Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cognitive dissonance...

The mainstream press, maintaining the storyline, regardless of the facts...

The Atlantic, 7/27/2012:
Syria's admission Monday that it has chemical weapons has revived a controversial theory about one of the biggest intelligence failures in American history: The non-existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The theory holds that Saddam Hussein did in fact have huge stockpiles of chemical weapons all along, but they were never uncovered by U.S. forces because he secretly smuggled them out to Syria days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. If true, it's the type of revelation that would recaste the Iraq War in the history books...
Associated Press, 7/31/2012:
Britain will help the Iraqi government dispose of what's left of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons, still stored in two bunkers in north of Baghdad, the British embassy in Baghdad announced Monday...Saddam stored the chemical weapons near population centers so that he could access them quickly, despite the danger to his civilian population.

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Quote of the day


Higher taxes never reduce the deficit. Governments spend whatever they take in and then whatever they can get away with.
- Milton Friedman

Spotted in an excellent piece on Mr. Friedman at the Wall Street Journal's site, by Stephen Moore.  I recommend it highly...

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 7/30/2012

3-3 on a six-game swing through Texas and New York isn't awful, but we're rapidly approaching "'isn't awful' isn't anywhere near good enough" territory...

  • The more typical pattern this year has been to underperform their runs scored/allowed performance.  This week, the offense was bad, the pitching was bad, and they still went .500.


  • "Oh where, oh where, has my Underdog Adrian Gonzalez gone?  Oh where, oh where could he be?"  So his batting average is down - those things happen.  So he's hitting for less power - that happens, too, and it's something that could be rectified with a couple of hot weeks.  And the singles and doubles aren't much off last year's pace at all.  No, the six missing home runs don't concern me anywhere near as much as the 21 missing walks.  Where's the plate discipline gone? 


  • Score 20, allow 33, count yourself very lucky to win half of your games.


  • Gonzalez had a lot of company in the "what's this round piece of wood supposed to be used for, again?" club this week.  Jacoby Ellsbury (.208/.296/.250/.546), Carl Crawford (.118/.167/.294/.461), Kelly Shoppach (.111/.200/.222/.422), Cody Ross (.167/.200/.208/.408), and especially Mike Aviles (.056/.056/.056/.111), all contributed greatly to the aid and comfort and joy of opposing pitching staffs...


  • OT:  Season 6, Episode 7 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, "Once More With Feeling," may be my favorite hour of scripted television ever.  It's definitely my favorite vampire musical.


  • Was the starting pitching better this week?  Not really, as they gave up at least four runs in four of their six starts.  But they only allowed a run (well, 3 runs) in the first inning once, getting into the second scoreless five times.  That's a big improvement over the way they'd been starting.


  • Of course, scoreless first followed by meltdowns in the third doesn't really get you where you need to get, either...


  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.300/.462/1.000/1.462) had a fantastic week, albeit in only 4 games (10 AB).  But the best performance, on both a total production and a production per out basis, was Will Middlebrooks (.435/.458/.652/1.111).


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - This one almost goes to the bullpen, as Alfredo Aceves pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings over three appearances, saving two of their three victories and getting the win in the third.  Unfortunately for him, the one hit that he gave up allowed the tying run to score in New York, and forced them into extra innings.  So instead, this week we honor Clay Buchholz, who had another excellent start, allowing one run over seven innings against the Rangers.




AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/30/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York4.83(4)4(4)0.586(1)594260411
Texas4.97(2)4.13(6)0.584(2)584259411
Chicago4.75(5)4.16(7)0.561(3)57445546-2
Los Angeles4.45(7)3.98(3)0.551(4)56465547-1
Oakland4.06(13)3.69(1)0.543(5)554655460
Boston4.89(3)4.6(9)0.528(6)54485151-3
Toronto4.97(1)4.77(12)0.519(7)52495150-1
Detroit4.5(6)4.36(8)0.514(8)525054482
Tampa Bay4.09(12)3.97(2)0.513(9)525053491
Seattle3.96(14)4.03(5)0.492(10)51534757-4
Baltimore4.12(10)4.69(10)0.441(11)455753498
Cleveland4.27(9)4.92(13)0.436(12)445850526
Kansas City4.11(11)4.76(11)0.433(13)44574160-3
Minnesota4.39(8)5.22(14)0.421(14)435843580




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9666
Texas9666
Chicago8874
Oakland8874
Los Angeles8775




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York9666
Texas9567
Chicago8973
Los Angeles8874
Oakland8874




