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Showing posts from 2015

The Miami Dolphins: a model of aggressive mediocrity

The Miami Dolphins fired their head coach Joe Philbin today after another humiliating loss to long time division rival the New York Jets. There were hopes that coming into this season, the team could move past the consistently mediocre results it has achieve for seemingly decades and make it to the playoffs, perhaps even winning the division that the New England Patriots have cheated their way toward winning won most of the past two decades.

But no. Barring an extremely unlikely turnaround under the interim head coach, the Dolphins will miss out on the playoffs yet again. The disappointment this team's fans have felt has become as predictable as the Dolphins throwing the ball less than 5 yards on 3rd and long situations. We can point to numerous causes for such mediocrity.

Certain Philbin and his coaching staff deserve a long of blame. But as bad as they were, it's not like they were coaching a team filled with all-pros at every position. There are problems with starters at …

Liberal catholics vs. conservative catholics

There's been a lot of talk about the pope since he visited the US. The pope will draw attention because he's the head of a large, worldwide organization. But Francis is probably drawing more attention than normal because he says some fairly progressive things, at least for a religious leader. This has all sparked some debate over what the catholic church should look like moving forward. This piece from Ross Douthat showed up in my twitter feed and I wanted to highlight some things I found interesting.

Which brings us to the issue that prompted my column: The debate, encouraged and I think guided in a pro-change direction by Pope Francis, over whether to admit the divorced-and-remarried, people in unions that the church has traditionally considered adulterous, back to communion while they’re still in a sexual relationship with their new spouse. I’ve written at length, as have others more qualified than myself, on why this allegedly-pastoral change would, in fact, represent a su…

Gotham needed Obamacare just as much as Batman

I've seen The Dark Knight probably around 20 times. It took me until seeing it at an old theater in Nashville over the weekend to realize something about the Gotham of the Nolan trilogy. It has crappy health insurance coverage. And the lack of coverage helped lead to the death of Rachel Dawes, the creation of Two-Face, and the turning of Batman into The Dark Knight.

Like all Nolan movies, he drops a hint about what will happen in the movie very early on. After the opening of the Joker heist, we cut to Gotham at night. Two guys are about to make what looks like an illegal drug deal when one of them looks up and sees the Batsignal in the sky. He walks away from the deal for fear that Batman will stop him. Then we cut to Gordon on top of the Major Crimes Unit roof, where he has turned on the Batsignal, waiting for Batman to come talk to him.

Detective Anna Ramirez joins Gordon on the roof with a cup of coffee and asks if he, "Ever plans to see his wife again." To which G…

Jeb Bush and Iraq War justifications

Jeb Bush is running for president, because you know, our economy and politics are purely merit-based. And because his former president brother was in office such a short time ago, he's getting questions about how he compares to his brother, mostly regarding the biggest decision his brother made, invading Iraq. (I'm not sure if that sentence is a mess grammatically or just sounds messy reading it in my head)

On some level, Jeb and most Republicans know that the Iraq War wasn't a glowing success. Maybe Dick Cheney is still 100% convinced that it was the right choice and everything worked out perfectly. But most Republican presidential candidates aren't giving a full-throated defense of the decision. In fact, many are implicitly acknowledging that it was a bad decision when they say stuff like what Jeb said:

“I would have [authorised the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody,” Bush told Fox News television in an interview to be aired late …

The religious freedom of Satanists

Rolling Stone picks up on one of my favorite topics, what rises to the level of a constitutionally protected religious belief:

The Satanists announced this week that they're demanding exemptions to anti-abortion regulations — like Missouri's 72-hour state-mandated waiting period — claiming such measures violate their religious beliefs.

It's an obvious, and brilliant, ploy to test how serious conservatives are about their supposed belief that a person's "religious liberty" rights mean they can opt out of laws they simply don't like. The Satanists are trying to prove that conservatives are hypocrites whose interest in religious exemptions only applies to situations where they can take away someone's birth control, or ruin a same-sex couple's wedding.
This may look like trolling, and on some level it might be. But this gets to the heart of every other "religious freedom" issue that has come up recently. What is a belief that gets protection …

Avengers: Age of Ultron review

No spoilers

The new Avengers movie is a typical Marvel movie, solidly entertaining but not a ton of depth. I felt a bit weird after it because I love Joss Whedon. I expect to love everything he does. But while Age of Ultron is a good, fun movie, I didn't love it.

There are no glaring problems with it. No "what about these potholes" bullshit. It feels a bit too big at times. But it's paced well and there's never really a dull moment. It's got a lot of the Whedon-style banter. And each character gets their due, which is probably enough to consider the movie a success in and of itself. But I just didn't have that gut emotional reaction to it. Maybe it's just me and my Batman blinders when it comes to superhero movies.

