Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Picture is Worth ...

1,000 Words.

Redskins get spanked 59-28 by the Eagles. Not sure about the effort the team gave? Check out Albert Haynesworth. This is during an actual play. The whistle has not blown. He wasn't hurt. He quit (arguably, he quit the day he signed his contract).

To make matters worse, The Redskins signed Donovan McNabb to a contract extension. Luckily, it is being reported the Redskins have an out after this season so the deal "only" costs them $3.25 million or so.

McNabb is a nice guy. He's a HUGE upgrade over anyone the Redskins have had playing quarterback since Brad Johnson. But there's something about him that just doesn't click for me.... Maybe it's his accuracy. I don't know, but I do know that while I would have traded for him rather than keep Jason Campbell, I wouldn't keep him for next season unless I cannot get *anyone* else. And that is exactly what Redskins have done.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Prediction Time! Part 2.... ish

Note for Facebook users: These Notes are auto-copied from my somewhat lame, largely ignored blog ( Please feel free to crumble up this webpage and throw it in a trash can if you don't care about such things. I know I would.

Seems as if there is an election tomorrow. Basically, this is an chance for me to do more pretend betting. Crystal Ball, activate!

For the record, midterms almost ALWAYS go against the party in the White House. I think since 1950, only 3 of them have not. So a betting trend is clearly established from which I can work. Also, there are basically two polling trends - registered voters, and likely voters. And the differences in those two indicates to me a lot of people simply aren't going to vote tomorrow.

U.S. Senate: 51/49 Dems
House-o-Reps: 231/201 GOP
Governors: Who cares?

According to all the research I can find, the higher the turnout, the more it will favor the democrats, who appear to be completely disinterested in this election. But really... looking through the data, all you have to do is look at the total spent by a given party. As the money goes, so goes the voting.

And if you thought the last 2 years were partisan? Wait for the next two! All this is nothing more than table setting for 2012, which will be the real ideological battle. I'm actually fascinated to see how the hard right GOP candidates get along with their GOP brethren, and who the GOP role out as House Speaker.

Notable predictions: Reid loses in NV, big Senate wins in WV, Ill, and CO for the GOP. John Boehner gets the Speaker of the House job (not a bad choice, all factors considered).

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Let the theatrics begin!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Get a Pitchfork! Get a Torch! Let's get 'em!

Note for Facebook users: These Notes are auto-copied from my somewhat lame, largely ignored blog ( Please feel free to crumble up this webpage and throw it in a trash can if you don't care about such things. I know I would.

This morning, while perusing the daily periodicals, I read this article in the Washington Post. The first two lines appear as such:

"More than half of Americans say they think that federal workers are overpaid for the work they do, and more than a third think they are less qualified than those working in the private sector, according to a Washington Post poll.

Half also say the men and women who keep the government running do not work as hard as employees at private companies."

I've been around the federal government my entire life. I've worked in the private sector supporting the federal government for 15+ years. My aunt and my mother both worked on Capitol Hill for span that between them covered more than 30 years. So when I say this, I have that as my background.

Based on the above polling results, after careful research and objective analysis of the data gathered, I have concluded that more than half of Americans are idiots.

Let's get one thing absolutely crystal clear - people in the federal government work just as hard as people in the private sector. I'm not saying there aren't people who are lax, who cruise control through their day without putting forth a real effort, but what I am saying is that these same people ALSO work in the private sector. I'm not so sure if the perception of the federal government is wrong as much as it is the perception of the private sector. As far as I can tell, the number of "slackers" is proportionate in both the public and private sector. I base this largely on personal observation more than extensive research, so I will admit the sample size of my data is limited to 15+ years of observation.

As for more or less qualified, well, again, I honestly believe that the people being polled simply have no idea. Public sector jobs tend to be more specialized I think, so maybe the broad skill set isn't seen so much on the resume of government workers. I've seen far more unqualified people in private sector jobs than I have in public sector jobs (although I've seen plenty in the private sector, too).

So, for the sake of discussion, let's assume I'm right. I mean, I am right, but it's not worth arguing about. Anyway, assume that for a moment - so why am I right? If you look at the mood of the country, the situation as it stands, you see a country in the midst of its worst economic downturn in 75 years, a country that is nervous, and sees a growing divide of "haves" and "have nots". They get worried, and they look for someone to blame. People are mad. They turn on the TV, the radio, the computer, and lo and behold there is someone telling them who is to blame for their misery.

The Mob is formed.

Let's get 'em!

But who to get? I KNOW - we'll blame the government! They're all evil! Let's get 'em! Fire all of them! Get a rope!