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Chicago6.67(2)3.17(3)0.796(1)51510
Tampa Bay3.5(9)1.83(1)0.766(2)5142-1
Oakland8(1)4.67(8)0.728(3)42420
New York4.83(4)3.5(6)0.644(4)4233-1
Seattle4(6)3.14(2)0.609(5)43521
Texas4(6)3.33(5)0.583(6)33330
Minnesota6.33(3)5.33(9)0.578(7)33330
Los Angeles3.5(9)3.17(3)0.546(8)33330
Toronto4.33(5)5.83(14)0.367(9)24331
Detroit3(13)4.17(7)0.354(10)24240
Baltimore3.57(8)5.57(11)0.307(11)25250
Kansas City3.43(11)5.57(11)0.291(12)2516-1
Boston3.33(12)5.5(10)0.286(13)24331
Cleveland2.86(14)5.57(11)0.228(14)25341

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fact-Checking the Latest Bain Hysteria

An excellent and informative piece from Avik Roy at National Review Online on Bain Capital, Mitt Romney and outsourcing. More light, less heat...
Much of the case against Romney’s business career involves whether or not Bain or its subsidiaries were involved in outsourcing. Now, I happen to think that free trade makes low-income Americans more prosperous by making goods and services less costly. I also think it’s great that people in developing countries can lift themselves up from poverty by selling stuff to us. My friends on the left oppose these things. Fine by me. That debate is outside the scope of this article. What I want to straighten out is another issue: Which of Bain Capital’s investments is it fair to hold Mitt Romney accountable for?

...

In sum, here is what you need to know about Bain Capital. Bain sought to invest not only its capital but also its people in turning important American companies around and making them competitive in the global arena. Bain made lots of investments. Some jobs were created, and some were lost. Mitt Romney was involved with some, and not others. Some failed, but many more succeeded.
Read it all...

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Rights, guns and health care...

One variation on a theme, spotted ricocheting around various social media outlets:
There is something wrong with a constitution that guarantees your right to a gun, but not your right to health care.
That depends entirely upon what one believes the purpose of a constitution to be.

The first problem with that statement is one of definition. The people issuing this lament are taking advantage of a conflation of terms, using the word "right" in two different ways. The "right to a gun" that the Constitution guarantees, and which they do not support, is a restriction on Government action, a "negative" right. The "right to health care" that they wish the Constitution did support, is a call for Government action, the institution of an affirmative or positive right. If the Constitution said the same thing about health care that it says about guns, that would not be good enough. A health care amendment that paralleled the 2nd amendment would read something like this
A healthy populace being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to seek and obtain health care services shall not be infringed.
Which brings us to the second problem with that lament.  There's a reason that the Constitution does not forbid the Government from infringing on the right to seek and obtain health care, and that's because there was no need for it to do so. The framers of the Constitution had no concern that the government would infringe on liberty, and move towards despotism, by taking away people's doctor visits and hospitals. They had good reason to be concerned that a government would infringe on liberty, and descend towards despotism, by taking away people's guns, or taking away the right to freely assemble and criticize the government, or taking away the right to trial by jury, or by instituting excessive bails, or by performing unreasonable searches and seizures. All of those things are explicitly called out as limitations on the power of the Government. None of those are "affirmative" rights, requiring the Government to act - they are all "natural" or "negative" rights, defining the relationship of the Government and the Governed, and enumerating rights which the Governed are presumed to hold naturally, and which the Government must not violate.

If that "health care amendment" I included above were all that the supporters of a "right to health care" meant, then I would agree with their position, because it's self-evidently a legitimate negative right. But that's not what they mean, that's not what they want, and so I do not agree with them. They do not want a "negative" right to health care, in which the Government is enjoined from infringing on that right. They want a social contract that includes an affirmative right to health care, that the Government is required to provide.  That is to say, they wish to assert an obligation on the part of their fellow citizens to provide health care for them.  More than that, many of them believe that such a right is self-evidently an unadulterated good, so much so that those of us who think that such a "right" would lead to worsening the human condition rather than improving it, must be "greedy" and bad people.

And so, as with so many issues, it is almost impossible to have a discussion on the issue.  Those on the left have already made up their minds that the people opposing them are bad, so what they've got to say is irrelevant.  After all, who cares what bad people have to say?  It's the same thing that happens with abortion, and affirmative action, and gay marriage.  Once you've decided that your opponents are misogynists or racists or homophobes, well, obviously it doesn't matter what their arguments are...

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Ethics Complaint Revives Charges of Watchdog Group Bias

Roll Call News has a story this morning on whether a particular Washington watchdog group is partisan or not. And buries the lede by not including the most relevant piece of information, the dispositive piece of information, until the last paragraph.
A just-filed ethics complaint is reigniting a long-running debate about whether one of Washington, D.C.’s most prominent watchdog groups is impartial or tilts to the left.

