April 20, 2018

Does "networking" really work?

You see networking for jobs touted as the best way to get them.

That said, some people who tout the idea, after telling you that 3 percent of jobs come from classifieds, will then at least have the honesty to admit they work best for sales people and similar.

But, that claim that almost no jobs come from classified ads stereotypes what counts as a "classified."

Beyond newspapers, and now, Monster, CareerBuilder and Craigslist, there are plenty of sources of classified ads.

National, regional and state chapters of professional organizations — like state newspaper organizations — have all sorts of industry-specific classifieds. Fraternities and sororities oriented to particular businesses may have some.

College alumni associations have job banks.

Indeed, professional orgs and alumni groups are the top two sources listed here. And networking, as normally understood, isn't on the list of top ten sources.

If a career counselor, whether with a state employment agency or a private individual provided to you as part of a downsizing severance, touts "networking" as a primary option, they're probably being lazy.

April 18, 2018

Southwest Airlines legacy catches up to it in Philly?

The National Transportation Safety Board's first preliminary report on the Southwest jet that had to do an emergency landing in Philadelphia after an engine blowout says metal fatigue on the engine was apparent.

Was the engine properly inspected, as in, on regular cycles? And, then, was it properly maintained?

I ask because Southwest has a past history of using unauthorized parts, and dodging FAA inspection questions, and trying to stretch this out for four years, among other things. (Regional FAA officials were complicit in some of this, per that last link; per the second link, the FAA has in general been too cozy with airlines too often.)

Southwest's past inspection issues have not covered engines, and the current engine had no special inspection directive. Neither, though, did any of the above items.

BUT! We're now finding out that the engine's manufacturer, CFM International, recommended more inspections after another blowout of one of its engines on another Southwest flight. And Southwest resisted. And CEO Gary Kelly knows that visual inspections do not substitute for ultrasonic and other ones for metal stress and fatigue, on engines, flaps, ailerons or other metal parts.

Remember all of this as Republicans look to further roll back regulatory agencies — abetted at times by ConservaDems, even as those agencies at times have had new regulations lessened by ModeratoDems.

A Luther bio not worth reading

Having done, and repeatedly updated, a blog post about the 500th anniversary of the legend, and the reality, at the start of the Lutheran reformation, when I saw this new bio at my local library, I figured to give it a whirl.

I could tell it was a pop bio not an actual history. But, even by those standards, Eric Metaxas has written dreck.

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the WorldMartin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World by Eric Metaxas
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Meh at best as a pop bio from a conservative evangelical POV; worse than that otherwise

Per the first half of my header, that's the only reason I rated this book with two stars rather than one. Even though Metaxas discusses Luther's differences with the Reformed on the Eucharist, and a lesser degree on other things, and even tries to take a look at both the philosophy and theology behind this (while failing as much as succeeding), Metaxas still tries to paint Luther as a modern American conservative Evangelical rather than as a German Evangelical, ie, Lutheran.

The epilogue, trying to pretend Luther was some sort of forerunner of modern Western democracy, only made this worse — and more laughable at the same time. Again, though, the fact that it's being tried, and will probably be tried by others from now through maybe 2030, with the 500th anniversary events, gets it that second star rather than 1.

That said, there's other errors, mainly errors of fact, though a few others of interpretation, like those above.

I actually was originally going to rate it three stars, despite the above, but two errors late in the book got it knocked down to two stars, and almost to one, in spite of me wanting to hold it up as an example.

OK, let's dive into those errors.

First, after debunking several Luther myths in the introduction, Metaxas perpetuates two BIGGIES himself.

In reality, the consensus of good historians is that Luther did NOT nail, paste, or otherwise affix a sheet or two of 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517.

A similar consensus says that Luther did NOT say "Here I stand" at the Diet of Worms.

OK, next. Erasmus did NOT restore first-century Greek to his edition of the New Testament. Instead, his "textus receptus" was similar to that in the Orthodox world of this time. Erasmus didn't have Sinaiticus, Vaticanus or other older codices, nor did he have the treasure of modern papyri finds. Also, Erasmus had no detailed methodology of textual criticism.

Tonsuring? It's Christian martyrological legend that emperors inflicted it upon apostles or later generations of Christians. That said, per the likes of Candida Moss, the severity and broadness of Roman Imperial persecution of Christians has itself been mythologized. Finally, although in these cases it involves shaving the head entirely, not just in spots, tonsuring-like practices are known to other world religions.

