Monday, January 30, 2006
Sparks and Rondo looked great sharing the point guard spot. Result: 13 assists, 1 turnover.
CBS's Clark Kellogg summed it up best: "Tubby Smith likes to play smashmouth basketball. But, he just can't do that with the personel he has this year. He's learned to adjust to score points other ways, using quickness..."
I like the smaller lineup. Let's run, and drive to the basket and get to the free throw line, and kick it out for open 3's.
Randolph was his usual self: quite a good scorer, and good for a 6'10" guy in moving up and down the court.
Sheray Thomas had the game of his life. He was a highlight reel for a few minutes there. I couldn't believe it. And, while I think Bobby Perry is a liability on defense, he has shown he can hit big shots for us. Ravi Moss needs nothing written about him. Maybe we'll name a scholarship in his honor (that would be ironic).
Sadly, this only moved us up to #43 in the Sagarin, still trailing Arkansas. We still need a key win against Florida and/or Tennessee to boost us about 10 points.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Friday, January 27, 2006
Today I taught my first undergraduate class in macroeconomics. I tried to teach with a passion, just like you did. I made my own materials, just like you did. I explained to them how to calculate a price index, and what the CPI is, and all about the CPI bias, just like you taught me all those many years ago.
I wonder what you must have felt when you saw people nodding off in class. Those who never intended to pay attention in the first place, who simply went to sleep right after they walked in. But, I know that you would be pleased with the ones who asked questions, who nodded their heads in affirmation. Those are the ones who hear the truth, and it sets them free.
I used powerpoint slides and explained the circular makeup of the economy, just like you did.
Moreover, I simply taught with the belief in my heart that these things are important. Everyone should know what GDP is, and what it means. Everyone should look at the rest of the world, and see how they live. I think I opened some eyes today, Dr. Gillette. I give praise to God for the opportunity, as I'm sure that you did.
I thought about you and how you opened my eyes, along with Dr. Hoyt, Dr. Toma, Dr. Trask. It's because of you all that I'm here today, passing that knowledge on. Today's for you.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
I’m angered to see the opposition to Ernie Fletcher’s proposals to make Kentucky a Right To Work state, and to repeal the “prevailing wage” laws go unchecked by the newspaper. Yellow journalism from uninformed journalists. I’ll only address the Right-to-Work proposals (I live in Texas, a Right-to-Work state).
Kentucky’s economy is essentially being held hostage by worker unions that discourage companies from setting up shop and creating jobs for people. According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research from 2000-2002, Kentucky’s median household income fell by $554. The number of people in poverty rose. Kentucky needs more jobs and therefore more competitive wages very badly.
(The National Institute for Labor Relations Research's researchers is where I got most of my data from. The general theories I get from Adam Smith and such.)
What is Right-to-Work?
The right to work gives employees the right to work in a company without having to join a union, or pay union dues. There are some companies in KY (like Kroger) that require all employees to join a union and pay union dues. The union has the exclusive bargaining rights for its employees, and major changes cannot be made in employee policy without union consent.
If an employee later decides to stop paying dues to the union, the union compells the company to fire him/her.
The Right-To-Work laws, as a provision of the Taft-Hartley Act allow employees to join unions if they want to, or refuse to join a union, and not be fired either way. This is called freedom of choice.
If a Union gets your membership whether you want them to have it or not, then they don’t have much incentive to negotiate well on your behalf. They’ll get your money anyway. However, if you have the power to leave the Union without losing your job, then the Union will work to give you incentive to join up with them. They’ll be much more eager to bargain in the immediate interests of their members.
Opponents argue that by weakening the power of the unions, and essentially limiting the contracts between companies and unions, you create less incentive for the unions to organize in the first place, and they lose their collective bargaining power. They point out that unions bargain for higher wages and safer conditions.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 1993-2003 the percentage change in non-farm private sector employees was 17.7% growth overall. The increase in Right to Work States was 24.1%, while the increase in "union shop" States was 14.2%. (Source: Wikepedia)
Kentucky, being a “union shop” state is growing 10% slower than 22 states that have Right-To-Work laws.
