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LGM 2012 Electoral Vote Challenge

[ 147 ] October 29, 2012 |

In keeping LGM’s long history of pointless competition community building, let me announce the 2012 LGM Electoral Vote Challenge.  To enter, create a map here, copy the unique URL (through the “share” button), then paste into a comment. Victor will be determined on the assumption that there will be no “faithless” electors.

  • First tiebreaker: Correct President (If Romney wins 274, a 284 is preferred to 264).
  • Second tiebreaker: Closest to Obama national vote percentage (New York Times) as of November 9, 12pm EST.
  • Third tiebreaker: Closest to Obama margin-of-victory in percent in Massachusetts (New York Times) as of November 9, 12pm EST.

One vote per person, which we will enforce to the best of our ability.

My map is here. This differs from the prediction I made in January only by the shift of Ohio from Romney to Obama. Obama national vote: 49.8%.  Obama MOV in MA: 18.2%

Winner gets a prize selected from the LGM Store.


World Cup Challenge

[ 6 ] June 2, 2010 |

I have created an LGM World Cup Challenge group at ESPN:

Group Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

Deadline is June 11.

Speaking of pointless competition, here are the current LGM Baseball Challenge Standings:

1 Feces Flingers, B. Drunk 366 99 0 0 0 0 0 2801 2801 98.4
2 free leonard, M. Ricci 357 98 0 0 0 0 0 2787 2787 98.2
3 kolmogorov-smirnov, W. Krummenacher 203 95 0 0 0 0 0 2738 2738 97.1
4 C. Quentin’s Unicorn, A. Katz 301 127 0 0 0 0 0 2722 2722 96.7
5 HeadlessThompson Gunner, S. Hickey 302 90 0 0 0 0 0 2711 2711 96.4
6 Dwarf Mammoths, T. Mohr 233 127 0 0 0 0 0 2700 2700 96.1
7 Ambulance Chasers, J. Shurberg 326 67 0 0 0 0 0 2672 2672 95.3
8 Bangers and M*A*S*H, N. Beaudrot 337 91 0 0 0 0 0 2644 2644 94.3
9 Signal/Noise, B. Petti 252 92 0 0 0 0 0 2619 2619 93.3
10 Better Arms on Chairs, B. Mizelle 337 124 0 0 0 0 0 2610 2610 93.0

(Sir) Alex Ferguson

[ 57 ] May 8, 2013 |

is finally retiring. Ferguson has been rumored to be retiring for over a decade now, and I can still recall the sure bet that it was about ten years ago for Celtic manager Martin O’Neil to take over United. Being a right thinking individual, and an Arsenal supporter, I’m not a fan of Manchester United, like I’m not a fan of the New York Yankees. Likewise, I don’t really like Ferguson. However, it’s difficult to ignore the results. What he did with both Aberdeen in the 1980s, and United since 1986, is pretty remarkable. While the Aberdeen side he took over were sporadically competitive, he broke the Old Firm monopoly with three titles in eight seasons, capped by a (now defunct) European Cup Winners Cup victory over Bayern Munich in 1983. In 1986, Man U had last won the league title in 1966/67 (and the European Cup in 1968, one year after Celtic became the first British side to win it, mind), and were even relegated at the end of the 1974 season. When Ferguson was hired, they were 21st in the league. It would take seven seasons before United won their first title under Ferguson in 1993, which indicates a patience not typical in the present day. Including 1993, United have won 13 league titles, two European Cups (in the guise of the UEFA Champions League), five FA Cups, and four League Cups. In short, United under Ferguson have been consistently more annoying than the Yankees.

