Wednesday, February 28, 2007

10 Principles Revisited

You may remember that I opened my teaching with a look at Mankiw's 10 Principles of Economics in this post.

This YouTube clip is a comedic rendition of the 10 Principles. I laughed out loud when I saw it and decided to show my students. They laughed nervously at parts of it. Now they know I'm a total dork. Enjoy.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oprah vs. John Stossel

Last week I happened to catch the end of Oprah’s show, where they were discussing child abductions. Ernie Allen, the head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was urging people to join a letter-writing campaign to politicians urging the quick adoption of Adam Walsh law statutes. Oprah’s website has a form letter along with the address of your governor, senator, and congressman that you can send immediately. It says: "This is the year to take a stand for our children and make your voice heard!"

Oprah basically said “if you’re watching this show, you need to do this immediately!”
Everyone in the audience nodded their heads quickly in agreement. Our children must be in grave danger, and we must act immediately to protect them!

On Friday, I saw Allen on John Stossel’s 20/20 special: “Scared Stiff,” talking about how the media and special interest groups exploit the fears of Americans in order to promote their particular causes. Stossel’s point (echoed by the great number of economists who appeared on the show) is that Americans are afraid of the wrong things, and life is better than what we think.

See his summary on the “Fear Industrial Complex.”

Facts: Crime rates have been falling for the last 30 years. Kidnappings, rapings, murders are not on the rise. Neither are shark attacks. Cancer patients are living longer, and fewer people are getting cancer altogether. And vaccines don’t cause autism or other illnesses in children. If you've heard otherwise, you've been duped.

The same Ernie Allen who was on Oprah also appeared on Stossel’s show, and Stossel made him look more accurately as a pure fear-monger.

Most people watch Law and Order: SVU and CNN and think that kids are kidnapped and abused by strangers on a daily basis. This is NOT true.

Fact: Only about 115 kids every year are kidnapped in the way that Shawn Hornbeck or Adam Walsh were—by complete strangers.

There are probably more kidnappings on TV dramas every year than actually occur in real life.

The Census bureau says that there are 73,000,000 American kids under the age of 18.

So, only 0.0002% of all children will be abducted in such a manner.

But, as Stossel showed through various parental groups, and the millions of dollars in advertising and pamphlet distribution by people like Ernie Allen, you’d think it’s something that happens every day. One woman said: “I don’t even let my child go out into the front yard anymore. It’s just too dangerous, you never know who’s out there.” Sadly, kids are just as scared. Kids believe this sort of nonsense from their parents, because the parents believe complete nonsense.

The news media doesn’t help. It hypes the kidnappings but downplays all the other ways kids more frequently are abused or killed. Heart disease, obesity, and swimming pool accidents are all boring and don’t sell newspapers. Murders and kidnappings do.

Fact: Your child is more likely to be struck by lightning than be abducted and abused by a total stranger.

Fact: Your child is more likely to drown in his/her friend’s swimming pool than end up like Adam Walsh.

There are about 2,300 cases of kidnappings in general in America every year.

That’s 0.003% of children.

Fact: You child is more likely to die in a car accident with you driving than to end up like Shawn Hornbeck.

Fact: Your child is more likely to get hit by a car crossing the street than be kidnapped.

But, you don’t hear people clamoring for laws to keep parents from driving their kids, or banning backyard swimming pools.

That's partly because Americans don’t look to statistical data or economists for truth and guidance. They turn to Oprah and the news media. If it gets hyped, then it must be a problem. If it’s a problem, then we must have laws to protect ourselves from ourselves.

Americans would rather listen to some lobbyist or lawyer on TV saying something is a problem than listening to the National Academy of Sciences, or scientists who have done overwhelming analyses of these so-called “problems.” (The new "only organic food is safe!" is another example of this, but I'll save that post for another day).

And we’ll spend billions of taxpayer dollars to protect ourselves from things that weren’t a threat anyway. But, the things that really kill us and threaten our children—like obesity and heart disease-- we’ll conveniently ignore.

The Bible commands Christians not to fear. Fear is the opposite of faith. And the church is supposed to be the “pillar and support of truth,” 1 Timothy 3:15. So, don't be duped by the fear-mongering media, lawyers, and politicians.