Statistics have also clearly shown that right-to-work states have higher real wages on average, and have experienced a growth in the number of manufacturing jobs available. Kentucky, and other union shop states have actually experienced a decline. Factories are pulling out of states like Kentucky and moving to states like Texas where they no longer have to be held hostage by unions.
Businesses aren’t the only things migrating. Working-age people ages 25-34 are following the businesses out of Kentucky and into right-to-work states.
Unions will tell you that being in a “union shop” state means higher wages. Indeed, working in a union job may secure higher wages, but because the company is forced to pay higher wages they will hire fewer employees. Fewer employees mean fewer people working. Fewer factories that get built because of disdain for the unions means fewer jobs.
Statistics clearly show that the average disposable income of a person in a right-to-work state is higher than the average Kentuckian. (This is in part due to the fact that tax rates are HIGHER in non-right-to-work states like KY).
What does the data say?
They say that recent Right-To-Work states have seen a large increase in growth, and a large decrease in the people ages 25-34 that are leaving the state. They say that right-to-work states have higher economic growth, and growing standards of living. Median household income goes up, and taxes go down. The number of jobs available goes up, unemployment goes down.
Unions have spent countless millions to defeat Right-To-Work laws, just as they’re now doing in Kentucky. Not a single Right-To-Work law has been repealed once it has passed. The benefits have far outweighed the costs.
Why is this?
Competition=More Jobs=Higher Wages=Fairness
I’ll give you an over-simplified Econ 101 scenario:
Suppose you live in a town in Eastern Kentucky with 3,000 people. There are 2 factories in that town, each employing 250 workers (500 total). These workers are all unionized, and a worker must join a union in order to work at the factory. If you don’t work at the factory, you can work at the local hotel, McDonalds, or KFC for $5.15/hr. These places only employ about 100 people. They pay low wages because there is a surplus of unemployed workers in town. Many of the people in town emigrate to find better jobs elsewhere, but the story is pretty much the same across much of the state.
The unions have negotiated contracts, base pay is $10.00/hr. and the factories also provide heavy health insurance. The factories make a decent profit, but are unable to expand much to hire new workers because the wages the union negotiates are so high. New factories are reluctant to set up shop because they know they will also likely pay these high wages and benefits to union members, and they’d prefer to go elsewhere where they can find a more flexible workforce. It’s difficult to fire unproductive workers in a Union factory without Union permission. So, productivity isn’t quite as high as the factory managers would hope for.
The 2 Union bosses at the plants collect monthly dues from the members of $20 each. They have a monopoly on this, because everyone in the plant has to join/pay. So, per month they collect $10,000 (or $120,000/yr.). Half of this goes to the national Union organization. Another 1/3 of it ($40,000) goes to pay for pro-Union ad campaigns for politicians, and to lobbying to keep Right-to-Work laws out of Kentucky. The other $20,000/yr goes to pay for an annual picnic, a meeting hall, and into the Union bosses pockets for expenses.
There’s a rumor of new legislation being passed…The Union bosses protest saying that “Right-to-Work means ‘Right-to-Shirk’.” They say that the Union provides high wages and health benefits for employees. Without Union jobs, people will make less money and grow even poorer.
The Right-to-Work law is passed. The factories advertise a few part-time job openings for $7.00/hr, which are quickly snatched up by people. They opt out of the Union contract, because the plant tells them that it can’t afford to pay them $10 for part-time jobs. Soon, both plants begin to add a few new full-time positions, each at $8.00. It can afford to pay more workers if the pay they accept is less than the Union base pay of $10.
A few of the Union workers decide to opt out of paying the $20/month. The labor bosses quickly lower the entry fee to $10/month to try and gain support. About half of the Union members leave the Union because they no longer want to pay dues.
