September 17, 2015

#Spygate Part 2 ahead?

Per Poynter, a journalism industry tracker, Don Van Natta of ESPN says that he and partner Seth Wickersham could have MORE stuff, beyond what they had earlier this month, about the details of the New England Patriots' spying on other teams.

Van Natta, who co-wrote the story with Seth Wickersham, says they have received more than a dozen calls from various league sources since the story was released.
And, not just the Patriots, either. Van Natta said something about "other teams."
He did say a couple of the leads involved other teams, although the Patriots remain the main focus. 
“We heard from people we didn’t even interview who were confirming the storylines in our piece,” Van Natta said. “It confirmed the anger and paranoia around the league about the Patriots.”

Given that, in the original, as I blogged about it, the Patriots' spying was extensive, and covered all the last six years of former NFL Commish Paul Tagliabue's reign, and he (and apparently, other owners), kind of shrugged their shoulders, I wouldn't be surprised at all if other teams were doing this.

And, Roger Goodell, the current Commissioner Almost, has been a bumbler in general, and now he’s playing in the major leagues:
Prior to coming to ESPN, Van Natta covered the White House, Pentagon, the CIA, and spent three years interviewing intelligence officers in Europe for the New York Times. He jokes that all of that experience proved to be “a good training ground” for doing investigative stories on the NFL.
Getcha popcorn.


And, start wondering when the owners will get some balls, or else enough embarrassment, or else enough lawsuits, to buy out Goodell’s contract.

September 16, 2015

The decline, fall and hypocrisy of FKAHBT and Craig Calcaterra, part 2

Last week, I did an extended blog post about the fuglyness of the changes to the NBC baseball blog formerly known as Hardball Talk. I riffed a bit on head blogger there, Craig Calcaterra (I'd call Aaron Gleeman 1A, I guess, Bill Baer and others the second team).

I talked a bit about Craig as a "brand" in today's "branded journalism" world, as well as the background of how he got to where he's at now, while tidying up some of the history I originally had wrong, or incomplete, because I'd forgotten a couple of things I knew, had a couple of things wrong, and had a couple of things unclear. (See how easy it is to admit you're wrong in public, you numbnuts called Reflex who was a prime mover for this piece about bad commenters at sports blogs? :) ) Thanks to a personal friend and a new Twitter friend for help.

OK, I'm picking up the thread here, from that first blog, from comments responding to me suggesting Craigie could move on, especially if he's gone beyond snarky to condescending (or worse) on Twitter, and other things.

And, beyond snarky or condescending, ultimately, he's gone hypocritical, and that's the big theme here.

First, Reflex, I'm far from the only one saying Craig's a hypocrite on saying these things are good in the long run, not just for NBC's wallet, but for commenters/viewers, despite all the feedback to the contrary. Craig's flat-on-his-face snark about the Cubs doing a fan loyalty ballot to get playoff tickets may have been intended as a lighthearted poke, but per an old Hawkeye Pierce comment, it had the same light touch as a German jazz band.

(NBC's also a hypocrite for refusing to put up a poll itself. Craig's a double hypocrite because, typos and all, he could easily Google for "free polls," find a website like Pollhost, create a link and drop it in a blog post. I used Pollhost often, for years, before Blogger created a polling widget. That said, I get the feeling that, beyond NBC controlling all formatting issues for years, Craig isn't even a mild version of an Internet-formatting techie.)

Second, commenters have a right to bitch about Craig, and make suggestions.

Specifically, Craig likes to bitch about how wrong, how often, is ESPN's lawyer-commenter, Lester Munson. Well, Craig's not an idiot about sports besides baseball, and he used to be a practicing lawyer. A lot of it was government work, but I assume not too far away from contract tort law and similar stuff.

If Munson's that bad, Craig could start pitching himself to Yahoo, Fox, CBS Sports, Grantland 2.0 or whomever as the newer, better Munson.

Maybe, per the Twitter friend, Craig's burned out. Maybe all he wants to do is blog and take his NBC paycheck.

If so, then at least be honest about it, Craig, when you're talking about how the changes help NBC's wallet, even if that honesty leads yet a few more people to start using AdBlock, and a lot more people to start using Ghostery to block NBC and ad partners from tracking them.

Third, accept that, as part of further criticism, the next time you bitch about Munson, I'll bitch back about you not doing something about it, per what I just said.

Fourth, per item No. 1, know it alls who also act bullying at times? I have no problem being a PITA, or more of a PITA than already. That's especially true if you think you can single me out, among the commenters you disagree with.

(Unfortunately, said PITA has migrated to the new site I am now following. Fortunately, he doesn't know my real world name; else, his shipping company might lose a package I want.)


September 15, 2015

Corps of Engineers to be sued over Gulf turtles, other endangered species

From a press release:
The Friends of Lydia Ann Channel (“FLAC”) has formally notified the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) of its intent to file a Federal Lawsuit for violations of the Endangered Species Act and other federal statutes resulting from serious substantive and procedural defects in their authorization of the construction and operation of a commercial industrial barge fleeting, storage, and service facility owned and operated by Lydia Ann Channel Moorings.  
This 60-day Notice of Intent is required prior to filing a citizen lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act, which is just one of the federal statutes violated by the USACE.  
The USACE’s authorization of this commercial industrial barge fleeting, storage, and service facility violates Section 7 and Section 9 of the ESA, and will result in adverse impacts to and the unlawful “take” of listed endangered species, including specifically whooping cranes, piping plover, rufa red knot, Atlantic hawksbill sea turtle, green sea turtle, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, and loggerhead sea turtle.  
The USACE arbitrarily determined that no effects to listed endangered species would occur without ever requiring, conducting or reviewing any scientific surveys, studies, or evaluations regarding the impacts that would result from the construction and operation of this commercial industrial barge fleeting, storage, and service facility.  
In addition, the USACE dismissed or ignored issues raised by other resource agencies, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, related to potential impacts to marine mammals and sea turtles, impacts to seagrass, and the risk of oil or pollutant spills to local habitats. 

