Thursday, May 31, 2012

Les Miserables - First trailer



Well, as I stand here with chills down my back and eyes watering, it's fair to say that the first official trailer works.



There are a lot of things that you can do to screw up a project like this. None of them are visible in the first snippet that we've gotten...

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Team Romney: Not gonna play repudiation game


I don't know if Byron York is 100% right with this, but I hope that he is, because it's the 100% right way for the Romney campaign to go...
Mitt Romney's refusal to repudiate Donald Trump sends a signal, both to Democrats and the voting public: With the nation's future at stake in this November's election, Romney will not accommodate calls that he disown supporters who make ill-considered, unpopular, or sometimes outrageous statements on matters not fundamental to the campaign.

Romney aides believe that cooperating with Democrats and media figures who are demanding a Trump disavowal would most certainly lead to more calls for more disavowals of other figures in the future -- leaving Romney spending as much time apologizing for his supporters as campaigning for president. Team Romney views it as a silly and one-sided game designed to distract voters from the central issue of the race, which they remain convinced will be President Obama's handling of the economy.
One of the ways that the media bias displays itself is in the never-ending demands of the press that Republican candidates and office-holders apologize for or repudiate comments made, actions taken or positions or attitudes held by actual, or even perceived, supporters, while Democrats are never tarred with the worst excesses of theirs. Just witness the media condemnation that descended on Republicans following the shooting in Arizona, or the (inaccurate) reports that Congressmen had been spit on in Washington, while the "occupiers" were clearly a Democratic constituency until their behavior became indefensible, and then they disappeared from the media's view. Today, they'll call on Romney to decry Trump's birtherism; tomorrow it will be the perceived racism of some state rep in North Carolina who refers to the President by his full name. It's a game that Romney cannot win, and must not play...

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From Love to Bingo - Getty Images

The coolest thing I expect to see this week...

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The Tragedy of the Commons - Federal Budget version


The always brilliant Walter E. Williams on the intractability of our budget problems...
We can think of the federal budget as a commons to which each of our 535 congressmen and the president have access. Like the cattlemen, each congressman and the president want to get as much out of the federal budget as possible for their constituents. Political success depends upon "bringing home the bacon." Spending is popular, but taxes to finance the spending are not. The tendency is for spending to rise and its financing to be concealed through borrowing and inflation.

Does it pay for an individual congressman to say, "This spending is unconstitutional and ruining our nation, and I'll have no part of it; I will refuse a $500 million federal grant to my congressional district"? The answer is no because he would gain little or nothing, plus the federal budget wouldn't be reduced by $500 million. Other congressmen would benefit by having $500 million more for their districts.

What about the constituents of a principled congressman? If their congressman refuses unconstitutional spending, it doesn't mean that they pay lower federal income taxes. All that it means is constituents of some other congressmen get the money while the nation spirals toward financial ruin, and they wouldn't be spared from that ruin because their congressman refused to participate in unconstitutional spending.
Read it all.

And remember - if something cannot continue, it won't...

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Over .500 is better than under .500...

... and the 2012 Red Sox have finally gotten there, in their 7th attempt. Each of the first six games that they played with a .500 record, they lost. Last night, they took the field with a .500 record and won. Without Ellsbury, Crawford and Lackey.  Without Pedroia. Facing Justin Verlander.

Through 49 games, they're two games behind where they were a year ago (25-24 vs. 27-22) and three games further out of first place. In a league where run scoring has increased by about 5%, the Sox have increased their runs scored and runs allowed both by about 13%, resulting in a Pythagorean winning percentage that is very close to where it was a year ago at about .537.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

If Bush said it - episode # 2975...

Poles Demand Obama Apology For "Polish Death Camps" Comment
Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, a longtime pro-American voice, tweeted: "The White House will apologize for this outrageous error. [Prime Minister Donald] Tusk will make a statement in the morning. It's a pity that this important ceremony was upstaged by ignorance and incompetence."
In ceremonies honoring a hero of the anti-Nazi resistance, President Obama made reference to "Polish death camps." Well, yeah, there were death camps in Poland - set up by Germans, run by Germans, and used to exterminate Poles. "Polish death camps" is not an appropriate way to refer to them, and the Poles are justifiably outraged.

Another brilliant foreign relations coup from President Competent...

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"The Diet Debacle"

What's wrong with our "food" supply?

Robert H. Lustig
Our metabolisms started to malfunction when humans began consuming fat and carbohydrates at the same meal. The liver mitochondria could not keep up with the energy onslaught, and had no choice but to employ a little-used escape valve called “de novo lipogenesis” (new fat-making) to turn excess energy substrate into liver fat.

Liver fat mucks up the workings of the liver. It is the root cause of the phenomenon known as “insulin resistance” and the primary process that drives chronic metabolic disease. In other words, neither fat nor carbohydrates are problematic – until they are combined. The food industry does precisely that, mixing more of both into the Western diet for palatability and shelf life, thereby intensifying insulin resistance and chronic metabolic disease.
Is Lustig right about every point that he makes? Probably not. But he's right about a lot of it. What is becoming more clear by the day is that the nutritional advice promoted by the US Federal Government is bad advice.

Read it all...

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"Not even half the story..."

When Mitt Romney's Bain Capital invested in companies, it was his own money. When Barack Obama's energy department invests in companies, it's mine. And yours...

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Why Obama’s Senior Strategists Think He’ll Beat Mitt Romney...

... and why I think they're delusional...


The question really is, do they believe that this, as related in a recent NY Magazine story, is not just the truth, but the whole truth?
The subject line of an e-mail from the Romney press shop that hit my in-box last week summed up the challenger’s framing of the election concisely and precisely: “What’s This Campaign Going to Be About? The Obama Economy.”

The president begs to differ. In 2008, the junior senator from Illinois won in a landslide by fashioning a potent “coalition of the ascendant,” as Teixeira and Halpin call it, in which the components were minorities (especially Latinos), socially liberal college-educated whites (especially women), and young voters. This time around, Obama will seek to do the same thing again, only more so. The growth of those segments of the electorate and the president’s strength with them have his team brimming with confidence that ­demographics will trump economics in November—and in the process create a template for Democratic dominance at the presidential level for years to come.
Let's stipulate, for the sake of discussion, that Obama's majority was just as they've described it. That still begs the question of whether that majority was the attracted by some quality of Barack Obama. It begs the question of whether that quality was inherent and still-extant or merely perceived. And it utterly ignores the question of whether there were conditions in 2008 that made that set of demographics more susceptible to Obama than they might be in conditions as they'll exist in 2012. I think it's likely that Barack Obama will, once again, win a majority of voters that are "minorities...socially liberal college-educated whites...and young." So did, if I'm not mistaken, Presidents John Kerry and Al Gore before him.

I also am quite confident that there are not enough voters in those demographics to be dispositive - winning a majority of them is, in itself, not enough of an accomplishment to guarantee oneself a majority of the total votes cast. And the facts on the ground have changed substantially since 2008.

But I think it's clear that the article is right about what they're going to attempt to do to Mitt Romney.
They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as the governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier for Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt on a range of issues that strike deep chords with the Obama coalition. “We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what he would do as president,’ ” Plouffe explains. “Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.”