I’m thankful for John Stossel. I think we'd be much more happy if fewer people watched Oprah, and instead watched more 20/20.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tapp Ratings 2/26/07

I have a ton of papers to grade and things to do, so this is the only post I have for today. I have a better one up my sleeve for tomorrow.

The pack has evened out at the top, it's anyone's ball game. I like my ratings this week because it differs from the AP/USA Today opinion polls. First place votes in parentheses.

1. UCLA (3)
2. UNC (2)
3. Ohio St. (2)
4. Florida
4. Kansas (1)
5. Wisconsin
6. Texas A&M
7. Memphis
8. Southern Illinois
9. Georgetown
10. Duke
11. Pittsburgh
12. Nevada
13. Maryland

Big winners: Southern Illinois, Nevada, and Maryland.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Christian Right and "Secret Meetings"

The New York Times has an article today on how the Christian Right is struggling to find a candidate they can get behind given the current field. This is what I was talking about in my previous post.

Most disturbingly/interestingly is the first couple paragraphs talking about a secret meeting at Amelia Island, FL. :
"The event was a meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive club whose few hundred members include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev.
Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform."

They're trying to figure out who to support, and who to tell their huge base of supporters to support. Dobson apparently voted for a 3rd party candidate in '96 because Bob Dole couldn't be trusted (ie: wasn't conservative enough... and likely wasn't a Christian from what I've heard).

"The Council for National Policy was founded 25 years ago by the Rev. Tim LaHaye [author of the Left Behind series] as a forum for conservative Christians to strategize about how to turn the country to the right. The secrecy was intended to insulate the group from what its members considered the liberal bias of the news media."

So, they're struggling with picking a winner. Mike Huckabee appears to be the biggest good-ole-boy of the bunch, a former head of the Arkansas Baptist Convention, but he has no real shot in the general election.

What really strikes me about the article is how it makes Christian conservativism and anti-tax forces seem like side-by-side partners. This contributes to my fears that Christian conservatives know very little about economic issues and will vote solely on a candidate's religious conviction and whether or not he will "raise taxes," without looking at other issues. Are these 2 things the only thing the median Christian voter cares about?

If Bob Dole wasn't good enough for Dobson to vote for and endorse, then John McCain won't be either. If it's '96 all over again, then John Edwards will be our next president.

I think John McCain might be more truthful than the more "Christian conservatives" on the ballot. Seems to me he's a lot more truthful than George W. Bush has been in all of his business and political dealings.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen...

...The next president of the United States!

Here's a question for you: Who's political stances are further left than Hillary Clinton's and yet is more electable than Hillary?
Answer: John Edwards.

Here's why:
1. No president in the modern era has ever been elected without taking key southern states. If you can't win at least some of the South, then you can't win the election.
John Edwards is from North Carolina, and represented South Carolina in the Senate. He's a southerner with a real Carolina accent.

2. The November elections proved that evangelicals have lost faith and trust in the Republican party. They'll vote for a Democrat (like Bill Clinton) who at least looks a little like them.
John Edwards:
"My faith has been enormous to me in my personal life and of course my personal life is a big impact on my political life. I have had an interesting faith journey over the course of my life. I was born and raised in the Southern Baptist church, I was baptized in the Southern Baptist Church and then later in life joined the Methodist church and like a lot of people, when I was in my college years, and I went to law school and became a lawyer and was raising my young family I moved away somewhat from my faith. And then I lost a son in 1996 and my faith came roaring back and it played an enormous role in my ability to get through that period. It stayed with me and has been enormously important."

At a recent forum when asked about gay rights, Edwards says he struggles with whether or not homosexuality is okay because of his "Southern Baptist upbringing." He put himself squarely in the center, supporting freedom for gays while not saying that he supported the lifestyle. This is a winnable position.

Hillary and O'Bama are Yankees with no real conservative heritage. Hillary showed her true colors once Bill got elected: solid left. The South will never vote for them.

3. The powerful swing Independent/Libertarian voting block in the West (Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada...) has also soured on the Republicans for not keeping to their promises of smaller government, less spending, liberty, and less imperial foreign policy.
They will not go so far as to trust the wife of Bill Clinton, who all those voters thought was Big Brother in the 90's. They don't want to see Janet Reno II. They will also be unlikely to trust a relative unknown courted by Hollywood like O'Bama.
They've soured on Republicans, and they'll vote for Edwards. He at least seems to want to scale back our foreign policy. Most also like the idea of protecting our unions and advocating a "living wage." Edwards advocates both.

