Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"It's Christmas Time in Hollis, Queens..."

" Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens
Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese
And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees"

--Run D.M.C

Joni and I leave for Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee tomorrow at oh-dark-hundred (very early).
I picked up a couple audio books today to help me survive the drive through the no-man's-land that is Arkansas. On the way home, we'll actually drive across the entire states of Tennessee and Arkansas. If you've never done that, then you're not missing anything.

Searching for Bobby Perry
While in Kentucky, we plan to search for our lost seni
or. He failed to score in his second straight game last night. That means he has now landed on the same Excel spreadsheet that I use to search for Sheray Thomas. Have you seen this boy?
Both players were last seen rummaging through the dumpster, trying to find their games. This was a difficult task, considering how well their games blend in with normal garbage.

Winning Streak
Kentucky is predicted to win its next 8 games handily, and has improved their offensive and defensive efficiency such that Pomeroy now projects a 9-7 conference record.

In other news, Kentucky will beat Clemson next Friday in the Music City Bowl.

Snow
I expect to see some snow while we're up north. Though, like here, it's been a warm December. A friend of mine in Kazan, Russia told me that they have the warmest temperatures they've seen there in over 100 years. And not much snow. Goodbye polar ice caps.

"I want to wash my hands, my feet, my life in snow..."
--quote from the movie White Christmas (italics are my personal rendition of the song).

So, I'll do my best to blog from wherever we end up. In the meantime, you'd better hide the eggnog!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tara Conner and Sheray Thomas

*Cue Beverly Hillbillies theme song*
So, when Kentucky gets in the news it's either a plane crash or the crash of a beauty queen. Donald Trump decided not to fire Miss USA, Kentucky's own Tara Conner. She took her newfound fame to the NYC bars and nightclubs (she wasn't 21 yet). Oops.

In a tear-choked voice, Conner said, "In no way did I think it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me."

Turning to Trump, she said, 'You'll never know what this means to me, and I swear I will not let you down.'

She's from Russell Springs, population 2,500. It's also a dry county (no alcohol allowed).

A few years ago, Kentucky had a Miss America. She too was almost stripped of her crown, but mostly because she shacked up with the Lt. Governor and started campaigning for him rather than fulfilling her "duties" as Miss America.

In other news, Mark Story claims that Sheray Thomas was a real winner in the UK win over UL on Saturday. Others claim that Thomas is "vindicated." I admit, Thomas hit a great jump shot at the end. That was his first field goal in the last 3 games, and only his 6th all season! This from a guy who Tubby wants to start. If he's vindicated, then I must be crazy.

I expect Thomas to log at least 20 minutes tonight. Here's some key stats:
Sheray Thomas scores 2 points every 23.6 minutes that he plays. He gets 1 rebound every 7 minutes. He gets 1 assist every 15 minutes. He blocks 1 shot every 33 minutes. He gets a steal every 41 minutes.

*Sarcasm* Wow, look how productive he is. What an amazing senior. Why, I think he should get more minutes. *Sarcasm*

Lines:
Vegas: UK -10
Sagarin: UK -7.66
Pure Points: UK -8.34
Computer Avg.: UK -9.26
Pomeroy: UK -7

Justin's prediction: UK by 9. And too many UK turnovers.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Institutional Grade Inflation

Observe the following 2 report cards, and tell me which of the following undergraduates has the higher GPA this semester. *Note* If you graduated from the University of Kentucky, then you'll like this question.

Johnny:

Math 87
English 88
Econ 95
Finance 71
Accounting 72

Steve:

Math 89
English 89
Econ 100
Finance 79
Accounting 78

Who has the higher GPA? Johnny, Steve, or neither?
*Bonus*: Calculate the 2 students' GPAs.

Well, at first glance, Steve has higher grades in every subject. But, you're probably thinking that these don't give him an actually higher letter grade. If I were a UK student, or a Texas A&M student, I would say that their GPAs are the same (unless I graduated during the Dave Blake era).
So, at UK and A&M, Johnny and Steve would have the same GPA: 1 A, 2 Bs, 2 Cs, or a 2.8.

But, let's suppose that Johnny is a Baylor student and Steve is a UK or A&M student. Now the answer changes.

Johnny now has a higher GPA than Steve simply by virtue of being a Baylor Bear! Johnny now has a 3.0. He can now apply for scholarships and jobs.
Steve is still stuck with his 2.8, even though he got higher grades in every subject than Johnny.

Let's say that the 2 are competing for the same job, and have identical résumés. Who would the boss hire, the 3.0 or the 2.8? Probably the 3.0.

"How is this possible?" you may ask. Well, it's not just because Johnny paid 4 times the tuition to come to Baylor than he would at either UK or A&M. It's because Baylor participates in something that I will call "institutional grade inflation."
Baylor undergrads operate under the "plus system." It means that you can earn B+ and C+, which is worth more. Instead of just 2 B's in math and English, Baylor awards Johnny with B+.

(Now, for graduate students the system operates a little differently. We actually receive minuses also. A B- is a 2.67 instead of a 3. If Johnny operated under the "plus-minus" system instead of the "plus" system, then his grades would be deflated).

If Steve transfered from UK to Baylor, he would actually have a 3.2 GPA instead of a 2.8 at UK. See the difference?

So, anytime you see schools publish reports about how their students' GPAs rank against other schools, you have to ask "What's the grading system?"

Baylor's student senate voted in 2001 to keep the "plus system" because getting rid of it would "hinder" the student body in competing for jobs with students from Texas A&M, Texas, and Oklahoma. Here's the link to the statement .

So, that's what you've learned today: A student can actually get higher scores at UK or A&M than a Baylor student, and still have a lower GPA than a Baylor student.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Birthday Fun

I turn the ripe old age of 27 today. First of all, I'd like to thank my wife who made us homemade pizzas yesterday, and baked me a pumpkin cheesecake.

Second, I'd like to thank Rick Pitino for scheduling Louisville to play 5 games in 11 days, including the UMass game on Wednesday. I'd also like to thank him for making his team do two-a-day practices before the UK game, so that they had absolutely no legs on their jump shots. Yes, thanks to Rick, UL missed every single wide-open jumper, shooting 27% overall and just 12.5% from 3-point.

If you had told me UK would be outrebounded, turn the ball over more, and that Morris would only score 2 points playing only 16 minutes, I wouldn't have wanted to watch the game.
Instead, I got the birthday present that I wanted.

