Friday, June 30, 2006

Hope?

Here's an article from the Herald Leader about Tyrone Nash, a 6-7 forward from Queens who might fill the extremely urgent need Kentucky has at forward since we've struck out trying to get the 5 other major guys we wanted. Not a done deal yet, but looks likely.

The kid is 17, and not even in the Top 150. There are possible reasons listed for that. He was recruited by several Div. I-A schools, which brings some optimism, but none of them were powerhouses.

Tubby offered young Adam Williams a scholarship as a junior, keeping other guys from coming. Then he sent him to prep school, and then he never ended up being good enough to play as a freshman, and now he's transferred out. That and the Rekalin Sims debacle really shook my confidence in our recruiting.

But, maybe Nash turns out to be an Erik Daniels in a couple years?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Crave more stats?

***For those of you eagerly waiting, the Tapp Coaching Index will be released sometime next week when things calm down and I can run the numbers.***

The Draft got me wondering about all of the number-crunching involved in trades. Calculating a player's value, etc. How many of these NBA player personnel guys really have a clue what they're doing?

I've found several sports statistics sites online. One of which is http://www.basketball-reference.com. You can do a lot with that stuff. I've also found all kinds of "player efficiency ratings." The most complex is the Hollinger PER. Down to a science, I tell you. Here's a blog from that site that actually looks at some fun things.

But people ask: Why trade for Telfair and then draft Rondo? Rumors are that Boston wants to deal for Allen Iverson. Maybe they can package one of their new PG's in a trade.

Why Allen Iverson? With him and Paul Pierce I guess you could have a great scoring combo. Championship caliber? I don't think so.

I love Allen Iverson. No one loves the game and wants to win more than AI. Danny Ainge must love him too. You may say "He scored a career high 33 PPG last season! Of course Boston wants him!" But how much does Iverson have left in him?

I've decided to use my newfound forecasting skills to predict PPG, RPG, APG of Iverson and some other aging stars. Iverson made around $16.5 million last year. How much are you willing to pay him to play for the next 4 seasons? How much should Danny Ainge be willing to pay?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lovin' the Draft Action

Rajon Rondo is the first true point guard taken. Wow. Ahead of Marcus Williams! Wow.

Renaldo Balkman? Isaiah Thomas is nuts, or stupid, or going to be fired, or all 3. I'm glad I'm not a Knicks fan.

I've loved watching the draft. I love the humor, I love the New York hecklers, I love David Stern and Dan Patrick taking shots at eachother. I don't like Stephen A. Smith. I've liked reading John Clay's play-by-play.

I'm going to go home now, before they throw me out of the lounge.

Awaiting the NBA Draft

The NBA Draft is a lot like March Madness. You've got all kinds of "experts" who have been following talent for months who are making predictions about how far players will go. They fill out their "mock drafts" just like your office pool bracket.

I love the draft. I love the month before the draft when players are working out against each other for certain teams. Boston worked out Marcus Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Randy Foye. How'd you like to see those guys go 1-on-1?

The bad thing about the draft is that in order to find information about player workouts you have to pay MONEY. If you don't believe me, go to ESPN's draft page and try reading any of the articles with actual information.

Usually, I will sign up for ESPN Insider for my free "trial month" about a month before the draft and then cancel at the end of the month. I didn't this year because 1) I've been studying. 2) I'm afraid I'll forget to cancel and we'll get billed.

Here's a good article from the Lexington Herald-Leader about Rondo and where he might go, and how no one really knows which Rondo will show up in the NBA. Another from the Cincy Post in which an NBA scout is quoted as saying "I think his shot isn't broken." No one knows where Rondo will go. Could be a Top-10 pick, good be a Top-25. I think he won't go to Boston at #7, because they'll draft the more local talent in Marcus Williams.

What I really find interesting is all of the mock drafts that GM's do. You've got one for every contigency. Why go through all of the trouble? It's kind of like game theory, I guess.

So, here's my prediction for the Top 10 picks:

1. Toronto - Andrea Bargnani
2. Chicago - LaMarcus Aldridge
3. Charlotte - Rudy Gay
4. Portland - Adam Morrison
5. Atlanta - Tyrus Thomas
6. Minnesota - Brandon Roy
7. Boston - Marcus Williams
8. Houston - Randy Foye
9. Golden State - Shelden Williams
10. Seattle - Patrick O'Bryant

I also bet that Chicago will trade their pick.

I know I'll be in the graduate lounge tonight (which has a very nice cable package) watching it all unfold.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Want one of these?