4. The Republicans aren't offering great choices that "The Base" can latch onto.

a. Rudy Guiliani is a liberal New Yorker that will never win ANY votes in the South or Midwest. He's pro-choice, pro-gun control, on his 3rd marriage...

b. Mitt Romney is a flip-flopping liberal (he was for gay rights before he was against them) Mormon from Massachusetts. Most conservative voters would rather vote for a Baptist-turned-Methodist (ie: Edwards) than a Mormon any day.

c. John McCain is the only hope. But, he's trailing in the polls and groups like MoveOn.org are already attacking him with political ads because they know he'd be the toughest to beat in the general election.

My conclusion: If John Edwards emerges from the Democratic primary (and I believe he will because the Caucuses always choose the most electable candidate), then the only person with a chance to defeat him is John McCain. If McCain doesn't win the Republican primary, then the White House will go to Edwards.

(And the nation will be worse off for it).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Case of the Missing Pot

What's wrong with this picture? We see 2 miniature rose bushes in big pots and then a little rose bush without a pot.

Yesterday, Joni and I arrived home to find the newest edition to our family (the flower on the right) laying on the ground, its pot nowhere to be seen. Joni had found the flower for cheap at a post-Valentine's day sale and took pity on it, buying it a small pot to start out in. It was happy with its 2 older friends, one of which was last year's Valentines present from me to Joni. Things were fine until yesterday when it was found potless.

There were some gusty winds yesterday, and it is possible that the plant blew over and somehow came out of its pot on its own. The pot then must have blown/rolled away.

I went searching the apartment complex for the pot, and couldn't figure out where on earth it could have rolled so far away to. The winds weren't that gusty and it should have gotten stuck in the bushes or something. Never found it.

Now, I wouldn't put it past our neighbors or the strange passer-bys we have in our complex (like the estranged and angry husband trying to find his wife at 7:30 this morning), to find better uses for this pot. Maybe someone saw it sitting there and said "That's a nice pot, I think I'll take it."

Either way, it kind of ticked me off. Joni was really calm about it, though. I cut a gallon milk carton in half and filled it with potting soil, re-potting the flower. It was still there when I left the apartment this morning, we'll see if it's still there when I get home.

A word to the wise if you're looking for apartments in Waco:
Don't move to Blair's Cove unless you:
1) Enjoy waking up to the sound of loud R&B at 6:30 in the morning. Ear plugs come in handy.
2) Enjoy having your sink clog and fill up with sludge from other people's garbage disposals every 2 weeks.
3) Enjoy neighbors that yell loudly outside and drive cars with loud bass systems at all hours of the night.
4) Enjoy having a faucet that shoots water at you when you turn it on.
5) Enjoy losing flower pots.

Tapp Ratings 2/19/07

Quite a close race this week. Here they are (first place votes in parentheses):

1. UNC (3)
2. UCLA (2)
3. Ohio State (1)
4. Florida
5. Wisconsin (2)
6. Kansas
7. Texas A&M
8. Memphis
9. Pittsburgh
10. Georgetown
10. Southern Illinois
11. Duke
12. Washington St.
12. Nevada
13. Kentucky

Monday, February 19, 2007

SCROTUM

Yes, I just wrote the word "scrotum" on my blog. Didn't expect that one, did you?
Well, have you heard the controversy over this book? It won the equivalent of "Children's Book of the Year," the Newbery Medal. I remember as a youngster in elementary school the librarian would always read to us from the Newbery and Caldecot award-winning books.
"The Higher Power of Lucky," by Susan Patron.

Here's a NY times article on how school libraries are scrambling to pull and denounce the book.

The controversy:
"The book’s heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.

'Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much,' the book continues. 'It sounded medical and secret, but also important.'”

I'm hoping all you English and elementary school teachers will have an opinion on this. I think it is really random and bizarre.
Thoughts or comments? Anyone actually read this book yet?