I would also like to thank Wukash Obrzut for getting fired up about the rivarly, and for being 7'1" tall. Thanks to you, Louisville couldn't really do the damage inside. I especially liked it every time you body-checked Padgett and he just got more and more frustrated.
I would also like to thank Wu for the great post-game interview he gave on the radio.

I would also like to thank my sister-in-law's family for giving us Fandago bucks. We saw "The Pursuit of Happyness" (no, i didn't mispell it) on Friday. It was an inspirational story.

I won't be posting much about basketball for the next few weeks, because we only play cupcakes. Even if we had not beaten IU and UL, we still would be heavy favorites in all these games. I'll get interested again when we start getting into the real SEC stuff.

Kentucky is now ranked #42 in the Sagarin. #43 in both Pure Points and Elo Chess. Louisville is now ranked #112. NIT, here they come again.

Kentucky is now ranked #47 by Pomeroy. Our offensive efficiency is a dismal #77, but defensive efficiency is now #37. Pomeroy still projects us to go 8-8 in the SEC.

Keep it real.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

UK clips vs. Louisville (2005)

The nice shelacking UK put on UL last year at Rupp. Listen to the crowd. Feel Joe Crawford's dunk.

I DEMAND VICTORY TODAY!!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Kentucky Tips Louisville - 1987

After Rex Chapman helped UK blow out Louisville in Freedom Hall in '86, "Little Brother" came to Lexington in '87. Gotta love Denny Crum at the end.
I'm pretty sure I can remember having to stay home while my parents went to this game. Lucky them.

Louisville is sin, so it's very easy and necessary to hate them.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rex Chapman dunking over Louisville

I'm having problems posting from YouTube to Blogger today. The new Blogger Beta is annoying.

Here's a clip of Rex Chapman from his 26-point performance as a freshman in 1986. King Rex claims in the article that he felt bad for Denny Crum after UK blew them out by 34 in Louisville. Maybe Rex was the only person in the world who felt bad for Denny.

Here's another clip from the following season. Same situation: steal and a jam.

Chapman was easily one of the top 5 players ever at UK, and one of the best white dunkers ever.

And in case you haven't heard, Travis Ford coached UMass easily over Louisville last night. The "Little General" is making his stand in Kentucky.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Last minute of Kentucky Louisville 2004

I'm posting classic UK vs. UL clips this week in anticipation of Saturday.

On the last play, Pitino told his players "Whoever passes the ball inbounds will take the last shot. Do not leave the inbounds passer!" But, Louisville players are dumber than the average players and you can see the result.

Before Patrick Sparks shot the free throws, Tubby broke the ice by asking him "What do you want for Christmas?"
Sparks enters UK folklore.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mr. Hand

I'm the only business/econ graduate student that has the... privilege... of teaching. I don't get paid more than other graduate students; my perks are free coffee and an office. Oh, and lots of hours more work than the other graduate students.

This time of year, I'm often reminded of the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I think I only saw bits and pieces of it on TBS over the years. But, does anyone remember Mr. Hand? He and I are a lot alike.
Why am I reminded of Mr. Hand? Well, I get a flood of emails and office visits asking me to round up a grade, or raise someone's grade for no reason other than the person wanting a higher grade than what they've earned.

Student: "I'm trying to get into medical school. It
would really help me if you would give me a C+ instead of just a C."
Prof. Tapp: "Well, if you had done all of the extra credit I offered, turned your paper in early for me to proofread it and for you to re-submit it for a guaranteed 100%, you would actually have a B in the class. If you had gotten higher than a D- on your final, that would have helped you out too."
Student: "I know, but...."

Get the picture?


Here are some memorable quotes from Mr. Hand

Mr. Hand: What's the reason for your truancy?
Spicoli: Just couldn't make it on time.
Mr. Hand: You couldn't or you wouldn't?
Spicoli: Well, there's like a full crowd scene at the food line.
Mr. Hand: Food will be eaten on your time. Why are you continually late for this class, Mr. Spicoli. Why do you shamelessly waste my time like this?
Spicoli: Uh... oh... I dunno.
**Mr. Hand writes the words "I don't know" on the chalkboard.**
Mr. Hand: I like that. 'I don't know.' That's nice.
'Mr. Hand, will I pass this class?' Gee, Mr. Spicoli, I don't know! You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to leave your words right up here for all my classes to enjoy, giving you full credit of course, Mr. Spicoli!
Spicoli: Wow, all right!

Throughout the movie, Mr. Hand is asking students "Are you on dope?"

I feel like asking that at least twice a day.

At the very end of the movie, it shows Mr. Hand grading his students' final exams. He sighs, shakes his head, and the subtitle reads:
"Mr. Hand is convinced that everyone is on dope."

Yep, he and I think a lot alike right about now.

The end is near

I took my last final this morning. It was a struggle. All of my finals were. This has been the toughest semester ever. I'm thankful for a praying wife and praying friends that helped me through it. I'm also thankful for research papers since I'm much better at those than exams.

My students did OK on their final. They rocked the departmental, which is probably raising some eyebrows upstairs, but did less well on my questions. Overall, there are plenty of A's, B's, and C's in the class, which is what I was hoping for.

Sadly, we all still have some lingering work to do on a paper for Development. So, celebration won't really start until Wednesday.

And then I have 1,000 other things I need to do over Christmas Break.

That's all I have for today.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

UK-IU Pregame

So, Tubby made the players carry the ball to class, to eat, and to sleep. Ramel Bradley: "Coach wanted us to carry the ball around with us, take care of it, sleep with it," Ramel Bradley said. "Coach told us to sleep with the ball. He's trying to get us to take care of it, love it. She (the ball) already knows I love her, but now I have to take care of her a lot better."

Good. This IU team seems actually pretty decent, with 2 close
losses to Duke and Butler.

I want revenge for the 26-point pasting that IU put on us last year. Marco Killingsworth is gone, thankfully. And we didn't have Randolph Morris last year.

Vegas says: Kentucky by 5.
Sagarin says: Kentucky by almost 2.
Sagarin PP says: Kentucky by about 1.5.
Pomeroy says: IU by 6.

Justin says: Kentucky by 8. The season starts getting better today.

