Monday, December 28, 2015

Parsing and Overcomplicating

A few articles are hinting that Payton Manning "did not really deny" using HGH in his statements, hinting that he sort of talked around the issue and refused to talk about what prescriptions his wife may or may not have been using. What does he need to say beyond, "I did not ever use HGH or any other banned substance," which is what he said?

The discussion of why the Patriots elected to kick off at the beginning of overtime is including that one of the options is to "defer." Defer to what? One overtime period completes the game. At the beginning of the game a team can defer its choice to the second half; a choice which I think is idiotic. Why give your opponent the opportunity to score first? In a championship game, with multiple overtimes possible, a team can defer until the third overtime, but that would be even more stupid than deferring at the beginning of the game; a second half is assured, while a third overtime is not only not assured, it is highly unlikely.

Some also say that the Patriots meant to make a choice as to which end to defend, but let's not be obtuse here. The other team would then choose to receive, so that would be tantamount to electing to kick off. In any case, there was no wind so choosing an end zone was irrelevant. Belichek decided to kick the ball, and only understanding how his mind works will make it possible to know why he did that, which means it will remain forever unknowable.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Brass Balls

Scripps Hospital has recently billed me some $72,000 for a ten-day stay in their hospital, which was paid in its entirety by insurance, but still... (Reaching the "maximum out-of-pocket"  limit is a mixed blessing.) Now they send me a solicitation, referencing the wonderfulness of my care at the hospital, and asking for a charitable donation. Um, I think not.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Interesting Game

They call it the "Holy War,"  Utah vs. BYU, and Utah won it by a score of 35 to 28. Drilling down into the details, however paints a somewhat bizarre picture.

Utah scored all of its 35 points in the first 9:39 of the game, racking up 65 yards of offense to BYU's 39 yards, largely due to no fewer than five turnovers committed by BYU. If you notice that five turnovers at seven points each might produce a score of 35-0, you are very perceptive.

In the final 50:21 of the game Utah racked up 39 yards of total offense and scored zero points, while BYU accumulated 347 yards of offense and scored 28 points.

All in all, it was perhaps the silliest exhibition by two teams that I have ever seen on a football field. Scoring 35 points with 65 yards of offense is nonsensical, as is racking up 39 yards in more than 50 minutes.

Who was this young man?

When the gunfire began Thursday night Zaevion Dobson stepped in front of three girls, instinct apparently guiding him to protect them with his own life. There is something very powerful about that story; something that has caused it to stick pleasantly in my mind.

Whenever we have one of these mass shootings the media goes nuts to “personify” the shooter. His picture, his name, and minute details about his background are in the news for days as the media tries to explain what led him to do it.

On the third day after his death we know almost nothing about Zaevion Dobson, and today’s media does not mention him. We know that he was a football player and one person says he was “a mentor to his peers,”  but that is about all. We know nothing about his family or spiritual environment.

Something rather powerful fostered such a sense of selflessness and good in this outstanding young man, and I would like to hear about what it may have been. Why do we dwell so much on evil and are so quick to move past goodness?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Interesting Conversation

There is a YouTube video of Bernie Sanders in conversation with a black guy called Killer Mike in an Atlanta barber shop, which I watched over the past couple of days. I very much enjoyed the conversation, and several things struck me as interesting, beyond the points which both men were trying to make.

The first was that when Killer Mike was speaking Sanders was not merely waiting impatiently for him to finish, but was actively listening to him with eye contact and with gestures of agreement as Mike made specific points. What politician does that? Well, Sanders says he’s not a politician, and maybe he’s not. That would be a good thing.

Another was that during the entire lengthy conversation, not one time did Sanders divert his response to a topic other than the point which Mike had raised. Again, politicians have policies which are points of vulnerability and which they prefer to avoid, either because their solution is unpopular or because they have no solution to offer, and so when those issues arise they segue their answers off to another topic. Sanders stayed with the issue until his interlocutor was ready to move on. He gave the appearance of a man who is very comfortable with his positions.

About one minute into Part 2, Sanders talks about the course of his political career, saying that unlike most career politicians, “I didn’t get into politics to figure out how I could become President or a Senator.”  I think there is truth in that. He comes across as a man of very little personal ambition; more concerned with what he can do than who or what he can be.

I actually think Obama started out as such a person but was seduced by the power of the office. In hindsight, it seems to me the seduction began well before he ran for president. Anyway

Sanders is, perhaps, a little bit of a wishful thinker. At one point Mike is talking about seeing a current mindset of selfishness and greed in the nation’s culture; of today’s voter basing decisions on what they want personally rather than what is in the nation’s best interest. Sanders replies that he sees that in the wealthy and financial sectors, but that he does not believe that it extends to the working middle class Americans. One has, I think, only to look at who the voters are electing and reelecting to see the flaw in Sanders’ thinking.

I have problems with some of Sanders’ foreign policies, but I am beginning to like him more and more on the domestic front and as a leader. And, aside from the insight into Sanders, I liked Killer Mike quite a lot.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Historic Agreement

I have joined a weight loss club. There are one hundred of us in the club, and we are going to lose a total of 2500 pounds by some indefinite date in the future. We are not committing to how much weight any individual is going to lose, but obviously not any single one of us can lose the total, so even the less obese are going to have to pitch in and lose a pound or two.