The idea that Luther didn't have a "modern" idea of consciousness? Well, Metaxas sets up a straw man by claiming that what he calls the "modern" idea of consciousness is modern. Less than a century after Luther, Shakespeare has Polonius in Hamlet say "To thine own self be true." And, a full 2,000 years earlier, the oracle at Delphi said "Know thyself." And, from that, Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Of course, Metaxas is here ultimately setting up a bank shot for how Luther was different from today, but yet, was a lead-in to Merika or something.

After Erasmus, Metaxas trips on his Greek New Testament again. While the verb synago is in the New Testament in various forms, including as a participle for gathering together for worship, including gathering for the Eucharist, the noun synaxis is not. It is used in post-NT writings, I believe beginning as early as the Didache, but the noun is not in the NT.

Now, the two biggies, which give the game up.

On page 391, Metaxas claims that Suleiman the Magnificent, as part of expanding the Ottoman Empire, was trying to expand sharia law.

Tosh and rot. The Turks, and their Central Asian Turkic cousins, have been known for their generally moderate interpretation of Islam. And the Ottoman Empire was known for its millet system, which gave a relatively high degree of freedom to its Christian — and Jewish —residents.

Given that Metaxas, if not a full blown right-winger, hangs out with a lot of conservative politicos and is a talking head for a major right-wing radio network, I can only consider this to be rank pandering.

Page 417 follows in its train.

Metaxas claims that Luther, in his anti-Jewish diatribes, was influenced by "Victory over the Godless Hebrews," which he claims contain things "which we now know to be untrue." Among this, he lists Jewish blasphemies against Jesus and Mary, and claims by Jews that Jesus did his miracles by kabbalistic magic.

Deleting the "kabbalistic," as it didn't exist 2,000 years ago, and actually, these things ARE true.

Metaxas is either ignorant of some things written in the Talmud, and even more in the Toledoth Yeshu, or he's heard about such things and refuses to investigate, or thirdly, he fully knows about them and covers them up.

In any case, I suspect political leanings not just of general conservativism, but specifically neoconservativism, are now in play.

And, with that, I decided that this book could be held up as an example of wrongness AND get one star instead of two as well.




April 17, 2018

TX Progressives attack Trump, ICE,
ConservaDems on immigration

The Texas Progressive Alliance has never needed a taint team, but it does call for firm opposition to warmongering, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff casts a skeptical eye at a lawsuit filed against Dallas County claiming that white voters are being discriminated against.

SocraticGadfly wonders if Kawhi Leonard has already played his last game for the Spurs.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote an open letter to Democratic Party leaders about the  need for an assertive response to any effort by Trump to curtail the Robert Mueller investigation.  

Stace at Dos Centavos is (without names, so far) criticizing Democrats who even passively support Trump (and supported Obama) on immigration crackdowns, and may name names soon.

Ed Darrell at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub punctures the myth of violently criminal immigrants.

Does ICE need to be abolished? If, per Texas Monthly, it’s now no longer releasing pregnant women from detention facilities, yes.


====================

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

Down with Tyranny says Republicans are worried about Blake Farenthold’s Congressional district.

Dwight Silverman shares how you can check to see if Cambridge Analytica has your Facebook data.

Mark Bennett explains why you shouldn't argue while angry.

Better Texas Blog criticizes the latest farm bill.

Grits for Breakfast has a modest proposal for counties that complain about the cost of indigent defense.

Paradise in Hell remains our state's foremost interpreter of Donald Trump.

Juanita has a close encounter with Tom DeLay.

Downwinders at Risk wraps up disbursing the $2.3 million it got in a settlement with cement plants.

At the Dallas Observer, Stephen Young asks if Erin Brockovich is a “parachute enviromentalist” peddling poor information.

Also at the Dallas Observer, Jim Schuetze discusses early noises in the 2019 Dallas mayoral election.


April 14, 2018

#Spurs gone? And then #Kawhi gone?
Yes and hopefully yes

Kawhi Leonard: Headed
out of Dodge, or rather,
out of San Antone?
Game 1 of the first round of the NBA playoffs showed the San Antonio Spurs have little chance of beating the Golden State Warriors without Kawhi Leonard.

