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Archive for April, 2017

Messin’ with Nazquatch: A Play in Four Acts

[ 103 ] April 30, 2017 |

Hi. I–a grown woman–did this today:

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Let Us Dispel With the Idea That the Pegulas Know What They Are Doing

[ 83 ] April 30, 2017 |
Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, left, shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, after introducing him during a campaign stop at the First Niagara Center, Monday, April 18, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, left, shakes hands with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, after introducing him during a campaign stop at the First Niagara Center, Monday, April 18, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Bills for some reason allowed their GM to stay after the season, hired a coach, and then fired the GM the day after the draft. This is, ah, somewhat less than functional; the Pegulas seem to be acting as if both the NFL and NHL had allowed their teams to be sold to Donald Trump:

This has nothing to do with the decision to whack Whaley, who should have been gone before Pegula arrived. He was fortunate to survive after staking his reputation on EJ Manuel and doubling down by trading two first-round draft picks for Sammy Watkins in a draft rich with receivers.

Whaley had a knack for finding free agents off the street, but he overspent in other areas and failed to keep good players after mangling the salary cap. He had problems getting along with head coaches. His departure was inevitable after he was stripped of power and had problems clarifying what he did for a living.

The Pegulas can continue firing people, and paying them, but they’re not going to instill belief unless they start hiring the right people to replace them. It starts with them. The Whaley decision is not simple addition by subtraction. They attempted to fill other positions in the past and watched them turn into disasters.

[…]

It’s astonishing when you consider the dough Pegula is shelling out to people who are no longer employed by his organizations. For Whaley, Ryan, Murray and Dan Bylsma, we’re talking some $35 million in payouts. But that’s change between the couch cushions compared to the total cost.

The figure is closer to $60 million, more than the Sabres’ entire payroll when he purchased the franchise, after adding up contracts for Ted Nolan, Pat LaFontaine, Greg Roman, Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff, assistant coaches, scouts and others who were dismissed by the Bills and Sabres before their contracts expired.

That’s not all dead money. That’s bad business. And it’s a product of bad decisions that eventually trickle down to an unsuspecting fan base that is convinced the Pegulas are interested in nothing more than community service. Their past mistakes suggest they’re too involved and don’t have a clue how to get it right.

It must be said, however, that McDermott had an excellent draft, getting a yooge haul for trading down to the Chiefs and making generally sensible picks otherwise. It’s the first sign in many years that the Bills might be ending their apparent organizational philosophy of “look at what Bill Belichick does and do the opposite.” (If Whaley and Rex were still in charge, the only question is whether they would have traded two first and two second rounders to trade up for Trubisky or Fournette.) I wouldn’t count on this to continue, but it’s at least on ray of hope for anyone who’s sick of the noncompetitiveness of the AFC Would Be the Least Except the South is Even Worse.

Indeed, this year’s draft was replete with unusual shows of competence. It’s not actually that surprising that this iteration of the Browns would have a good draft, but the 49ers? Thankfully we had the Jags, Texans and especially Bears playing to type, but we’ll get to them later.

Safe Self-Abortion Will Force Opponents of Abortion Rights to be Consistent, and Not in a Good Way

[ 247 ] April 30, 2017 |

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For political reasons, most American opponents of reproductive freedom have been publicly committed to the obviously incoherent position that abortion is a grave moral offense that doctors should be put in jail for performing, but women should not be punished for at all. As self-induced abortions become safer, this is a circle than can no longer be squared, and I agree with Irin Carmon with where we’re headed:

It is a curious but long-standing proposition by the antiabortion movement: Abortion is murder, but women shouldn’t be held accountable. Conservative groups were publicly aghast when candidate Donald Trump blurted out last year that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions if they’re banned. Eventually, Trump’s third and final statement that day declared: “The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”

But as the conservative Supreme Court majority takes shape, these narratives — the dying woman, the evil doctor — are lacking. Even if the justices overturn Roe v. Wade and legislators immediately end abortion rights in 22 states, women wouldn’t necessarily have to endanger their lives to get abortions. And they wouldn’t need doctors, either. Increasingly, women can end a pregnancy by their own hands. In these cases, there is only one person to “be held legally responsible.” There is little doubt that states would delight in prosecuting her.

Prosecuting women may affect abortion on public opinion on abortion at the margin. But even if it does, it’s not clear that it will matter in many cases — despite the popularity of same-sex marriage it would almost certainly still be illegal in a majority of states without Obergefell. The brutal truth is that the only way to protect reproductive rights in many states going forward will be a Supreme Court with a Democratic median vote, and that could be about to get a lot harder.

Hourly Wages v. GDP

[ 60 ] April 30, 2017 |

Total percentage growth in hourly wages for production and non-supervisory workers in the USA over the past 50 years:

5.44%

Total percentage growth in per capita USA GDP over the past 50 years:

135.09%

Average Hourly

 

GDP per capita

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 81

[ 16 ] April 30, 2017 |

This is the grave of Walter Camp.

