NFL – Week 17

 Now, today, we are going to see the good, the bad and the ugly of the NFL. 5 or 6 coaches seem to be on their way out. Chip Kelly is already gone in Philadelphia. I think that Jason Garrett is safe in Dallas. Tom Coughlin is out in New York. (I kind of feel sorry for him. Without JPP and Victor Cruz, whose career I think is over in the NFL, there was no way from him to really put a winning team together this year.) San Fransisco is a disaster. I have no idea what’s going on there. Chuck Pangiano is rumored to be leaving Indianapolis after being unable to get on the same page as the GM.

In order to win in the NFL, you need a quarterback who can throw strikes in the 4th quarter. You need an offensive line that can protect the QB. You need a running back who can get first downs in the 4th quarter and NOT fumble the ball. Finally, you need a group of receivers who know how to get away from press coverage and catch those high velocity strikes in tight windows. Finally, you need a defense that will bend but not break. Although this formula is easy to write down, it is hard to find the right personnel. Look at the Atlanta Falcons. They looked great for about 6 weeks this year. Then they fell apart. On the other hand, the Lions looked awful at the beginning of the year, then fired several coaches and played with fire the last 7 weeks.

I’ll type some more on the NFL this evening. For now, I’m going to sit back and enjoy an afternoon of football!

Good Saturday Morning – News Roundup: Carpet Bombing

Senator Ted Cruz proved that he will say anything. He has used the term “carpet-bomb” on a number of occasions. He wants to “carpet-bomb” ISIS (ISOL) without having civilian casualties. This is a pipe dream, but in a season where candidates will say anything and do anything to get a leg up on their opponents, it should be no surprise that Senator Cruz has resorted to “carpet-bombing.” I don’t think that Cruz is stupid or ignorant. I think that he knows what carpet-bombing means and wants to sound tough.

Minority Report (again): In the movie Minority Report, pre-cogs (fancy pyschics) were able to tell the future. They were able to see a person committing a crime before the crime happened. The good police would go and arrest those evildoers before they did evil. Unfortunately, that’s sci-fi. That isn’t really happening in 2015. We don’t have any pre-cogs. We have psychologists and psychiatrists. We don’t have the ability to predict future behavior with any degree of certainty. I mention this because Donald Trump and other politicians have called for us to ban all Muslims who want to enter this country until we “figure this out.” Figure what out? We can do background checks and we should. No background check is perfect. We simply do not have the ability to look into a person’s eyes and tell if they are going to commit badness or not.  In the movies, John Wayne or Clint Eastwood could stare into the eyes of the bad guy and easily ascertain whether that guy was a bad guy. Well, in this world of reality, telling the good guys from the bad guys ain’t that easy. Sure, there are micro-expressions. I’m sure that a good liar can learn to supress micro-expressions. Banning all Muslims from the US is a great way to discriminate. Other than that, I don’t think that it is a useful idea.

Hate speech has consequences.

Golden State Warriors – These guys are playing lights-out basketball. They proved once again that they have the talent and the will to win. If they stay healthy, they will go far. Steph Curry has the best combination of skills that I have seen in a basketball player in a very long time. He is quick, lightning quick. He can score from inside and outside. He can distribute the basketball as well as any guard in the league. Couple this with a great supporting cast. These guys can go far.

Have a great day. Hug your loved ones!!

Reversing the Appeal of Extremism

Great piece by Josh Marshall at TPM:

As you likely are too, I’m watching conversations unfold among friends on Facebook and in real life about the terrorist attack in San Bernardino and what the United States should be doing in response. Depending on your point of view, the argument is framed as one between American values and bigotry or political correctness and getting tough on radical Islam. Admittedly, these are extreme formulations, in each case using one side’s caricature of the other. But all of this ignores the central conundrum we face when we think about counter-terrorism, especially ones of the lone wolf variety or even more organized ones like the recent massacre in Paris.

The kinds of surveillance and scrutiny which inevitably fall on suspect populations as part of a heightened counter-terrorism posture are exactly the kinds of strictures which over time are likely to create the kind of social isolation and alienation which seems, from the evidence we have from Europe, to create a breeding ground for radicalization. So getting the balance right is very difficult. And this is entirely apart from the very legitimate and pressing discussion about what policies are American values and our constitution will or should allow. Throw all of that out the window and you’ve still got a very complex balancing act on your hands. (read the rest here)