Yeah, he’s been annoyingly successful. More interesting is comparing that success. The media here on this island are lauding him as the best British manager ever, and they might be right. Major trophies include 16 league titles, nine FA cups, five league cups, two European Cups, and two Cup Winners Cups, as well as a series of minor European and domestic trophies. I don’t have the time to do a comprehensive review, but the competition that comes to mind include Bob Paisley (only six top flight titles, no FA cups, but three European Cups), Matt Busby (5, 3, and 1), and Jock Stein (10 and 8, but all in Scotland, and one European Cup). It gets a little more competitive (and complicated) when comparing Ferguson internationally.  Ferguson is one of 17 managers to have won the European Cup twice (the record remains Paisley’s three). I’m curious if anybody has replicated his sustained success both domestically and in European (or the relevant regional association) competition. The names I’m coming up with all seem to fall short somehow. Rinus Michels (four Eredivisie, one LaLiga, one European Cup, one European Championship, one World Cup funner-up), del Bosque (the World Cup, European Championship, two Champions Leagues, but only two LaLiga titles). Trapattoni? Maybe Hitzfeld (seven Bundesliga titles, two Swiss titles, and winning the Champions League with two different clubs)? What is clear is that if Real Madrid could have stuck with one manager for longer than five minutes at any point in their career (especially the late 1950s) Ferguson would have clear competition. And the next generation have a couple candidates that, if they replicate his longevity, might likewise compete (Guardiola and Mourinho specifically). But such longevity is rare; Johan Cruyff, who is five years younger than Ferguson, hasn’t managed a club since 1996.

A couple interesting facts about Ferguson — his first managerial job was at the mighty (and this past season, peer of Rangers) East Stirlingshire, subject of a very good book about quite possibly the worst professional team in Britain: Pointless. Second, his first match in charge of Man United? A 2-0 loss at Oxford United, who are currently settled in the fourth tier of English soccer.


[ 134 ] March 7, 2013 |

Couple of thoughts about Rand Paul’s marathon filibuster.

First, it should go without saying that Rand Paul is not on the side of progressives for any reason. Even on drones and extrajudicial killings, his motives are evil. That said, sometimes you have to ally with evil people to have a conversation. At the very least, Paul is getting people talking about these issues and forcing the Obama Administration to respond, even if in a hilariously dismissive way. At the same time, it’d be nice if the anti-drone people also recognized who Rand Paul is and how he is not their friend.

Second, even if real filibuster reform required marathon speaking sessions like this, don’t think it will actually stop Republicans from doing it. It’ll be a masculinity competition for them–who can speak the longest about the most arcane issue and hold up the government from conducting its daily business. So long as the filibuster remains, they will go to these extremes. And John McCain saying it’s silly will only encourage Paul and Crazy Ted Cruz and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and Inhofe to do so more.

Third, I’d like to thank Carl Levin and Dianne Feinstein and Joe Manchin and the other Democratic Senators who put their future prerogatives over governing the country by opposing meaningful filibuster reform in January. At least the outstanding Jeff Merkley continues his fight.

…..In case anyone is unclear why Rand Paul is a fraud.

The Fruits of Victory are Apparently “Caliberries”

[ 3 ] April 3, 2012 |

Who can now claim that a Wildcats victory does not benefit the wider campus community?

To celebrate the Wildcats and Coach John Calipari’s first National Championship, all Lexington Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt stores will give away one free 5 oz. froyo to each customer Tuesday, April 3.

All customers can enjoy any one of Orange Leaf’s delicious flavors including the special “Caliberry” flavor, which will only be in the stores through the end of this week.

And we have a winner in this year’s LGM Tournament Challenge:

1 tb_slash 1, tb_slash Kentucky 1550 99.7
2 Sleater-Kinney Road, will kier Kentucky 1500 99
3 FunBoy84Lyfe 1, FunBoy84Lyfe Kentucky 1480 98.5
4 MN_Jayhawk, college.ball.nut Kentucky 1460 98
5 mixingmemory 2, mixingmemory Kentucky 1450 97.7
6 failed2menace 1, failed2menace Kentucky 1440 97.4
7 jameson805 1, jameson805 Kentucky 1400 96.1
8 Chaminadenfreude, BaronUnderbheit Kentucky 1390 95.7
8 c(wr/s)u sparkings, ehlimbach Kentucky 1390 95.7
10 mwbugg 1, mwbugg Kentucky 1370 94.9


The enigmatic tb_slash should contact me at his/her earliest convenience regarding prize info; e-mail is available under “Contact” on the far right sidebar.

Second, I am forcibly reminded that the time has come for the LGM Baseball Challenge. This year’s competition was nearly cancelled because of pointlessness, but hopefully this season someone will be able to break the awful three-year tyranny of M. Ricci.

League: Lawyers, Guns and Money
Password: zevon

Only The Democrats

[ 0 ] January 18, 2010 |

Can turn what should be a sure thing into an angst ridden few days. The only thing more fulfilling than rooting for Celtic in European competition, or the Mariners prior to 1995, is consistently setting myself up for disappointment by supporting the Democrats.