The factory now feels it has more freedom to fire unproductive workers and to hire new employees at $8.00. The Union workers become angry because these workers are working for less than $10.00. But, because they work for less, the factories can now afford to hire 600 people. Unemployment in the county begins to go down as more people are working and earning revenues. Because Union workers are paying less monthly dues, they have more disposable income.
As this trend continues in other counties, employment goes up and poverty finally starts to go down. The government no longer has to tax businesses so heavily to fund its welfare programs. As the state reduces taxes, companies now have more capital to hire more workers. Now the factories are employing 800 people.
Another small factory decides to build in the town, because it doesn’t have to worry about being held hostage by Union contract workers. It has full-time jobs at $7.00/hr and part-time jobs at $6.50/hr. It employs 200 people, total. Employment has gone up and now 1,000 people are employed by these factories, up from 500 a couple of years ago.
As these factories attract more workers, McDonalds and KFC increase their wages to compete. They now offer $5.75/hr. The general welfare and employment of the county is increasing. The increase in tax revenues to the local government (from more people working & thus paying taxes) help pay for new school supplies. Less people are leaving the county, and are staying to either work in the factories, or to start their own businesses.
True, these new factory workers are earning less than they did under “Union Shop” rules, but 3 times as many people are employed in the county, and the lowest-paying jobs now have to pay more in order to compete with the new businesses. Poverty has gone down, while the public works in the county have improved. Human flight has diminished.
This is what Ernie Fletcher wants for Kentucky. The Union bosses want the Union dues in their pockets. The Democratic Party congressmen who are “Pro-Labor” like the kickbacks that the labor unions give them, and the $ they give for their congressional campaigns.
End the cycle of poverty. Give workers freedom of choice! Let’s open Kentucky for business!
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
One of the biggest arguments in the Middle East against free elections is that extremists could get elected and that would be the end of Democracy. So, regimes that have existed in places like Egypt and Palestine have kept democracy from developing by saying that if it develops, whoever gets elected (besides the current ruling parties) will do damage to the world, and to democracy itself.
This is absurd.
Fatah, the ruling party in Palestine has held political power for 40 years. Have they developed infrastructure? Built roads, improved education? Brought economic success to Palestine? Kept promises?
Now Hamas, the opposition to Fatah, hates Israel and calls for its destruction. The people who are voting for Hamas are voting for an alternative to Fatah, which they see as corrupt and do-nothing.
If Hamas gets a majority in parliament, suddenly it will be the party in the hotseat. Sure it can foment hate, and make bombs, but can it improve standards of living? Can it give hope to parents raising children?
If Hamas gets elected it will have to address the everyday issues of the people of Palestine. It will have to somehow develop infrastructure and business in Gaza, and attract foreign investment.
It's kind of like the rugged soldier that comes home from war only to find he has a house full of screaming, hungry kids that he has to feed, clothe, and make happy.
If not, the people of Palestine will simply vote them out. That's how Democracy works (especially one that has so much international attention and comittment to it working).
Voting for Hamas might be a good thing. The best way to disarm a terrorist may indeed be to hold him accountable in free elections, and make him responsible for the lives of millions. In other words, to give him a job that he can get fired from.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
The ratings had a bad day on Saturday with all of the upsets and such (particularly Duke and Wisconsin). I'm tracking these each day and may eventually make a spreadsheet to see if the rating is an accurate predictor of outcomes or not. (this has already been done in previous years with football).
Monday, January 23, 2006
At least the home games are entertaining.
I haven't watched a single NBA game this year, and I'm not a Kobe Bryant fan at all, but I know that Kobe scoring 81 is special! I should probably purchase that game online.
Friday, January 20, 2006
There's actually a fantasy league you can join, too. Create a team (with a salary cap) with players from any team/era, and then put them into a league against other user-created teams.