The U.S. mint is making 24-karat gold coins, 99.99% pure gold. The face value is $50, but the intrinsic value is much higher. The Fed is selling them for $800. That covers the worth of the gold, the cost of minting, and a little extra markup besides. It looks like the old Buffalo nickels. The Fed is making two different versions, 1 for investors and 1 for collectors.

You may say "How neat, but so what?" Well, I think it's a way for the government to make money off of the gold bars it holds at places like Ft. Knox. These bars are useful for nothing in terms of our fiat currency, so why not make money with them? The price of gold shot up, so the Fed sees a money-making opportunity.

This is part of something called seignorage. What will the Fed use this money for? Well, not to pay down the budget deficit, but more likely to pay for a rainy day.

Remember back in 1995 when we bailed out Mexico with $billions as they hit a serious economic recession? That came from the Fed's special account. Remember in 2001 when the gov't handed out a lot of cash to stimulate the economy? Much of that also was covered by Fed revenue from saved up from seignorage.

I just find that interesting. When the government sells a product we should all ask "Where is this money going?"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wow!

Here's a must-read post for every Wildcat fan:
http://johnclay.typepad.com/sidelines/2006/06/emailbag_jodie_.html

It's a letter written by the father of Jodie Meeks, one of the freshmen who much of our hopes are pinned on this season in support of Tubby and the program.

Friday, June 23, 2006

NBA Draft Data

Ryan Reed on NBADraft.net has an interesting article on a statistical analysis of player performance from 20 years worth of NBA drafts . It lacks some explanation of the variables, however. The author has told me that it is to represent "what the average fan can expect from a draft pick." Always good to know people are trying to measure these things.

I thought I'd go ahead an post my last update, using the aforementioned JPR, [PPG(1/5)+ RPG(2/5)+APG(2/5)]. This is from 1993-2001. I averaged the player performance for each pick. You can see how it's almost curve-shaped, indicating a non-linear relationship.



I've circled the first 5 picks, and the last pick. As you can see the first 5 picks are significantly higher performers than all other picks. The 6th pick usually underperforms compared to picks #9 and #10. The last pick is also circled. That shows that the last pick usually ends up being the worst pick.

So, after transforming the data to a percentage change (log of the averages) you get a better better fit:


So, you can see the % change that occurs in each successive draft pick (-.018). Interestingly enough, where in the draft a player is picked explains/predicts 83.59% of the variance in player performance. This means that the draft is a very good indicator of player performance.

Rajon Rondo is projected to go #23 in the draft. So, that means would at .4363 in the above graph.

Who would that compare him to? By my calculations, this level of output has been achieved by:

Greg Ostertag, Terry Dehere, Carlos Rogers, Clifford Rozier, Kelvin Cato, and Scott Pollard.

Most of these guys were big men. Rondo averaged more rebounds than assists last season, and was very well-rounded. Hmmm...

Sports Update!

Okay, there's a new sport that ESPN.com is featuring today: CHESSBOXING! It combines both Chess and Boxing. You play a 4 minute round of chess, then box for 2 minutes, and this continues for 11 rounds. You either win by knockout, checkmate, ref's decision, or if your opponent exceeds his 12 minute chess limit. Wow, this is awesome! You use your brain, and then you have your brains beaten out. Check out the video.

This is the coolest thing I've seen all day.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Try to catch me ridin' dirty..."

I had a dream last night I was working at a nuclear missile base in Turkey during the Cold War, and were were waiting for North Korea to fire a nuke. There was a vending machine I wanted to buy lunch from but it was too expensive... The first half of the dream is a common theme in my dreams: nuclear war, the 2nd half comes from long days at Baylor.

Want to see what North Korea looks like? In case you haven't forgotten these guys are going to fire a missle at us any day now! Here are some photographs from TrekEarth.com. Be sure to read the photographers' comments.

During the day: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/North_Korea/photo263764.htm
Sunset: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/North_Korea/photo256864.htm
The traffic: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/North_Korea/photo255945.htm
A wedding: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/North_Korea/North/Pyongyang-si/photo260824.htm

That's about all I've got to post today. The Camry blew a gasket. It was just 700 miles over the full warranty (36,700). It's either the transmission, or some computer sensor in the engine. If it's the transmission then the warranty will cover it. If not, I bet it's going to be really expensive. That really stinks.