The complaint is widening a rift between Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)...in past years, CREW has also faced complaints from the left, such as for investigating an Education Department regulation. In February, the Democracy Alliance, a group of wealthy Democratic benefactors, left CREW off a list of recommended funding priorities, urging its members donate to what are, broadly speaking, more partisan groups.
So far, so good, right? Maybe it's a partisan group, maybe it's not?

Sure. And then, if you read the entire thing, you get to the very end and find:
CREW was originally founded by Norman Eisen, the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, who formerly served as President Barack Obama’s internal ethics cop. Eisen told Ms. magazine in 2007 he launched CREW to provide a balance to Judicial Watch and other right-wing legal watchdogs.
Mystery solved. Because obviously, you don't "balance" "right-wing" groups without being, well, "left-wing." CREW wasn't founded as a non-balanced group, and there's no reason whatsoever to think that it has somehow metamorphosized into one over the years...

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Monday Pythagorean, 7/23/2012

If I were writing these reports on Friday mornings, instead of Monday mornings, this reports would be a lot more cheerful. If there had been three days of torrential rains in Boston preventing baseball from being played, this report would be a lot more cheerful. Hell, if the Red Sox two "best" starting pitchers, Beckett and Lester, were on the DL, this report would be a lot more cheerful...
  • Let me ease the suspense a little bit up front - the Red Sox Pitcher of the Week this week was not Jon Lester.
  • Josh Beckett also fell short.
  • So, while we're hammering the starting pitchers (and why not? Everyone else has...), let's mention that in the last eight games, they've made it through the first inning unscored upon twice. They've allowed an average of 1.75 runs in the first over that stretch. Have the other aspects of the team been great? No, but nothing else has been as bad as the starters.
  • For the week, the starters allowed 30 runs (26 earned) in 41 1/3 innings, for a 5.66 ERA (6.53 RA/9). That's including excellent performances from Cook and Buccholz and a good start from Doubront. The aforementioned big money disaster duo, Messrs. Lester and Beckett, started three games (not coincidentally, all of which the Sox lost) and allowed 22 runs in 14 innings of work.
  • But let's speak about the offense for a minute. Over a 32 inning stretch, from the 6 inning on Wednesday night through the third inning yesterday, they scored only four times. Three of those scores were three-run home runs (Ross, Saltalamaccia and Gonzalez), which is nice, but that's it. In 28 innings, over the course of about three and a half games, they couldn't score even one run.
  • A diet of three-run homers is nice for your offense. But it's not a balanced diet. If that's all you're getting, you need more than one-a-day, unless your pitching is better than good (and much, much better than Boston's pitching has been).
  • How bad a week did Will Middlebrooks (.167/.167/.167/.333) have? Runs Created thinks he was even worse than Daniel Nava (.000/.214/.000/.214), who went 0-11 but did walk twice and get hit by a pitch...
  • Number of games in which Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia and Ortiz all played for the Red Sox before August arrives? 0.00 (Zero. Nil. Nada. None. Zippo. The big goose egg...)
  • Good to see Ellsbury and Crawford back. But the Crawford for Ortiz swap that happened on Monday night is not a positive.
  • Great to see Pedroia back. I suppose. Because that gives us hope that the real Pedroia (at least, what we hope is the real Pedroia) will soon return to replace the Dustin Pedroia (.250/.250/.250/.500) we're seeing now.
  • Red Sox Goat of the Week - If you got this far (and with such depressing subject matter, the question is, "why did you get this far?"), then you are not going to be surprised to see the name Jon Lester. He started twice, and got hammered twice. He allowed five runs in the top of the first on Sunday, and then, after his team went out to get three back and keep them in the game, promptly gave up four more in the second. All things considered, one of the worst performances ever from a starting pitcher.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Cody Ross (.360/.385/.840/1.225) had a great week on Wednesday and Thursday, with three 3-run homers, but his performance was topped by Adrian Gonzalez (.429/.429/.750/1.179), who also homered three times.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - He didn't get the win, but Clay Buchholz was outstanding against the White Sox, and kept the team in the game long enough for them to win a game in which they didn't score until the bottom of the ninth.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/23/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.03(1)4.18(6)0.584(1)553956381
New York4.83(4)4.03(3)0.582(2)554057382
Los Angeles4.51(7)4.03(2)0.551(3)53435244-1
Boston4.99(3)4.54(9)0.543(4)52444848-4
Chicago4.63(5)4.22(7)0.542(5)52435045-2
Toronto5.01(2)4.71(12)0.529(6)50454847-2
Detroit4.59(6)4.38(8)0.522(7)504652442
Oakland3.81(14)3.63(1)0.522(8)504551441
Tampa Bay4.13(12)4.1(5)0.502(9)484849471
Seattle3.96(13)4.09(4)0.485(10)47504255-5
Baltimore4.16(11)4.62(10)0.452(11)435251448
Cleveland4.38(8)4.87(13)0.451(12)435247484
Kansas City4.16(10)4.7(11)0.444(13)42524054-2
Minnesota4.26(9)5.21(14)0.409(14)395640551
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Texas9765
New York9765
Los Angeles8874
Detroit8874
Oakland8775
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas9666
New York9666
Los Angeles8874
Chicago8676
Detroit8676
Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York4(10)2.57(1)0.692(1)5234-2
Seattle5.43(2)3.57(4)0.683(2)52520
Minnesota5.86(1)4.29(7)0.639(3)43430
Detroit5.29(4)4.14(6)0.61(4)43612
Texas4.6(8)4(5)0.564(5)3223-1
Toronto5.33(3)4.83(8)0.545(6)33330
Tampa Bay3.43(11)3.14(2)0.54(7)4334-1
Los Angeles5.29(4)4.86(9)0.539(8)4334-1
Oakland3.17(12)3.17(3)0.5(9)33512
Baltimore4.86(6)5(10)0.487(10)34522
Boston4.86(6)5.43(12)0.449(11)34340
Kansas City4.57(9)6.14(14)0.368(12)3425-1
Cleveland3(13)5(10)0.282(13)25250
Chicago2.43(14)5.71(13)0.173(14)16160