My basketball post

I went to the Baylor-Texas game on Saturday night to see Kevin Durant. I wasn't really impressed with Durant after the first 5 minutes. Physically, he's a specimen. But, on the basketball court he's just a ball-hog. I got tired of seeing him try and beat guards half his height off the dribble from out top. But, the man is automatic from the free throw line. Baylor almost won this game, led for much of the game. This was the hardest I'd seen Baylor play all year. They were rebounding (19 offensive boards), and forcing turnovers. My heart goes out to guys like Josh Lomers who play through pain just to get down the court. Baylor really has some likable players.

I really got into it in the first half when the refs made some very shady, very bad calls against Baylor, including a technical on the coach for what appeared to be no reason. That angered my sense of justice and I was fully committed to screaming for the Bears. They lost 2 guys to injuries, and 2 more to fouling out.

The place got
loud for the first time ever in the last minute. It was the first time I'd seen the students really care about the game. Baylor had been down 8 points with 1:30 left, and frantically rallied to cut it to 1 with 11 seconds to go. Texas missed 2 free throws, Baylor grabbed the board and had a chance to win. Couldn't pull it off. Coach Drew said that if you run that sequence again 4 or 5 times, Baylor will get it just about every time because they practice it all the time. The ball ended up in the hands of a seldom-used walkon and he missed the desperation shot. Texas survived.

But, the game was more fun than watching the UK-Bama game. I'm ashamed of the Wildcats. I'm tired of 10-loss Tubby's excuses (it's always the players' fault) and 3-game losing streaks every year.

Sheray Thomas started for the first time this year. His line was impressive:
20 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist. Thanks, Tubby!

Sheray now:
Averages 18.8 mpg.
Scores 2 points every 15.6 minutes
Grabs a rebound every 5.5 minutes
Gets an assist every 13.3 minutes
Blocks a shot every 43 minutes
Fouls someone (is actually aggressive) every 15.2 minutes

Friday, February 16, 2007

Old People

Scottie Pippen, 6 time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer wants to come back and play again. He's 41 years old, hasn't played since 2004, when he had reconstructive knee surgery. I liked Scottie a lot... when I was 12!!!
Seriously, he wants to play for a "contender," go back to the playoffs.

And he throws out the worst cliche in all of sports: "
I know the game."
I grew to hate that cliche when Dennis Rodman made a "comeback" with the Lakers and with Dallas. Everyone talked about how "smart" he was and how he'd bring so much understanding to his young teammates. The guy didn't play defense at all, made terrible passes, couldn't score, and was too out of shape to help anyone.
He just rebounded the basketball (which was his talent, not his "knowledge"). He was a sideshow circus that sold tickets, period.
"Knowledge" of the game means squat.

Anyone else besides me think this would just be painful to watch? Worse than when Jordan came back.

But, it reminded me of Pitino's rant as Celtics coach several years back. I couldn't find video of it, but the quote is legendary:
"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, Kevin McHale is not walking through that door. Robert Parish is not walking through that door and if you expect them to walk through the door, they're going to be gray and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we're going to improve. People don't realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that (locker) room playing their [tails] off."



So, I guess whoever Scottie plays for will say
"Scottie Pippen is walking through that door. And he's gray and old. And if you don't like that, then tough."

David Stern, please just say "no."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why it doesn't look good for Kentucky

Pete Tierman for ESPN Insider has done the most amazing regression analysis of NCAA Tournament performance that I've ever seen, and has published a list of indicators. They're measuring which teams "underperform"- lose earlier than their seeding predicts, and which teams "overperform"- win more than their seeding predicts.
You can play around with the data at http://www.bracketscience.com.

What are some of the leading single indicators of team overperformance?
1. Average margin of victory more than 15 points.
A good quick proxy for this is Sagarin's Pure Points, which go into my Tapp Ratings.

2. A coach with at least 15 tourney appearances.

3. At least 1 preseason All-American on your team.


What are some of the best combined indicators of team overperformance?
1. More than 60 percent of points from your frontcourt AND at least 1 preseason All-American on the team.

2. More than 77 points scored per game AND average scoring margin more than 15 points per game.

3. Winning % greater than .850 AND strength of schedule ranked higher than 50.

4. More than 60 percent of points from the frontcourt AND a winning percentage greater than .850.

The best indicator of underperformance?
RPI rank higher than your NCAA Tourny seed.

So, where does Kentucky fall in these categories?
1. Average margin of victory 15 points? Nope. 13.83 is Kentucky's average margin of victory.
2. Coach with at least 15 tourney appearances? Nope. Tubby has 13.

