Friday, September 23, 2016

Music Friday: "Quitter"

The other week I got three new albums from St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Amanda Shires, and Dawes. 

Of the three, the new album by Dawes is probably my favorite of the bunch. 

Here's a song, in part, that about the sunk-cost fallacy

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

If you worry about our freedom of speech like I do, check out "The Newest Excuse for Shutting Down Campus Speech: 'Security.'"

If you've ever read any of the Stoics, you're going to appreciate "The Next Great Stoic Competition" from Existential Comics. 

The Telegraph has an article out that relates how eating cheese is actually good for you, which provides plenty of solace for a cheese lover like me: "High-fat Cheese: The Secret to a Healthy Life?" 

I've read articles over the years that claim that eating cheese is addictive. Recently The Huffington Post took up that claim in "We Found Out If Cheese is Really as Addictive as Cocaine." It's not, but eating cheese is certainly one of the pleasures in life. 

While I might be amenable to cutting the corporate taxes in some fashion in order for U.S. companies to stay in the States (but can we also stop the corporate welfare that currently exists?), Trump's new economic plan simply helps the rich with a tremendous dose of wishful thinking as is detailed in "Trump's Economic Plan Goes from Worse to Bad." 

The above article about corporate welfare from Forbes spurs me to provide these:

Monday, September 19, 2016

[Belated] Sunday Hangover: Ole Miss

What a crazy game that was. 

The Tide has played three games, and Eddie Jackson has scored a touchdown in each. The first two were pick-sixs, and Saturday's was a game-changing punt return. 

But just when you think a team has the other put away, the Rebels' onside kick was successful because of the ball talking a big hop over Ridley's head. Then Kelly threw yet another long, jump-ball throw, and the Ole Miss receiver came down with it in the end zone. 

As usual, my constant refrain when Alabama had the ball on offense was "Run the damn ball." They didn't early on. Kiffin kept running all kinds of short passes and end arounds that drove me crazy. Finally, later in the game they established the run with Harris and Jacobs, who surprisingly if I remember correctly, came in as the second back in the rotation. 

Stewart went out with what sounds to be a knee sprain, and I'm told that true freshman Diggs might get more playing time at wide receiver in the next few weeks because of Stewart's absence in upcoming games. 

Hurts was really the star of the game though. He didn't look that great early on but really manned the offense well in the second half. During the second half, they called a number of designed running plays for him, which I suspect was something Ole Miss didn't practice much on. He's a dual threat quarterback. Saturday he was the leading rusher with 146 net yards. Harris had 144 yards. 

Still in the future I'd like to see them run the ball in a more traditional manner by using the running backs inside or outside the tackles and using Hurts as a runner as a highly effective curveball. 

The defensive backs need to do a much better job going after contested balls. I'm sure that will be a strong point of emphasis in the coming weeks. When a quarterback hangs 421 passing yards on a defense mainly through big plays, something has to change for the better, especially with Saban coaching the defensive backfield. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Music Friday: "Slowly Going Deaf"

Last week I downloaded an album I used to have on cassette tape. 

That album is the eponymous first album by Mr. Bungle. 

If you've never listened to it, the songs are a fun mix of ska, heavy metal, and circus music. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday Hangover: Western Kentucky

38 to 10 ~ Coach Saban was not impressed. 

Except for the Tide's play on D, I also was not impressed. 

The offense struggled to run the ball. Sure, the Hilltoppers were playing an eight-man front, but still, the line wasn't blocking as well as it should have been. When your team's second leading rusher is your quarterback, that's a problem. I'm worried about the offensive line. 

The passing game had its flashes, but Hurts seemed to hold onto the ball too long at times. His receivers bailed him out on some throws. Regardless, he went 23 for 36 for 287 yards and two touchdowns. Unless something dramatic happens, I think Hurts will be the Tide's starting quarterback this season. 

The Tide's second-team defense giving up a touchdown late will be shown repeatedly in the film room I imagine.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

Music Friday: "Smooth Sailin'"

I'm a little late to the party on learning about this guy, but I saw his performance on Austin City Limits recently. 