It's become fashionable to blame government for everything in the last few years (not just the last 2). I'm not going to go into the discussion of who is to blame, except to say that the American public have NO IDEA about the vast majority of the federal workforce, or the public workforce for that matter. And left on the sidelines in all this is the state governments and the county governments, both of whom are content to keep their head down as the mob goes by. But the notion that corruption and incompetence are the exclusive domain of the public sector is completely and totally ridiculous. I promise you, dear reader, it exists everywhere that the human animal is present.

Now that being said, could you overhaul the federal government workforce and improve performance? Absolutely. My experience has been there is a bit too much job security and not enough reward/consequence for good/bad work. But the average federal employee, based on my observation, cares about his job and does it to a decent standard. And isn't that what you would hope for from a work force? By the way, I've yet to see a private company that is "perfect", too. Every company carries dead weight and inefficiency.

I'm troubled by the whole lynch mob mentality and how it's starting to be applied. Don't like your Senator, your Congressman, your President? Cool, I'm good with that - not everyone is supposed to. Don't like a given policy? Awesome, having opinions are part of free speech. But focus that discord at the policy makers, the people who make the laws. The GS-9 who works for the Department of the Interior who shows up at his job every day, does his work with a degree of competency isn't the problem. But somewhere, there's a guy sitting in the house next door to the GS-9, cursing that person and getting angrier and angrier because some pundit told him it was the government making him unhappy. And chances are that person has no idea what that GS-9 does or how he does it, but he probably looks down at that person for doing it. And that's wrong.

Here's an exercise. Find a government job that matches what you do. See what it pays. In my own case, a job for the Fed would mean a pay cut, loss of annual bonus, a less flexible work schedule, and an inferior retirement plan.

So where's the well-formed thought? Good question. I suppose its this: if you don't like something, or the way something is being done, take an active role in fixing it instead of getting angry about it. Think government workers are overpaid and unqualified? AWESOME! Go apply for the job, and tell them as a civic service you're more qualified and because you're willing to do the job for the "appropriate" amount of money (read: LESS) they should hire you right there on the spot! I will personally thank you for helping out America.

Stop blaming other people or groups if you're unhappy. If you're unhappy, work to make a change. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go back to USAJOBS.GOV and find one of those easy, high-paying government jobs everybody seems to have, for myself.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Prediction Time!

Note for Facebookers: These Notes are auto-copied from my really lame, largely ignored, mostly irrelevant blog. Please feel free to crumble up this webpage and throw it in a trash can.

I love predictions. It's like a game show or something, where I can just spout off and if I'm right I can point back tot hem and say "I TOLD YOU SO!".

That being said.... in no particular order.

Maryland Football. Yep, beat Navy 17-14, so this is tainted. They'll start 4-1, but end the season 4-8. Friedgen resigns. James Franklin (the already hired 'Coach in Waiting') will get the job but only because of the $1,000,000+ penalty UM would have pay him if they don't hire him. By promoting a "no-name" to be head coach, Maryland will be hard pressed to consider themselves a major DI football program, IMO. I still think Freidgen should've resigned after last season.

Washington Redskins. Looking at the breakdown of the schedule, I see them going somewhere between 4-12 and 7-9, so I'll call 5-11 as my official number. They could actually start 2-6, with wins against only the Rams and Lions, but since the Lions game is in Detroit, who knows. I could see them upsetting the Texans. McNabb will only start 13 games, maybe 12. No changes for the team in terms of management or coaching.

Both teams suffer from an absence of talent. Until that gets rectified, this will be the song for years to come.

The NFL in general will not start the 2011 season on time, and may not play it at all. With no collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the Players Union, the league will lock out the players. Why? Because the TV networks have to pay the NFL whether they play or not. Other than antitrust rules, the league holds all the cards this time. Yes, this is rich men arguing with richer men about money, but it's their business. I do my best to contribute as little possible to Dan Snyder's bottom line already.

The Nationals will re-sign Adam Dunn. They have to, if they want to portray the image of being competitive. Strasburg doesn't pitch in the majors until 2012. and BTW, I'm calling right now that he is OUT OF HERE when he becomes a free agent. But the Nats are on the right path. 2012 looks promising (and yes, in baseball you have to look 3-4 years out) and I think they might be around .500 next year.

The Capitals will have to trade for a goalie mid-season. Neuvirth and Varlamov look like either could stand on their heads and shut out anyone on a given night, but I don't know if either can be consistent over the course of a NHL season.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Socialism? Communism? What do you think?

Check out this blurb:

"The consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislatures cannot invest too many devices for subdividing property… Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on."