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

"President Obama attacks success...therefore...we have less..."

A powerful response from the Romney campaign to the Obama "you didn't build that" speech...

These Hands



After four years of being torn down, it's time to rebuild...

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Getting things backwards. Again...

Three years ago, during the Cash for Clunkers disaster (and that was a pretty major program that Obama's not making reference to in his re-election campaign), I noted that the Obama administration had gone to an economic classic and used a cautionary tale as an instruction manual.
Bastiat wrote, over 150 years ago, of the broken-window fallacy, in which a smashed window is looked at as an economic stimulus while completely missing the opportunity cost associated with being unable to spend the window replacement cost on different economic stimulus. The current administration and Congress apparently didn't get to the end of the broken window story, just stopped in the middle, saying, "what a great idea!" They've turned window smashing into the only part of their economic stimulus package which seems to be stimulating anything...
Now Jeffrey Carter notes another instance of the Obama adminstration going to an seminal work of free market economic principles and ... taking the wrong side...

Barack Obama, last week:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.
Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
From Atlas Shrugged:
“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”
“Who?”
“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”
She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

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Idle thought


When one goes out of one's way to be intentionally provocative, one loses the right to take offense when others are provoked to respond in kind...

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lexington: get the party started

A video segment from the WCVB TV show Chronicle, featuring the William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps (at least part of it...)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Idle thought


Radical egalitarians are secular Calvinists.  Salvation comes not from God through the Holy Spirit, but by Society through the Holy Government; the number of the elect is fixed, and one's salvation is determined by Government's choices and actions, rather than one's own...

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Packs of teens, roaming Swiss train stations after midnight...


What kind of trouble can a group of American teenagers get into after midnight in a Swiss train station?

 Here's some video from the train station in Liestal...



Jay and John and Lisa and Ben and Gil and Eddie and Shayna play Morelli's Lesson...

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Idle thought


Too often "pro-choice" really means "anti-consequence"...

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Monday Pythagorean - 7/16/012


"...don't feel sad, 'cause two out of three ain't bad..."

  • The "second half" of the season starts out well, with the returns of Ellsbury and Buchholz, the imminent return of Carl Crawford, and taking two of three from the Rays in Tampa.


  • Which brings me to a question.  I have spent very little time recently, almost none, perusing or listening to the Boston sports media.  But I've heard a couple of snippets on the radio, and seem to have seen a headline or two, leading me to believe that there's a debate going on as to whether the Red Sox should be "sellers" at the trade deadline and play for 2013.  Is this true?   And, if so, let me ask this - is everyone nuts?  Let's remember that there are two Wild Card teams this year.  The nine game lead the Yankees have in the division is sizeable, but even if it's insurmountable, so what?  There are two more "golden tickets" to the post-season available, and right now, the Boston Red Sox, the most injured team in baseball in the first half, with 2/3 of their starting outfield just coming back, are currently 1 1/2 games out of playoff position.  It's preposterous to be suggesting that they should throw in the towel at this point.  Now, if two weeks from today they've lost 13 straight, and they're 7 games behind five different teams, maybe they should think about it.  Last week, this week?  It's silly conversation.  A team with this payroll and talent level doesn't give up without much better reasons for doing so.