The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct,” says a top Obama strategist. “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This ****ing guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ”
That campaign does, of course, make clear what a failure the first Obama term has been. They've got nothing to run on, nothing to even attempt to run on. They've got one of the most significant "accomplishments" in the history of American politics on their resume with Obamacare, and they don't want to take any credit for it. So they're reduced to telling ridiculous lies about their opponent...

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 5/28/2012


The ninth-inning-down-by-one-two-run-homer-off-the-closer giveth and the ninth-inning-down-by-one-two-run-homer-off-the-closer taketh away...

  • So, three times this week, they took the field with the chance to get back to .500, and each time they succeeded.  And then three times, they took the field with a chance to get over .500 for the first time this year, and each time they failed.


  • They'll get over .500, and they'll stay over .500, but when it happens, it will have taken them a long time to get there.


  • Is this the week that it happens?  5-2 or better and it will be.  4-3 or worse and they'll be at or below .500 next Monday morning.


  • Obviously, the week could have easily been worse, if Saltalamacchia doesn't hit that pinch-hit walk-off homer on Saturday.  But it could easily have been better, too, as they were poised to take 2-of-3 from Tampa until Rodriguez' HR on Sunday.


  • Great to see:  A third consecutive outstanding performance from Josh Beckett.  A reminder of what Clay Buchholz is when he's right.  Gonzalez goes deep in a critical spot.  A walk-off pinch HR.


  • Not great to see:  When Jon Lester isn't good, he isn't so-so - he's bad.  The lead-off hitter (Aviles) going 4-25 with no walks.  Adrian Gonzalez (.250/.240/.458/.698) with an OBP less than his BA (1 SF, no walks), especially when the BA is only .250.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week - I'll confess, this surprised me, because I hadn't realized how strong his week was, but the best offensive performance on the week came from Kevin Youkilis (.375/.474/.563/1.036), who gathered 6 hits, including a HR, and 3 BB in 19 plate appearances.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - For the second straight week, it's Josh Beckett, who gave up just two runs on four hits and no walks, with five strikeouts, over seven strong innings in his 3rd straight very good start.






AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/28/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.75(1)3.73(2)0.688(1)33153018-3
Chicago4.75(4)4.13(6)0.564(2)27212622-1
New York4.62(5)4.21(7)0.542(3)252226211
Tampa Bay4.38(9)4.02(5)0.539(4)262229193
Baltimore4.6(6)4.25(8)0.537(5)262229193
Toronto4.81(3)4.46(10)0.535(6)26222424-2
Boston5.23(2)4.94(13)0.527(7)25222324-2
Los Angeles3.67(13)3.59(1)0.51(8)25242425-1
Detroit4.38(7)4.43(9)0.496(9)232423240
Seattle3.7(12)4.02(4)0.462(10)23272129-2
Cleveland4.38(7)4.77(12)0.462(11)222526214
Kansas City3.93(10)4.48(11)0.441(12)20261927-1
Oakland3.29(14)3.96(3)0.416(13)202822262
Minnesota3.91(11)5.62(14)0.341(14)16311532-1




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Texas10161
Tampa Bay9864
Baltimore9864
New York9072
Cleveland9072




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas10854
Chicago9072
Tampa Bay9072
Baltimore9072
New York8874




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Los Angeles3.86(11)1.71(1)0.815(1)61610
New York4.67(5)2.67(2)0.736(2)42511
Chicago9(1)5.5(11)0.711(3)42511
Texas6.83(2)4.67(9)0.668(4)42420
Detroit4.33(9)3.83(4)0.556(5)33330
Baltimore4.67(5)4.17(6)0.552(6)3324-1
Tampa Bay4.67(5)4.17(6)0.552(6)33421
Boston4.17(10)4.67(9)0.448(8)33330
Kansas City3.5(12)4(5)0.439(9)33330
Seattle3(13)3.57(3)0.421(10)3425-1
Minnesota4.83(4)6.5(12)0.368(11)2415-1
Cleveland4.5(8)6.83(13)0.318(12)24331
Toronto5.17(3)8.17(14)0.302(13)2415-1
Oakland1.33(14)4.33(8)0.104(14)15150



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Friday, May 25, 2012

Our favorite soldier...

Looking sharp...

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Well, there's one promise kept...



UPDATE:
Having written and posted this, based on the one article, I went looking for more coverage, or background.  What I found casts doubt on the tone of the article.

Here's the auction results document from PJM.  I haven't read every word, and I don't know all of the acronyms, but I know this - on the chart (page 15) where the value goes from $16 in 2012 to $136 in 2015, the value from 2010 was .. $174.99.  This is clearly not the base price for all electricity generated and sold in the region, because rates didn't drop by 90% between 2010 and 2012.  This is a marginal cost for power coming on line in those years, and may cause some rate increase, but certainly not the catastrophic increases that the article would lead one to believe.

So, while I still believe that raising energy costs is a bad thing, and that excessive regulatory hampering of coal mines and coal-fired plants is a bad thing, and that we are years and years and years away from efficient and economically sensible "green" energy, and that the end result of Obama's desired policies would, in fact, be a "skyrocketing" of energy costs and further economic damage (so I'm not deleting the post), I do not believe that the facts on the ground from the recent auction justify the apocalyptic tone of the linked article.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jim Geraghty's fond of saying that "all statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them." Well, apparently one of them didn't.

Fox News:
Last week the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a shocking drop in power sector coal consumption in the first quarter of 2012. Coal-fired power plants are now generating just 36 percent of U.S. electricity, versus 44.6 percent just one year ago.

It’s the result of an unprecedented regulatory assault on coal that will leave us all much poorer.

Last week PJM Interconnection, the company that operates the electric grid for 13 states (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia) held its 2015 capacity auction. These are the first real, market prices that take Obama’s most recent anti-coal regulations into accoun
t, and they prove that he is keeping his 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.”
The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity – almost all natural gas – was $136 per megawatt. That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt.

Barack Obama, 2008:
Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.
OK, the cap-and-trade system hasn't passed. But there's certainly been an increased regulatory burden as the administration has done everything within its power to limit the amount of electricity that American companies can produce. So for consumers, "electricity rates [will] necessarily skyrocket."

But hey, that can't possibly have any effects on the economy, right? It's not like people would have used the money they'll now have to spend on "skyrocketing" electric costs for anything else. It can't possibly cost anyone a job. There's no way that America will get poorer instead of richer as we ratchet up the cost of the energy that we have while waiting for the "green" pipe dream to come true.

Or not.


Anyway, there's one Barack Obama statement that hasn't expired...

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spending and Growth and profound intellectual dishonesty...

From Nobel laureate (Economics) Paul Krugman:
So Japan, which is spending heavily for post-tsunami reconstruction, is growing quite fast, while Italy, which is imposing austerity measures, is shrinking almost equally fast.

There seems to be some kind of lesson here about macroeconomics, but I can’t quite put my finger on it …
Krugman, who believes that the problem with the Obama stimulus was that it was too small, is now going to argue an economic proposition (the broken-window fallacy) that was debunked by Bastiat over 150 years ago?