Now, without using Google, tell me who you think wrote the preceding text. Here's a hint: It's someone whose name you will instantly recognize. If you read it a couple times, then re-read it again, you come to see that what is being said is that government has a responsibility to insure that poverty has no place in a given society and that governments should tax the the wealthy and not the poor. And the more you make, the more tax you should pay.

Now, perhaps you might think someone like Karl Marx, Michael Moore, or some other noted evil person would propose such abhorrent socialistic methodology, but the truth is that this quote comes from that notable evil communist named Thomas Jefferson. Yes, that Thomas Jefferson. He wrote that in a letter to James Madison in 1785.

See, what I'm really tired of is people who think any one ideology is "right" and all the others are wrong. Believe me, if that was the case I'm pretty sure the planet would've figured that out by now. Rather, it's a meshing from a variety of ideologies that "fits" - and he's the kicker - what fits today will not fit tomorrow. So when I see such partisanship, such divisiveness in our government and our society as a whole, I really just want to smack people. Nobody has all the answers. Not Barack Obama. Not Rush Limbaugh. Not David Hasslehoff.

You want to fix this country? Let smart people make smart decisions. Don't vote for someone because he's a Democrat, or a Tea Partier, or a Christian, or because he speaks well to crowds. Vote for people who are smart and listen to other smart people - and people who are smarter than they are - and make smart decisions. Then we can start to make progress as a society.

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Least Popular Man on the Planet

2 July, 2010, 10:22 AM EDT.

That's when I officially started to become the least popular man on the planet. Noted here simply so I can say I knew what I was getting into.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Now I realy fix the Capitals

Bounced from the playoffs like a small baby on Grandpa's knee.

I've spend a solid 12 hours thinking about this loss. Well, I slept about 7 of those hours, plus getting my son ready and off to school, getting a soda... Ok, I've spent a solid 12 minutes thinking about this.

But I'm convinced the problem here is the coach.

I like Bruce Boudreau. He seems like a good guy. But he didn't adjust one iota to Montreal's gameplan. And if he did, I couldn't tell. His guys were still trying to play "fast break" hockey last night. And Montreal was ready for it. I also HATE the way he handled the goalies this series. Unless there is an overwhelming lack of confidence in Jose Theodore in the locker room, how do you not go back to him in game 7? I know, Varly only gave up 2 goals, but my hunch tells me Theo was going to stone the Habs.

So, as much as I hate to say it, I let Gabby go, but only if I can get a coach to replace him who has WON the Stanley Cup. The Caps have lost 3 game 7's in 3 years, all at home, and the only playoff series they won in the last 3 years they started 0-2 and then struggled to win a 7th game late at home. One year is a fluke. Two years is a trend. Three years is a culture. It's time to change the culture.

Then there are the players. Mike Green. Goodbye. I don't care if you are leading scorer among defensemen, you're shit in your own end, consistently. I trade you for whatever I can get. Alexander Semin. Goodbye. Sorry, I know you scored 40 goals this year, but you're scoreless in 14 straight playoff games, and not by accident. And you're a head case. Brooks Laich, where you even on the playoff roster? Fleischman? Knuble?

Tops on the Caps shopping list - a burly, meaty, TALENTED, nasty forward, a younger Mike Knuble type, but younger and a bit meaner (ok, I want a Dale Hunter type. There, I said it). A shutdown, intimidating defensemen who can help patrol the goal area and set the proper tone in his own end. An aging veteran (think Sergei Federov) who has won the cup that can show these guys how to win in the postseason. Maybe two of those guys.

Granted, my re-made Capitals won't lead the NHL in scoring. They probably won't win the Presidents Cup, but who cares? They'll be ready for the playoffs. They've got 50 weeks to get ready for the only season that counts - how will they spend that time?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In which I fix the Capitals

The Caps lost game 6 of their 7-game series last night to Montreal 4-1.

A lot of people think these guys are choking. A lot of people are being critical of the people saying these guys are choking. I don't know if they are choking, but they are getting outworked and outcoached.

The Caps during the regular season had the best record in the NHL. They were an unstoppable scoring machine. But that was the regular season, and the cliche' is that everyone "take it up a notch" in the playoffs. Apparently, what that means is everyone plays defense for 60 minutes. Everyone except the Capitals.

That's not fair. Since game 3 the defense has been respectable, but there is no doubt the Caps are getting outworked by a less-talented Montreal team. And there is no doubt Bruce Boudreau is getting out-coached, simply because he has yet to adjust to what Montreal is doing. Boudreau is right about one thing, the Caps have 4 or 5 guys who are simply along for the ride.