  • Oh, and the Red Sox are still one of the top four teams in the AL by run differential, one of the top five by pythagorean, and, despite all that's gone wrong so far, still project (based on pythagorean) to finish with one of the top five records in the AL.  And one of the playoff spots.


  • It's nice to see Jacoby Ellsbury back in the lineup.


  • With the return of Carl Crawford, the Red Sox will put their starting outfield on the field for the first time.  Assuming that Cody Ross is the right fielder, they have filled in the holes the outfield due to the injuries to Ellsbury and Crawford (and Ross himself) with contributions from Scott Podsednik, Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney, Darnell McDonald, Marlon Byrd, Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin, Brent Lillibridge and Jason Repko.  Those players have hit (.264/.324/.372/.696) in 702 at-bats.


  • One would expect an outfield of Crawford-Ellsbury-Ross to be slightly more productive than that.


  • Of the ten Red Sox pitchers who faced the Rays this weekend, six allowed, or at least were charged with allowing, no runs.  And a seventh, Scott Atchison, was charged with no earned runs.


  • From the "not all managerial nit-picking is second guessing" department:  I was surprised to see Buchholz take the mound for the seventh on Saturday night.  I know that he'd been fairly efficient through six, but given the totality of the circumstances, I thought six was enough.  And I wasn't surprised with what happened.


  • None of that means that it was a bad decision, of course.  There may have been no reason to pull him, and Valentine gets the benefit of the doubt, being much closer to the situation than I.  But I was surprised by the decision, and no surprised by the result.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week - The Sox' lone All Star, David Ortiz, came out of the break as he went into it, hot (.444/.615/.778/1.393).  But Mike Aviles (.455/.500/.818/1.318) was even hotter...


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Yes, there were a lot of unscored on innings.  But the most innings pitched from that group was just the five that Franklin Morales threw in his start on Friday night.  So despite the excellent overall results from the pitching staff, there's no pitcher of the week this week.






AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/16/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.06(1)4.19(7)0.585(1)523754352
New York4.9(4)4.15(5)0.575(2)513754343
Chicago4.81(5)4.1(3)0.572(3)50384939-1
Los Angeles4.45(8)3.97(2)0.552(4)494049400
Boston5(2)4.47(9)0.551(5)49404544-4
Toronto4.99(3)4.7(12)0.528(6)47424544-2
Oakland3.85(13)3.66(1)0.523(7)47424643-1
Detroit4.54(6)4.39(8)0.515(8)464346430
Tampa Bay4.18(9)4.18(6)0.5(9)454446431
Seattle3.84(14)4.13(4)0.467(10)42483753-5
Cleveland4.49(7)4.86(13)0.463(11)414745434
Kansas City4.13(11)4.59(10)0.452(12)39483849-1
Baltimore4.1(12)4.59(11)0.449(13)394946427
Minnesota4.14(10)5.28(14)0.39(14)345436522




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9963
Texas9864
Chicago9072
Los Angeles8973
Baltimore8577




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas9765
New York9765
Chicago9171
Los Angeles8973
Boston8577




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Oakland8(1)3.33(4)0.832(1)21301
Detroit5.67(4)3.33(4)0.725(2)21210
Boston4.33(8)3(2)0.662(3)21210
Toronto4.67(6)3.33(4)0.649(4)21210
Seattle3(12)2.33(1)0.613(5)2112-1
Kansas City5(5)4.67(8)0.532(6)2112-1
New York6.33(2)6(12)0.525(7)21210
Los Angeles6(3)6.33(13)0.475(8)12120
Chicago4.67(6)5(10)0.468(9)12211
Texas2.33(14)3(2)0.387(10)12211
Cleveland3.33(9)4.67(8)0.351(11)12120
Tampa Bay3(12)4.33(7)0.338(12)12120
Baltimore3.33(9)5.67(11)0.275(13)12120
Minnesota3.33(9)8(14)0.168(14)1203-1

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Presidential flashback...

The other thing that President Dunning-Kruger reminds us of with his latest round of self-back-patting...



From The Office...
David: So, let me ask you a question right off the bat. What do you think are your greatest strengths as a manager?
Michael: Why don't I tell you what my greatest weaknesses are? I work too hard. I care too much. And sometimes I can be too invested in my job.
David: Okay. And your strengths?
Michael: Well, my weaknesses are actually... strengths.
David: Oh. Yes. Very good.