The Mustang is still for sale! Proceeds go to fix my other car!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Good for Kentucky


So, I'm happy for Derek Anderson and Antoine Walker as they have won titles in college (Kentucky '96) and now the NBA. Pat Riley never won a title at Kentucky (runner-up in '66), but now he's won umpteen in the NBA. Maybe Gerald Fitch will get a ring too since he played on the team some during the season. All-in-all the SEC looked good last night.

In honor of this, I'm releasing one of my newly calculated draft statistics. My wife stressed to me that my performance evaluator stank, so I modified it to give greater weight to assists and rebounds, like a fantasy league would. Both assists and rebounds are worth twice as much as points now. The Joni Production Rating (JPR)is PPG*(1/5) + RPG*(2/5) + APG*(2/5).

I've now looked at drafts from 1993-2001. I think that's a solid modern sample. So, I averaged by pick over those years. So, the Average JPR for the #1 pick is the total JPR of ALL the #1 picks divided by 9.

The top 15 players drafted during 1993-2001 according to their career output as measured by the JPR is:

10.46 - Tim Duncan*
10.36 - K. Garnett
9.64 - Iverson
9.28 - J. Kidd
9.26 - Elton Brand
9.2 - Grant Hill
8.86 - Paul Pierce
8.76 - Tracy McGrady
8.68 - Antoine Walker*
8.64 - Steve Francis
8.62 - Kobe Bryant*
8.54- Vince Carter
8.52 - Stephon Marbury
8.3 - Pau Gasol
8.18 - Gilbert Arenas

*= Has won an NBA title

Notes: Only 3 of these guys have won titles. Walker's JPR is surprisingly high. Kobe Bryant's career #'s also reflect his first years in the league when he sat on the bench a lot. Gilbert Arenas was a 2nd round pick.

Coming soon: How does where a player is picked correlate with their overall JPR? (it's a pretty picture)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good Television

Didn't watch the first half of the game because I was watching Frontline on PBS. It was a great story compiling all of the history from 9/11 to 2005 showing how much power the Vice President's office now has, and how Dick Cheney has been behind every decision made. Interestingly named "The Dark Side."

"After 9/11, Vice President Richard Cheney seized the initiative. He pushed to expand executive power, transform America's intelligence agencies and bring the war on terror to Iraq. But first he had to take on George Tenet's CIA for control over intelligence."

Interviews with intelligence offers who were pressured to come up with WMD evidence, staffers who saw the battles between Powell & Cheney/Rumsfeld. The generals and congressmen who felt betrayed, and the CIA workers who felt that George Tenet let them down by becoming Cheney's lackey.

You can watch it online for free, it's worth it.

What to Post?

I'm doing some research into mutton consumption in this country. I've put up a new poll! Check out the column on the right.

So, I've slacked today on posting. I'm actually working on a big paper and a big presentation tomorrow. I'm supposed to talk about which firms are more efficient in the public or non-profit sector than in the private sector.
Answer a conservative would probably give: None
Answer a liberal would give: At least public utilities
My answer: Almost none. Non-profits tend to have their own agendas. If run like a business then they can be perfectly efficient. The government is shown to be able to run some utilities (water, electric) more efficient in some cases, but not all. In most of those cases it's when the government either competes with the private sector or forces greater competition that it is efficient.
Government is best in building infrastructure (deciding where to build an interstate), doing some aspects of targeted economic development, and establishing national parks & monuments.

I've got another NBA Draft stat post ready to go, this one pretty conclusive and interesting.

I'm also thinking about this: Is it a good idea to legislate morality? Is it necessary? Is the proposed Marriage Amendment legislating morality or simply making centuries worth of legal precedent the standard of law in the future?
As a Christian, should I be advocating the Marriage Amendment or not?

Monday, June 19, 2006

MVP?

After the 3rd quarter I was hoping this post would be about Jason Terry. He's been the Mav's engine.
But, then Wade stepped up huge in the 4th quarter. Jordanesque. All you could really do was sit and shake your head. You can't draw up a game plan to stop greatness.


That's what you have to love about basketball. A team can do everything right, and have every advantage it needs to win. But, none of that matters if a truly great player is on the court with an intense will to win. Wade starts knocking turn-arounds, fade aways, every free throw.

The man had a sub-par game overall, but came away with 43 points and every clutch shot down the stretch. Jordan Jordan Jordan.

Shaq said: "He's the best right now, that's all you can say. He's the best."

Forget the fact that that sequence at the end shouldn't have been a foul, wouldn't have been a foul in college (you don't want a championship game to come down to cheap free throws). The man took on 4 defenders, at one time, by himself, and still created an opportunity for success.