Addicting for sure.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
The following is a quote from a John Piper sermon mentioning the danger of legalism:
"The legalist is always a very moral person. In fact the majority of moral people are legalists because their so-called Judeo-Christian morality inherited from their forefathers does not grow out of a humble, contrite reliance on the merciful enabling of God. On the contrary, for the legalist, morality serves the same function that immorality does for the antinomian, the free-thinker, the progressive, namely, it serves as an expression of self-reliance and self-assertion. The reason some Pharisees tithed and fasted was the same reason some German university students take off their clothes and lie around naked in the park in downtown Munich. The moral legalist is always the elder brother of the immoral prodigal...
Legalism is a more dangerous disease than alcoholism because it doesn't look like one. Alcoholism makes men fail; legalism helps them succeed in the world. Alcoholism makes men depend on the bottle; legalism makes them self-sufficient, depending on no one. Alcoholism destroys moral resolve; legalism gives it strength. Alcoholics don't feel welcome in church; legalists love to hear their morality extolled in church. Therefore, what we need in this church is not front end regulations to try to keep ourselves pure. We need to preach and pray and believe that 'Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither teetotalism nor social drinking, neither legalism nor alcoholism is of any avail with God, but only a new creation (a new heart)' (Gal. 6:15; 5:6)."
I'm glad I'm in the paradigm of Texas now, and not somewhere else.
Any thoughts on this?
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Now, rankings (even though a slightly scientific one like the RPI) mean nothing in the scheme of things, and could change dramatically overnight. UK will move up quite a bit with a road win at Georgia. Get above .500 in the SEC, and we'll be top-40.
Still, it stinks to have sunk so low so quickly.
I should note that Baylor is #302, having just played their 2nd game. That's below I-AA teams.
We're handicapped by the fact that the SEC is pretty weak in the rankings. We're not really doing well head-to-head with other conferences. However, the SEC's RPI is oddly ahead of the Big East's which boasts the most Top-25 teams. Thank you South Florida!
Other notes of interest:
Eastern Kentucky is ranked 142, just 1 spot behind Umass at 141. So, Travis Ford has brought UMass down to the level that he brought EKU up to!
Tennessee is #11, Florida is #12. Both are 1-0 against Top 25 teams. Vandy is 34, thanks mostly to us. LSU (at 9-5) is #39, thanks mainly to their strength of schedule. They've played 8 Top 25 teams. Alabama is #64.
Could be worse: Kansas is #135. Yikes! I hear someone calling for Bill Self's head.
So, I hope the downward slide takes an upward trend tonight on the road. Georgia is rebuilding for pete's sake. Surely we can steamroll a little guy and feel better!
Friday, January 13, 2006
"When I Don't Desire God," by John Piper. It's another good Piper book, like the others you have to get through theological importance at the beginning, and then the rest of it is just simple application. How to search for joy when you've lost it, how to refine your spiritual walk so that you can savor Christ more, and the importance of doing so.
It's challenged me in simple ways, mainly to memorize more. To drill for rich oil in the Word.
It's taken me over a year to get through this book, because I found myself often reading and not applying or it sinking in. Try it, you'll like it. If not, keep coming back to it. Eventually you'll find a spring of fresh water.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
So, what's the "or else" here from my last post?
...or else re-evaluate if this coaching staff is really maximizing this team's potential. Something has gotta give. There's an old adage in life/business: "If You Keep Doing What You've Always Been Doing You'll Keep Getting What You've Always Been Getting."
We have a benchmark: What do Joe B. Hall, Eddie Sutton, and Rick Pitino have in common? They never lost to Vandy at Rupp!
This team still shows little competency passing the ball, running their basic offense. Tubby's philosophy of going inside-out with 5 guys over 6'7" and makes him content with 50-60 points-per-game. With solid defense, it translates to a good win in his book. But, apparently these guys can't run the offense. The ball-line defense has little intensity and has proven ineffective against teams that pass the ball well (UNC, Kansas, Ohio[even though it was a good win]).
UK also can't shoot the ball. Good grief: 25% from 3 in this game. 1-9 in the first half. 23% in the Kansas "debacle." At least in the Vandy game we finally hit some crucial free throws.