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3000 pictures of an engine rebuild...

... can be a lot more interesting than it sounds. Some of you will like this...

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

President Dunning-Kruger

In their 1999 article Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments," Justin Kruger and David Dunning described what is now known as the Dunning-Kruger effect:
We ... make three points. The first two are noncontroversial. First, in many domains in life, success and satisfaction depend on knowledge, wisdom, or savvy in knowing which rules to follow and which strategies to pursue...Second, people differ widely in the knowledge and strategies they apply in these domains ..., with varying levels of success. Some of the knowledge and theories that people apply to their actions are sound and meet with favorable results. Others...are imperfect at best and wrong-headed, incompetent, or dysfunctional at worst. 

Perhaps more controversial is the third point...We argue that when people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. 
Some people get it. Some people don't get but know enough to recognize that they don't get it. And some not only don't get it, they don't even recognize that they don't get it.

Which brings us to yet another comment from President Dunning-Kruger...
"When I think about what we've done well and what we haven't done well," the president said, "the mistake of my first term - couple of years - was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that's important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times." 

Mr. Obama acknowledged the dissonance between others' perception of his strength as an expert orator, and his own. 

"It's funny - when I ran, everybody said, well he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job?" he said. "And in my first two years, I think the notion was, 'Well, he's been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where's the story that tells us where he's going?' And I think that was a legitimate criticism."
So, in his mind, he's done a spiffy job on policy, fine and dandy in all respects, but just hasn't talked enough about it. If only the story he told was better, everyone would be thrilled with Obamacare and 8.2% unemployment and the mushrooming (or, if you prefer, skyrocketing) apocalyptic national debt and the mortgage crisis and the higher education bubble and the Islamist takeover of Egypt and Solyndra and Fast and Furious and ...

The mind boggles...

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Monday, July 09, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 7/9/2012

I know that there are pessimists out there who would look at this week as a downer, but hey - they won one! Ugh.
  • The Red Sox blew a nine-run lead against New York back in April, and then got rained out. When that game got rained out, the Red Sox were struggling, and it seemed reasonable to expect that things would be a little bit better when it got replayed. Ellsbury would be back, or Youkilis would be healthy, or the bullpen would be squared away. Instead, Ellsbury's not back, Crawford's not back, Youkilis is out of town and his rookie replacement is hurt, and, the icing on the cake, Pedroia heads to the DL the day before the series.
  • Five. Four. Three. Two. Those are the runs scored for the Yankees in the top of the first. If this had been a six game series, the Red Sox would have come to bat in the first without trailing.
  • Tough to win when your starters are putting you in a hole before the game's really underway. Starters ERA vs. the Yankees? 9.00.
  • So, another Middlebrooks-less week passes. Good thing they panic-rushed Youkilis out of town, huh?
  • Have I mentioned recently that I was not a fan of the Youkilis trade?
  • OK, who the hell is Pedro Ciriaco? And what are the odds that he gets seven more hits in a Red Sox uniform?
  • There was a brief period where we could have pondered, or debated, the question, "should Carl Crawford replace Daniel Nava in the lineup when he comes back?" It would be a pretty dull debate right now. Nava's now hitting .248/.345/.347/.691 over the last five weeks, .132/.233/.226/.460 over the last two.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Stop me if you've heard this one before. David Ortiz (.435/.581/.609/1.189), who continues to be the Red Sox best offensive player, week in and week out, by a very large margin...
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - How bad a week was it? The Pitcher of the Week, as sad as it seems, is going to a reliever making his Red Sox debut in a 6-1 loss to the Yankees. But for 5 2/3 innings, Justin Germano kept it from getting any worse, and, more importantly, kept all of the other relievers in the bullpen in the first game of a double header.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/9/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.15(1)4.23(7)0.589(1)513552341
New York4.85(4)4.08(4)0.578(2)493652333
Chicago4.81(5)4.07(3)0.576(3)49364738-2
Los Angeles4.4(8)3.88(2)0.556(4)483848380
Boston5.02(2)4.52(9)0.548(5)47394343-4
Toronto5(3)4.74(12)0.524(6)45414343-2
Detroit4.5(7)4.43(8)0.507(7)444244420
Tampa Bay4.22(9)4.17(5)0.505(8)434345412
Oakland3.71(14)3.67(1)0.504(9)434343430
Cleveland4.53(6)4.87(13)0.467(10)404544414
Seattle3.87(13)4.2(6)0.464(11)40473651-4
Baltimore4.13(11)4.55(10)0.455(12)394645406
Kansas City4.1(12)4.58(11)0.449(13)38463747-1
Minnesota4.16(10)5.19(14)0.401(14)345136492
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9963
Texas9864
Chicago9072
Los Angeles9072
Baltimore8676
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas9765
New York9666
Chicago9171
Los Angeles9072
Boston8577
Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Chicago6.83(1)3.33(3)0.788(1)51510
Detroit5.86(2)4(4)0.668(2)52520
Oakland3.17(12)2.33(1)0.636(3)42511
Cleveland5.71(3)4.57(8)0.601(4)43430
Tampa Bay5(5)4.29(5)0.57(5)43430
New York5.57(4)5(10)0.549(6)43430
Seattle3.5(11)3.17(2)0.546(7)3324-1
Los Angeles4.43(8)4.43(6)0.5(8)43430
Minnesota4.14(9)4.43(6)0.47(9)34340
Kansas City4.86(6)5.43(11)0.449(10)3425-1
Toronto4.57(7)5.57(12)0.41(11)34340
Baltimore3.14(13)4.57(8)0.335(12)25341
Boston3.71(10)5.71(13)0.313(13)2516-1
Texas2.67(14)6.17(14)0.177(14)15241