(LeBron who? Carmelo who?)

Friday, June 16, 2006

More Fun with NBA Draft Data

So my wife was like "Points Per Game isn't an accurate measure of output! What if they're a good rebounder or something?" She's right, of course. I'll call this the Jason Kidd factor. So, basically I'm going to call "output" PPG + RPG + APG. So, for every draft pick from 1995-2000 I simply added up these amounts and divided by 6 to give me the average output for every #1 pick, #2 pick, etc.

This will help eliminate the effects of some of the outliers like Michael Redd by averaging him out. However, we have a data problem. Some guys are listed as having scored 0.0 PPG, etc. Other guys just have N/A next to them, meaning their data wasn't available. I looked up a couple of them and found that some of them had played and had scored points (though most of them were quite low). Because of this, I just leave out the N/A data, which isn't that much to begin with.

There's actually a non-linear effect here. It looks like the quality of players decreases dramatically until the mid-second round and then it levels off. Some of the players picked last are just as productive as guys taken mid-2nd round. If my understanding of the math is correct then being picked 1 pick lower means a player will produce 1.6% less (PPG+APG+RPG) than the guy picked before him.


The best part of it is that draft pick predicts roughly 79% of player performance over time. That's an interesting #. Here's an easier-to-follow linear model.


So, what do I learn from this that's interesting? Well, where a guy goes in the 2nd round doesn't really matter. He won't be as good as a lottery pick, but the last pick might be better than the 35th pick.

So, if I'm a GM then I might trade cash or value for my early 2nd to acquire a late 2nd round pick and do all that I can to get into the lottery.

If you look closely at the above chart you can see that picks #11 and #12 do much worse on average than #13. #13 is actually lucky, statistically significantly so! Let's examine it closely, with the more productive player highlighted:

1995: #12 Cherokee Parks #13 Corliss Williamson

1996: #12 Vitaly Potopenko #13 Kobe Bryant

1997 #12 Austin Croshere #13 Derek Anderson

1998 #12 Michael Doleac #13 Keon Clark

1999 #12 Aleksandar Radojevic #13 Corey Maggette

2000 #12 Etan Thomas #13 Courtney Alexander

This year's #12 belongs to New Orleans while #13 belongs to Philly.

(I can think of about 3 marginal NBA fans that sometimes read my blog and may be interested in this).

To things that matter

The Yale Economics Review has posted an article entitled "Can Jeff Sachs Save the World?" Great article about this great development economist and his passion for helping poor people around the world, and motivating big countries to help out.

I think my goal in life is to work for this man.
"Jeffrey Sachs is at once a scientist and a preacher in the field of economics."

I find him to be a smart, likable, intelligent person. Most people that knock his ideas have never read his book and seen how he outlines them. Many are unaware of the progress being made in villages where he's launching pilot programs. He's saving lives, and doing it relatively cheaply and efficiently.

Sachs' preaches the painfully obvious: “This year our country will spend approximately 510 billion on the military... We will spend in Africa about 3.5 billion dollars total. That’s the choice that we’re making as a country right now. It’s not the choice that’s going to get us to real security.”

The economics profession as a whole hasn't figured out what to think about him. Most are skeptical, but admire his passion. Greg Mankiw has recently posted on his blog some personal thoughts about Sachs' work in Africa. I loved Sachs' book The End of Poverty. Here's an economist's critique of it.

I think in the back of most Christians' minds they are aware of the poverty and needs they know from the evening news but most don't know where to start or what to do. Well, Sachs found a place to start and needs all the resources he can muster to make it work.

I applaud Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for getting involved with him. I also applaud Bill Gates, who is leaving Microsoft to continue funding vaccines and other charitable work full-time. Sachs loves partnering with Gates and wants Bill to talk some of the others in his tax bracket to join in.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Draft Stats

Okay, so yesterday I was thinking "You know, it'd be really nice to have a list of draft picks in a given year next to their career Points Per Game." ESPN did even better than that for me. You can see career RPG and APG, and it's easily pastable into an Excel spreadsheet.
It means you can run a regression to see if there is a relationship between where a person was drafted and their performance. If you determine that there isn't a strong relationship then you've shown that the draft isn't a good measure of player performance.

(Now, an even better project would be to do one like the WSJ did for NFL QB's: Determine what relationships exist between performance in college and how the player turned out in the pro's).

But, lets look at 1995, the year Bob Sura was drafted. Sura was drafted #14 and is actually #14 in that draft in career PPG.