*Note* I won't get to watch the game on TV because I'll be giving my final. But, my students will see Professor Tapp sitting up front with his laptop open and his earphones on, and will probably see him getting agitated.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rankings and Predictions

I'm going to take a break from studying to post on UK and some statistical projections. You remember how this works, this blog DOES NOT accept any polls by writers or coaches. That so much weight is given to the opinion of people who can't even watch all those games is ridiculous.

This year, the official rankings of this blog will be the Sagarin (as always) and the Pomeroy. Because the numbers don't lie.

Pomeroy's rankings combine winning % with ratings for offensive and defensive efficiency.
Pomeroy has Kentucky ranked #64, with the #64 offense and #80 defense in terms of efficiency.
(On his site you can compare this to previous seasons).

Want to know how UK's season will fare? Here's Pomeroy's prediction for every game in the season. Right now, we're projected to go 16-14. These predictions will adjust for game outcomes. But, thus far it predicts a 26% chance UK loses by 6 to IU on Saturday.

Sagarin ranks Kentucky at #57 overall today. We only rank #84 in terms of who we've beaten, but we rank #52 in Pure Points (basically points scored). Both his overall and pure points predict a narrow UK win on Saturday.

To respond to David's comment, Kentucky has played 2 teams ranked in the Sagarin top 30, with one of those in the top 10. Memphis is ranked #44 because they haven't beaten anyone. Their loss to Tennessee last night helped us drop in the rankings.

Florida is ranked #31 overall, but #1 in Pure Points. They score a lot of points over weak teams, but don't have a lot of quality losses. Florida State is ranked higher, as it should be.


Pomeroy also predicts we'll lose to Louisville, then go on a winning streak. This makes sense. We haven't beaten anyone decent yet, why should we start now? We'll easily beat the Santa Claras and EKUs of the world.

What will help UK the most is to 1) reduce turnovers 2) beat IU handily 3) beat UL decently. That will prove that we've improved.

Weird Uncle Justin

My sister gave birth to a 6 lbs, 14 oz. 21-inch baby named Joshua Daniel Allen this morning. This makes me an uncle, and my parents are now grandparents.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You break it, you bought it.

"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved.... the challenges are daunting. There will be difficult days ahead...there is no guarantee for success in Iraq... The level of violence is high and growing. There is great suffering, and the daily lives of many Iraqis show no improvement. Pessimism is is pervasive... the ability of the United States to influence events within Iraq is diminishing."

"We're winning." - President Bush in October
"We're not winning." - Gen. Pace (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) as quoted yesterday.
"
That is my view, yes, senator." - Robert Gates when asked if it's true that we're not winning.

"We didn't have a full appreciation of just how broken Iraq was when we went in."- Robert Gates

So, now what?

Thoughts on the Chattanooga Game...

I listened to most of it, but have no idea what you saw.

Starting Perry at the 4 was no surprise, but sitting Thomas, Stevenson, Carter, and Orbzut for essentially the entire game was humorous. Chattanooga's tallest guy was 6'7", guess Tubby didn't want to humiliate them.

Only 10,000 showed up at Freedom Hall, probably the lowest attended UK game there ever. That's sad. That's a vote of "no confidence."

Our guys can shoot the lights out when not challenged defensively.

I say we weren't challenged, but 20 turnovers? John Clay points it out this morning:

"Just once all of last year did Kentucky commit 20 or more turnovers in a game. That was Feb. 15 against Georgia in Rupp Arena, when the Cats committed 26. They have already topped the 20-or-more mark three times this year, and we're only eight games into the season."

Did anyone watch UL-Arizona last night? Anyone see that alley-oop that Chase Budinger threw down? He might be the best white dunker in America.Here's a pic of him at McDonald's All-American weekend. Wow.

Both Arizona and UL moved the ball well, particularly in the 1st half. Louisville got back in the game in the 2nd. Caracter looks like he'll be a beast under the basket for the Cards. Louisville scares me. Good ball movement, a heady point guard, good shooting. We have to beat them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Best thing I've heard all day...

Uncharacteristic Tubby Smith on Sheray Thomas in today's press conference (listen here):

"Sheray is giving us hell... "

(BTW-- he claims Perry Stevenson is still too "banged up" to start...)

Look for Bobby Perry to start at the 4 on Tuesday. Who cares, it's Chattanooga.

At the 15:00 mark in the conference, he says he likes Sheray because "he brings physical presence. He dives on the floor, hits guys... Perry Stevenson just isn't strong enough to do that."

Then, weirdly(!), Tubby looks at the box score and says "7 rebounds. Well, Perry is one of the most productive guys we have. He gets a ton of rebounds, he's active, we need to get him more minutes..."


It's the contradiction. He always says 2 conflicting things at one time. Frustrating.
The Tubby and The Damage Done

Monday Monday

In an update to my previous post, Southlake Carroll dominated Permian 42-6 to advance. No real surprise there.

Here's an article on UK's (football) recruiting class. Yay for football on the upswing.

I'm a better person for having watched NCAA football this year. Yeah, the post-season stinks, but there's nothing better than the regular season. And this season was AWESOME. And you don't need ESPN to watch most of the good games. I think it's a shift in my life: I'd now rather watch football than basketball. And I don't have ESPN to watch basketball if I wanted to anyway.

According to Pomeroy, Baylor (basketball) is more efficient than UK on offense.

In the next 7 days I'll take 3 finals and give 1.

So, unless something falls into my lap I likely won't be blogging.
Plus, I physically can't handle UK losing. I mean physically, mentally, just can't handle it. I predict we win our next 8 games, but really who are we beating?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'm tired of losing

It hurts me deep down.

We were 10.5 point underdogs (though Sagarin predicted it right: UNC by 12). It pains me that we HAVE to slow it down and play a half-court game in order to keep it within double digits. Ironically, Brandan Wright said before the game that he didn't come to UK because we play too slow.



2 reasons why we lost by 12 (most of this happened in the 1st half... every thing else just sorta flowed from it in the 2nd half):

1). Joe Crawford. I loved his aggressiveness and his rebounding, but the turnovers killed us.
Constantly shooting the 3 (0-5) hurt us at the beginning too. Joe, take it strong to the hole! 7 turnovers, including 3 walks and a carry. Horrible.

2.) Sheray Thomas. When he gets a stat, it's a turnover or dumb play. Again, 2 points 4 rebounds 0 blocks in 23 minutes. He was owned by Brandan Wright. See that alley-oop? That was Thomas's man. See those bricks that didn't even touch rim from 5 feet away?! Yes, that was She-ray in action. He's our worst player and he starts. Morris held down the front court.