Wow. Just wow.

So, Professor Krugman, do you want to make the argument that Japan is wealthier today than it was before that tsunami hit? And, if not, then the cost of that temporary growth probably exceeds the benefit, huh?

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HHS signs $20M PR contract to promote healthcare law


So, you're in the Federal government, and you've passed a law of which the taxpayers paying for it disapprove. How do you handle this awkward situation, particularly as an election approaches?

Simple - spend more taxpayer dollars propagandizing promoting it!
The Health and Human Services Department has signed a $20 million contract with a public-relations firm to highlight part of the Affordable Care Act.

The new, multimedia ad campaign is designed to educate the public about how to stay healthy and prevent illnesses, an HHS official said.

The campaign was mandated by the Affordable Care Act and must describe the importance of prevention while also explaining preventive benefits provided by the healthcare law.
What could possibly be wrong with that?

Let's just re-write that a smidge and see what happens...
The Health and Human Services Department Obama administration campaign has signed a $20 million contract with a public-relations firm to highlight part of the Affordable Care Act promote Obamacare.

The new, multimedia ad campaign is designed to educate the public about how to stay healthy and prevent illnesses, an HHS official said
the Obama administration is caring for them.

The campaign was mandated by the Affordable Care Act
Obama campaign and must describe the importance increase the popularity of prevention while also explaining preventive benefits provided by the healthcare law.
Yeah, that's how I read it...

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Big Bain Backfire


It's encouraging that the Romney campaign is not letting the Obama campaign's Bain attacks go unanswered.

And the response is strong.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Brett Kimberlin story

There's a big story circulating in the right half of the blogosphere over the past few days, centered on a convicted bomber named Brett Kimberlin and his attempts to use the legal system to attack conservative bloggers.

The other McCain has a good overview of what is a fairly complicated story, with a lot of moving pieces.

Domestic Terrorist Now Using ‘Lawfare’?
Convicted of multiple federal felonies in connection with a string of 1978 bombings in Indiana, Kimberlin’s activities recently have come under renewed scrutiny due to his attempt to press criminal charges against attorney Aaron Walker, a blogger who says Kimberlin tried to “frame” him as part of a campaign of harassment and intimidation against conservative New Media activists. 
...
Walker’s complaint against Kimberlin — the subject of a 28,000-word account posted Thursday morning at the blog Allergic to Bull — sparked new interest in the convicted felon’s online activities. Kimberlin’s connections to influential non-profit charities, leading progressive bloggers and Democrat Party operatives expose what many observers believe is a coordinated effort to silence conservative activists online through intimidation and harassment. Less than six months before his death, New Media enterpreneur Andrew Breitbart warned about Kimberlin’s activities.
Here are the Instapundit links to the various stories of Kimberlin's current and recent activities. And blogger Aaron Worthing has published his account of his interactions with Kimberlin.

My reaction when I first heard it, though, was, "I've heard that name before." And I have. Brett Kimberlin, convicted domestic terrorist, claimed in 1991 that he was essentially a political prisoner, because he had sold cocaine to then-Senator Dan Quayle, and that Quayle, currently the Vice President of the United States, was using the Federal Bureau of prisons to keep him from getting the story out. And I know this not because it was a big story in the mainstream press, but because one of those, like Joe Biden and John Kerry, who has been wrong on every issue that the country has dealt with over the last forty years, is Garry Trudeau. And Trudeau ran with Kimberlin's story. For three weeks, that was the sole focus of the Doonesbury strip.



(You can see the whole series here.)

Was there any evidence? No. But the story, according to Trudeau, and the vast majority of the newspapers that carried the strip (usually on the editorial page) was that the allegation of a coverup was fair game. Despite the fact that there was no evidence of that, either.

Anyway, it's always good to remind people how wrong Trudeau has been, and the scope and scale of matters about which he's been wrong.

And it's important for people to recognize that making false and unsubstantiated accusations in lawsuits in nothing new for Brett Kimberlin1...





1 - I haven't talked with Mr. Kimberlin, so I suppose there's always the possibility that there are two different Brett Kimberlins, both of which who have been convicted of domestic terrorism in Indiana, and both of whom have used the legal system to file bogus lawsuits against people of whom they disapprove. If so, I'll apologize in advance. I think that the odds are slim...

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Monday Pythagorean, 5/21/2012

For the second week in a row, a performance that's good - not great, not awful, but good - more wins than losses, the kind of consistent performance you expect to see from a good team...

  • Encouraging - despite the fact that Ellsbury, Crawford, Youkilis, Bailey, etc., are still missing, and that the initial magic that accompanied the appearances of Middlebrooks and Nava was a little less potent, they still went 5-2.


  • Encouraging - their latest five-game win streak came at home against Cleveland and Seattle.  But they continued their good play in taking 3-of-5 on the road from Tampa and Philadelphia.


  • Here's something interesting - the Red Sox are 6 1/2 games behaind the Orioles, and 4 1/2 games behind the Rays, but they've got a better run differential than either of them.  In fact, in the AL, only the Texas Rangers (+85) and the Toronto Blue Jays (+35) have outscored their opponents by more than the Red Sox (+17).  It was inevitable that we'd start to wonder whether this was really a good team.  They're still a game under .500, but when you look at the injuries and what they've done so far, it's pretty clear that the answer is (or at least should be), "yes."


  • How well have things gone the last couple of weeks?  They have actually moved onto one of the "top 5 lists."  If everyone in the AL were to play to their current pythagorean projections for the rest of the season, the Red Sox would finish with the 5th best record in the AL.


  • Of course, as three of the four teams ahead of them would also be from the AL East, they'd be out of the playoffs.



  • The other AL East also-ran?  The New York Yankees.



  • This probably sounds strange, but one of the most encouraging things I saw this week were what I'm going to term the "orphan losses."  From the beginning of the season through Wednesday night in Tampa, they'd only had a one-game losing streak once.  Otherwise, everytime they followed a win with a loss, there were several losses.  Three games, two games, five games, five games - the losses all came in bunches.  This week, they lost twice, and each time, they limited the damage to one game.  You can't win 'em all, but you can limit the long season-killing losing streaks.  This week, they started to do that.


  • Unlike last week, I don't know whether and when Josh Beckett golfed.  Like last week I don't care.  Unlike last week, most of Red Sox nation doesn't care, either.


  • For the season, the pitching still looks awful, and will for a long time because they gave up so many runs early.  So this may come as a surprise to some.  The Boston bullpen, in the month of May, has allowed 14 runs (13 earned) in 73 innings over 59 appearances.  That's a 1.60 ERA, with a 1.01 WHIP.  They've been very good.


  • The starters haven't had as good a month as the bullpen, but they're on a strong, albeit shorter, run right now, too.  Over the last nine games, they've average 6 1/3 innings per start with an ERA of 2.51.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week - The most offensive production, based on straight Runs Created, came from Mike Aviles this week.  The best weighted run production (Runs Created/out) came from Cody Ross.  Therefore, the player of the week award goes to ... Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit (.421/.421/.895/1.316) and gets the positional bonus of having done it while catching five games.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - You might thing that, with the kind of pitching they got this week, this would be a tough call.  Uh, no.  Josh Beckett was very good-to-excellent.  Twice.  In 14 2/3 innings, he allowed only 11 hits and 1 run, while striking out 14 on his wasy to two wins.




AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/21/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.6(1)3.6(1)0.692(1)29132616-3
Toronto4.76(3)3.93(4)0.587(2)25172319-2
Tampa Bay4.33(8)4(6)0.537(3)231925172
Boston5.39(2)4.98(13)0.537(3)22192021-2
Baltimore4.6(5)4.26(8)0.534(5)222027155
Chicago4.14(9)3.93(4)0.524(6)22202121-1
New York4.61(4)4.44(9)0.517(7)212021200
Cleveland4.37(7)4.46(10)0.49(8)202123183
Detroit4.39(6)4.51(11)0.487(9)202120210
Los Angeles3.64(13)3.9(2)0.468(10)20221824-2
Seattle3.81(11)4.09(7)0.468(11)20231924-1
Oakland3.57(14)3.9(2)0.459(12)192321212
Kansas City4(10)4.55(12)0.441(13)18221624-2
Minnesota3.78(12)5.49(14)0.336(14)142714270




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Baltimore10458
Texas10062
Tampa Bay9666
Cleveland9171
Toronto8973




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas10953
Toronto9369
Baltimore9171
Tampa Bay8973
Boston8577




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Boston4.71(5)2.57(1)0.752(1)52520
Cleveland4.57(6)2.86(3)0.703(2)52520
Toronto5.29(4)3.43(5)0.688(3)5243-1
Chicago5.57(1)4.14(9)0.632(4)43521
Tampa Bay3.43(11)2.71(2)0.605(5)43430
Texas4(9)3.43(5)0.57(6)4334-1
Los Angeles3.29(12)3(4)0.542(7)4334-1
Kansas City3.86(10)3.57(7)0.535(8)4334-1
Detroit5.43(3)5.29(13)0.512(9)4334-1
Baltimore4.29(7)4.43(10)0.485(10)34522
Minnesota5.57(1)6.14(14)0.455(11)34431
Oakland3.29(12)3.71(8)0.444(12)34340
Seattle4.14(8)4.71(11)0.441(13)34340
New York3.29(12)4.71(11)0.341(14)25250

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

The always brilliant Mark Steyn...

...with the line of the day.

Breaking! The House of Windsor is One of the Five Tribes
Actually, that last line quoted above briefly made me wonder if writing about American liberalism isn’t a threat to one’s sanity. Some societies are racist, some societies work hard to be anti-racist, but only in America does the nation’s most prestigious law school hire a 100 per cent white female as its first “woman of color” on the basis that she once mailed in the Duke of Windsor’s favorite crab dish to a tribal cookbook.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Identity politics

There are two things that I want to be very clear about as I start this one, because people are likely to see the topic and make assumptions that I'm raising an issue that I'm not, or that I'm concerned about things that I'm not concerned about.
  1. I believe that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
  2. Even if he weren't, I do not, at this point, care. He ran for the office and was elected. For the last four years he has legitimately been the President of the United States.
And there are two points that I do want to make.
  1. The system of identity politics promulgated and promoted by the American left is ultimately corrosive and destructive, so much so that even those who promote recognize the need to "game the system."
  2. The United States media's performance in its coverage of Barack Obama before his election to the Presidency was nonfeasance amounting to malfeasance.
OK?  Everyone got that?

That said, this is fascinating. At Breitbart's site, they've published an Obama bio published in 1991 by his literary agent as he was shopping book proposals.


"Born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii..."

There's been a lot of hot air over the last few years over the "birthers," people who were skeptical that Obama was constitutionally eligible for the office that he holds.  Some of that undoubtedly came from people who didn't want a black President, or that hoped the election of President Obama could be annulled or retroactively overturned. But that doesn't mean that a) a majority held those positions or b) that there are not legitimate Constitutional concerns involved or c) that there weren't legitimate reasons to ask the questions. (For what it's worth, many of those on the left who loved the issue because it allowed them to pretend that all Republicans were racists just ignored the fact that the issue was initially raised by Democratic supporters of Hillary Clinton during the primary campaign.) As the above bio demonstrates, not only was his father Kenyan, there was information in the public record for years stating that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. So it was absolutely legitimate to ask whether he was constitutionally eligible for the office he sought.

If he was not born in Kenya, why would his bio say that he was? Not having been there at the time, I can't prove it, but the likeliest reason seems to me that he thought the kind of book he was selling would benefit from having the "street cred" of being born in Africa. Much like I believe that the Democratic Senate candidate from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, knew that checking the "native American" box, despite the absence of any evidence other than family rumors about an ancestor five generations back that may have been part-Cherokee, would benefit her in hiring decisions made at the various Universities at which she taught. Once she reached the pinnacle of her profession, Harvard Law, there was no need to keep checking it. (I'm not sure who first came up with it, but I love that Warren is now referred to in many circles as "Fauxcahontas."  Harvard, of course, has advertised her as a "minority" for the benefit of their "diversity" statistics, despite the fact that she's a blonde, blue-eyed, plainly caucasian woman who'd be an albino if she were any whiter. Stories this week reveal that "a 1997 Fordham Law Review piece described her as Harvard Law School's 'first woman of color.'" Well, pink is a color, I suppose...)

So Warren and Obama were, and are, just taking advantage of the spoils system that they themselves, and others of like mind, put in place. If you're a 60s radical, steeped in the leftist cant about American imperialism, you advertise yourself as having been born in Kenya. If you want to give yourself every advantage in the climb through the ranks of the American professoriate, you claim native American ancestry, if you think you can get away with it (and if you're a woman and they want to increase their "diversity" numbers, no one's going to check).

As to the press, it was obvious at the time that it was in the tank for Barack Obama in 2008. The members of the media made their collective decision in the Obama vs. Clinton primary, and steadfastly refused to cover anything that might reflect poorly on their chosen candidate. Did the media cover his relationship with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn? No, the only mentions of Ayers in the mainstream press tended to whitewash his past and question the McCain effort to raise questions about their relationship. The same pattern held for Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko. The press blithely ignored his "present" vote on the born-alive infants bill in Illinois.   Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency with less media "vetting" than a typical Republican Congressional candidate gets.  The media formed a protective cocoon around him, and every character or background issue that made it into the mainstream press, made it in the context of "the McCain campaign tries, again, to go negative" or "what does this latest attack say about McCain."

Did reporters have this literary bio in 2008 and never bother to print it?  Or did they not ever see it?  It's got to be one or the other.  And more importantly, which is more damning for the media as a whole, the incompetence of the latter case or the corruption of the former?





 I was amused by Jim Treacher's take...
Either Obama was born in Kenya or he wasn’t. I remain skeptical that he was. The question is, then: Why did he claim to be? What advantage did he think it gave him at the time?