3. At least one pre-season All-American on your team? Nope. I doubt Randolph Morris gets an "honorable mention" on the final list.

4. Over 60% from the frontcourt? Not even close. Only 41.4% of our scoring comes from the frontcourt. And a lot of that are 3's from Bobby Perry.

5. 77 points per game? Nope. Only 73.68 points per game for the Cats.

6. Winning % greater than .850? Nope, Kentucky is at .720.

What about the RPI rank?
Well, according to today's RPI, Kentucky is #8 which would translate into a 2 seed in the tourny. Yesterday, ESPN's latest bracketology had us at a 5 seed. 6 is a real possibility. So, Kentucky is one of those teams most likely to underperform.

Combine these odds, with %'s given by Tiernan at ESPN.com, and you have a Kentucky team likely to lose in the 1st round.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentines Day

Last night Joni and I used our entire dining out envelope (we're doing the Dave Ramsey thing) and some extra cash we had from Christmas to go to Buffalo Wild Wings (known in Lexington and to us as "B-Dubs") to watch the UK game and partake of 35 cent wing night. While I threw down my 30 wings (Joni had a meager salad) and watched in dismay as the Chris Lofton show got rolling, I realized how thankful I am to have a great and beautiful wife who thinks B-Dubs is a great Valentine's date.

The A&M game was on at the same time with several people watching it. It got weird as in the last 5 minutes both Kentucky and A&M trailed by the same amount. We were treated to Acie Law hitting yet another clutch shot to save the Ags, but there was quite a "wow!" that went up when Jarrius Jackson iced the Aggies at the buzzer. I guess if A&M has one weakness, it's defending the motion offense.
Kentucky wasn't favored to win in hardly any predictors.

But, I digress. The wings were great but the company was greater. Joni all decked out in her blue UK stuff, as frustrated with Ramel Bradley turnovers as I was. So, I love you very much dear, and hope that you have a great Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

*Deep Sigh*

The point of this post is actually to hear from people about C.S. Lewis' "The Abolition of Man." If you've read it then please comment.

One of the reason I enjoy being an economics major is that most of our readings and textbooks, while often boring, are always relevant. Whether learning how to do regression analysis, or studying other world economic systems, or reasoning through a game's strategy, it's all useful.


But, I have one class this semester that gives us readings almost at random. It's my Economics of Government class. I probably shouldn't have signed up for it. I knew it would be sort of a "bunny," and almost identical to a class I took last summer. I signed up for it because I wanted a lighter workload to focus on more-important tasks: getting my Russian up to pass the equivalence exam, and finding an internship this summer. The class is still bunny-level but usually quite miserable to sit through. My economics professors have almost always been good about not sharing their opinions on issues, or at least not confusing it with economic theory. I don't pay you to tell me your political views, I pay you to teach me theory and train me with tools I need to figure things out on my own.

Example: Paul Krugman is one of the most liberal columnists for the NY Times. He blasts our trade policies, blasts our capitalist system, blames President Bush at every turn. He is/was also an intelligent economist who publishes textbooks. His trade textbook seems to contradict his columns, explaining positively through theory and models what he complains about normatively in his columns. Some of the best rebuttles I've heard of his complaints have come directly from his own textbook! He explains it basically by saying that textbooks should be about good theory, and not contain particular politics.

But, the professor for this class doesn't hold by this rule. It's primarily just his opinions on political issues and then, if we have time, we'll talk about our textbook readings. Today for Economics of Government we're reading C.S. Lewis' "The Abolition of Man," and I don't really know why. I think we're just supposed to read the 3rd chapter. Anyone else read this thing? I feel sorry for you seminary students and english majors who constantly have to read literature or critiques of literature.

I think C.S. Lewis' point is that "modern science" (circa 1950) is trying to conquer nature and will instead result in the conquering of mankind. Eventually, we might end up in that 1984 world where we genetically engineer our race to eliminate the weaker people. A world that looks like Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron (remember that from high school?).

I think my professor's point is going to be that expansive government is a reflection of this, and its purpose is the same. The Rawlsian push in the mid-1970's for "Equality of Outcome" as a model form of social justice still carries on today. Income redistribution, Hillary Clinton's proposal to "take oil company profits" (YouTube clip) and give them to the poor, etc. are all a reflection of this.

