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Category: Robert Farley


[ 82 ] February 27, 2015 |

Leonard Nimoy’s influence on the way I look at the world is incalculable. Still active until very recently, he will be deeply missed.



[ 132 ] February 26, 2015 |

I find reading Matt Taibbi to be a deeply frustrating experience.  He has enormous strengths as a writer, including a gift for metaphor.  His weaknesses lay mainly in an inability (or unwillingness) to provide helpful context to the details that he supplies.  These strengths and weaknesses are on glaring display here:

Unlike the NBA, where phenoms like LeBron or Kobe are spotted as young children and whose draft stock often remains more stable than that of young football players, the NFL is a sport where overpaid GMs regularly miss by a mile. They allow MVP-caliber players like Tom Brady or Terrell Davis to fall through their fingers all the way down to the bottom rounds, by which time the Mel Kipers and Todd McShays have talked themselves hoarse and millions of fans are still paying close attention, praying for aSeabiscuit-type miracle ending. It’s no coincidence that ESPN plays up draft-malpractice stories like The Brady 6 as they get closer to the event.

None of this is quite wrong, but if it’s possible to have a less informative paragraph about the contrast between NBA and NFL prospect projection without being outright false, I’d like to see it. NFL prospects are harder to project than NBA prospects for a lot of reasons, including differences in how systems interact, and in how the human body matures. Virtually none of this has anything to do with the acumen, or lack thereof, of “overpaid” NFL GMs and scouts.

Taibbi also tackles the Mariota-Winston competition, with unsatisfactory results. As far as I can tell (and I’ve been following this fairly closely) there is no human professionally associated with the NFL who cares that Winston runs a much slower 40 than Mariota. And then Taibbi tries to shoehorn the competition into a ready-made storyline:

In years past, there have been several controversies involving highly rated African American quarterbacks and draft experts. Longtime Pro Football Weekly writer Nolan Nawrocki, whose face is certainly on the Mount Rushmore of draft analysts and who is known for his Tolstoy-length, book-style draft reports, infamously blasted Newton as having a “fake smile” and for being a “con artist” who “comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup…”

And thus began SubtextBowl 2015. Get ready for a ton of Winston-Mariota hype chock full of loaded dog-whistle language, some of which will probably be below the belt. Winston is clearly the more gifted passer, but Mariota, a talented Hawaiian often celebrated for his consistency and quiet leadership, is already being showered with the laudatory overachiever clichés normally reserved for white wide receivers, who in the draft are always compared to Wes Welker and inevitably described as “gritty,” “hardworking,” “coachable,” “blue-collar,” “humble,” and possessing of a “high football IQ.”

Again, it’s not as if this is quite wrong; it’s just not particularly applicable to this story. The ghost that’s haunting Jameis Winston isn’t Cam Newton, it’s Johnny Manziel. It’s kind of ironic and deeply unfair that a pro-style African-American quarterback is suffering from the sins of a dual-threat white QB, but there you go. Mariota is a better fit for the stereotypical African-American dual-threat quarterback who can’t transition to the NFL, although it’s interesting that people haven’t brought up Tim Tebow more often. And for what it’s worth, all the reports on Winston that I’ve seen thus far have indicated that he performed very well in team interviews.

War Zone!

[ 44 ] February 23, 2015 |

In response to charges that my claims to having served honorably during the Iraq War are “incorrect” or “made up,” I would like to point out that there is copious documentary evidence to indicate that I worked in a variety of different capacities, during the Iraq War, within the territorial confines of one of the major combatants.  There may even have been a time or two when I was mildly concerned about my safety.

Should be good enough for Dylan Byers.

Back to ‘Nam

[ 17 ] February 23, 2015 |

More thoughts on the Vietnam War…

Why do we continue to revisit the Vietnam War, or any historical event?  Because we hope that the disastrous experience will hold lessons for future strategic decisions.  The best that might be argued about the Vietnam War is that it established, for U.S. allies, that the United States would expend tremendous amounts of blood and treasure for areas that Washington didn’t really care about. This, consequently, would indicate U.S. toughness, and preempt aggression in areas the U.S. did care about.


Mercy Mercy Jerome Kersey

[ 5 ] February 19, 2015 |

This is tragic:

 Jerome Kersey, a fan favorite during his decade-plus career with thePortland Trail Blazers and a veteran of 17 NBA seasons, died Wednesday. He was 52.

The Trail Blazers confirmed that Kersey had died but didn’t provide details. A team ambassador, Kersey appeared Tuesday with fellow former Blazers Terry Porter and Brian Grant at Madison High School in Portland in celebration of African American History Month.

“Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” Blazers owner Paul Allen said in a statement. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It’s a terrible loss.”

Like most of the rest of the players from his era, Jerome Kersey was an important figure in the Portland sports and social scene. By all accounts he was an incredibly nice guy, generous with time and money. It’s particularly tragic given that we’ve now lost 2/5ths of the great 1990-1992 team, way, way too young.

Think Local!

[ 14 ] February 18, 2015 |

Why won’t Obama just let local cops do their job, especially when they seem to understand their job as the enforcement of a nasty system of racial inequality?

The Justice Department is preparing to bring a lawsuit against the Ferguson, Missouri, police department over a pattern of racially discriminatory tactics used by officers, if the police department does not agree to make changes on its own, sources tell CNN.

Attorney General Eric Holder said this week he expects to announce the results of the department’s investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown and a broader probe of the Ferguson Police Department before he leaves office in the coming weeks.

So This is How Far We’ve Fallen

[ 55 ] February 18, 2015 |

Classes at the University of Kentucky have now been cancelled four out of five days this week.

It’s the first time in over a decade that classes have been cancelled two days in a row. Frankly, there’s no way that President Mitt Romney would have allowed this on his watch.

Tuesday Linkage

[ 39 ] February 17, 2015 |

Things for the reading of:

Worst. Graph. Ever

[ 74 ] February 16, 2015 |

This is amazing:

The point is to try to indicate that Russian military spending has increased from baseline, while EU spending has decreased. The visual effect (and a graph, of course, is intended to display data in an effective, informative manner) is to indicate that Russia is spending much, much more than the Europeans. This is accomplished through the unconventional means of putting the number “70” much higher on the graph than the number “265,” which is made even more confusing by the fact that the Y axis (which is supposed to reflect % change) is right next to the absolute number labels…

Drone Power!

[ 2 ] February 15, 2015 |

I have some thoughts on teh dronez:

What countries have made the most of the drone age?  Some of the answers are unsurprising; nations with huge investment capacity and ongoing military conflicts have obvious advantages in the ability to develop drones, and to develop ways of using them for strategic purpose.  This article looks at the five nations that have most effectively taken advantage of the Golden Age of the Drone, with more of an emphasis on how these countries have managed innovation, organization, and deployment than on the characteristics of specific weapons.


All a Matter of Emphasis…

[ 10 ] February 13, 2015 |

Many references to state politics include details that are relevant to the politics of that state:

Sure… Chris Dudley played twice as many games as a Trail Blazer than as a Knick, and played much better for the Trail Blazers than for the Knicks, and hey, Portland is in Oregon, but whatever…

When People Stop Being Polite…

[ 57 ] February 12, 2015 |

Earlier this week, Francis Sempa made a go at rehabilitating the reputation of James Burnham.  I had some objections:

What’s odd about Sempa’s column is that very few try to resurrect the reputation of Vietnam hawks, the people who argued that the only problems with the war in Indochina are that the United States didn’t squander enough blood and treasure and didn’t slaughter enough Asians. America’s historical memory has struggled to flush such voices from its consciousness, and has largely succeeded. It also bears note that the National Review itselfrarely enjoys being reminded of the sort of sentiments it published during the 1950s and 1960s.

… via Hogan, Orwell on Burnham. And this is particularly on the nose:

Power worship blurs political judgement because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is
winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. If the Japanese have conquered south Asia, then they will keep south Asia for ever, if
the Germans have captured Tobruk, they will infallibly capture Cairo; if the Russians are in Berlin, it will not be long before they are in
London: and so on. This habit of mind leads also to the belief that things will happen more quickly, completely, and catastrophically than
they ever do in practice. The rise and fall of empires, the disappearance of cultures and religions, are expected to happen with earthquake
suddenness, and processes which have barely started are talked about as though they were already at an end. Burnham’s writings are full of
apocalyptic visions. Nations, governments, classes and social systems are constantly described as expanding, contracting, decaying, dissolving,
toppling, crashing, crumbling, crystallising, and, in general, behaving in an unstable and melodramatic way. The slowness of historical change,
the fact that any epoch always contains a great deal of the last epoch, is never sufficiently allowed for. Such a manner of thinking is bound to
lead to mistaken prophecies, because, even when it gauges the direction of events rightly, it will miscalculate their tempo. Within the space of
five years Burnham foretold the domination of Russia by Germany and of Germany by Russia. In each case he was obeying the same instinct: the
instinct to bow down before the conqueror of the moment, to accept the existing trend as irreversible. With this in mind one can criticise his
theory in a broader way.

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