Offense has to set up these shots. Something about Tubby's preferred offense = poor shooting. We've seen it in way too many seasons.
If the guys aren't doing their homework, don't come ready-to-play, then you have to do something to get it going. Either change your system, or change the players in the system. A good manager knows when to change things up to get things going. He knows how to lead, to motivate, and to communicate his strategies. If not, he quickly fails and is fired.
The best example I've seen of change from Tubby Smith was in '97-98. We lost some tough games to weaker opponents, and struggled at times setting up good shots in his offense. Tubby changed his offense twice in key games to fit his veteran team that had been trained for years to press & trap, drive to the basket and kick out for open threes in motion. The results? Huge comeback wins and a national championship marked by drives to the basket for layups and passes outside for wide-open threes, and an abandonment of the ball-line defense for an up-tempo style of play.
Why isn't this team doing this? I don't know, and I won't say that pressing & trapping and such is the solution. But, clearly these guys aren't playing to their strengths. They don't seem to know what the offense is.
Once again we're left with a team that "can't shoot." We have some of the most talented shooters in America. I don't buy that we lack talent. We lack competency. Something has to give.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
UK has looked awful in the past couple of games, and I’ve been angry. I’m ready for a turnaround now, and I hope that Morris is the spark that ignites the fire.
Here’s why I’m most upset. Back during UK’s monster win streak a few years ago, Gerald Fitch was asked what the difference was between the over-achieving 2002-2004 teams and the underacheiving previous teams.
He said something to the effect of:
“We never really listened to the coaches before. None of us ever read the scouting reports. Now, we’ve decided to, and all-of-a-sudden we’re ready to play teams. We’re shutting down teams that we couldn’t shut down a year ago because we pay attention.”
Guys like Fitch, Hayes, and Hawkins apparently took this seriously. Teams like North Carolina incorporate homework and scouting reports as an essential part of team meetings and practices. Kentucky apparently doesn’t.
Andy Katz made an excuse for KY and said:
“This is probably the weakest Kentucky team in Tubby Smith's nine seasons as coach”
That is ludicrous! While Randolph Morris has been out, we’ve still been playing 2 McDonald’s All-Americans. Other guys like Shagari Alleyne and Ramel Bradley were extremely sought-after New Yorkers. Patrick Sparks was highly sought after, and considered quite valuable after last season. Do you think other schools don’t want Jared Carter or Lukasz Orbzut? You’re nuts. Rekalin Sims was one of the top JUCO guys in the country last year, he could have gone anywhere.
Lack of talent? What about UNC (9-2)? These guys lost all of their talent and are still ranked, and good enough to come into Rupp and school the veteran Cats. Were their interior guys any better or more experienced than ours?
Central Florida? These guys are barely .500 and come in and come within a hair of knocking off Kentucky. Think they have the talent that we do?
We’re one of the most loaded, talented teams in the NCAA, with one of the most respected coaches. Yet, we get out-coached, out-hustled, and blown out on national TV. I expect that to change beginning tonight. I want this team to rebound. I will accept nothing less than a championship. Championship or no, I at least want our guys to look like they care. Read a scouting report, communicate on defense. Show some pride!
Saturday, January 07, 2006
We've gotten high-speed internet at home without having to get a phone line, cable subscription, or leech off our neighbors! Yes, Clearwire is the answer to our problems. Fairly cheap, and very easy to set up. No more calls to Matt Woodyard. :-)
The BAD news?
The first thing I see on my internet connection are the ESPN.com highlights of UK getting BLOWN OUT by Kansas! Okay, someone who saw the game explain this to me: Why did we shoot 25%? Why did Jared Carter have the best box score among our big men? Why is Patrick Sparks' only highlight a slow-mo of him getting stuffed on a layup??
Tubby's post-game remarks seem to indicate he doesn't think the players are doing their homework, or reading their scouting reports. I'll post more about my suspicions and thoughts on this later next week.