Maybe Elizabeth Warren can tell us…

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spoiling Julia Rotten


This is a really good piece from Jay Cost in The Weekly Standard, about the modern Democratic Party's clientism problem.
And under the Obama administration, clientele liberalism has achieved a kind of apotheosis. The stimulus, the health care bill, cap and trade, and the financial reform package were all designed with heavy input from the party’s clients, and ultimately each reflects their priorities, so much so that any kind of national purpose the legislation might have served was totally undermined. The stimulus catered far too much to Democratic clients, hence its measly effect on the economy; Obamacare was a veritable smorgasbord of goodies for Democratic backers, from feminists to unions to big business, while the average American will see no material improvement in the cost or security of his health insurance; and financial reform ultimately won the backing of the mega-banks on Wall Street, which not coincidentally had given overwhelmingly to Democrats in the 2008 cycle.

When viewed in light of these legislative monstrosities, “The Life of Julia” begins to make more sense. It is not merely an artless appeal to a swing demographic, it also symbolizes the modus operandi of the modern party. No longer interested in or capable of operating on behalf of the public good, the party is intent on buying its way to 50 percent-plus-one of the electorate. The message: Vote for Obama and you’ll get stuff!
Read it all...

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Life of Julia, summarized...

Another winner from Michael Ramirez, who offers a summary of the summary that was the Obama campaign's Life of Julia...


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Why the Campaign to Stop America's Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing

When I read pieces like this latest one from Gary Taubes, he's preaching to the choir.
The idea is to “sound the alarm” and motivate the nation to act.

At its heart is a simple “energy balance” idea: we get fat because we consume too many calories and expend too few. If we could just control our impulses—or at least control our environment, thereby removing temptation—and push ourselves to exercise, we’d be fine. This logic is everywhere you look in the official guidelines, commentary, and advice. “The same amount of energy IN and energy OUT over time = weight stays the same,” the NIH website counsels Americans, while the CDC site tells us, “Overweight and obesity result from an energy imbalance.”

The problem is, the solutions this multi-level campaign promotes are the same ones that have been used to fight obesity for a century—and they just haven’t worked. “We are struggling to figure this out,” NIH Director Francis Collins conceded to Newsweek last week. When I interviewed CDC obesity expert William Dietz back in 2001, he told me that his primary accomplishment had been getting childhood obesity “on the map.” “It’s now widely recognized as a major health problem in the United States,” he said then—and that was 10 years and a few million obese children ago.

There is an alternative theory, one that has also been around for decades but that the establishment has largely ignored. This theory implicates specific foods—refined sugars and grains—because of their effect on the hormone insulin, which regulates fat accumulation. If this hormonal-defect hypothesis is true, not all calories are created equal, as the conventional wisdom holds. And if it is true, the problem is not only controlling our impulses, but also changing the entire American food economy and rewriting our beliefs about what constitutes a healthy diet.
His two books on the topic (Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat [the former is a better book, the latter is a much easier read]) are brilliant, and it's not an exaggeration to say that they changed my life, significantly, for the better. Is he 100% right on every point that he makes? Is he presenting a complete and final model of all aspects of human physiology related to weight and health? No, I'm sure he's not. But his models are, if imperfect, at least close enough to the way that the world actually works to be extraordinarily valuable.

And I hope that he continues to fight the good fight...

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Facts not in evidence

There has been, over the past several years, a lot of praise for the 2008 Obama campaign, for being effective and efficient and well-managed. Well, in his always excellent "Best of the Web" article today, James Taranto makes a point that I've made before. Or at least comes close to it - we concur in part and disagree in part.
When Stephanie Cutter accuses the Times of bias because its poll delivers some hard truths, one assumes it is because the campaign is accustomed to media flattery of the sort that Brooks and National Journal are dishing out. It seems to us that flattery is actually running counter to Obama's goal of being re-elected, because it masks his weaknesses. True, he had fawning media coverage in 2008 and won the election. But to think the former caused the latter is a classic example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

Similarly, John Podhoretz of the New York Post is astonished that re-election effort has stumbled so badly, "given how astonishingly competent the Obama 2008 campaign was." But was the '08 campaign really all that competent? Or was it successful because he was lucky enough to have incompetent opponents?
We are in complete agreement that his election victory is not proof of "astonishing competen[ce]" from his 2008 campaign. Where we disagree is in whether or not the media coverage was responsible. He thinks not. I think so. I'm not certain that the McCain campaign was incompetent. Less than perfect, of course, because we all are, but incompetent? I don't think so. I think that they were up against a set of facts that were, politically, insurmountable at that time, and every one of which was spun by the ostensibly objective media in a way which benefited Obama.

I noted several years ago that
The premise that's wrong is that the Obama campaign was "so good at campaigning." The fact is that he gaffed and blundered all over the campaign trail, all over God's creation, and was dragged across the finish line by the most biased mainstream press operation in history. A press corps that was enamored of every move he made.
There was no background checking, no pushback on the things he said that were clearly false, no attempt whatsoever to "vet" him as a potential chief executive. It was obvious from day one that he had done absolutely nothing in his life to qualify him for the position that he now holds, but the people who present the campaign story to the country weren't interested in that, either. The inability to speak off the cuff - ignored. The vacuousness of the rhetoric - ignored. The hard left voting record - ignored. The radical friends - ignored. The lack of any kind of managerial experience - ignored. The corrupt bargains for his housing and Michelle's job - ignored. The press had room in their dispatches for one Hero - Barack, the ONE - and one villain - Sarah Palin. And that was the storyline. He won the election not because he ran a great campaign, but because his campaign was, and was going to be, called great no matter what he did. He was the "Great Black Hope," and once he became a viable candidate, he was going to win regardless of what happened.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc is a fallacy, because many things do not have dispositive influence, or even influence at all, on events which follow them. But that doesn't mean that all cases in which one attributes the outcome of an election to the effects of an earlier event, or events, is fallacious. Yes, the media was in the bag for Obama. Yes, Obama won the election. No, that does not prove that the favorable coverage caused him to win the election. But it doesn't disprove it, either. Since we cannot examine it in lab conditions, this is a case where people need to make their own judgements.

I don't disagree with anything I wrote earlier. Was the media coverage solely responsible for Obama's election? Probably not - the situation was a difficult one for any Republican candidate. But did the coverage make his campaign look a lot more impressive, a lot more competent than it actually was? Oh, yeah. Is there any evidence, other than the fact that he won (and you want to talk about post hoc fallacies, there's a good one) that he ran a great campaign? I didn't see it then and I don't see it now.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Slippery-Slope Logic vs. Health Care Law

While I'm on the subject of the Times, there was a very silly Op-Ed piece on Sunday, and it's illustrative of one of the key problems in the current American body politic.

Slippery-Slope Logic vs. Health Care Law - Economic View - NYTimes.com

The Times gave its real estate to Richard Thaler, "a professor of economics and behavioral science at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago," and he used it to debunk an argument that no one on the right is making.

