never tried to dilute Miranda guidelines (though doing so for them was irrelevant because they simply imprisoned even American citizens (such as Jose Padilla) without any charges or due process of any kind).

Glenn is a little subtle in giving his opinion, which is unusual for him. I get the sense from the tone of his post and from his history of being a strong supporter for civil liberties that he doesn't like what Obama is doing here.

I don't know what else to say at this point. Obama is indistinguishable from Bush's second term. Combine this with the Libya situation and its pretty clear to me that we need a big overhaul of our foreign policy and defense bureaucracy. Or maybe we just need a president with some courage.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More on Buffy's appearance

Over at Nikki Stafford's blog she is discussing the last two episodes of Buffy season 2. Much of those episodes involves a lot of suffering on Buffy's part. While reading the discussion I thought about the things Buffy has to give up as a result of her duty as the slayer and specifically something she mentions after she tells her mother she is the slayer.

Something that doesn't get discussed about Buffy is how gorgeous Sarah Michelle Gellar is. When she is telling her mom how she wants a normal life she mentions she would rather be gossiping about boys instead of being the slayer. She would no doubt have plenty of boys to gossip about.

As the flashback points out, she was the Cordi of her former high school. While I'm sure that has its drawbacks, being a beautiful and popular girl in high school has a lot of benefits.

We see the sacrifices she makes as the slayer when it comes to boys like Owen in the first season, the guy in the third season whose name I forget, and Riley. She shuts out the normal guys (which Riley was initially and is willing to be at the end of their relationship) and thus is only available to the guys she encounters in her line of work. And those guys tend to cause her a lot of pain.

I doubt Joss chose SMG without taking into account her physical attractiveness. If Buffy were an average looking girl or a social outcast like Willow there would be fewer things she had to sacrifice in order to perform her duties as a slayer.

Though on the other hand, she might not have attracted Angel in the first place. And that might have saved her a lot of emotional turmoil.

Monday, March 14, 2011

US intel takes its cues from a tv show

We capture potentially dangerous people who could hold important information regarding the security of our country. Many people in the intel community and the Bush administration think that time is always of the essence when dealing with these potentially dangerous people. And we have vast resources at our disposal that can be used to get that important information from the person as quickly as possible.

Under these circumstances, what do we decide to do? We take what we saw in a tv show and apply it to prisoners at Gitmo:

When asked if she was aware the Americans had been using enhanced interrogation techniques she said: "Not for a quite a long time after they started using them. They chose to conceal it from the allies and indeed from their own citizens."

An FBI employee sent to observe interrogations at Guantanamo said a TV show had provided inspiration for some of the methods used.

Jim Clemente, of the FBI's behavioural analysis unit, said one officer told him: "She actually had watched the television show 24 to get ideas on interrogation methods that they would then utilise at Guantanamo.

"It was outrageous, unbelievable that someone would do something that stupid."

Outrageous and stupid are the kindest words I can think of to describe it. As Andrew Sullivan points out, this kind of thinking was par for the course in the Bush administration. These people had no fucking clue. It took a few people with a clue and some courage for these acts to actually be made public knowledge.

If we can't put Bush and everyone in his administration involve with this on trial we should at least take every opportunity to point out how fucking stupid they are for approving these acts.

And the next time the gov't wants to implement something they saw on a tv on actual policy it better be something they saw on The Wire.

Duke vs Carolina part 3

In the rematch at Carolina it was the Tarheels who couldn't miss. In the rematch of the rematch it was Duke that couldn't miss. Singler finally hit a 3, but is still shooting horribly from 3. Nolan didn't shoot a high % but played really well. The rest of the team was absolutely on fire. They all shot, rebounded, and defended really well. And Carolina couldn't get out in transition or play efficiently in the half court.

This outcome ensured Duke a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney. Carolina got a 2 seed. Both are dangerous teams that I wouldn't want to play. I think Duke's seniors give them an edge that Carolina and a lot of teams don't have. I think the lack of seniors and tourney experience will hurt teams like Ohio State and Kansas who are extremely talented.

Hopefully Duke can bottle up their performance from Sunday and use it in the tourney. If they can they will be a tough beat.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Duke vs. Carolina

Carolina couldn't miss tonight. Duke couldn't hit water if it fell off a boat in the middle of the ocean. For Carolina this time it was their guards and Barnes doing the scoring. Barnes is finally showing the athleticism and skill that made him a top recruit. And their offense is cranked up to 10 all the time, which really keeps teams on their toes.

Duke looked like the same team they have in their 3 previous losses. They missed a ton of open threes. They allowed a lot of easy baskets in transition and on cuts in the half court. And we went through lazy spells on the boards. All of those things happened in the losses. And they are really bad things to be doing during the same game. Combine that with Carolina's hot shooting and home court and you have the moderate margin we saw tonight.

One thing I'm really concerned about is Kyle Singler. He has been horrible from 3 during the second half of the season. In his three plus seasons at Duke I've never seen him go through this kind of slump. I haven't seen many players and shooters as good as him go through this kind of slump. He should be in good shape. So I don't think its a matter of being tired. Though perhaps he should make at point to jump into his shot more or extend more on his release.

I don't think we can go very far in the tournament with him playing like he has for the past few months. We can afford to have Curry and Dawkins be streaky. We can afford to have the big guys be a little inconsistent. But the two things we must get consistently is scoring from Nolan and Kyle. And that's just to get deep. In order to repeat we need one of the other shooters to step up every game and the big men to rebound consistently.

Last year we had Zoubeck and Thomas for the rebounding. We also had Scheyer to go along with consistent scoring from Nolan and Kyle. Not to mention those three guys were senior leaders. I think this team can go deep and if playing well can beat anyone in the country. But the margin for error is smaller than it was last year.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mike Huckabee on Obama's "worldview"

Here are his thoughts on the whole 'birther' or Kenyan anti-colonialist thing that goes on with the right:

The former governor responded: “I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough.” Mr. Huckabee, who is now a Fox News host, then talked repeatedly about his concerns that Mr. Obama was raised in Kenya.

“If you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather,” Mr. Huckabee said.

This raises the same question I had when D'Sousa's book about Obama being a Kenyan anti-colonialist came out. Who isn't an anti-colonialist? No serious politician or political thinker I know of thinks colonialism is a good thing or smart policy. So why would it be a problem if Obama's worldview was shaped during his childhood by a father who was very anti-colonialist?

And further, why would it be a problem to hear, as a child, that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted your family? As the readers at the Dish pointed out, this is the story of the United States. The very country people like Huckabee and D'Sousa live in and love was created by people who were persecuted by a bunch of British imperialists.

Pointing out that none of that part of his comment makes any sense leads us to the real concept Huckabee and others who say this are trying to get across. And that point is the idea that Obama is foreign, be it actually not American or just fundamentally different than the good people of America.

Conservatives like Huckabee, who has always comes across to me as a genuine and decent guy, are so blinded by their ideology that they can't see the logical problems with their statements. Being a liberal black guy who won the presidency because of the complete failure of a conservative white guy who was a political descendant of Reagan is in such opposition to their worldview that they have to make Obama out as something foreign and fundamentally different than them just to justify that worldview in their own minds.

This speaks to a big problem in the conservative movement of not being able to question their own policies and logic. They can't see their own contradictions and they cast out those who point them out, even those who were previously loyal to the ideology. Luckily for them the American voting public doesn't understand economic policy and its effects.