Below I have taken 2 different drafts: 1995 and 2000 to see what we could predict about your scoring average from where you were taken in the draft.

I took the 2 rounds from the 1995 draft and plotted them with a regression line:


So, Draft Position is on the X-axis and PPG is on the Y-axis. My R^2 is .508, so roughly 51% of a player's PPG is determined (predicted) by their draft status.

According to this model, someone drafted #20 is predicted to score 6.1 PPG. #20 was Jason Caffey who averaged 5 PPG in his career.

You have a LOT of second rounders who never played (thus zero PPG), and several at the end who actually bring the average back up.

According to my equation, for every 1 spot down you're drafted you're likely to score 0.23 PPG less. (This t-value is highly significant).

Let's try a different year... how about 2000? Most of those guys are still playing and may be peaking.

Wow, talk about a deeper draft, and very even. Fewer folks with zero PPG, that's good. One HUGE outlier (Michael Redd was taken #43!)

Chris Porter was 55th, the other big outlier (just before the draft he was shown to have been paid to play in college by an agent).

My residuals are a little more even. R^2 = .35, so only 35% of PPG in this draft is explained (predicted) purely by draft position.

A person drafted #20 is predicted to average 7.2 PPG. The real #20 was Speedy Claxton who averages 9.9PPG.

A decrease in draft # by 1 position means you're likely only to score 0.15 PPG less for your career.

So, 2000's draft was deeper and more even-keeled in talent by far than 1995. It appears that there may some truth about some draft classes being stronger than others. The stronger the class, the more difficult it is to predict what a player's performance will be soley based on when he was picked.

See kids, this is why you should major in Economics.

Highway to the Danger Zone

So, I'm driving to the library yesterday listening to the radio and the local top-40 station features "Way Back Wednesday" where they play songs from the 80's.
They started crankin' Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" from Top Gun. We all know and love the song and how cool Top Gun was, and how cool Tom Cruise is/was in those Ray-Bans.
This was the highlight of my day so I share it with all of you.

Revvin' up your engine Listen to her howlin' roar. Metal under tension beggin' you to touch and go...

There I am passing cars on Valley Mills Drive in my slick Toyota Camry. Yeah, baby!

Highway to the Danger Zone; Ride into the Danger Zone...

I'm thinking about the Consumer Price Index and measures of inflation...

Headin' into twilight spreadin' out her wings tonight; She got you jumpin' off the track and shovin' into overdrive.

I'm merging onto I-35 North. I'm just better than every other car on that highway.

Highway to the Danger Zone; I'll take you right into the Danger Zone...

I'm turning into the library on campus at a moderate speed, eagerly sending joggers fleeing in my wake.

Out along the edges Always where I burn to be... The further on the edge The hotter the intensity...

I'm thinking about inefficiencies of government-run firms and how comparisons of cost between publicly-owned utilities and investor-owned utilities leave us with ambiguous conclusions.

You'll never say hello to you until you get it on the red line overload. You'll never know what you can do Until you get it up as high as you can go! (cue vintage electric guitar solo)

While at the library I assert my domination by playing my 812th game of chess on Yahoo!. My record: 385 wins 396 losses and 31 draws. My rank: 1271.

Highway to the Danger Zone. Gonna take you Right into... the Danger Zone!

I am the coolest graduate student on the face of the earth.

Highway to the Danger Zone! (music fading)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

J.J. Redick arrested

Another Dukie gets arrested. Really smart thing to do with less than a month until the NBA draft. Notice his collar being half-up, half-down. That typical sloppy, preppie look.


He was projected to go anywhere from #7 to #14. Really? How good can he really be in the pro's? I mean, seeing the huge demand for preppie white guys in the NBA and all. Let's look at some of these white guys and figure out which one Redick might emulate.

What's the goal for a GM drafting Redick?
For Redick to be as good as Bobby Sura. Sura is the pinnacle.

Sura is the only really successful white guy in the NBA. His career averages have declined as he's gotten older, but he's still in the league at age 33. His best season?
14.7 ppg for Atlanta in '03-04. In 2000 he led the NBA in made 3-pointers (shooting 37%), which is what any GM wants from Redick.

What about another preppie white guy, first-round pick, this time from Stanford. Casey Jacobsen anyone? (Remember when he was drafted and Craig Sager asked if his hot girlfriend had any sisters? Wasn't Sager wearing some hot pink sportcoat with a purple tie? Classic TNT draft coverage.)