His music is straight-up old fashioned R&B. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunday Hangover: USC

Last night was the first time a freshman (albeit redshirt) quarterback started for the Crimson Tide under Saban, but the real story was that a true freshman directed the offense for most of the night. 

I had been reading notes on TiderInsider for weeks that Jalen Hurts would possibly get playing time this season, so I was more than a little curious when Coach Saban announced that the starters would either be Cooper Bateman or Blake Barnett. Barnett started the game, but Hurts came in on the third offensive series. After a major gaffe (fumbling on his first snap), he directed the offense well, accounting for two long strikes (39 and 71 yards) for touchdowns to Stewart and two running touchdowns. 

After the game Coach Saban was no longer coy with the media related to their surprise about Hurts playing. He said, “It was the plan all along to figure out which one of those guys (Bateman or Barnett) was going to start and manage this game the best, and Jalen Hurts was going to have a role in the game. We had a special plan for him. And he practiced his plays all week long and he was going to go in the third series of the game in my mind, no matter what. And that’s what we did. Y’all never asked. I wouldn’t have told you if you would have asked, but you didn’t ask.”

The focus on quarterback partially obscures the outstanding job the defense did last night. They held a really good offense to 194 yards of total offense and held one of the best receivers in college football to 1 reception for 9 yards. Except for a couple of runs later in the game, the D shut down the running game. They were stifling. 

After some sluggishness on offense, the Crimson Tide got its offense going, and Damien Harris had the best game of the running backs with two long runs. He amassed 140 yards on 9 measly carries. All four backs got playing time. Here are their yards gained and yards per carry:

  • Damien Harris, 140 yards, 15.3 ypc
  • Bo Scarbrough, 36 yards, 3.3 ypc
  • Joshua Jacobs, 20 yards, 5.0 ypc
  • B.J. Emmons, 18 yards, 3.0 ypc

I thought Scarbrough would have a better game, but I suspect they'll use all four of these backs. We sort of know what we have in the first two, but I was impressed by Jacobs' runs in his limited playing time. I hope they get back to having a three-man rotation of backs like they had in the '09 season. 

And getting back to the quarterbacks, even when Barnett came back in the game, he looked much better, more composed. Even if Hurts falters as a starter (if he indeed is a starter), Barnett looks very capable. 

Next Saturday is a home game against Western Kentucky. But the following game, a road game versus Ole Miss, looms large in the the minds of Crimson Tide fans. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Music Friday: "For Whom the Bell Tolls"

Metallica has a new album coming out in November

I'm looking forward to it. 

Here's an vintage Metallica tune, one of my favorites. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

"The Perfect Boob Throughout History, From Big Ol' Things to Bee Stings" is a fascinating read if you're interested in cultural mores, societal attitudes, groupthink, and, well, boobs. 

Trump went to Mexico to talk with the country's President. Mexico's president clearly stated he told Trump that Mexico will not pay for his stupid wall. Trump lied and said they didn't discuss the matter. You can call Clinton a liar if you like, but this dude is a liar and classic bullshit artist. Just check out the Washington Post's fact check on his immigration speech: "Fact-Checking Trump's Immigration Speech." 

The Clinton ad below is now airing in Arizona. I'd be really surprised if Clinton wins Arizona. That would be a serious kick in the short and curlies for the GOP if it does happen.  

It looks like I'm going to be an assistant coach for my son's flag football team. The first practice is Friday. 

For years, I've calculated my dog's "human age" by the traditional 1-to-7-year ratio. Come to find out that ratio is inaccurate. The first year of a medium dog's life compares to 15 years. The second year compares to 9 years. The years thereafter compare to 4 years. So my dog is not 70. She's 56. Check it out from the AKC: "How to Calculate Dog Years to Human Years." 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

As many of you might know or have gathered if you've read this blog for a while, I tend to have pessimistic attitudes about politics, the "democratic" process, voters, the 24-hour cable news networks, FoxNews, and the intelligence of the average American. "The Dumbed Down Democracy" by Timothy Egan represents my feelings to a degree. 

Too often people think being a teacher is easy. Wrong. Read "7 Thing I Wish People Understood about Being a Teacher" for a reality check. 