I'm saddened, shocked, and angered by us getting blown out in Lawrence again. I demand that someone account for this.
Friday, January 06, 2006
It does a good job of showing how poverty in America is so much better than even "upper class" life in places like Congo. It shows some similarity in local corruption, and resource exploitation. Differences being poor Americans often have multiple cars, TV's, and decent-enough sized housing.
"The point of this article is neither to mock Mr Banks (Kentucky) nor to praise Dr Kabamba (Congo). Both have their virtues and flaws, and your correspondent cannot reliably judge which is the happier. But here are two concluding observations. First, if poor Americans were to compare their standard of living with what is normal elsewhere in the world, let alone in Congo, they would see they have little cause for discontent. Then again, were Americans not so incurably discontented with their lot, their great country would not be half as dynamic as it is."
Now I'm without cable, and without much time. On Saturday I have traffic school, so I won't get to watch the UK-Kansas game. I'll get the tape of it sent to me though, my parents send me all of the UK tapes. They did when I was overseas too, it's just part of being me.
So, I'll still comment on UK games, but not on college basketball in general. Some things have to go, I guess.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
The most impressive part of the BCS Championship last night was the lack of penalties. Usually in these late bowl games, teams are always false-starting and jumping offsides. This is because they take a month away from playing games, and are all-of-a-sudden forced to play the most important game of their lives. Both teams looked real professional.
So, I was pulling for USC to win last night. It's my "might makes right" in football philosophy. USC had 2 Heisman winners, and a whole host of future NFL players. Reggie Bush is special. Lendale White is smashmouth awesome. Pete Carrol has done a great job.
I felt like Texas had good speed and talent, but that Vince Young had carried them through near-losses like Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
Well, Vince did it again last night. 30-40 passing for 267 yards. 200 yards rushing and 3 TD's, including the last 2 of the game???? That's unbelievable.
People have talked about how Reggie Bush might be the greatest ever. So... if Vince Young has the greatest game ever, and is the first player ever to pass for 2,500 and run for 1,000 in a season, what's that make him?
I think it makes him one of the greatest ever, probably having the greatest season of all time.
I'm impressed with how Texas played, and unimpressed with how USC coaching missed a timeout at 4th-and-1 that cost them a score in the 1st quarter, and then called an inadvertent timeout at the end of the game that also hurt. Little control in crunchtimes.
Congrats to Texas. Maybe you'd have beaten LSU after all.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
1. Drove over 2,000 miles in the Camry through 5 states and back.
2. Rode in and drove my in-law's Camry from Cincy to Chicago and back.
3. Lunch with Steve McCoy's family north of Chicago. His daughter gave us the most theologically sound gift from a child I've ever recieved.
4. Got everything that I had asked for.
5. My wife's brother-in-law got a PS2. So, I proceeded to buy a used copy of NCAA Football 2005 and start up yet another dynasty with Florida Atlantic. Went to a couple of bowls before I had to turn the crack box off.
6. I didn't turn the crack box off before I had played for about 8 hours on New Years night.
7. Also bought a used copy of March Madness '05 and was fairly unimpressed. They needed to do some work on recruiting and simulation before they released this thing. It's a bad cross between NBA Live's and Football's recruiting.
8. Overall, had a good time meeting new relatives.
9. Anyone out there ever heard of a card game called "hand and foot"? Played this game for 5 hours on New Years. It's the dumbest game ever. My wife and I won.
10. Saw UK play Ohio on ESPN2. This made me quite happy. I was impressed with how we wore them down and took it at the end. Thank you Joe Crawford, you saved the holidays!
11. I'm depressed to hear we only beat Central Florida by 2 points, at the end of the game. Thank you Rajon Rondo! You saved our NCAA tournament seed (!!).
Tomorrow, I have orientation at Baylor. I just spent another $225 on books for 1 class. Hopefully, I'll be returning these soon.
Hope everyone had a happy holiday! Hopefully, I'll have internet access on campus regularly soon, so I don't have to worry about keeping up with the world.