Jacobsen's career appears to have peaked at a whopping 7.6ppg. He shoots 37% from 3-point range in his career, keeping him clinging to his 20 minutes per game.

You say: "Ah, but what about Mike Dunleavy? He's a preppie Dukie too, shouldn't he be the comparison?" Well, you're right, but he's taller and tries to play forward. He was an integral part of Golden State's offense this season, starting 68 games, averaging 32 mpg and scoring an amazing 11.5 points per game! He also grabbed 5 rebounds a game, which I think makes him perhaps the weakest starting small forward in the game. And he shot 28.5% from 3-point range, ouch!

Maybe he's improving. Golden State signed him to a ridiculously lucrative contract before last season. Do you think he's worth it? He's rich, so J.J. should probably try to emulate him.

Am I leaving anyone out here? Please comment if you think of someone. I can think of a couple decent forwards: Matt Harpring, Pat Garrity. I can think of at least one other sharpshooter from Duke who did much worse than these guys (Trajan Langdon).

I didn't include Jason Williams because he's no longer White Chocolate, and was never a preppie. He was fun to watch when he averaged 7 apg but now you never even see him crossover dribble. He doesn't run and gun like he used to. How can you play next to Dwyane Wade and Shaq and see your assist #'s decrease to a career low?

So, if you're an NBA GM and deciding whether or not to draft Redick, these are the guys you have to look at. Do you really want to spend a top-10 pick and 3 million/yr. on a guy who might average 11 points per game?
It's a trick question. You see, good decisions are definitely not a prerequisite for GM's in the NBA. So, you'd draft Redick with glee and not worry about your franchise. I say Golden State drafts him at #9 and plays him next to Dunleavy.

2-1

Hi, my name is Dwyane Wade and I just put in one of the classic Finals performances of all time. A couple of days ago I was thinking 'They built this team around Shaq, but now it's time for them to build it around me.' Shaq knows that, Riley knows that, and now the whole world knows it. I was kinda depressed because the older guys we had looked like they had lost their wheels. Then, Shaq remembered how to shoot free throws. Hey, even Gary Payton hit the game-winner for us. I had to laugh because even he couldn't believe he made that shot. Did you see that ball fake? Old school.

I told Antoine Walker that down the stretch he should just sit on the bench and do what he does best: be a cheerleader. I felt like he was the reason we fell behind so badly in the 3rd quarter, what with him looking to jack up a 3 every time he has the ball. It's nothing personal, 'Toine just strictly business. Maybe you can join the dance team or something because your game is garbage.

So, I'm not as tall as Jordan or Kobe or James so I have to jump higher and be more creative. I also made all the important defensive plays in the 4th quarter to win the game. Did you see me deflect that pass to Howard? That was actually my best play of the night.

The nice thing about this series is that if we win it all, it'll be because of me. If we lose I can blame it on the talentless roster we have. It'll be another 5 years before I can get back here again, providing management works hard in that time to bring in some guys to help me out.

Welp, I'm going to sleep in this morning, watch some World Cup, and observe how the point spread will now have us favored in the next game."

Monday, June 12, 2006

2-0



Shaq used to knock on Erick Dampier, calling him "Ericka." Well, I guess Dampier can start calling Shaq "Shakira."
How does one of the "Greatest of All Time" go 2 for 5, 1 for 7 from the line and grab only 6 boards?
It didn't help him that no one else really stepped up. Haslem and Posey were ineffective, and the foul calls definitely went against Miami. Then the "Shell of a Shaq" (Adam Wetzel's words) got fined $10,000 and cost his team $25,000 by not showing up for post-game interviews.

And then there's Antoine Walker:

"That's me, Employee #8. I make baskets. And bad passes. And turnovers. And take too many shots. And I don't understand why they call me for travelling, and stupid fouls. Why is my game garbage?"

Look for Miami to shoot many more free throws on their own home court. Of course, if it's Shaq at the line it won't matter.

In other news Mark Cuban is going to give away 1,400 game 7 tickets (if the series lasts that long).

I thought the Mavs showed great teamwork at both ends of the court last night. Great ball movement for open shots and great double teams on Shaq that made him impotent. Go Mavs!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dwyane who???

Instant Superstar

Jason Terry's only costly play of the night was a badly blown layup.

I watched my first full NBA game of the entire season last night. Yes, I'm rooting for the Mavs. Miami has 2 Kentucky alumni players and an alumnus head coach but I can't pull for them. Why? Anderson didn't play, and Antoine Walker is a liability. Let's see, he's a PF who shot 19 times including 9 threes. 6 turnovers! If I was Shaq, I'd sit on him.