Either way, I don't enjoy reading things like this. Teach me about Federalism, Public Choice Theory, the Coase Theorem and other such wonders and let me draw my own conclusions and applications.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tapp Ratings 2-12-07

Here are the Tapp Ratings for today (first place votes in parentheses). A heavy battle for 3rd place.

1. UNC (3)
2. Florida (2)
3. Ohio St.
4. UCLA (2)
5. Wisconsin (1)
6. Texas A&M
7. Pittsburgh
8. Kansas
9. Memphis
10. Georgetown
11. Kentucky
11. Arizona
12. Nevada
13. Duke
13. Washington St.

Texas A&M broke into the RPI top 10 for the first time this week.

Article of the Day

Here's an interesting one from the NY Times (my favorite newspaper) about a Bible-believing creationist who has written his doctoral thesis using non-creation science, basically playing the academic game. It profiles the plight of several other creationists who feel discriminated against and have to play the same games to earn their PhDs. Dr. Wise at Southern Seminary is also profiled in the article, though he declined to be interviewed.

"
He likened his situation to that of a socialist studying economics in a department with a supply-side bent. 'People hold all sorts of opinions different from the department in which they graduate,' he said. 'What’s that to anybody else?'"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Kentucky vs. Florida predictions

I about passed out this morning when I saw that CBS' Seth Davis actually picked UK to upset Florida. I've never seen him pick Kentucky for anything.

Ken Pomeroy has this to say about the game:
"I’d like to rescind yesterday’s pick for game of the weekend and switch it to Florida/Kentucky. I don’t talk about the SEC enough, but I just wrapped up the stats package I prepared for ESPN,
and let’s just say there is a high probability of an upset. (I guess if the probability gets too high, it’s not an upset anymore, but it’s not that high.)

Kentucky at home is not too much worse than Florida on the road, and Florida’s 3-point shooting has been at unsustainable levels recently even with all the wide-open looks they get. Kentucky’s D encourages the 3, and has the size in the backcourt to close out on the shooters better than other SEC clubs. So I’m expecting a defensive struggle in this one. It should be a close game, but for the opposite reason that Arizona/Oregon should be."

So, to the predictions:
Seth Davis: Kentucky 77, Florida 76
Pomeroy: Florida 72, Kentucky 69
Sagarin: Florida by 1.52
Sagarin Pure Points: Florida by 3.88
Sagarin's Elo (BCS) predicts Kentucky to win.

The average of the computer predictions is Florida by 2.91, but with a standard deviation of 2.96, meaning it's not outside the realm of expectability that Kentucky wins.

But, Sagarin's Elo is the only computer rating that has Kentucky on the winning side.

Tapp Prediction: Kentucky can't give up 70 and still win. So, I'm going to say Kentucky 61, Florida 60.

Hopefully, we'll see another one of these:


Friday, February 09, 2007

Our Nemesis




No, it's not Chunk from the Goonies, it's Joakim Noah!
Noah's quote in Wednesday's paper:

"I checked my Facebook (Sunday) for the first time in a long time, and there was a lot of Kentucky hate mail."

Facebook groups have also sprouted about the junior, dissing more than just his looks. An Eastern Kentucky student created the group, "If I was Joakim Noah, I'd kill myself," and it lists 224 members.

Noah's teammate Corey Brewer defends the hate mailers: "Look at him," Brewer said. "He's Jo, c'mon. Who would you target?"

ESPN Gameday live from Lexington on Saturday. UK vs. Florida 8pm cst.

To UK students who read this blog and will be attending: I don't care what it takes for you to help get a victory, do NOT let Florida walk out of there with a win.

Go Big Blue!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

FOUND!


Been a looong time since I've seen Bobby Perry. I've got to give him props for scoring 18 points, and shooting 3 for 5 from 3-point.

Let's ignore the very bizarre 2nd half and focus on the 1st fifteen minutes. We pressed, we trapped, we ran, we transitioned, we rebounded. We shot lights-out. This tells me that the guys are eager to bring in Florida. I hope Tubby lets them run then, too.

My throat was hurting too bad to go to church last night and I had a ton of exams to grade, so I thank my wife substituting for me. I also thank Lincoln Financial for broadcasting the games life (streaming video) free on Yahoo. Visit their website and sign up for their services!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mono it is.