Thaler starts off by talking about slippery-slope arguments in general, and correctly notes that it can be a form of logical fallacy.
There is a DirecTV ad that humorously illustrates the basic form of the slippery-slope argument. A foreboding announcer intones a list of syllogisms that are enacted on screen: “When your cable company puts you on hold, you get angry. When you get angry, you go blow off steam. When you go blow off steam, accidents happen.” Later, we reach the finale: “You wake up in a roadside ditch. Don’t wake up in a roadside ditch.” Although this ad is intended to be funny, arguments that make no more sense can and do affect public policy. The idea is that while Policy X may be acceptable, it will inevitably lead to the terrible Outcome Y, so it is vital that we prevent Policy X from ever being enacted. The problem is that such arguments are often made without any evidence that doing X makes Y more likely, much less inevitable. What percentage of people who are left on hold on the telephone end up in a roadside ditch?
And that's fine, as far as it goes. He's right - it's very easy to put together a slippery-slope argument that makes assumptions about the likelihood of future possibilities and ends up somewhere very scary, or seductive, or exciting, and has no logical validity. But then he goes ahead and applies the idea to the debate over Obamacare that was recently held at the Supreme Court, accusing those who are opposed to the idea of the individual mandate of using slippery slope arguments that end with Congressional broccoli mandates.

It's true, of course, that many people have argued, or, more accurately, asked, "if Congress can mandate the purchase of health insurance, could they mandate the purchase of broccoli?" But that is not, as he as characterized it, a slippery-slope argument against the mandate. Rather, it was an inquiry into the fundamental constitutional limits of Congressional power.
Consider these now-famous comments about broccoli from Justice Antonin G. Scalia during the oral arguments. “Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food,” he said. “Therefore, everybody is in the market. Therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.” Showing remarkable restraint, he did not mention anything about ending up in a roadside ditch.

Justice Scalia is arguing that if the court lets Congress create a mandate to buy health insurance, nothing could stop Congress from passing laws requiring everyone to buy broccoli and to join a gym. He and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. were asking the solicitor general to explain what the principle would be to stop the government from going so far. If the law stands, Justice Roberts suggested, “it seems to me that we can’t say there are limitations on what Congress can do under its commerce power.” He added, “Given the significant deference we accord to Congress in this area, all bets are off, and you could regulate that market in any rational way.”

Please stop! The very fact that a slippery slope is being cited as grounds for declaring the law unconstitutional — despite that “significant deference” usually given to laws passed by Congress — tells you all that you need to know about the argument’s validity. Can anyone imagine Congress passing a broccoli mandate law, much less the court allowing it to take effect?
It's difficult to tell whether Thaler does not understand the discussion or is intentionally misrepresenting it, but he is fundamentally mis-characterizing the argument. No one is making a "slippery slope" argument in this case. The slippery-slope argument is of the form "if A happens then B is much more likely to happen, and will almost inevitably lead to C." No one has ever suggested that the individual mandate will make mandatory broccoli purchases likely, so it is not a slippery slope argument. What it is, rather, is an inquiry into the inherent limits of Congressional power, and people suggest a broccoli-mandate not as a likely consequence but as an obviously ludicrous example of something that would not happen but is just as constitutional under the logic of the case being made for the individual mandate. In other words, what we could term the "broccoli argument" is not a slippery slope argument - it's a reductio ad absurdum.

He says that "Justice Scalia is arguing that if the court lets Congress create a mandate to buy health insurance, nothing could stop Congress from passing laws requiring everyone to buy broccoli and to join a gym." On its face, that's a slippery slope argument. But that's not the argument being made. By using the term "nothing" in that statement, he's demonstrating either a lack of understanding or a lack of honesty. There are many things that might stop Congress from passing laws, first among those being the will of the voters that sent them to Washington and will, in the hopes of the members of Congress, keep them there. No one is arguing that "nothing could stop Congress" if the individual mandate is deemed constitutional. What people are arguing is that if the Constitution cannot stop Congress from mandating health insurance coverage, then the Constitution cannot stop Congress from mandating broccoli. That's a far cry from the argument that Thaler has portrayed. In his mockery of the slippery slope argument that no one is making, he's confirming the power and logic of the reduction ad absurdum argument that's actually being made.

So when he plaintively asks, "Can anyone imagine Congress passing a broccoli mandate law," the answer is obviously, "no." So far, so good. Everyone is in agreement. But then he actually touches, and ignores, the relevant question in that same sentence, when he asks, "much less the court allowing it to take effect?" Well, if the court is going to exercise that "significant deference to Congress" that we've spoken of, on what grounds could a court not allow it to take effect if Congress enacted it? And how would those grounds differ from the grounds for not allowing the individual mandate to take effect? The court is supposed to rule on the Constitutional permissibility of the law in question. If you cannot articulate a theory of law in which the law being examined differs in a relevant way from an obviously unconstitutional theoretical law, and no one on the pro-mandate side has successfully done so, then you're conceding that the law being examined is not constitutional.

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"Round and round and round in the circle game..."

In which the NY Times reveals itself, yet again, to be a simple, partisan rag...

In 2005, the Republicans in the United States Senate were frustrated by the Democrats' use of the filibuster to thwart Presidential nominations to the Federal judiciary, and were particularly concerned with the threat of a filibuster on Supreme Court nominees, which had never previously happened. Because of this, they contemplated a rule change to eliminate, or significantly limit, the filibuster, a change that was termed the "nuclear option." The mainstream press, as represented here by the New York Times, was appalled. This despite the fact that, with Democrats in the White House and control of the Senate, they had favored filibuster reform. No, they were just wrong earlier, and their new, more fully matured position, was the right one. Clearly, the filibuster was wrong. A problem.

March 29, 2005 - Walking in the Opposition's Shoes
While the filibuster has not traditionally been used to stop judicial confirmations, it seems to us this is a matter in which it's most important that a large minority of senators has a limited right of veto. Once confirmed, judges can serve for life and will remain on the bench long after Mr. Bush leaves the White House. And there are few responsibilities given to the executive and the legislature that are more important than choosing the members of the third co-equal branch of government. The Senate has an obligation to do everything in its power to ensure the integrity of the process.

A decade ago, this page expressed support for tactics that would have gone even further than the "nuclear option" in eliminating the power of the filibuster. At the time, we had vivid memories of the difficulty that Senate Republicans had given much of Bill Clinton's early agenda. But we were still wrong. To see the filibuster fully, it's obviously a good idea to have to live on both sides of it. We hope acknowledging our own error may remind some wavering Republican senators that someday they, too, will be on the other side and in need of all the protections the Senate rules can provide.

On May 5, 2005, a little over a month later, they provided space on their editorial page to former Senator George Mitchell to make the same case against filibuster reform. Clearly, when the Democrats were in the minority, the filibuster was a vitally important tool for stopping the depredations of a Republican President and Senate. They recognized, at this time, the folly of their earlier position, that the filibuster was an archaic, anti-democratic nuisance, allowing Republicans to prevent the noble Democrats in the Senate and White House from getting done the vital work of the nation.

So, what goes around comes around. Again. As the editorial board has decided, again, that the principled (certainly not partisan or biased, but principled) position on the filibuster is that it must be reformed.
Fed up and rueful, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, made a startling admission on Thursday: he should have reined in the filibuster rule last year, when he had a chance...If Mr. Reid helped enact the proposal of [Senators Udall and Merkley], he would instantly make Congress more efficient and more democratic...We have supported eliminating the filibuster for judicial and executive nominees. Making other filibusters harder would be good for both parties. If Mr. Reid remains majority leader in January, he should lead the reform.
And, of course, they're not actually lying when they say that they "have supported eliminating the filibuster for judicial and executive nominees" - they're just conveniently omitting the fact that, when it was their guys doing the filibustering and not the other guys, it was A-OK with them.