We are not committing to any specific actions that we will undertake towards losing that weight, such as eating less food, removing donuts from our diets or engaging in some form of exercise. That would be hard, and we don’t do hard things. We are convinced that we can lose all of that weight by the sheer force of our good intentions.

To show how serious we are about this, we are announcing the intention to create a $100,000 fund to pay the health care costs of our members who suffer from the the ill effects of being overweight. We are not actually creating the fund, that would mean parting with real money which is also hard, we are merely announcing that we have good intentions to do so.

I can’t wait to see how this turns out. Pun intended.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Well, That Was Rude

The Denver Broncos came to San Diego and basically played football for one offensive series. They took the opening kickoff, effortlessly drove the length of the field for a touchdown, and then effectively hung up their cleats and dallied with us for the rest of the game. They decided that San Diego could not score more than three points and that that one touchdown was all they needed for a win. They were right.

They did accept a gift in the form of an interception from Philip Rivers, which their defense ran back for another touchdown, but that was not necessary to their winning effort. Philip Rivers completed 51% of his passes and wound up with a quarterback rating of 57.1 for the day.

The Chargers offense, at this point, has not scored a touchdown in more than 2½ games.

How To Make My Day

I was reading an article about fast food work that reminded me of a lunch stop I made a couple months ago. It was a Carl's Junior, which I seldom go to, so I am unfamiliar with the menu. A young African-American person, about eighteen, greeted me when I approached the counter and I asked her what was good for a light lunch. She met my eyes and smiled as she made a suggestion, and again as she gave me a numbered card, thanked me pleasantly for my order, and told me my food would be brought to my table.

It was the same person who brought out my order and, again, there was a meeting of the eyes and a smile as she told me to enjoy my lunch. I told her that she could make a good career in customer service because she is very good at it, and thanked her for the good service. Got a really big smile in return.

The burger wasn't all that good, but it was a nice lunch.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Social Justice in the Military

So, all of the armed forces have been ordered to open all roles without exception, including all combat roles, to women. No mention was made of submarines, which are currently only open to female officers. Putting women in the crews of submarines, if this is included in the order, will be a very interesting exercise indeed.

I have been supportive of the process of more fully integrating women into the full mission of the armed forces to the greatest possible degree, and have been critical of the Neanderthals in the military who have resisted it. I have seen no credible arguments, for instance, why a woman cannot perform on a completely equal footing with a man as the pilot of a jet fighter in combat, and therefor no reason why women should be denied that role.

That process, however, needs to be guided by the best interests of the service and not be dictated by some misguided crusade for social justice. The military’s mission is to maintain the most effective fighting force possible in defense of the United States. Period. Anything which weakens that mission is, to quote the fear mongers in Washington, “a threat to national security.”

The Pentagon asked the military to study the effectiveness of combat units which included women, and so the Marine Corps ran a study lasting more than a year in which it compared the performance of units consisting of men and women (mixed units) and ones comprised of all men. The mixed units did not perform at the same level as the male units by any measure. They were slower on long marches, accuracy with all types of firearms in simulated combat was lower, injury rate was higher

The pentagon criticized the study and rejected the conclusions because they were “based on collective performance instead of assessments of each individual.”  The illogic in that statement rather staggers the imagination, and reveals why this nation and its armed forces are weakened by having a Secretary of Defense who has never served in the military. He thinks the military is about individual achievement and social justice. There is no grasp of the basic concept that the success of the mission is fundamentally dependent the "collective performance" of the force.

Yes, occasionally a hero charges a machine gun and is awarded a medal, but if he never reached the battlefield because his unit was too slow on the road march it would never have occurred, and so the individual achievement is entirely subordinate to the collective performance.

What the civilian in the Secretary’s position doesn’t get is that if, by making sure that “women will now be able to contribute to our mission,”  the collective performance is weakened, then the contribution of those women is negative, regardless of what they do individually. By serving the interests of women, he has gone against the best interest of the armed forces he leads.

This is part one of three, so stay tuned.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Seriously Fubar

There is something seriously wrong about the fact that Hillary Clinton is an overwhelming, even prohibitive, favorite in the Democratic primary, and yet in polls for the general election she trails by significant margins to every single one of the moronic Republican candidates. Do the Democrats seriously want to lose the White House?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

And So It Begins

There are no words to express, at least in polite company, my feelings about sending troops into a combat role in Syria/Iraq. Especially after promising the public and the military specifically for more than a year that he would not do so.

So it’s only 200 men? Yes, and that is the precise number of Green Berets who were first sent into a combat role in Vietnam. That’s how it begins.

It seems obvious to me that every Islamic group in the area will make it their first priority to assure that one of those raids walks into an ambush and, no matter how good they are, there is no way that will not eventually happen. When it does

Not to mention that we are back to "kicking in doors in the middle of the night." Needless to say, they will not always be the right doors, and we will make even more enemies in the process. Have we forgotten how much hatred we created doing that in Iraq & Afghanistan? Or do we just not care?

All because the posturing narcissistic jackass in the White House cannot stand to be upstaged by Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Head Scratcher

We watched a recorded episode of "The Good Wife" last night, with a plot regarding Diane Lockhart's passionate, and somewhat over-the-top, defense of a right wing group's to publish secret recordings they had made in a Planned Parenthood clinic. Actually it was recorded in a donut shop and they didn't use the name, but let's not be coy, here.

I have a little trouble seeing how publishing a recording not of one's own words, but of someone else's words, recorded without their permission, recorded illegally, and which they do not want published, constitutes "free speech."