But, Shaq disappeared at times, and Dwyane Wade disappeared for 2 quarters. Worst stat of the night: only Shaq and Wade shot free throws! And made a grand record low 36.8% of them. And these guys beat the Pistons???

The Secret Service vs. Ray Comfort

I hope Kenneth Bruce enjoys this article. A local pastor handed out some Comfort/Cameron tracts looking like money. The front of the tract says it's a $1 million bill (which the U.S. doesn't even print) while the back has the Gospel. Apparently, someone actually took it to a bank and tried to cash it in. That made the government mad, and they confiscated all 8,300 tracts the pastor had.

I used to drop these kind of tracts in hallways when I was in high school & college. They were smaller than a $ bill anyway, but I'd wrinkle them up so it would look more like a crumpled up bill.

The Secret Service is investigating and is kinda ticked off:
"We have no plans to round up people who have these, but they need to know it is a violation of federal law."

So, Kenneth if you're out there beware of the government trying to confiscate tracts.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

For Sale

1998 Ford Mustang Convertible w/100,000 miles. It's in good condition. Cruise control and CD player included. ABS, airbags.


Its book value is somewhere in the $5,300 range. I've listed it at $4,400 because it still has the old freon air conditioner that currently needs to be replaced. If you or someone you know is interested please let me know!

(Sorry, the sexy driver pictured above is not included).

Quote of the Day

Comes from this article as linked on John Clay's blog.

It's from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, rating this coming season's SEC quarterbacks.
While giving serious in-depth reviews for QB's from all the schools, the author finishes with UK.

Kentucky: Does anybody really care? Seriously, basketball player Rajon Rondo went pro, is there even life after that? Ah, but Rich Brooks is back over at the football complex. Actually Andre Woodson was the starter leaving spring. He played 11 games last year and split time in nine of those with Curtis Pulley. Neither, as you can imagine, was a world beater. Woodson had six touchdowns and six picks. Pulley is gone and Joe Joe Brown, a freshman is listed No. 2 on the depth chart

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fun with Economics

I, like most rational economists, am a Free Trader. Free trade is good for you and me. Tariffs, quotas, and subsidies to protect various industries are bad for you and me.

That said, CBS did an interesting story yesterday about the Baltimore school district and how it is importing teachers from abroad. American teachers are apparently no longer interested in teaching difficult classes like special ed. To fill the critical void, administrators are going abroad where teachers are being trained in American laws and education methods. Apparently the Philippines has a comparative advantage in this.

The NEA's president takes an absurd position and says that we need to raise teacher salaries in order to prevent this importation of teachers. This is essentially the same as an imposition of a tariff. If we raise the salaries it should entice more Americans to want to be special ed teachers.
To most people this makes logical sense. Here's a blog discussion about it. But, think about it this way: public school teachers earn their salaries from tax payers. An increase in salary means an increase in taxes, and YOU pay for it. It's cheaper and more efficient for the schools to simply import teachers who are willing to work for less. It doesn't cost the taxpayers anything.

So, let's apply this logic to a different industry: IT (computer programmers).

Say a computer science major graduates from MIT and immediately expects a salary of $75,000/year working for a dotcom, or some other IT firm. There are so many startups and companies competing that many programmers are needed. But, computer science curriculum is tough and there still just aren't enough programmers graduating from universities. Firms wanting to entice programmers have to pay upwards of $100,000/year in salary.

Well, suppose the Maryland state government is doing a computer system overhaul and needs good programmers. They're going to have to pay $100,000/year of taxpayer dollars to attract computer programmers from working in Silicon Valley.
OR they could simply hire Indian, Russian, or Chinese programmers who are willing to work for $50,000 a year and essentially save 100%.

What do you think taxpayers would rather do? Would they like to have a huge tax increase to pay for American programmers, or would they rather not pay more taxes? Who in their right mind would argue "Let's pay our Maryland computer science guys even more money in order to make sure the jobs go soley to Americans."???

Sadly enough, there is an example of this already in the state of Indiana. Thomas Friedman talks about it in his "The World is Flat." Initially, the state of Indiana hired an Indian IT firm to do its system overhaul because it could be done cheaply by INDIAN migrant workers. But, some politicians (Republicans, sadly) put up a stink about it and passed a law to pay MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MORE OF TAXPAYERS' MONEY to American programmers and a Hoosier firm. At least $8.1 million dollars more to be more precise.