2016-05-07 11.45.00

The so-called “Father of College Football,” Camp was born in 1859 in New Britain, Connecticut. Even at a very young age, Camp became interested in the new game of football. At the age of 14, he attended the founding meeting of the sport and then played for Yale from 1876 and 1882, playing both as an undergraduate and while at Yale Medical School. He worked for a few years at the New Haven Clock Company, which his family owned, and in 1888 became head coach of Yale. He did not coach for long. He stayed at Yale until 1892 and then moved to Stanford, where he coached briefly in late 1892 and then in 1894 and 1895. Despite being only 36 years old, he retired with a record of 79-5-3 and went back to the clock company. But he continued staying in the game, creating many of the basic rules of the sport, writing books on the topic, and becoming the sport’s foundational figure. As early as 1880, he fought for the creation of the line of scrimmage, helping to separate the game from rugby. He created or co-created the snap, the four-down offensive system, the standard lineup of offensive players, the 2 point safety, the number of players as 11, and the yard marker. He would be on the college football rules committee for 48 years.

Camp also cheated up a storm. He had a slush fund of $10,000 for whatever he wanted, including hiring ringers for key games and bringing in players who were not students and were feted like grandees. He was involved in the creation of the NCAA, which happened after Theodore Roosevelt became concerned that the deadly violence associated with the sport could lead to its eradication. Camp promised to be involved in getting rid of the most violence parts of the sport, but he did nothing. 26 players died in 1909 alone. And of course we know the legacy of the NCAA on college sports to the present, with its refusal to compensate players while teams make millions, something Camp also certainly would collude with were he alive today.

Camp later worked as an athletic advisor to the U.S. military during World War I and wrote many books on the virtue of exercise. He died in 1925 at the age of 65.

To the best that I can tell, Camp has never been portrayed in the movies, which seems a little surprising. I kind of figured he would end up in some silent film about college football, but I guess it never happened, at least according to IMDB.

Walter Camp is buried in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.

Fox “News”

[ 75 ] April 29, 2017 |

Nothing better illustrates how pretty much everything excreted by the contemporary right wing in the US is pure projection than the claim that “the mainstream media” is “biased.”  Fox News isn’t biased in the usual sense of the word, because it’s an undisguised propaganda machine for the Republican party.   “Undisguised” isn’t really accurate though, given that this sort of thing is no doubt mistaken by tens of millions of scared old white people for actual journalism.

. . . Evan Harper flags this even more amazing graphic. (The graph says that “hourly wages” in the U.S. averaged $9.22 during Trump’s first 100 days.  Average hourly wages were $21.90 last month. The numbers quoted for the other presidents are similarly inaccurate).  It’s impossible to guess what “hourly wages” is even supposed to mean in this graph, but let’s not forget that among the people who are getting essentially all their information about the world from this dumpster fire of a news source is none other than Donald Trump.

Finally, I Understand Trump’s America

[ 157 ] April 29, 2017 |

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Shorter Bret Stephens: “Sure, climate science suggests that the Earth is warming with terrible consequences, but what if BIG DATA is failing to anticipate that James Comey might imply that the climate is a crook, causing the temperature to drop two or three degrees and making everything OK? Americans are right to be skeptical of NERDS and their SLIDE RULES who don’t consider the intangibles.”

MSNBC In Talks to Be Wingnut Welfare Supplier

[ 114 ] April 28, 2017 |

190120._UY500_SS500_Above: What America needs now is for fictional conspiracy theories about Democratic election rigging to get the widest possible audience

Apparently, Jeffrey Lord wasn’t available:

MSNBC is in talks with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt about creating a show for him on weekend evenings, four well-placed sources at the network tell Daily Intelligencer. Initially MSNBC was keen on having Hewitt host a program on weekend mornings, but that idea is off the table because Hewitt wants to be on in the evening, according to two sources. At one point, network management also floated moving Joy-Ann Reid’s popular weekend program AM Joy to the afternoon to serve as a lead-in for Hewitt and help jumpstart his ratings, but that plan has seemingly been dropped.

I particularly like the detail that MSNBC executives thought that what Morning Joy’s audience was really looking for was to watch a fourth-rate hack conservative talk show host. (Not all heroes wear capes!)

Can you imagine conservative media sources reacting to an election loss by deciding they needed to hire some rotely partisan liberals? Me neither.

Red Army

[ 55 ] April 28, 2017 |

KV-1S in the Great Patriotic War Museum 5-jun-2014 Front.jpg

I been reading Alexander Hill’s new book on the Red Army (review pending), and I posted some intermediate thoughts at the National Interest:

But the cycle of death and rebirth of the Red Army continues to hold lessons for the study of modern military organizations. The Red Army endured and prevailed for several reasons: it preserved (often at great cost and difficulty) the military traditions of its social base; it borrowed liberally (but not too liberally) from the experiences and technologies of others; and it adapted (sometimes clumsily, but at other times with great shrewdness) to the idiosyncratic political conditions of Soviet Russia. These lessons remain useful for the United States, as it continues to rebuild foreign militaries under the mantle of “partnership.”