None of this surprises me about the Corps, and it hasn't for well over a decade.

I laughed internally, long ago, when I was the editor of a suburban Dallas weekly, and a Lancaster City Council member with some interest in matters environmental thought how great it would be to have the Corps work on southern Dallas/Dallas County's Ten Mile Creek.

No, Carol, it would have been horrible.

Houston, we have a problem: It's called zoning (compounded by growth, etc.)

Based on this Reuters story, one of many saying Houston will likely pass Chicago in population in a decade (and both metro Houston and the Metroplex, perhaps earlier) could catch metro Chicago by 2050, I Tweeted Mayor Annise Parker's official account saying that if she wanted to give Houston one last gift (other than assuring the win of HERO on referendum) it would be called this thing called "zoning."

Because, dear mayor ...

First, more and more of those individuals will soon move to the suburbs, rather than see a pawn shop next to their kids' schools or a porn shop next to their family's church.

Second, you may have planning, and development districts, but they're not the same thing. Not even close.

Third, your planning won't allow for the traffic snarl of another 500,000 or more commuters.

Her response? And, she, or somebody from staff, did respond:

Hah!
I replied back:
And, yes, I believe that.

Let's take a bigger overall look, dear mayor.

September 14, 2015

TX Progressives talk elections, Constitution, health, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows that no one has a constitutional right to be a County Clerk, and that Christian scriptures say their resistance is wrong, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the very high stakes of the voter ID appeal.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos asks why the U.S. cannot have high speed rail that is common in Europe and Asia?  Why? The do-nothing GOP, of course.  Republican Are Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

Socratic Gadfly, linking to the first piece he has written for an in-depth philosophy and social sciences webzine, explores the parallels between Constitutional originalism and religious fundamentalism.

The best debate in the Houston mayoral contest happened last Thursday night, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs blogged about it.

Texas Leftist agrees with President Obama... the economic future of the United States may soon be inextricably linked to the world's next great power player. Here's why it's time for Texas to take a new look at Africa. Plus some coverage as the Houston Unites Campaign kicks into high gear.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The Texas GOP has a problem with health care.  They hate it and it shows, Common Sense Conservatism Is Bad For Your Health.

Neil at All People Have Value was glad to see outreach by the Harris County Green Party on Labor Day. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Juanita unloads on Houston Mayoral candidate Ben Hall.

Grits for Breakfast calls out Dan Patrick for misleading and incendiary rhetoric about crime and the police.

The TSTA Blog rebuts a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the recent SCOTUS charter school ruling.

Liz Goulding looks back on three years of being a one-car household.

The Bloggess celebrated World Suicide Prevention Day.

Fascist Dyke Motors has a Jeopardy moment.

The phony European refugee crisis

Now that I've got your attention with that headline, let me explain what I'm talking about.

It's not that refugees from Syria, Iraq, Libya, or even further south in African are phonies in person, or their reasons for leaving their old countries are phony.

It's arguable that part of the grudging European acceptance of the refugees — a grudgingness most notable in the UK and David Cameron — is the phoniness.

(That sets aside the issue, as shown in this piece about Germany taking temporary border measures to try to force the hand of other E.U. states, how "Europe" ultimately remains a concept more than anything else.)

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are hitting Europe, yes. That said, before the Great Recession made opportunities here in the U.S. less attractive, millions of migrants — some whom might well be identifiable as refugees — hit American lands from Mexico, and increasingly, from points further south. (Mexico itself is near zero population growth by birthrate, like the U.S.)

And, while we've had our share of clamor about the largely Hispanic influx of illegal immigration, it's arguably nothing like that of Europe.

Let's start with some additional context. Europe is about the same geographic size as the U.S. minus Alaska, per this site, which talks about making fair, geographic-based comparisons between Europe and America in other ways. Even if we throw out Russia and other countries of the old Soviet Union, the rest of Europe is as big as the US west of the Mississippi.

With half again as much population as the whole U.S.

And, without even going into the issue of legal vs. illegal immigration, as for actual, documented, United Nations-referred refugees? The U.S. has taken 70 percent of the world's share in the last five years. (To be fair, I should note that, as the Chronicle fails to note, our invasion of Iraq created a lot of those refugees.)

Now, some Europeans might argue that means they have no room. On the contrary, Europe has no deserts, no semi-deserts like the Western high plans, and while it does have the Alps and their extensions, the US has both the Rockies and the Sierras, among other things. And, if we're throwing out Russia, Europe has no North Dakota, eastern Montana or northern Minnesota in terms of winters, either.

To put this in terms of population densities, Hungary, a mainly flatland Central European country, might be taken as "representative." Ohio, a mainly flatland state in the non-mountainous, non-desert part of the U.S., not the most dense, and fighting Sunbelt migration, might be compared.

And, the have almost equal population densities at around 110 people per square kilometer. (So does France, with a mix of densely urban areas and the densely-rural-like Central Massif.)

In short, Europe can handle the refugee "flood." It can do so at least as easily as the United States. U.S. states like Minnesota, with less high-density use land than Hungary, have in the past taken significant numbers of Hmong and Somali refugees.