The short interview with Garry Trudeau could be worth your time: "Doonesbury Cartooonist Garry Trudeau: 'If Trump wins, I'll miss civilization as we know it.'"

Check out this article from Slate from 2012: "Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppets." I'm an Order Muppet. And I think Oscar, my favorite Sesame Street character, is one too. 

In the "Ask Umbra" feature of Grist, a reader asks about the eco-responsbility of certain kinds of liquor: "What Kind of Liquor Is Best for the Environment?" I had no idea Four Roses used non-GMO grains, and my favorite, bourbon, looks like an eco-winner relatively speaking. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Music Friday: "Freedom of Speech"

This week I came across this article about the University of Chicago: "Don't Ask Us for Trigger Warnings..."

Although Ice-T wrote the song for different reason (mainly the PMRC), that article reminds me of this song. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

Bill McKibbon has some points to make in "After 525 Years, It's Time to Actually Listen to Native Americans." 

I've never really had houseplants, but this article in Treehugger, "5 Houseplants for Removing Indoor Air Pollution," makes me consider buying some. Might have to put one in my office. 

There's an air show this weekend in this little corner of east central Illinois. I've never gotten into going to those. Like NASCAR, it just seems like a waste of gas. 

We are going to a high school football game this Friday. They have a "grill on the hill" for the first game of the season. We'll see if they pull off a win. The team is in the midst of 17-game losing streak. It's gotta get better sometime soon, right? 

If the Democrats had a really good candidate for president, he or she would be trouncing Trump in the polls right now. Makes me implausibly wish that Elizabeth Warren or Martin O'Malley had won the nomination. If Clinton can't beat Trump, then she's an utter failure. Truly a "loser." 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Music Friday: "Infallible" & "Lightning Bolt"

I've been listening to Pearl Jam quite a bit this week. Here are a couple of tunes from the band's most recent album. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Music Friday: "Longest Days"

This morning I drove to Bloomington, Indiana to give a presentation at a professional development day for the local community college. 

That part of Indiana reminds me of the south because of its terrain and the myriad Jesus-inspired signs.

Since I was in the area, why not some Mellencamp today?

"Longest Days" is one of my favorite songs of his. It's depressing but true. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

I'm skeptical that the GOP is going to be shambles like what happened to the Whig party as some pundits have hinted. However, "The Republican's White Strategy" by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic makes me think that Trump, and people who came before him, are seriously damaging the GOP. The author's comparison of Nixon's "Southern strategy" to Trump's nativism rings true to me. That old chestnut from Twain goes, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes." Here are some notable quotations from the article: 
  • "The much stronger link is between attitudes toward immigration and attitudes toward race."
  • "Like them [past Republican leaders who stoked anti-immigration fires], he is exploiting fears about Latino immigrants in ways that echo the "southern strategy," through which Richard Nixon field and exploited a white backlash against African American civil rights." 
  • "But what's truly ominous for the Trump cruse is Latinos' increasing political cohesion." 
  • "A big reason nativist sentiment is strong today is that immigration has outpaced assimilation."
  • "That immigration wave, however, has passed." 
  • "Perhaps the best evidence that America as a whole is experiencing a California-style flip away from nativist politics is the reaction to Trump's candidacy itself."
  • "Trump will still need more than 40 percent of Latinos to win the popular vote. That's extraordinarily unlikely."
  • "What they [the GOP] don't know is how to build a party that contains both Latinos and the supporters of Donald Trump."

"Donald Trump's Ghostwriter Tells All" is worth your time. The bottom line is that The Art of the Deal is mainly a piece of fiction that ruined a writer's career. Schwartz wrote the fabrications and now regrets it. 

When I was in Iowa this past weekend, I got to see a couple of Clinton ads. The most interesting one is simply a video clip of Trump on the Letterman show. He's touting his shirts and ties, and Letterman points out that the shirts are made in Bangladesh, to which Trump notes that people there "need jobs", and then Letterman relates that the ties are made in China, to which Trump has weird smirks on his face in narcissistic silence. 

Here's the video.