“De-politicizing Art”

[ 186 ] April 28, 2017 |
No comment

No comment

 

I’m gonna be honest with you: this is s a long, hard slog. I found big chunks of it incomprehensible.

When I was young my dad–mostly–made a living writing and often hammered home the charms of concision. These charms have yet to be discovered by any Federalist writer and this screed is no exception. Even the passages she quotes are nearly unreadable.

So I’m gonna squint my way through this, tilting my head like a confused dog, and try to tell you what I think she’s getting at.

  1. Art should be apolitical. I don’t know why or if it even can be. We imbue nearly everything with politics. Even food is political, for crying out loud. How, exactly, does one extract politics from art, and why would you want to?
  2. Art is currently dominated by women, which is bad for reasons.
  3. People of Arab descent cannot make art criticizing the West because Americans made Photoshop…or something.
  4. Women don’t like logic.
  5. Modern art is silly.

Anyway, that was my takeaway, but I’m gonna leave you with a couple of quotes, because this woman sure does have a way with words…

Also an overwhelmingly female one. At SVA, seven of this year’s eight graduate projects are curated by women. One is a collaborative effort by eight women. The sex imbalance tallies with a 2012 survey by Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies citing a preponderance of young women entering the field. That ratio brings with it a bent toward performance art—feminist panty raids on patriarchal culture and its categories.

I’m gonna be thinking about “feminist panty raids on patriarchal culture” for a long time, not gonna lie.

In sum, ending the endowments will not relieve us of art that prefers social practice and intellectual pretension to the cultivation of excellence. Truth and beauty are outcasts among creatures of the academic brain. They will remain in exile without the NEA. And art will remain an artifact of ideology so long as the academy keeps its grip on artists’ training.

I…um…well…ok. Is this truthful and beautiful enough for you?

Trump Is Succeeding on His Own Terms

[ 105 ] April 28, 2017 |

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It’s been a great grift:

Yet since his ascension to the White House, conventional wisdom has developed an odd tendency to describe his inability to make major legislative changes as an indication that his presidency is failing. It’s certainly true that Paul Ryan’s speakership of the House is failing, arguable that Mitch McConnell’s tenure as majority leader of the Senate is failing, and indisputably true that the Koch brothers’ drive to infuse hardcore libertarian ideological zeal into the GOP is failing.

But Trump isn’t failing. He and his family appear to be making money hand over fist. It’s a spectacle the likes of which we’ve never seen in the United States, and while it may end in disaster for the Trumps someday, for now it shows no real sign of failure.

I actually think McConnell isn’t failing; he got the Supreme Court justice he wanted, and I think he’d rather stay in power than repeal the ACA. Ryan is certainly a joke in many respects, although my guess is that he will still get the one thing he wants most (upper-class tax cuts.)

Will the grift last for 8 years?

Donald Trump is currently a moderately unpopular president, and it’s entirely typical for the president’s party to lose ground in the midterms. Under the circumstances, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Democrats swept to a narrow majority in the US House of Representatives in 2018, which would put them in a position to launch the kind of oversight and investigations that could bring the Trump clan to heel.

Then again, the basic outline of the 2018 Senate map is so favorable to Republicans that for Democrats to net as much as one seat would be a remarkable achievement. And district boundaries in the House are so favorable to the GOP that Democrats could win the national House popular vote by a bit over 5 percent and the GOP would retain their majority.

After that, who knows. Most presidents are reelected. Congressional Republicans have made it clear that there will be no investigations into any potential scandals as long as they run the show. Perhaps there will be a recession in 2020 or Trump will get us embroiled in a war that causes a large number of American casualties. But one hopes he won’t.

It is certainly possible for Trump to get re-elected, but I’m not sure I’d put much weight on the “most presidents are reelected” metric. Most presidents were actually more popular than their opponents on Election Day and aren’t unpopular from Day 1 — historical patterns are going to be of limited value when dealing with something that is in many ways unprecedented. But I do agree that he’s more likely to lose if Dems take over the House in 2018 — it’s hard to overstate the importance of the midterms both substantively and politically.

DumpsterFyre Festival

[ 204 ] April 28, 2017 |

This is the future liberals want.

It was billed as an Instagram-worthy luxury festival in the Bahamas – but the supposedly glamorous Fyre festival seems to be anything but.

Tickets for the festival, which was co-organised by the rapper Ja Rule, cost up to $12,780 for a luxury four-person package. Festivalgoers were promised “a cultural moment created from a blend of music, art and food”.

Ticketholders have called Fyre festival a “complete disaster”, saying the tents were half-built and the luxury food also failed to meet with their expectations. Now, some are stranded in the Bahamas.

Elle has more about the involuntary Lord of the Flies cosplay.

Laughing? I’m not laughing. Why would I – Bwahahahahahaaaaa!

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