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If you can't say something nice...


A liberal friend posted another picture on facebook this weekend from the insipid, inane "Dogs Against Romney" group.  And I posted a comment, and then deleted it, but not before it had been noticed.  I was asked where my comment went.  And this is how I responded.
As much as the incessant harping on that incident irritates me, as much as it is completely irrelevant to anything having to do with who should win the Presidency, as mind-numbingly irrational it is to keep harping on one candidate's non-cruel behavior to his dog when the other has actually EATEN DOG AS A MEAL, it's just pointless to keep pointing that out, so I deleted it.


Actually, the thing that's driving me crazy is the vilification of Romney. Don't like his policies? Fine. There are several of them I don't care for. Concerned about what will happen if he's elected? Vote against him, campaign against him.


The idea that he's some kind of cartoon super-villain, the personification of evil is nuts. There's not a shred of evidence that he's anything but an upstanding, honest, faithful family man, who has been good to the people around him at all times. (Which is true for most of the Mormons I know.) I'm tired of the idea that he's got to be a bad guy because a) he's been successful and b) Obama's record is dismal so he can't run on it. Again, some of his policies I'll defend, and some I won't, and anyone who doesn't like his policies is free to vote against him, but the character assassination coming out of the Obama machine, and the non-critical way in which many seem to have accepted and spread it, is repugnant to me.
And then, in my inbox this morning, I received a link to the latest info-graphic from the GOP, saying pretty much the same thing.  Obama can't run on his record, so the entire campaign strategy has got to be to make Mitt Romney unacceptable to 50.1% of the voters.


So that's what they're doing.  They are running the ridiculous "outsourcing" accusations (did you make the computer that you're reading this on, and every component in it, from scratch and by yourself?  No?  Then you're an outsourcer, too...) and, at the fringes, they're doing things like the "Dogs Against Romney" attacks.

I know, that's how the game is played.  But that doesn't make it any less unpleasant...

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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Well, yeah...

Glenn Reynolds:
Let me be clear: All you people who were playing the have-you-no-decency card under Bush, but who aren’t screaming just as loud now — which is pretty much all of you people who were playing the have-you-no-decency card under Bush — were and are miserable lying hacks. And I thank Obama for making that perfectly clear, at least.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Unpatriotic Debt

A new ad from the RNC...



Four years ago today, Candidate Obama said it was "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic" to add $4 trillion in debt. But in just one term, President Obama has added a record $5 trillion in new debt, more than any president in American history.
What could possibly go wrong?

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Monday, July 02, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 7/2/2012





Obviously, 4-3 is better than 3-4, but there's still a feeling of "missed opportunity," as the Sox appeared to be infected by the Seattle no-offense blues...

  • There's been a lot of talk about how bad the Mariners' offense is, but maybe it isn't the players - maybe there's something in the water out there in Seattle.  The Mariners are not a good offensive team, but their ballpark could be making them look much worse than they actually are.  In 38 home games, the Mariners are scoring just 2.76 runs per game, but in their 43 road games, they're scoring 4.9 runs per game.  The average AL team is scoring 4.45 runs per game.  And it's not just Seattle that can't score in Seattle.  Their pitching staff is allowing only 3.34 runs per game at home, but 5.09 runs per game on the road.  All told, the Mariners look like a putrid offensive team with a so-so pitching staff.  But they're probably a so-so offensive team with a pitching staff that isn't any better.