Perry Stevenson- 7 rebounds and a blocked shot in just 12 minutes. He was active on defense creating deflections. He's just longer and taller than most guys, so he's better. Sheray has no wingspan and isn't that tall. Play Stevenson!!!

I thought the most effective lineup was Bradley, Jasper, Morris, Stevenson, and Perry. This lineup lasted about 5 minutes. That was when me made that little mini-run in the 2nd half. Jasper makes freshman mistakes, but Crawford makes the same mistakes as a JUNIOR. Let Jasper play! Or Porter, he makes decent decisions.

13 assists, 22 turnovers. We suck at offensive efficiency.

Bright spot: Randolph Morris is our most complete player.

I'll close with Tubby's quote from his press conference yesterday (Friday before the game):

"We’ve failed two tests so far this season. When you don’t win it’s a failure. There is a way to measure, when you look at it and say well you did this better and you did that better. The bottom line is did you win? When you don’t win, that means you failed. It’s as simple as that. This is kind of a pass-fail course right here. Did you play well enough to win?"

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tayshaun Prince vs. UNC

Tayshaun hit 5 THREES IN A ROW in 2001, one of the happiest memories in the UNC-UK rivalry. Look how far #5 was. I was on like the 5th row behind the UK bench for this one.
Yay for senior year memories.

Tomorrow at 11am CST you know what I'll be watching on CBS.

The REAL Friday Night Lights

The Texas high school football playoffs last a long time. Just look at the bracket. They're just now in the regional semis.

Tomorrow the Permian Panthers (the same team in the book & movie Friday Night Lights) take on powerhouse Southlake Carroll in Lubbock in a huge clash of Texas football traditions. Mojo vs. Dragons.
It's also a tough, west-Texas oil-dependent town (Odessa) vs. one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America (Southlake).

Here's an article explaining the history.

Southlake Carroll has a powerhouse. As the district has grown exponentially in the past 15 years, Southlake has won titles in 3A, 4A, and 5A. They've won three of the last four 5A Div-II titles, winning 44 straight games, making them arguably the best high school program in the nation. They're currently ranked #3 in the nation by USA Today.

Permian-Odessa used to be a powerhouse. They're going to try and bust Southlake in the mouth.

I've never been to Odessa but I've driven through much of Southlake (suburb of Ft. Worth). Movie stars and professional athletes build their HUGE homes out there. One time, for kicks, I cruised in Joni's old Mustang convertible with the top down around some of the neighborhoods, as though I was living there like a Big Pimp Daddy.

I'm rooting for the Mojo, baby!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Quote of the Week...

From Friday Night Lights (you can watch Tuesday's episode online for free here):

Landry: Matt, if you look at a girl like a geometry proof, then the answer is just right there in front of you. It's your job to find the missing variable. I mean, you've got to solve for X!

Saracen: Um...that's actually algebra.

Landry: Well, that's actually not the point...

**the girl Saracen likes (coach's daughter) suddenly walks in**

Landry: Hey sharpen your pencil, buddy. It's a pop quiz!

Winter comes to Texas (Post #351)

This is my 351st post on this blog. Once you get past the 350 mark they should give you a sticker or some junk mail or something.

So, the weather went from being 72 degrees yesterday (it was a really warm November) to 32 this morning with some sleet and strong winds. Welcome to Central Texas where you sometimes have to deal with ice but not snow. Most people don't know how to deal with it or drive in it down here. The news was broadcasting live from the HEB last night. People were stocking up just because "It's going to get below freezing and who knows what will happen!"
The high today is going to be 42, and probably be up in the 50's the next couple days.


I was just filling up my gas tank at the Diamond Shamrock on Valley Mills this morning when suddenly the electric lines next to the gas station started arcing!! The end of one line appeared to catch fire, while the gas tank began having its power fail. So, the gas pump froze up. I had pre-paid with my debit card. The cashiers didn't know if the transaction had gone through or not, and there was a huge line of people looking nervously at this electric line sparking just 20 feet away from gas tanks. I didn't wait around, man, I was outta there!

Did you know that when you pre-pay at the pump and push "debit," that the gas station automatically deducts a large amount from your account, sometimes $100? When you're done it credits that (minus your gas total) back to your account. But, you can be easily overdrawn if you aren't aware of this and keep very little $ in your checking account. I was unaware of this until Andrew told me about it, and he learned that from Dave Ramsey.

Today was the first day that I made sure I pushed "credit" instead of "debit" when i put in my debit card. I'm glad I did. The transaction isn't showing up yet, but I imagine if the pump shuts down due to power failure after you've pushed "debit" then you'll probably be out $100. So, I'm glad I pushed credit, and I'm wondering if I got away with a free tank of gas (the cashiers didn't care, they were just wondering if they should stay in the store should it blow up!).

I was supposed to take my car into the shop, but the guy who has the apparatus to check the pressure in my fuel tank wasn't there today... again.

In other news, here is a picture of my 2nd cousin who was working the UK game as a ballboy on Tuesday (lucky kid!). I think 4 of them were on the floor during the game. I forget which other games my cousins are working, but I know they'll be at the EKU game. Look for them doing a great job.

I really enjoyed watching UNC-OSU last night. Running, gunning, dunking, awesome! Both teams were really getting after it. Imagine if we had Brendan Wright on our team (which we supposedly came close to having...). If we can get Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas for next year, we should be as good as UNC and OSU are this year.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Facebook and Death

As I've come of age in the era of the Internet, I've had a lot of online friends. I sometimes would wonder "What if one of them died? How would I know? Would I just stop receiving emails and IMs?"
Now with things like blogs and Facebook, death takes on a little different aspect. "What were they thinking when they died?"

Baylor has lost several students this semester. The most recent of these was a 20 year old named Mark Hudson, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound yesterday.

Getting on Facebook, you see his profile, you see the last post he wrote on someone else's wall, you see his pictures, what his hobbies and interests and struggles were. You look for things in his profile, are there signs of trouble, warnings?

His birthday was just last week, so there are several posts on his wall wishing him a happy birthday. When they wrote that, they didn't know that a week later he would take his own life.

His last status update reads: "Mark is in need of a little whiskey girl."