Because it's not about principle. Never has been, never will be. The Times, despite its pretense to being a non-partisan purveyor of the news, is a partisan political actor. They are pro-Democrat, anti-Republican, leftist progressives and, to the extent that there's ever a "principle" behind their positions, that's the extent of it.

And it's been really obvious for a really long time. This was not hard to see coming, as this piece from 2006, during the "nuclear option" debate and the Alito nomination, demonstrates...
[I]f the Republicans don't change the rules, the Democrats will, as soon as it becomes in their best interest to do so. Is there any chance that a President Hillary Clinton nomination to the Supreme Court, a nominee with majority support in the Senate, could be kept off the court by a Republican minority with impunity? That a majority supported nominee could be filibustered without hysterical screeching from the legacy media? Of course not. The New York Times would compose frothy rants encouraging the Democrats to, for the good of the country, change the rules to overcome the obstructionists, so that they could back to the work of the American People...

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Pictures from my weekend...

... are available here...



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Monday Pythagorean - 5/14/2012

If I'm happy with this week's performance, it's not because 4-3 is a great week; it's just that it's so much better than most of the weeks that they've had...

  • Recipe for Pythagorean underperformance? Win big, lose close.
  • The 2012 Red Sox, at 15-19, are now one game behind their 2011 counterparts, who beat Minnesota on May 8 to run their record to 16-18. The pitching has been worse, as they've allowed almost a run more per game (33 runs through 34 games) but the offense has been better as they've scored 44 more runs. So their Pythagorean performance has actually been better, despite the worse record, at .505 vs. .472.
  • It's nice to see Daniel Nava getting another shot. Rumor has it that he had attitude and approach issues when he had his first trip to the show, and hopefully he's got those issues figured out, because all he's ever done, everywhere, is hit. There's no reason that he can't have a decent Major League career if he's got his head screwed on straight. He certainly made the most of his playing time this week.
  • The bullpen had a very good week. Had Albers thrown a double-play ball to Billy Butler on Tuesday night instead of a HR, it would have been an excellent week. In 22 innings over 20 appearances, they collectively allowed only 17 hits and 3 ER, a WHIP of 1.05 and an ERA of 1.23.
  • The starters, on the other hand... I'm not in the least bit interested in Josh Beckett's golfing schedule, I'm really not. Booing him before the start because he went golfing last week is silly. Booing him because he can't get through three innings against Cleveland without giving up seven runs, on the other hand, is not.
  • It's an overstatement to condemn the starters as a group, though, because, other than Beckett, they weren't bad. Lester's outing was short, but the defense played a big part in that. Doubront pitched effectivly twice, as did Bard. Buchholz wasn't great, but he was OK. On the whole, Beckett's one start was the only really bad pitching performance of the week, and produced the only game in which they were never really competitive.
  • The cliche, when a younger player replaces an older one, is to say that the older one has been "Pipped," as Wally Pipp was replaced by Lou Gehrig. But the flashback I'm having this week is to 1982, when Carney Lansford's injury opened the door for Wade Boggs, and Boggs' performance demanded that the Sox keep him on the field. Will Middlebrooks in not Wade Boggs, but Kevin Youkilis isn't Carney Lansford, either. Lansford was just 25 and the Sox still traded him to make room for Boggs. Youlikis is 33, and very likely past his prime. I think pitchers will adjust to Middlebrooks, but if Youkilis were healthy tomorrow, I think I'd still want to see Middlebrooks playing to find out.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - First, we need to mention Daniel Nava (.600/.750/1.000/1.750), who has been to the plate 16 times since his recall, and reached safely in 12 of those trips, with six hits, four walks, and two HBP. Adrian Gonzalez (.407/.484/.667/1.151) had an excellent week (finally [and it would be nice to see him hitting the occasional HR]). But the player of the week goes to Dustin Pedroia (.393/.455/.750/1.205)
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - In winning both of his starts, Felix Doubront allowed four earned runs in 12 1/3 innings, for 2.92 ERA, and the Pitcher of the Week award.


AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 5/14/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.91(1)3.63(1)0.71(1)25102312-2
Toronto4.66(4)4.03(5)0.566(2)20151916-1
New York4.88(3)4.38(10)0.549(3)191519150
Baltimore4.66(4)4.23(7)0.544(4)191622133
Tampa Bay4.51(6)4.26(8)0.527(5)181721143
Boston5.53(2)5.47(14)0.505(6)17171519-2
Chicago3.86(10)3.89(2)0.497(7)17181619-1
Detroit4.18(8)4.35(9)0.481(8)161817171
Seattle3.75(11)3.97(4)0.474(9)17191620-1
Oakland3.63(13)3.94(3)0.462(10)161918172
Los Angeles3.71(12)4.09(6)0.457(11)16191520-1
Cleveland4.32(7)4.79(12)0.453(12)151918163
Kansas City4.03(9)4.76(11)0.425(13)14191320-1
Minnesota3.41(14)5.35(13)0.305(14)102410240

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Texas10656
Baltimore10260
Tampa Bay9765
New York9171
Toronto8874

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas11349
Toronto9171
Baltimore9171
New York8973
Tampa Bay8874

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas8.71(1)4(4)0.806(1)6152-1
Boston6.29(2)4.29(7)0.668(2)5243-1
New York4.17(7)3.33(1)0.601(3)42420
Kansas City4.83(4)4(4)0.586(4)42420
Oakland5(3)4.33(9)0.565(5)33330
Toronto4.17(7)3.83(2)0.538(6)33330
Chicago3.86(10)4.14(6)0.467(7)34340
Detroit3.86(10)4.29(7)0.452(8)34340
Tampa Bay4.17(7)4.67(11)0.448(9)3324-1
Seattle3.17(14)3.83(2)0.413(10)24331
Minnesota3.43(13)4.43(10)0.385(11)34340
Los Angeles4.5(6)5.83(12)0.383(12)24331
Cleveland3.75(12)5.88(13)0.305(13)26351
Baltimore4.57(5)7.29(14)0.299(14)25341

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Monday, May 07, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 5/7/2012

Maybe there will be a week during the 2012 season in which the Red Sox will play so-so baseball, win a few, lose a couple, play baseball that one might think of as a representative sample of the season as a whole. One week into May, that has not happened yet.

