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.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Pet Peeve is...

The scrambled and oddly shaped letters that Blogspot uses for comment verification. Every single day I type in the wrong letter, or can't make out what the letters are exactly when writing a comment. And then I have to do it again. Sometimes three times. I hate that.

Anyone else besides me suffer from this problem?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote for the Wildcats!

Something else I voted for recently is for Kentucky to be #1 in ESPN's fan poll. You should vote too. Vote early and vote often!

Kentucky is now #22 in both the AP and USA Today poll.

My favorite rating was released yesterday also: The Preliminary Sagarin Index. Kentucky is rated #9. I have no idea how Sagarin comes up with this first number. The rankings don't matter until everyone has played enough games to be connected to one another. But, it's a fun prediction of the season. Happily enough, UCLA and Georgetown aren't in the Top 25, Tennessee is a lowly #35, and Texas A&M is #57.

I think he may be rating based on historical performance. But, it sounds about right to me.

3 out of 5 pre-season AP All-Americans hail from the SEC. When was the last time that happened? Ever? Sadly, none of these are from Kentucky. The SEC is loaded and ready to dominate.

I predict it will be a 3-way race between Kentucky, Florida, and Alabama. LSU is overrated, and Tennessee will be as good as they were last year at best. (Smitty's loving that comment).

In other news, Kentucky freshman Perry Stevenson came pretty close to a triple-double last night (some of his blocks were negated by fouls on his teammates).
Stevenson is the next Tyrus Thomas.... (we hope!).

How I Voted

Well, I used the wheel to scroll over the candidate of my choice and clicked "OK."

That's how you vote in Texas.

Haha.

Last thing's first: I voted NO to raising taxes for the MCC bond issue. Let's put this into perspective. According to an article in the Waco Herald-Trib way back in August (that I made my students read to think about the cost of government), the average taxpayer pays $1.55 per day to live in Waco (not including sales tax). The tax hike is 10 cents per day. That's a 6.5% tax increase. No thanks.
Waco taxes have increased 173% since 1956, adjusting for inflation. The population hasn't quite increased by that much. Will the rate of return from a better MCC campus mean higher revenues for McLennan County in the future?
BTW-- who payed for all of those MCC ads on TV anyway? Will some of that bond money go to reimburse them? What about the huge amount of money that was supposed to go to development downtown that instead went to someone's pocket??? Couldn't that have gone to MCC? Stop government waste.

Judiciary:
There sure are a lot of judges in McLennan County. I didn't vote for most because I had no idea who they were. But, some of the ones from TV stuck out. I didn't vote for any that were appointed by Governor Perry, because they were all unqualified. I voted for their qualified opponents instead.
I voted Democrat for several of those.

I voted for Tom Ragland for Court #1. I like a guy who can process claims quickly.

Legislative:
I voted Libertarian for several cabinet-style offices like Railroad Commissioner, Ag Commissioner, and a couple of others. Because the Libertarians know that those offices shouldn't even exist, they're a waste of taxpayer money. Railroad Commissioner is this relic of Socialism in the heart of Texas, very strange.

I voted Republican for Rick Perry for Governor. Some of my friends have been critical of him, but I don't share their criticisms. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. Perry was good at finally getting the school budget passed, cutting property taxes, and making Texas one of the few states that actually guarantees that 60% of school funding goes to teachers and schools instead of just administrators. This ticked off the teacher's union (run by administrators and union hacks) into endorsing an Independent. I'll vote against just about anyone who the teachers' union endorses anytime anywhere.

Texas has a booming, growing economy with a government budget surplus. Let's keep it that way. Perry was also endorsed by the Sheriffs of several border counties. They know better than I would if he's been good for border security; if they like him, then I do too.

To Chris Perry, Kinky Friedman, and "One Tough Grandma":
"Adios, Mofo(s)!" - as Perry would say.

The Van Taylor-Chet Edwards race was a tougher call. Edwards was more respectable in the debates, though Van Taylor made some great points in the last one. I didn't know who I was going to vote for when I stepped in the booth. When it came time, I voted my conscience.

Republicans tend to be more Free Trade than Democrats. That's important to me in a Congressman. Neither Edwards nor Taylor replied to my emails asking about their stances.
Edwards voted against the Dubai port-ownership thing which gives him a default "Anti-trade" rating. But, both parties have gotten really protectionist lately. I hate that.

Democrats are going to do 7 things when they get control:

1. Allow the government to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices.
2. Raise the minimum wage.
3. Begin investigations into Bush and the war.
4. Implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations.
5. Begin redeployment of our troops in Iraq.
6. Raise taxes
7. End free trade negotiations with several nations

I favor the 2 things in read, mostly.

I know this email probably offended everyone reading it at some point. :-)

Monday, November 06, 2006

The BCS Sleeper

There's a sleeper that still has a shot of making it to the BCS title game, and it's NOT an SEC team. This team could actually leapfrog Louisville if everything goes right.
You thinking Texas, Notre Dame, or Boise State? Wrong.

It's actually California. Here's how:

Cal is ranked #8 in the BCS. But, pay attention: it's ranked #4 by the computers. It's currently ranked 9th in the media polls, and that's the only thing holding it back. But, maybe not for long. The computers receive a lot of weight in the BCS equation. Any slight move upward in the USA Today poll, and you'll see Cal rise several spots in the BCS.

Massey puts out a composite of all the rankings here. Look who's #4: California. That means just about every computer, and several other statistical predictors pick Cal above any SEC school.