So, I just got the call from the clinic, my blood work came back positive. I officially have mono. No idea where I picked this up from, my guess is the plane ride to Kentucky and back as airplanes are basically flying petri dishes.

So, I now have something to blame my complacency and lack of motivation on.

So, my meager attempt at a post today is simply to link to a Washington Post column arguing for a carbon/gasoline tax as the simplest solution to emissions/global warming problems.

"
Most of all, though, the successful use of carbon taxes does not require 'American leadership,' or a U.N. committee, or a complicated international effort of any kind."

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tapp Ratings

So, today I went to the doctor for the first time in probably 2 years. I'll find out tomorrow sometime if I have mono or not. So, maybe I'll not have any motivation to write more posts because of the mono. I thought I had mono for a whole year once. Turns out I was just really bored.*

Tapp Ratings for this week, believe them or not. Florida isn't ranked higher because they're not in the RPI top 10, which gets calculated into my ratings.

1. UCLA (3)
1. UNC (3)
2. Florida (2)
3. Ohio St.
4. Wisconsin
5. Texas A&M
6. Pittsburgh
7. Kansas
8. Duke
9. Memphis
10. Kentucky
11. Arizona
11. Oregon


*-This quote is actually from Wayne's World.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Nevermind

Okay... I was wrong. 4th quarter and I can't watch anymore.
Chicago has the worst playcalling I've ever seen. Both offense and defense... what are you thinking? Grossman might be the worst quarterback in the NFL. I'd have benched him 6 weeks ago. I wish the Saints were playing.
Was anyone else unsatisfied with the way Addai and Rhodes cut through the defense like paper? It looked like they were running out of the tunnel and the Bears players were giving them high fives. 264 all purpose yards for both of them, Rhodes' first 100 yard rushing game since 2001. Bears defense = disaster.

Congrats, Colt/Manning fans!

Pre-game prediction

Joni and I just got back from a weekend marriage retreat sponsored by Baylor just outside Salado, which is why the lack of posts the past few days.
I just wanted to post this to have an official public record of my Super Bowl prediction.

Because of my belief in regression analysis, and the accuracy of its results in straight-up prediction this NFL season (63 and 61%), and because of what it predicts today, I believe that Chicago will win narrowly.

I grew up a Bears fan, and I'm going to root for the Bears. Joni is pulling for Peyton Manning.

Boomer Esiason's pick: Indy 31, Chicago 21.
Dan Marino's pick: Indy 31, Chicago 24.
(you know you're cursed when these 2 guys pick you).
Shannon Sharpe: Indy 38, Chicago 27.

Joni's prediction: Indy 31, Chicago 17.

Sorry, but there is NO way that Indy scores over 30 today and NO way they beat the spread. If this were a normal game with normal ball rotation then sure, but not with new balls every down and in the Super Bowl.

Justin's prediction: Chicago not only beats the spread (7 points) but they also beat up Peyton and somehow win 20-17.


That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pennies as a good investment?

Economists have long argued that the penny should be abolished. Anytime a person often leaves a currency on the counter for someone else because it's not worth it for them to carry it around, then that currency is no longer worth making.
In fact, the U.S. lost $40 million last year just minting pennies.

It's also becoming a problem for the government that copper and nickel are worth so much as commodities because many people are now collecting the coins, melting them for their metal, and selling them for more than they were worth as coins. There have actually been fears of a shortage of loose change because of this phenomenon.

"Most economists, then, argue that we should use this opportunity to abolish pennies the way Canada, Britain and the European countries that use the euro abolished their smallest coins. Because of inflation, a penny isn’t half the coin it once was. Indeed, the United States ended the half-cent in 1857 when it was still worth about 8 cents in today’s terms, so we’re probably well overdue to retire some coins."


The NY Times has a great article by Austan Goolsbee about a new plan to re-value the penny. The plan (found here) is by some Chicago Fed economists who say the best solution would be to declare that the penny is now worth 5 cents, equivalent with a nickel. The Fed would stop losing money minting the coins and could eventually get rid of it.

So, if this plan comes to pass and you have a $0.50 roll of pennies in your house, that roll will then be worth $2.50. Pretty cool.