I have several disorganized sets of semi-organized comments on this. First, the validity and reliability of polling in this election, second, the structural and contextual issues facing the Democrats, and finally, what the worst case scenario could mean.
538 has been doing their usual comprehensive, rigorous, and analytical job of covering the polling side of this race, but even they are flailing about at night, in a deep fog, on a Pacific Ocean beach, after drinking way too much vintage port, unable to work out east from west, north from south, blindfolded. With the tide coming in. (Yes, this is personal anecdote, save for the blindfold. But then it wasn’t really necessary). Polling is going to be particularly problematic in this electoral setting. Polling houses rely on likely voter models that vary based on a series of assumptions. These assumptions are usually, but not always, defensible in a normal electoral setting such as a Presidential or even mid-term year, where we have heaps of past empirical data to model, from which we can estimate probabilities of who is more likely to turn out and who less likely.
A mid January election in the state of Massachusetts held in the current political climate does not afford such a wealth of data, needless to say. I would be extremely reluctant to use polls conducted in this electoral context as the empirical base for a projective model formulated during a “normal” year (2008) for Senate elections to estimate a probability of either a Brown or a Coakley victory tomorrow. Indeed, Franklin reports that the polling in this race is highly varied; where in general elections we find various poll estimations within +/- 5% 95% of the time, the results here are all over the map. This is not at all surprising, since nobody has a clear idea what the electorate will look like tomorrow.
However, there are a few certainties that we can cling to, and none warm my heart. First, turnout will be lower on Tuesday than in November 2008. As structural variance in turnout affects different socio-economic categories at different, and largely predictable, rates, it’s safe to say that the drop off in Republican turnout will be less extreme than Democratic turnout. In a needlessly close rate hinging on independent voters, this matters, even in a state where Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans.
Second, while we can point to NY-23 for evidence of how the tea-bagger label or support can be toxic in certain settings, a year in to the administration, the present race can be assuming more of a protest vote dynamic. Obama and the Democrats are becoming associated with the economic malaise. While Obama is right to suggest that it takes more than one year to reverse what eight years caused, this evidential argument doesn’t necessarily play. Democrats can’t run against Bush indefinitely. There comes a point where the party has to present a positive message about its policies, and while this has always been a stretch for the Democratic Party in my lifetime, the effectiveness of “running against the past” will attenuate with time. As this is essentially a by-election where the fate of the executive branch is not at risk, and most people don’t really understand how the U.S. Senate operates (i.e. that 60th vote does matter, like it or not), those content in their support for the current administration and the Democratic Party have less incentive to turn out than the tea bagging set, those swayed by seductive populist appeals, those independents who have reasoned concerns with the approach of the administration, or even those, independent and Democrat, who just want to send a message of protest or frustration with the current climate.
The Democrats, both in Congress and in the administration, are the incumbent party of power now, and will start to bear the burden of blame for current conditions.
Finally, as fellow Massachusetts pol Tip O’Neil famously said, all politics is local. Coakley has, at best, run a complacent campaign. At one extreme, the campaign can be portrayed as a campaign of entitlement — she expected to coast to victory. I can understand the national Democrats’ overlooking the Mass. Senate race, but the actual candidate still has to win, and convincing her base to support her in a special election in January is critical. She hasn’t. Massachusetts has elected Republicans state-wide, and until 2007 had a lock on governor for 16 years. They’re not scared of electing Republicans, and in an election that superficially appears to not matter, very well may do so.
The problem is that, as we know, this election does matter in both tactical and strategic senses. Tactically, it could (and probably would) torpedo health care reform. Of course, the Democrats can then blame the Republicans for this failure, but a) that’s the only good that would come from a Brown victory, and b) this argument, too, assumes that average citizens understand that 59% of the vote in the US Senate is not enough. They won’t get that, but rather see a party with 59% of the votes in the Senate failing miserably to pass the Administration’s signature issue.
Strategically, the implications are clear. The Democrats can, and will, be portrayed both as free-spending socialists who can’t be trusted with our tax dollars, yet simultaneously be portrayed as unable to simply and effectively govern with huge majorities in both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. We can’t trust the Dems because they’re pointlessly spending all our money, yet we can’t trust the Dems because they can’t seem to spend all our money.
This is before the symbolic value of it being Massachusetts, in Teddy Kennedy’s seat, is exploited even superficially. The tea baggers and Republicans writ large will go ape shit, and the Democrats will embrace chicken little. Both will be over-reactions, but the potential damage caused by not passing health care reform should not be underestimated.
If Brown should win, I don’t think the Democrats will suddenly lose the House in 2010. The conditions are different than 1994, which is another post entirely. They’ll lose seats in both the House and the Senate, but anybody who knows anything about House elections already know that the Dems will lose seats in the House.
Will Brown win? Silver suggests a tend back towards Coakley, and these numbers don’t include the weekend blitz by the Democrats (contra Silver, as he points out, Franklin reaches a different estimation). I wouldn’t be surprised either way, yet I have faith that Coakley will pull it out. But it’s nothing more than faith, and it pisses me off that it should come to nothing more than faith in Massachusetts of all places. Rationally, structural and contextual variables are aligned against the Democrats in this special election: significantly lower turnout favors the Republicans, the Democrats are now the incumbent party of government lending a protest-vote dynamic that typify special elections, and Coakley has run a magnificently shitty campaign.
However, in a state as blue as Massachusetts, the Democrats should have overcome these hurdles due to the built in partisan advantage. They haven’t.