Though speaking of Batman, I think that gets at the problem I have with Marvel movies. Batman has great villains; the Joker, Bane, Ra's al Ghul, etc. Along with Batman's status as a vulnerable non-god, the villains really help pull…

NFL draft: the Dolphins and things that annoy me

Something I found annoying:

ESPN’s Bill Polian, on ESPN2's mock draft show: “The Dolphins need to run the ball. That offense is an off-shoot of Chip Kelly’s and is a running offense. So if Todd Gurley passed their physical, take Todd Gurley and don’t look back. He changes their whole team.”
Polian seemed like at least a halfway competent GM. And I get that he has to be able to talk about 32 teams. But damn, they do pay you to be able to know something about all of those teams. So it would help to know that the Dolphins were 12th in total rushing yards last season while being only 22nd in rushing attempts. That's because they were 2nd in yards per rush attempt. Most of that was due to Lamar Miller gaining 5.1 yards per attempt. (Note: I looked that up in about 5 minutes. What excuse do Polian and other pundits have for not knowing that information?)

Miller had an excellent season as the Dolphins' primary running back. Ryan Tannehill even had a good year running the ball, ga…

Batman v. Superman teaser trailer

There's a lot of speculation out there about the movie based on the teaser trailer. That's fair up to a certain extent. But I want to point out that there seems to be a lot of preconceived notions about what the movie and characters should be. Snyder invites that to some extent by saying he's drawing from The Dark Knight Returns. But drawing is not adapting. And I don't think we should expect the same things we've seen from these characters and their stories.

The cinematic universe Batman and Superman share doesn't have decades of friendship to build upon like Miller did in The Dark Knight Returns. So, along with the fact that we don't know how it will play out, it's not completely fair to hold Snyder to that expectation. I also don't think it's fair to hold Snyder to the expectations of what Superman is/should be while also expecting him not to just remake the original Donner Superman movie.

I'm as adamant as anyone that Batman shouldn'…

Indiana's religious freedom law

Peter Steinfels asks if there's any liberals left that will protect religious freedom. Sure, to a certain extent. I'm all for allowing some of these things:

They may include refusing to fight in defense of the nation, rejecting certain foodstuffs or medical treatments, discouraging young people from secondary or higher education, honoring celibacy or condemning a variety of sexual practices, sacrificing animals, drinking alcohol, or ingesting hallucinogens for ritual purposes, prescribing certain head coverings or hairstyles despite school or occupational rules, insisting on distinct roles for men and women, withdrawing from friends and family for lives of silence and seclusion, marching in prayer through neighborhoods on holy days, preaching on street corners or otherwise trying to convert others to these persuasions.
I'd be many liberals would be open to allowing them as well. Then he specifically he asks that liberals:

let the question be debated and the legislation frame…

The sick health care market

Here's a great reminder that the health care market is not very comparable to traditional markets:

The charge for a lipid panel ranged from $10 to $10,169. Hospital prices for a basic metabolic panel (which doctors use to measure the body's metabolism) were $35 at one facility — and $7,303 at another ... Hsia's previous research looked at the cost of an appendectomy in California and found similarly gigantic variation. For an appendectomy with no complications, she found that hospitals in the state would charge anywhere between $1,529 and $186,955.
Different grocery stores tend to charge different prices for my favorite Haagen Dazs ice cream (chocolate chocolate chip). But the price varies from about $4 a pint to $5 a pint, not $4 to $4000. And if there was such a difference, I would be able to easily tell because the price would be indicated on the product before I bought it. And unlike an appendectomy, I could choose not to purchase it and still go about my day not dying…

Nashville's traffic problem

If there's a hell it will probably feature me sitting in traffic for eternity. It's personally soul-crushing, economically annoying, and environmentally unhealthy. Nashville isn't the worst city for traffic, but it's bad. And expecting population growth to continue, the problem seems to be destined to get worse in the coming years. The city's mayoral candidates at least acknowledge there's a problem, but offer few potential solutions. Here's a few could help a bit:

Mayoral candidate Linda Eskind Rebrovick, a former business executive, has discussed practical measures like the installation of real-time adaptive sensors on traffic lights that respond to sensors on roadways to trigger them to green or red. She suggested the city could also offer new cell phone apps to direct drivers to available parking downtown and elsewhere.
You might have noticed that app idea from somewhere:

App idea: track free available parking spaces in downtown areas so you have a shot a…

Greatest QBs of all time

Inspired by this post at Football Perspective: http://www.footballperspective.com/greatest-qb-of-all-time-wisdom-of-crowds-edition/. Wanted to post it here because for some reason I can't submit a comment on the site. I'll probably go into more detail on each one in a bit. But I posted some of my overall thought process below.

1. Dan Marino
2. Peyton Manning
3. Brett Favre
4. Fran Tarkenton
5. Johnny Unitas
6. Steve Young
7. Joe Montana
8. Tom Brady
9. Dan Fouts
10. Ken Anderson
11. Roger Staubach
12. Sid Luckman
13. Sammy Baugh
14. Len Dawson
15. Aaron Rodgers
16. Sonny Jurgensen
17. Norm Van Brocklin
18. Otto Graham
19. YA Tittle
20. John Elway
21. Drew Brees
22. Joe Namath
23. Boomer Esiason
24. Kurt Warner
25. Terry Bradshaw

My baseline was Chase's posts ranking QBs. Quantifiable production is very important (though not something like wins or rings, obviously). And since I'm not terribly old I have to trust era adjustments for the QBs I never got to see. From the…