So what changes to I make? First, I start Theo. Sorry Varly, but I ride the veteran now. I just feel that he's ready. Second, I yank Mike Green off the Power Play, put in Corvo. Stop forcing the issue with him and Semin - once teams tighten down, these guys wither and crumble under playoff pressure. I get Laich, Knuble, Gordon, et al - the Blue Collar guys - more ice time. I might even make a case for not dressing Semin, especially if he keeps playing like he was on the other team. It's painfully clear they have to get traffic in front of the net in order to get goals. Montreal has figured out it's better to give up 55 bad shots than 25 good ones, and they are letting the Caps shoot from long range where the goalie can see the puck clearly.

At practice today, I would spend the whole time working on fundamental stick-handling and passing drills, and no time on game strategy or power play. I want these guys to come out flying, not thinking about their struggles.

It's hard for me to envision a scenario where the Caps don't eek out a win. Sadly, if they give up the first goal, or go the first two periods without scoring (even if its 0-0), or go down two goals, I think it's over. The Capitals are playing to win a Stanley Cup. The Canadiens are playing to win a series, and that makes them dangerous.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Note for Facebookies: These Notes are auto-copied from my really lame, largely ignored blog. Please feel free to crumble up this webpage and throw it in a trash can.

I first heard this phrase used in reference to baseball, when someone was saying there were three kinds of lies - lies, damn lies, and statistics. The implication being that a statistic is nothing more than data which can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. The data itself is fact, but the conclusion drawn from an analysis of the data is simply mere opinion.

This makes sense to me. Statistics are often used to support arguments or contrasting points of views. But every so often numbers show their true nature, and can be very revealing and informative.

There has been a lot of outrage / angst / grousing about the direction of our Government lately, and the way they conduct business. If you poll 100 people about the way things are going, you would probably get 102 opinions. I'm leaving that alone - but one thing stood out for me today as I was conducting my morning readings.

Conservatives and "Tea Party-ers" have been protesting, meeting, gathering and one of the common threads I've picked up is that taxes are now too high, the government is taxing everyone to death, blah blah blah. Ok, I got it, you think taxes are too high. So I decided to do a tiny bit of research on my Google Machine.

Did you know that since 1979 through 2006 the effective federal income tax rate on ALL households has been between 19.8% and 23%, with the VAST majority of those years between 20.4% and 22.6%? 2007 numbers are supposed to come out soon, but they are expected to be in the low end of that range based on actual tax rates. If you break the data down into quintiles (20% ranges) then 80% of U.S. citizens pay an even lower percentage than previously mentioned.

I didn't know that. I would've thought by all the jumping up and down it had been all over the map. Note this is "effective" tax rate data - actual tax rates are all over the map but the rules covering what is taxable and what isn't, and what you can deduct have been just as all over the place.

I'm not going to entertain whether or not 21% is too much, not enough, or just the right amount of tax. I'm sure 100 people would give 102 opinions. I will say I've LONG been a fan of doing with a progressive income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax. If you applied a 20% sales tax (in lieu of an income tax) to the 2009 Domestic Gross Product you would not have a Federal Budget deficit this year (at least, the last I checked, it was real close). It's a "fair" tax, meaning everyone pays the same rate. In reality, the rate could be lower and you'd still do far better than now.

So where's my Well-Formed Thought? This time around, I'm passing. I see the data, I draw my own conclusions, and so should you. Don't listen to what you see on TV or hear on the radio (often presented in such a way as to elicit outrage or angst), or even read on the Internet and take it as fact - it's probably a lie, a damn, or a statistic.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Patrick Stewart On Robert Llewellyn's "Carpool" Podcast

I don't go into the tank too often, but when I do I go all the way into the tank.

If, like me, you're a fan of Patrick Stewart, this is must-see. I can only hope to be this cool at age 69. And the idea for the podcast format is truly amazing to watch - Robert Llewellyn is really onto something here.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Suck it, Leno

Jay Leno returns to 'The Tonight Show' tonight after having successfully chased off a better comedian and host, Conan O'Brien. If there is any karma in the Universe, Leno will fail miserably. Horribly. He pushed Carson out before he was truly read to go, and he pushed out Conan when he failed miserably in primetime.

Conan is one of the funniest people I've ever seen. He "gets it". Wherever he ends up, he'll be successful. Leno, on the other hand, I have never understood his appeal. He's not funny. To quote Billy Crystal, he's neither fun, nor funny.

Don't believe me? Check out Conan on 'Inside the Actor's Studio". You can find it on Youtube. If you get through the first ten minutes and haven't laughed out loud, move on.

In the interim, please, check out David Letterman tonight. Or the Sham-Wow guy. Just don't watch Leno.