His favorite quote is a very eerie Clint Eastwood:
"I know what your thinking, did he fire six rounds or only five? well to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kind of lost track my self. but see as this is a forty-four magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and could blow your head clean off, you got to ask yourself one question, Do I feel Lucky?... Well do you punk?"

And now his friends and classmates are posting on his wall their "RIPs." I don't see as many paying homage to him as I have for some of the others who have passed away in car accidents.

So, how does the internet change how we cope with death? I think it has certainly increased how much we know about one another. It's also increased the numbers of people that we know. So, I think it makes death that much more personal.

Sorry if that's morbid, but so is suicide. When I was in college I thought about publishing the first seminal paper or book about death and cultural change due to the Internet. All I do now is blog.

Why does Tubby start Thomas?

Over the weekend, Tubby announced he was changing the starting lineup by benching Perry Stevenson and starting Sheray Thomas. He initially said "Perry is a little banged up..." hinting that he was hurt.
But, in today's paper Tubby announced he started Thomas "to bring a more physical presence to UK's front line." What???? This has to be some sick joke.

Kentucky fell behind early in the 1st half. Sheray Thomas' sole stat in the first 11 minutes of play was 1 turnover. Let's look at the final box score:
She-ray played 26 minutes, in which he recorded ZERO field goals, grabbed 4 rebounds, and had 1 of everything else.

Perry Stevenson played just 16 minutes but was 7 of 7 in field goals, and also grabbed 4 rebounds.
So, Stevenson scores about a point a minute and sounded pretty active around the basket for every minute he played. But, he doesn't bring the physical presence that we need? Whatever, Tubby.


Did anyone see the game and feel that I'm wrong in my assessment?

Let's look at the season averages so far:
Stevenson is getting 5 points 5.5 blocks and 4 rebounds per game.

Thomas is getting 1.8 points, 2 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks per game.

Who do you think is the more "physical presence????"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Why the Road is Long...

... to UK becoming a consistent bowl-contender:
The 2007 Schedule. I see 4 wins. Maybe 5 because Arkansas will not be nearly as good without McFadden. #6 has to either be South Carolina, Georgia, or Louisville. How good can we be next year? (Will Burton come back?)


Checking up on the BCS

I did my own research today to see if the computer rankings really had USC at #2. You can check the websites yourself to read about how each "computer" got their ranking, but I'll list the results below. There are several websites which debate the accuracy of the various systems. The BCS eliminates the highest and the lowest rank, and then averages the rest, so you can do the math yourself below. The Colley Matrix seems to be the most unusual. The Massey ratings clearly take victory margins into consideration, but claims that it has no effect on rating. It'll take a better statistician than me to figure that magic out.

Sagarin ELO:
#1 Ohio State
#2 Michigan
#3 USC
#4 Florida

Billingsley:
#1 Ohio State
#2 Michigan
#3 USC
#4 Florida

Colley:
#1 USC
#2 Ohio State
#3 Florida
#4 Michigan

Anderson:
#1 Ohio State
#2 USC
#3 Michigan
#4 Florida

Massey:
#1 Ohio State
#2 USC
#3 Florida
#4 Michigan

If Arkansas had beaten LSU last week then a Florida win this weekend just might have gotten them closer. As it is, I don't think they'll move anywhere. It's possible USC could fall by winning by a small margin and Florida blowing out Arkansas (Massey ratings). But, I doubt that'll happen.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It has now been 22 years...

...since Kentucky has beaten Tennessee in football.

Final score: 17-12 UT.

Huge mistakes: Not falling on the football on Tennessee's fumble in the 4th quarter. Getting a delay-of-game penalty on 2nd and Goal at the 3 yard line with 4:30 left.

UK should have won. Rafael Little set a UK record for yards rushed in Knoxville (120 yards on 24 carries). UK outgained UT in both passing and rushing! That's only the second opponent UK has outgained this year.

Kentucky beat the spread. The Vegas Line was UT by 20.5. Thompson SPRS predicted UT by 21. Sagarin predicted UT by 15.8, and Pure Points said UT by 19.52.

So, Kentucky only lost on the scoreboard. If you bet on Kentucky, you came out a winner. UK also came within a hair of clinching 2nd place in the SEC East.

Until either Memphis or in Nashville (the bowl game!)...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Christmas and Deadweight Loss

Here's an old article from The Economist entitled "Is Santa a Deadweight Loss?" about a 1993 research paper by some Yale economists entitled "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas."

First, what's a deadweight loss in terms of Christmas gifts? It is "a waste of resources that could be averted without making anyone worse off. In other words, if the giver gave the cash value of the purchase instead of the gift itself, the recipient could then buy what she really wants, and be better off for no extra cost."

The Yale economists were researching how much money is lost every year through gift-giving. Their point: The dollar amount you value the gifts you receive is at best 90% of the actual price of the gift. And the gap between the value of the gift received vs. the price that was paid for it increases as the age difference between giver and receiver increases.

So, of the $457.4 billion that Americans spend on gifts this year, $45.7 billion gets lost because the receivers of the gifts either don't want the gifts or don't value them as much as was paid for it.

The Economist defends Christmas by mentioning that sometimes the giver knows what the receiver needs better than the receiver (example: A parent buying a book for a child instead of more candy, which the child values more than books). And sometimes you may receive a prize gift that you would never have thought about buying yourself.
And sometimes a gift (like a wedding ring) is more valuable to the receiver than the price of the ring, because it's a meaningful gift or symbol.

I tend to side with the Yale folks. The most efficient outcome is if everyone would just make direct cash transfers. Let's just wire the money into each other's bank accounts.

But, maybe my wife and I could only afford to wire some people $5, whereas they can afford to wire us $15. Does that mean we value the recipients $5 and they value us $15? I guess we should measure this in relative terms (as a % of the givers' income).

But even then, we'd have some serious transaction costs (fees). Also unnecessary.

Okay, so instead of having deadweight loss created by direct bank account transfers, why don't we just leave all the money in our accounts, and invent some other way to express love and generosity?

How about we leave all the money aside, and just call each other for Christmas! Or visit each other. Everyone likes a phone call letting them know they're loved or missed. It's harder for me to call some people and say "I care about you" than it is for me to buy a $10 stocking stuffer... maybe that means that the sentiment is more important than the gift? If so, then why create deadweight loss with the gift? Or maybe we could visit each other and bring a dish. Everyone contributes to the meal and everyone eats from the meal, pot-luck style. Then, we could all enjoy a good conversation around the table. If you value it highly you can stay as long as you like. If you value it little, then you can leave as early as you like. But, everyone needs and values food, so it'd be efficient.