Can Giuseppe Rossi’s US Citizenship be Revoked?

[ 0 ] June 16, 2009 |

USA 1 – 3 Italy

I thought the USA held up well against an admittedly aging Italian side,
for the first 55 minutes or so until they predictably tired while a man down. The red card against Clark wasn’t, but both my Welsh lodger and I felt that Chiellini should have been sent off for cynically bringing Altidore down in the box. Indeed, it was a bad day for the Refs’ Union, as we also felt the offsides call against the Italians was 50/50 at best, and we’d have likely waved play on.

That call saved Bornstein some embarrassment on the own goal. What was he thinking? I thought Donovan had one of his better matches against top tier competition, Spector looked good at the back, Bradley had a decent, at times even creative match in midfield, but Giuseppe Rossi’s first goal of the match for Italy was worth the price of admission. Compared to the Americans’ typical flailing in front of goal (I’m thinking of you, Bradley and Altidore) that Rossi strike was sublime.

I know that there is some anger directed at the New Jersey-born Rossi for choosing to play for Italy over the United States, and I did find his decision unfortunate. But seriously, consider the following: 1) he moved to Parma and joined their youth set-up at 14. 2) he represented Italy at U-16, 17, 18, and U-21. 3) who would begrudge him the opportunity to represent Italy over the US? 4) the US benefits from such decisions more often than not. Oh, and at least his father, and I’m pretty sure both his parents are Italian by birth. So on the merits it’s a tossup at best, and he chose the historically more successful side.

Of course, the British media persisted in bringing up his two pointless years with Manchester United, ignoring his New Jersey roots.

Baseball Challenge Halfway Results

[ 0 ] July 16, 2008 |

Although C. Moore’s Sluggy McSlugs managed a hard charge towards the end of the first half of the season, they were unable to stave off the inevitable victory of the Lexington Bearded Ducks. The Ducks, considered nigh unbeatable by most analysts, delivered a 175 point victory over the McSlugs and other, lesser competition. The pointless formality of the second half of the season will begin on Thursday. The final first half standings:

1 Lexington Bearded Ducks, R. Farley 4700
2 Sluggy McSlugs, C. Moore 4525
3 The Rev. Josh Fields, A. Katz 4374
4 Headless Thompson Gunners, S. Hickey 4325
5 kodos423, k. crockett 4274
6 JacobyRules, P. Smith 4231
7 KY Colonels, R. Payne 4198
8 Austin Electric Chairs, E. Loomis 4080
9 Wild Loose Comma, C. S 4015
10 Axis of Evel Knievel, D. Noon 4012
11 Theibault Moor Orioles, J. Theibault 3924
12 Lungless Wonders, E. Udall 3907
13 MutiliatedLittleLady, K. Houghton 3823
14 Sprained Mitochondria, P. McLeod 3783
15 Heavily Armed Tourists, M. Haxby 3712
16 Warning Track Power, P. Wu 3681
17 Drunken Warthogs, S. Ehrlich 3601
18 Robertson, E. Robertson 3593
19 Wobblies, M. Christman 3543
20 Lee Ho Fuk’s, P. Richardson 3529
21 The 14th Century, M Dugas 3316
22 Anderson, f. Anderson 3184
23 Wengler1, W. Engler 3115