In fact, Sagarin has California rated #2 overall in his composite ranking (#4 in his other measures, including the ELO that the BCS uses, but you'll see no other team fares quite that well).

"Nonsense!" you say. These guys lost to Tennessee!

Well, that's where strength of schedule comes into play. I don't have that number for the BCS, but I do have it for Sagarin. Sagarin puts Cal's schedule as the 3rd toughest in the nation so far.
The Pac-10 is the #1 rated conference in America.
Look here for how the computers get this.
Which brings up the next problem: Strength of schedule points will increase if Cal beats USC.

So, if Tennessee doesn't lose anymore, and USC only loses to Cal, they'll move up. Once Ohio State or Michigan loses, Cal will move up and take their spot in the computer rankings! I'm still convinced Louisville will lose to Pittsburgh.

If Louisville loses, Cal just might sneak in. Don't be surprised if they do, or if they're at least the highest-rated 1 loss team in the country. If Cal was undefeated, they'd be #1 in the nation.

You heard it here first.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

YES!


Just a few days ago, I was bemoaning how fans in Lexington have had little reason to tear down a goalpost. Yesterday, they got their reason. A 24-20 win over Georgia. I listened to the entire game in my office, while following the stats with Yahoo GameChannel. I let out several loud hollers for every interception (luckily, the building was empty), including a loud one for the game winning INT by Trevard Lindley, a native of Georgia. "Georgia didn't really recruit me, so I wanted to get a little revenge," he said.

It apparently took a long time to tear the goalpost down (had only been about 10 years or so since the last one). I enjoyed listening to the jubilant players in the melee while Dick Gabriel tried to interview them. Several players and coaches cursed on air without realizing it. What a moment. I like this team because it doesn't shoot itself in the foot with stupid penalties. The offensive line plays like a professional line, and players know their roles. UK now has an ironically HUGE game with Vandy next week and is now looking at 7 wins. Beat Vandy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A good/bad day

Last night, I watched the 2nd half of "The Biggest Football Game Ever Played in the Commonwealth of Kentucky," where the University of Louisville beat West Virginia to remain undefeated and alive in the hunt for a BCS title berth. There was over 1,000 yards of offense in this game, with Heisman candidates in full swing.

It's sad for me for a couple of reasons:
1) Louisville's ace QB Brian Brohm grew up dreaming of this game. He wanted to play for Louisville since he was a little kid. Little kids in Kentucky, if they dream of playing football, don't dream of playing football for the University of Kentucky. That's sad.
UK is bigger, richer, better academically, in a much better neighborhood, and in a much better conference than UL. But, UL sends more guys to the NFL, and more teams to bowls. And they put the beating on UK just about every year.

2) While it's good for the state (i guess) to have a football powerhouse, I had to cringe reading that Kentucky's governor was dressed in red and black for the game. He's a UK alum.

3) With Louisville's football on the rise, and their basketball team still somewhat recognizable, I've seen a lot more Red and Black gear sold at Wal-Marts around the nation, and here in Texas. I rarely see Kentucky blue and white anymore.

4) Louisville is not pronounced "Lou-ee-ville", as you would think it is, but is properly pronounced "Lou- uh- vul." ESPN guys can't seem to get that right. Watch the movie Elizabethtown with Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom if you have questions about this.

5) What really makes me sad is that thousands of people in Lou-uh-vul had something to storm the field about, while many more thousands have very little to storm the field about in Lexington. See the guy holding up the #1 figure in the picture above? Yeah, that stings.

My ray of hope? UK destroyed a little in-state college in its first basketball exhibition game last night. Pitino and UL almost lost their first exhibition to a little in-state college. I look forward to watching UK go into Freedom Hall in December and kick the crap out of the Cards.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Borat!

Today is when the highly anticipated Borat movie comes out. While I would love to see this movie in the regular cinema, I shall probably wait until it comes out in the $1 theater.

Actually, it would be much more culturally correct to pirate this movie. That's what everyone in Central Asia is going to do.

Here's a blogger in Central Asia's take on the pre-movie hype. While Kazakhstan itself has forbidden the movie to be shown in theaters, no one really goes to the theater to watch movies anyway. The guy playing Borat is clearly not Kazakh, nor are any of the people in the movie, nor are any of the locations filmed in this movie. That's what I think is hilarious. Even the cyrillic Russian writing in the movie is completely bogus.

Here's a link to a clip of the first 4 minutes of the movie.

This particular clip of the movie was apparently filmed in Romania, but it looks EXACTLY LIKE the Caucasus Mountains where I used to live. If you want to know what my village experiences looked like in the mountains of Azerbaijan, then watch this clip. (Warning: there is profanity in this clip).

Some of Sacha Cohen's humor is right on the mark. And they really do eat horses (and don't waste a bit of it) in Kazakhstan as a delicacy.
I've often wondered how some of my village friends would react if they ever came to America. I think Borat gives me the answer to that question!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Kerry Bandwagon

I'm officially on the "Bash John Kerry" bandwagon. This article from AP is one of the best I've read today: "Kerry a campaign no-show over comment."

Hillary Clinton is basically quoted as saying "You're finished."

Dick Cheney:
"He was for the joke before he was against it."

We may well have a Democrat as president in 2008. I just hope it's not Mr. Kerry-Heinz.

This is the first base hit the Republicans have had in months.

(blogspot won't let me upload the picture. You've all already seen it anyway).