My point: There's gotta be a better way than creating at least $45.74 billion in deadweight loss.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thoughts on the Memphis game

1st half:
Bradley is still painful to watch. Porter is doing a decent job, we should probably use him more.

Did my eyes deceive me or did Sheray Thomas make an incredible inside move???
Where has that been?

0:25.8 -- we really need to work on our inbounds plays. Why is everyone just standing around? 2 five second calls in a half is unacceptable.

2nd Half
17:34- Memphis' offense is similar to Florida's. Let's hope we don't get as outrebounded against Florida as we are against Memphis. (Yeah, wishful thinking there).

16:30- I hate the easy alley-oop lobs and layups UK gives up. We don't close any backdoors.

16:00- Yet ANOTHER Bradley turnover. BENCH HIM!!!

14:18- Finally, Jasper is back. Maybe we can score some points.

13:45- If Perry and Thomas aren't going to close the lane, why don't we put someone in who will???

12:58- The offense has completely broken down (Crawford charge). Yet, Tubby just sits there.

12:05- Sheray Thomas should be banished. He gets his dunk blocked on one end, which leads to a Memphis jam on the other.

11:38 - We played a zone defense against a team shooting 42% from 3-point range. We gave up both 3's and dunks with the look. I think Mike Archer runs our defense. That explains it.

9:48- Great, even the 5'8" guy gets an easy layup. This is shameful. 67-50 Memphis.

8:55- Foul on Crawford in the defensive mismatch. WHERE IS PERRY STEVENSON??? Are we purposefully throwing the game? 70-50 Memphis.

7:27- This is awful. Being outrebounded 29-20. I'm showing Sheray Thomas with 2 points, 2 rebounds in how many minutes? Too many minutes.

5:55- Way to go Bobby Perry! Give up that backdoor layup. You and Sheray deserve a medal for this great defensive performance. Why are you still in the game? I guess Tubby has given up. "You dug this hole, you dig yourselves out."

4:00- Joe Crawford, jump shooter extroardinaire. The lone bright spot of the 2nd half.

3:24 - Bobby Perry gets POSTERIZED. TAKE HIM OUT!!!

1:46- Joni says "Tubby looks like he's asleep."

0:00 -- Outrebounded, outhustled, outscored, outclassed, outcoached. I hate that Memphis is 17 points better than UK!

Thoughts on the UCLA game

Wow, I like our freshmen, I just wish we had more of them. I'm glad we get a new one (that Alaskan kid) in a few weeks.

We don't have cable so I watched it on the big screen at our local B-Dubs and threw down 2 dozen wings and several glasses of Dr. Pepper. Thus, it's midnight and I'm blogging about the UK game.

Why, oh why, do our seniors have to be our weakest links?

Sheray Thomas, Lukasz Orbzut, and Bobby Perry: thanks for nothing (so far). For those of you who say "Well, Perry hustles," I say he committed too many dumb fouls and turnovers, and scored zero points on 0-5 shooting in 24 minutes. He disappears. Seniors shouldn't a) be weak and scrawny and get pushed around and b) disappear.

Before watching the UK game, Joni and I attended the Lady Bears game, where they pulled a big upset over LSU. I think Randolph Morris should play for the Lady Bears. His game is the same as a good woman center. He doesn't seem capable of dunking the ball, or taking it strong to the rack. He settles for those 5 to 10 foot jumpers. Some of those were helpful, but it would have been more helpful if he had taken the last one strong and not miss from 5 feet away.
Note to Ramel Bradley: NCAA Div-I basketball is not Rucker Park. Just because the guy guarding you is talking trash doesn't mean you have to try some trick dribbles to shake him down. You're a turnover machine. You kill our offensive flow. You're a good shooter, so move over and let Jasper run the point.

I hope that's the last time Sheray Thomas is on the floor at the end of the game. What happened to Stevenson?

It kills me that this is Ben Howlands' third year at UCLA, and yet his team is already loaded and a perennial title contender. This is Tubby's tenth year at UK, and our team is just now starting to look loaded.

I know, I know, it's just 1 game. I just miss the days when WE were the #5 team in the nation and that there was no doubt in anybody's mind about how great we were. Maybe by March we'll be back in that spot.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nate Robinson REJECTS Yao Ming!!

Yao Ming is 7 feet 6 inches tall. Nate Robinson is 5 feet 9 inches tall.
Ming goes up for a dunk, and Robinson is there to send it back. Wow.

Monday, November 20, 2006

On Monday...

I'm kind of burnt out on football after this weekend's feast. I enjoyed watching Michigan-OSU. I did NOT enjoy listening to and tracking the UK-UL Monroe game. That was disgraceful. To almost lose to a 2-7 team, ranked 146th in Div I? To give up 500 yards to a team that doesn't often get any yards?

I'm glad to read John Clay's article on the D-Coord. Mike Archer. "I'm disgusted with what I see," says Archer. Kentucky's defense is young and the worst in Div. I football. It's a shame, because the offense is one of the best Kentucky has ever had. Keenan Burton and Rafael Little are 2 of the best athletes in the SEC. Burton is simply amazing, he'll be a high draft pick. He's now #3 in the NCAA in all-purpose yards. Andre Woodson is now the #13 QB in the NCAA. Who would have thunk it?

As far as the BCS goes, I wanted to yell this at the commentators: Michigan beat the spread on Saturday. Sagarin estimates the homefield advantage being worth 2.74 points for a team. Take away those 2.74 points, (play on a neutral field), or playing at Michigan where the 2.74 would be in favor of Michigan, and Michigan wins. Can USC move up? I'm not sure. While the Trojans will likely remain #2 in the media polls, it will take a lot to move them up in the computer rankings. They need to absolutely blow out Notre Dame and UCLA to have a shot. Again, I don't know the BCS' strength of schedule rating for Michigan, but I know that Sagarin has it at #12, and USC at #2. However, Sagarin's Elo still puts Michigan far ahead of USC. That's why I think we'll see a rematch in January. Almost 2 months from now!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

RAD

For whatever reason this week, I've been reminiscing about a movie that was a childhood favorite. Definitely one of the coolest movies of all time, especially if you're a 6-7 year old kid. Anyone besides me remember the movie Rad? It came out in 1986. "It's going to take a lot more than skill for Cru Jones to conquer the toughest BMX challenge in the world. It's going to take a miracle."