  • It's hard to say what was the worst part of Sunday's debacle: another horrible Buchholz outing, the fact that they couldn't score in two innings against Baltimore's 1st baseman, that they lost with a backup outfielder on the mound, that they had the winning run thrown out at the plate in the bottom of the 16th... But there was one (and only one) positive to be drawn, and that was this: I spent the entire afternoon at a wedding and saw not a single pitch. I have not even seen "highlights" of the game, nor do I have any desire to.
  • I'm always irritated by the whole "lies, damn lies and statistics" attitude that many have, but it's important to understand exactly what the statistics are saying. For example, the table above says that the Red Sox offense scored 4.667 runs per game this week, 4th best in the AL, and much better than the pitching, which was 14th. And that's true. But it's based on 6 games, and the offense, which played 13 and 17 inning games, actually used 7.2 games worth of outs. When you adjust for that, the runs/game drops to 3.87, about on a par with the Angels, who were 9th. The pitchers pitched 7.3 games worth of outs, and adjusting for that, the runs allowed per game drops to 5.18, or close to the teams which finished 9th. So, at first glance, it appears that the pitching was much worse than the offense this week. Adjusted, they were both pretty similarly lousy.
  • Not only was the offense bad on the whole, the badness was masked even further by the fact that they scored 11 runs in the first game. In the last five games, they scored only 3.4 runs/game, and, adjusting again for innings, that drops further to 2.35. That is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad offensive performance, which now, with the exception of Monday's 11-run outburst, runs to 8 games.
  • At one point last season, I made a comment that "it's tough to overpay a player like Adrian Gonzalez." Well, they're overpaying him this year. I don't know who stole the real Adrian Gonzalez and replaced him with this inferior substitue (.264/.328/.373/.701), but it would be nice if he were returned...
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - The most productive player on a per-out basis was Will Middlebrooks, whose Major League debut has been auspicious thus far (other than, you know, not ever having played in a Major League game that his team won.) But he only played in three games. So the player of the week is Dustin Pedroia (.321/.424/.464/.889). And yes, that's a good but not great week. Which is indicative of how bad the offense was - when that's the best performance of a week, that's not a good sign.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Well, the best starter was mediocre, and the rest of them were bad. There were obviously no save opportunities. There were several decent-to-good relief performances, but, given the way the games turned out, none were critical or special. (Frankly, an earlier bad performance yesterday would have saved several a lot of pain and trouble.) But it's a good week to recognize Alfredo Aceves, who pitched 5 2/3 innings in three scoreless appearances, and struck out 11.



AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/30/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.45(3)3.05(1)0.744(1)1661660
New York5.62(1)4.81(11)0.571(2)1291290
Baltimore4.32(7)3.73(3)0.567(3)12101482
Toronto4.73(4)4.18(6)0.556(4)121012100
Tampa Bay4.68(5)4.36(8)0.532(5)12101482
Chicago3.86(12)3.73(3)0.516(6)111111110
Cleveland4.5(6)4.55(9)0.495(7)10101191
Boston5.52(2)5.62(13)0.492(8)101110110
Seattle4(9)4.35(7)0.462(9)111211120
Detroit4.27(8)4.73(10)0.454(10)101211111
Los Angeles3.45(13)4.14(5)0.418(11)913715-2
Oakland2.91(14)3.52(2)0.414(12)101311121
Kansas City3.95(11)4.86(12)0.407(13)912615-3
Minnesota4(9)5.71(14)0.342(14)714615-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Texas11844
Baltimore10359
Tampa Bay10359
New York9369
Cleveland8973

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas12042
Baltimore9369
New York9270
Toronto9072
Tampa Bay8973

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Baltimore6(1)2.5(2)0.832(1)51510
Los Angeles3.86(9)2.43(1)0.7(2)52520
Detroit4.2(8)2.8(3)0.677(3)32320
Toronto4.86(3)3.71(6)0.62(4)43430
Tampa Bay4.29(7)3.57(5)0.583(5)43521
Seattle3.43(12)2.86(4)0.583(6)4325-2
Cleveland4.5(5)4.17(8)0.535(7)33421
Oakland5(2)5.17(10)0.485(8)33421
Chicago3.83(10)4.17(8)0.462(9)3324-1
New York3.29(13)4(7)0.411(10)34340
Texas4.33(6)5.33(13)0.406(11)24240
Boston4.67(4)6.33(14)0.364(12)2415-1
Kansas City3.5(11)5.17(10)0.329(13)24331
Minnesota1.33(14)5.17(10)0.077(14)06151

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Fife and Drum

Saturday afternoon, the Lexington muster was held at the National Park in Lexington. Here's the host corps performing its standpiece...

William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps - Standpiece, 2012 Lexington Muster

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Friday, May 04, 2012

The question's embarassing; the response is right on...


It's no secret that I've had, still have, and will continue to have, issues with some of Mitt Romney's positions. But there's not question whatsoever that, in an election between Romney and Obama, it will be a delight to vote for Romney...

Romney: If you're looking for more free stuff, vote for the other guy...

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

The condescension of the patriarchy

I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like the Obama campaign's The Life of Julia. This slide show walks through the life of a fictional woman ("Julia") who lives her entire life suckling at the government teat provided her by Uncle Sam and Big-Daddy Obama. Government provides her with an education, more education, health care, more health care, education for her child, more money to open a business, more health care, retirement benefits, and, as near as one can tell from the presentation, all at no cost to her.

Obviously, there's not a serious argument being made here. They aren't trying to convince anyone of the rightness of their position; they're trying to convince those people who already agree with the rightness of their position to come out and vote. Even so, there's an astounding amount of question-begging contained in the presentation. For example,
  • Is there any evidence that Head Start actually provides any long-term benefit?
  • Is there any reason to suspect that the "Race to the top" program provides any long-term benefit?
  • Is there any reason to believe that Pell Grants have made College more, rather than less, affordable?
  • Why is Julia worse off with her health care decisions "place[d] ... in the hands of her employer" as opposed to being placed in the hands of government bureaucrats?
  • Does Zachary have a father? Why can't he and Julia provide for Zachary's birth and health care and schooling, instead of letting Big-Daddy Obama take care of it?
  • Where is all of that money for Julia's Medicare and Social Security going to come from if she's collecting from the Federal treasury from the time she's an infant?
The big question that it all begs is this - why the hell can't Julia do some of these things for herself? Why on earth does the government have to do all of it for her? The entire presentation just drips with sexism and condescension, as poor Julia, delicate flower, cannot live her life without the constant and beneficent hand of the government, as provided by Big-Daddy Barack. She's such a weakling that a Romney administration would inevitably result in her destruction.

I'd think a feminist would be appalled by this presentation, but what do I know? I'm not a feminist...

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

William Diamond Jr. Fife and Drum Corp - Muster at National Historic Park

Lexington, MA Patch:
The William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corp will present their 10th annual Fife and Drum Muster at the Minute Man Visitor Center in Lexington. Enjoy a colorful festival of Lexington’s colonial heritage with performances by more than 25 uniformed fife and drum corps, as well as artisans and period re-enactors.
History and music, and a good time for all...

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

News from the West Coast

Our favorite soldier will be participating in "The American Cancer Society - CA Relay For Life of Monterey Peninsula" this weekend. Click here to sponsor his efforts...

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Victims of Communism Day

I am with Ilya Somin on this:
May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their regimes. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century’s other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so. I suggest that May Day be turned into Victims of Communism Day….

The main alternative to May 1 is November 7, the anniversary of the communist coup in Russia. However, choosing that date might be interpreted as focusing exclusively on the Soviet Union, while ignoring the equally horrendous communist mass murders in China, Camobodia, and elsewhere. So May 1 is the best choice.

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