Makes you think.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Winners this week

There are 2 people who I think have come out on top this week. The first is Sean, the winner of The Apprentice.


Not only did he win the game and a new convertible, he also won the girl. He's dating Tammy who was his competitor on the show.

The second winner is clearly David Hasselhoff! This man is facing a resurgence in his career. It all started 2 weeks ago right after Taylor Hicks won American Idol. The camera flashed to Hasselhoff who was clearly choked up, in tears of jubilation. The man was crying on national TV. Here's a video clip of it.

Hasselhoff will make a Paula Abdul-esque comeback by being a judge on NBC's American Idol spin-off "America's Got Talent!"

But wait, that's not all! According to Bill Simmons, Dirk Nowitzki is a huge David Hasselhoff fan! Nowitzki just led Dallas to their first ever NBA Finals, even dropping 50 in one game.

Every time he goes to the free throw line, Nowitzki is singing David Hasselhoff's songs in his head! You see, he's German...

... and this goes to prove the age old Norm MacDonald theory:


Germans love David Hasselhoff!!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Updates

On my links to the right I have now added Keith Walters' blog. He writes insightful things on scripture and worship. He and his wife are soon to go to Southern Cal to plant a church.

I've also included Freaknomics, the blog of the Chicago economist and author Steven Levitt. He wrote a book by the same name which is fun leisure reading. His blog is amusing.

People have asked me: So, what's the solution to gas prices?
Here's an interesting solution from Martin Feldstein to reduce gas consumption without a tax, from the Wall Street Journal. Only an economist could come up with this. It's similar to the ways Europe is trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Apparently, Hillary Clinton's proposal is to reduce the national speed limit back to 55 mph! Here's a blog illustrating the bad cost/benefits of this idea.

Teacher evaluations

Last week I went to the office of the professor that I work for and found he and his secretary laughing about something. On his desk were 2 envelopes containing all of the student evaluations from the previous semester. They were reading the comments.

I learned that at Baylor, only the scantron part of the evaluations are recorded and that is how professors are compared to one another. The only person who reads the written comments is the professor of the class himself and NOT a supervisor. This kinda stinks because I wrote some pretty blunt critical comments about one of my professors, hoping that his boss would read them and never allow him to teach again. The entire class wrote such comments. Now that teacher is in a really bad mood... oh well.

These evaluations are all anonymous. Most amusing about them is that the students didn't take them seriously. They drew some good artwork and wrote hilarious comments on them:

One of them drew the professor riding a tank firing at a target entitled "My Grade."

Someone drew a picture of the professor teaching while he wore a socially unacceptable outfit at Baylor: a short-sleeved shirt with a tie.

Another one drew a gigantic stick figure smoking a cigar, drinking a beer, and holding a magazine called Playboy: Baylor Edition.

One girl wrote in some off-color comments about how "gentle" the professor is, and how she wants "more private office time" with him, with many hearts drawn on the page. (i laughed so much that I cried when i saw this one).

One was directed towards me. It said "One day the T.A. taught our class. I counted the number of times he said 'OK,' and I think it was like 63."

So, these amused me greatly.

I've been given my own section of Intro Macro for the fall. So, I'll have my own little class of sophomores to bestow the great wealth of economics onto. That's pretty exciting, but I don't look forward to getting the evaluations back.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I hate MLB, but I admit that this is cool

Roger Clemens will be pitching in Lexington, KY. The Lexington Legends are a single-A(minor-league) affiliate of the Houston Astros. The cool thing is that his son Koby plays for the Legends. They worked out together yesterday.
"There might be a few other guys he'd like to work out with than his Pops," the elder Clemens said. "I've got the time, and I enjoy it. If he wants me around, I'm going to be around."


Clemens has always been brilliant. I was in the 3rd grade when Clemens was with the Red Sox, and every time you played RBI Baseball on your Nintendo you wanted to play with the Sox and Clemens on your team. Dude still looked incredible last year even at 42. I heard a pitching coach once say that Clemens' mechanics are flawless and therefore he doesn't suffer the wear and tear that ruins other players' careers by age 30. He can pitch almost as long as he wants to.

I don't really care about his ego, attitude, or the Mike Piazza thing. Every good white baseball player I've ever known were jerks. But, Clemens is more driven to win than any other player out there.

The game he's pitching in is sold out. Scalpers are charging a high price. If I was in Lexington I'd probably go just to see a legend, and to enjoy the story.