Rad was all about BMX as the BMX craze started taking off. The climax is when the hero proves himself on a supercross-style course called Helltrack. Here's a deep synopsis of the movie.

It's gotten into my head because it featured the song "Send Me an Angel" by Real Life. In the movie, the guy shows up at his prom with his BMX, and then it turns into a slowmo deal with he and his girlfriend (Lori Laughlin from "Full House") doing bike stunts to the tune of that song. That moment alone was probably the coolest thing ever put into a movie. Here's the MTV video of "Send Me an Angel."

This movie used to come on HBO all the time, back before HBO was bad, and back when I used to have to go to bed at 7pm anyway. My friends and I would watch Rad, and then hop on our bikes and do tricks and stunts for the rest of the day. Alas, someone likes it so much they wrote it up on Wikipedia. And here's a YouTube clip of a scene. Anyone else remember this goodness?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Saddest Day Ever

I was just working on a post on another subject, when this news popped up on my screen. Milton Friedman dies at age 94. I wrote a tribute to Dr. Friedman here.

He's survived by his widow, Rose, who co-authored some of his books. They'd been married for 68 years. As news spreads, I'm sure the entire world community will express sorrow in the loss of this Nobel prize winner. As the Financial Times puts it:
"Friedman himself attributed the spread of both free markets and monetarist ideas to belated recognition of the consequences of soaring government spending and high inflation in the 1970s. But so far as the reaction was coherent and rational, much of the credit must go to him. The very success of free market policies has, of course, led to fresh problems; and what would one not give for a reborn 30-year-old Milton Friedman to comment upon and analyse these new challenges?"

President Bush said: "
He has used a brilliant mind to advance a moral vision - the vision of a society where men and women are free, free to choose, but where government is not as free to override their decisions. That vision has changed America, and it is changing the world."

Here's someone else's tribute to him.

Dr. Friedman could explain things so simply, passionately, and yet compassionately also. I try to use as many video clips, quotes, and wisdom from him as I can in teaching my class. And I'm still trying to get through Free to Choose. I will also miss reading the occasional interviews he gives to reporters. :-(

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thoughts on the Game

Ryan was gracious enough to let me use his ESPN Full Court to watch the UK game tonight. I'm listening to the Tubby postgame show right now, and I have to say it's the same old same old: "We need better ball movement, we need to play more physically, we need to rebound better..."

I was disappointed in the game. Ramel Bradley was a liability. Wukash is still incompetent ("Silent but deadly" in his own words!). Morris didn't dominate. Bobby Perry was all but invisible.

The good side: Jodie Meeks at least hustled enough to earn 24 minutes. Perry Stevenson showed why he's a shot-blocking machine. He should start every game. Joe Crawford showed flashes of greatness, but settled for too many bad jump shots. So, we have a tremendous upside.

Same old story:
when we press and trap on defense, we get fired up and score points (see the 16-3 run in the 1st half). When we don't, we just stand around and dribble the ball. I thought losing Rondo was going to somehow help us with this?

Same old same old from Tubby: "We didn't rebound, we didn't play physical, we didn't move the ball, we didn't play with intensity, we never got into a flow...." WELL WHO'S FAULT IS THAT?
My consolation is that UNC struggled, and Kansas is seriously UPSET by Oral Roberts.

It was one game. Maybe when they get to Maui they'll get fired up.
It's Here

#1 in NCAA in total wins (1,926).
#1 in NCAA in winning percentage.
#1 in AP Top 10 finishes (38).
#1 in NCAA Tournament appearances (47).
#1 in NCAA tournament games played (139).
#1 in NCAA Tournament Wins (97).
#1 in NCAA home game attendance 10 of the last 11 years.
43 SEC Championships (more than all other SEC schools combined).
25 SEC Tournament Championships (ditto).
13 Final Fours.
7 National Championships.

One Mission.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why Deficits are Bad in the Long-Run

Some recent comments were made here which seemed to ask "Why is the deficit a problem?" I taught this to my Eco 2307 students yesterday, and Greg Mankiw, as always, is right on cue today. Today's Wall Street Journal has this editorial stating that a) the deficit isn't that bad. b) tax increases are the wrong answer.
Tax increases are always distortionary, and are always a blunt instrument for doing anything. The 2001 tax cuts were timely as the economy slumped into a recession, but now they are appearing quite costly. You'll see the deficit we have now isn't bad compared to history. The problem is, it's getting bigger and is going to continue to do so. Here's why deficits are bad:

1. Deficit spending leads to higher interest rates. An increase in government spending increases the demand for money, which leads to less money being out there for banks to lend. Therefore, interest rates rise.

2. As interest rates rise, investment spending falls. This leads to less economic growth in the future. "Investment" in economics-speak does not mean Wall Street stocks and bonds (we call that "saving," actually). Investments are anything that help you produce more in the future. Building a new factory, buying technology for your company to help produce things in your future, R&D, etc. Less investment now means less economic growth in the future.

3. Deficits are funded by borrowing from abroad (mainly Japan and China). We pay back loans loans from those nations with interest. The more we borrow, the more interest we'll pay (think about a credit card). That's less future income that we could have.

4. If the government uses these borrowed funds to build infrastructure, lay broadband internet, or do things that will help the country in the long-run, then that's good. The problem is, much of the spending goes on current consumption and pork projects that do little to help long-run economic growth.

5. The deficit will grow as entitlement payments increase (Social Security and Medicare). Yes, those baby boomers are going to do a number on our government's deficit.

6. As Americans are saving less and investing less, it's reducing capital stock. We're investing less at home and abroad, and foreigners are investing more here. That means that foreigners will earn more returns from us, and we'll earn less from our assets abroad. That also means less income in the future.

7. Eventually, the deficit will have to be closed. That means that government will a) cut spending so that it provides less services than it does now. Many people now demand services from the government that will simply have to be cut. b) raise taxes. This will also hurt economic growth, and is very difficult to do optimally. Taxes are blunt instruments.

I got much of my info from an analysis of 58 studies done by Gale and Orszog in this paper. They find the statistically significant historical data to support the above.