  • In a four-game series, two of which went into extra innings, the teams managed to score just 14 runs total.  Each team won two games, but the Red Sox "won" the series, on a runs basis, 9-5.  To put that final score in perspective, the first series of the week, against the Blue Jays,  featured one game that ended at 9-6, and another that ended at 10-4.


  • I talked, last week, about the Youkilis trade, and how I didn't like it.  If Middlebrooks' hamstring tightness is a real injury that's going to keep him out for a week or more, I'm not going to like it any better.  Realistically, I shouldn't like it any worse, but that would be a case of one of the serious downsides risked coming true immediately, and it's hard not to let that color your feelings.


  • I knew that Pedroia had struggled.  I confess that I was not aware of exactly how badly or for how long.  When he homered yesterday, it was the first time since May 10.  Looking at that homerless stretch (May 11-June 30) Pedroia had 176 plate appearances (161 at-bats), and hit an appalling .230/.282.298/.581, with just 10 extra-base hits (9 2B and 1 3B).


  • Despite that, somehow the team went 28-19 over that stretch, a .595 winning percentage that would translate to a 97 win season.


  • Speaking of dreadful offensive stretches, how did Will Middlebrooks respond to the Youkilis trade?  He had a lovely 4 for 27, with 1 BB and 7 Ks, hitting .148/.172/.296/.469.  Does it mean anything?  No, anyone can hit anything for one week.  But that's bad timing for a week like that.


  • Despite all that has gone wrong, the Red Sox are now half a game out of the second Wild Card spot, ahead of the Rays and Jays and just two games behind the Angels for the top Wild Card slot.


  • They are 6 1/2 behind the Yankees in the division, a gap that could narrow (or, admittedly, widen) this week, as the two teams go into the All Star break with a four game series over three days.


  • In all of Major League baseball, only the Ranger (+100) and Yankees (+61) have better run differentials than the Red Sox (+57).  (The Cardinal are also at +57.)


  • Red Sox Player of the Week - David Ortiz (.320/.419/.800/1.219) continues his roll, and put up the best offensive performance of any Red Sox player.  Again.  But there was one other strong offensive week, from someone who also provided defense, as Cody Ross hit (.346/.414/.538/.952).  I wanted to go with Ross, but the gap is just more than I feel comfortable with, so the award goes to David Ortiz.  Again.


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Franklin Morales made a strong bid with a dominant seven shut-out innings on Thursday night, albeit against the offensively inept Mariners.  But his bid turned out not to be strong enough, as Aaron Cook went two better, completing a 9-inning, 2-hit shutout (against that same offensively-challenged foe.)






AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/2/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.34(1)4.09(4)0.62(1)503050300
New York4.78(4)4(3)0.581(2)453348303
Boston5.14(2)4.42(8)0.569(3)45344237-3
Los Angeles4.39(7)3.84(2)0.562(4)443544350
Chicago4.66(5)4.13(5)0.555(5)44354237-2
Toronto5.04(3)4.67(12)0.535(6)42374039-2
Tampa Bay4.15(11)4.16(6)0.499(7)394041382
Oakland3.75(14)3.78(1)0.497(8)40403842-2
Detroit4.38(8)4.47(9)0.491(9)394039400
Baltimore4.22(9)4.55(11)0.465(10)364242366
Seattle3.9(13)4.27(7)0.459(11)37443447-3
Cleveland4.42(6)4.9(13)0.454(12)354340385
Kansas City4.03(12)4.51(10)0.449(13)354235420
Minnesota4.17(10)5.26(14)0.395(14)314733452




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Texas10161
New York10062
Los Angeles9072
Baltimore8775
Boston8676




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas10161
New York9765
Los Angeles9171
Boston8973
Chicago8874




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Boston4.29(10)2.71(2)0.698(1)5243-1
Los Angeles7.67(1)5.83(12)0.622(2)42420
Chicago5.14(6)4.14(4)0.598(3)43430
New York5.14(6)4.14(4)0.598(3)43521
Detroit5.71(5)4.71(8)0.587(5)43430
Kansas City5.14(6)4.43(6)0.568(6)43430
Minnesota5.14(6)4.43(6)0.568(6)43430
Cleveland5.86(3)5.14(9)0.559(8)4334-1
Texas5.86(3)5.14(9)0.559(8)43521
Toronto6.43(2)6.71(13)0.48(10)34340
Oakland2.71(12)3.29(3)0.413(11)34340
Seattle1.29(14)2(1)0.308(12)25341
Tampa Bay2.43(13)5.57(11)0.18(13)16160
Baltimore3.67(11)8.67(14)0.172(14)15150


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