Some of you are looking at buying a home. What does the equation deficits = higher interest rates mean to you? Gale and Orszag say that if government spending isn't reduced, and we keep the Bush tax cuts in place, the subsequent rise in interest rates (between 90 and 115 basis points) in the long-run will mean that if you have a 30-year, $200,000 mortage on your house, you can expect to pay $1,500 more in interest per year.

But, the real harm in higher interest rates is the crowding out of investment.

So, what can we do? Greg Mankiw has some ideas: raise the retirement age and impose higher taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling. Raising the retirement age means people will expect less Social Security and will be induced to save more. He and a growing number of economists also advocate a Pigovian tax on gasoline. This will a) help raise revenue b) entice people to become more fuel-efficient consumers/demanders.

Gale, Orzsag and some others advocate government-given incentives to encourage people to save. They also advocate setting up savings accounts in the event of being unemployed. There are some liberal ideas, but most of them based on sound economic theory.

So, we have this deficit, and the government either has to dramatically reduce spending, or raise taxes, or both. And, yes, it will hurt.
But, as Ronald Reagan said when he supported Paul Volcker in 1981 in the attempt to rid the nation of inflation and establish supply-side policies and fiscal prudence:
"If not now, when? If not us, who?"

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Only the Strong Survive...

Kentucky seized the day and got bowl eligible yesterday. Andre Woodson's 190.48 passer rating (450 yards, 4 TDs, no picks) will go down as one of the best UK single-game performances of all time. Keenan Burton is an All-American who will play on Sundays. Now that Rafael Little is back, Kentucky could seriously beat someone in a bowl. Vandy had the #19 pass defense in the nation coming into the game. And not even Florida put up as many yards as the Cats did on them.
California did NOT seize the day. With 3 other teams in the Top 10 losing this week, California likely would have moved up 3-4 spots in the writers/coaches poll, and been #3 with the computers. California likely would have been #3 in the BCS. We'll never know.

Here's something to think about while I'm waiting for the BCS ranking to be released. Sagarin's ELO goes into the BCS equation. Here is his Elo's top 10:

#1 Michigan
#2 Rutgers
#3 Ohio State
#4 Notre Dame
#5 USC
#6 Wisconsin
#7 Louisville
#8 Florida
#9 Arkansas
#10 Boise State

You can surmise that the computers feel the same way about Rutgers as the Elo. If Rutgers beats WVU, then it'll only get worse.

Wow! But if USC doesn't lose from here out, you can pencil them into the BCS title game. The SEC might be done now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Facing the Giants pt. 2

If you can still find Facing the Giants in a theater near you, then you should check it out. I thought of it a little last night as I watched Rutgers' defense put up a stone wall. Apparently, "stone wall!" has been heard on fields around the country, and people are tracing it back to players having seen the movie.


Every week I get a newsletter telling me what college and pro players are saying about the movie. Here's an interesting story:

"Dickey Nutt, the head basketball coach of Arkansas State University, recently saw FACING THE GIANTS and loved the film. In fact, he liked it so much, he began calling his coaching friends to let them know that not only should they see the film, they should take their teams to see it too. One of those coaches he called was his brother Houston, who coaches football (at Arkansas) in the Southeastern Conference. That week, Coach Houston Nutt's team not only saw the film, they went out and defeated a giant of their own (Auburn), the second-ranked team in the nation!"

So, go support a good movie about football and faith this weekend!

A Great Game

Watching the Rutgers game last night reminded me of my post over at Tapp University about DeLaSalle High School. I've not seen a team lacking in talent make up for it with so much heart, and sheer discipline. I've never heard a crowd of just 44,111 sound so deafening.
I've rarely seen a team adopt a coach-given mantra and make it work before: "We're just chopping wood. Keep chopping wood."

In the end, the #3 team in the nation, the #2 offense with one of the best QB's in the country was chopped up. In the 2nd half, Rutgers blitzed just about every down and came hard and fast every down. To hold Louisville to 300 yards, most of it in the 1st half, while sacking Brohm 5 times and hitting him several others? Only 4 penalties on a stage this big? To kill just about anyone who came across the line of scrimmage? To keep chopping wood until UL's defense gave up huge yardage to Ray Rice? To beat a team that's dominated teams from the SEC, Big 12, and Big East?

That was awesome.
Look out for California now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dick Armey and the "End of the Revolution"

**UPDATE**: A beautiful op-ed by George Will today in the Washington Post (much better than my post below). "The country remains receptive to conservatism. That doctrine -- were it to become constraining on, rather than merely avowed by, congressional Republicans -- can be their bridge back from the wilderness."

Former Republican house majority leader Dick Armey has a simple op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal.
He was apalled and saddened (as I mentioned in a previous post) by what the Republican party had become leading up to Tuesday's vote.

"I've always wondered why Republicans insist on acting like Democrats in hopes of retaining political power, while Democrats act like us in order to win."

His point: The Republican party has gone far astray from what it was about in 1994: smaller government and personal responsibility.

"
Eventually, the policy innovators and the 'Spirit of '94' were largely replaced by political bureaucrats driven by a narrow vision. Their question became: How do we hold onto political power? The aberrant behavior and scandals that ended up defining the Republican majority in 2006 were a direct consequence of this shift in choice criteria from policy to political power. Nowhere was this turn more evident than in the complete collapse of fiscal discipline..."

He also has bemoaned the pandering exclusively to the religious right instead of expanding to a broader base that care about non-moral issues as well.

"While Republicans managed to hold conservative Christians, they alienated independents, who represent 26% of the voting population. For the first time in 10 years, independents sided with the Democrats by a wide margin."

He also thinks Republicans have bought into the belief that Americans won't understand a vision of more limited government anymore.

He sums by saying "To Republican candidates...I say: Offer good policy and you will create a winning constituency for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom."

Justin agrees. You can't have lower taxes without also having less government. Republicans lost my vote on Tuesday as they expanded government as a Congressional majority and then had the audacity to say "we need to scale back government spending," when they had no plans to do so.
Dick Cheney long ago said "Deficits don't matter," and that's incorrect. They DO matter. (If you don't believe me, then sit in on my macro class on Friday).
Democrats were specifically saying "we will implement a pay-as-you-go budget", which is a Republican idea, and America voted for it, among other things, because Republicans have lost their credibility. Credibility is now for the Democrats to gain.