It also showed an attitude difference.

Leonard, out most of the year with a quad tendon problem — playing briefly after a conservative, quite conservative, Spurs medical staff cleared him, then sitting himself for the rest of the season — couldn't even be bothered to come to Oakland to be with the rest of ... what might or might not be his team right now, mentally, and may or may not be his team physically next season. That's even as Tony Parker, with a seemingly worse quad tendon injury, healed even quicker and without physical — or psychological — complications.

Steph Curry, with an MCL knee problem, was on the Dubs' bench. Kawhi was absent. (And, no, Kawhi wasn't even back in San Antonio; he's basically been separate from the team for much of the latter part of the year, though not all, since benching himself.) Marc Spears at The Undefeated is also asking "Where's Kawhi?" And

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admits the injury has been perplexing. And, on this ESPN video, Amir Elhassan says he had an injury misdiagnosed a couple of years ago. This Twitterer talks more about that 2012 injury.

Let's talk more about this. (Click the link above for two more pages of talk.)

First, his own doctors obviously cleared him for the nine games earlier this season, otherwise, he wouldn't have played then, skippy.

Second, if he's not going to play this postseason at all, even needing to be in pre-pre-season shape for next preseason? That's four months away. He could be with the team on the bench, or first row courtside, for the playoffs.

Third, that said, his 2012 injury is connected to some degree to this year's by type, but on the other leg.

On the other hand, per Skippy the wonder Twitterer, I don't recall a massive brouhaha over him being misdiagnosed, though it eventually was rediagnosed as tendinopathy, which is more serious than tendonitis.

Meanwhile, if we're going to Reddit, skippy the wonder Twitterer, here's the Spurs Reddit with some better discussion, IMO.

Further sidebar: Just last August, the Saints fired two orthopedists who worked for both them and the Pelicans after a player misdiagnosis. If Pops and Buford thought their medical staff had done a similar screw-up, they'd be firing people too.

But, Kawhi's teamside absence indicates to me that Woj's earlier hints of discord are true – and cut both ways. Or three ways. Per Manu Ginobili's comments in February, I think a fair chunk of the team, not just Pops and R.C. Buford, have some issues.

Pops has now officially written him off for the playoffs, it seems. And, in video at that link, he bluntly, in best Pops style, refuses to answer a question about Kawhi's value as moral support being on the bench.

And, chocolate donut Twitter's Marcus Johnson has shown he's even more an idiot as a basketball commenter than he is a Hillbot. He saluted Kawhi:
Yep, Hillbot dumb on basketball too.

Hey, Marcus? Spurs doctors pushed nothing. Note the "very conservative" above on hist treatment. (It also describes the likes of you as seen by the likes of me politically, so you should be able to get that.)

Now, back to Kawhi.

First, the current series. No Kawhi kills the Spurs offense, especially against a team like the Dubs. Patty Mills is the only guard fast and skilled enough to be a drive-and-kick player. Manu and TP aren't fast enough. Dejounte Murray and others aren't good enough.

Danny Green is the only good three-baller among the top seven of the rotation outside of Mills, and he's not the type who creates his own shot. That means a lot of slow dump-and-kick halfcourt sets revolving around Lamarcus Aldridge. Rudy Gay is an OK one, but he's past the point in his career at creating his own shot on a three-ball in general, and definitely not against a team like the Warriors.

Defensively, it's worse. The team has no great perimeter defenders. Kyle Anderson is decent inside. Aldridge is above average. Pau Gasol is near the end of the line. None of the three is fast on rotations, or fast enough to guard perimeter players on switches.

I'd be surprised if the Warriors don't sweep.

Second, to Kawhi not being in Oakland for moral support? If it is indeed possible he's out for the entire playoffs, then yet more rehabbing in New York, as he allegedly is doing, is unnecessary. Period. End of story.

There is no "I" in team is a cliché, yes, but with a grain or four of truth behind it.

The big tell? If he's not in the house at the AT&T Center for Game 3.

That leads to part the third ...

That said, will the Spurs move him in the offseason? D-Wade has already says yes, and says, Celtics the team. Who Boston would send back, I don't know. Would Pops and Buford want multiple draft choices that Danny Ainge has hoarded, maybe even throwing another player back, and go the rebuild route? Indeed, I said repeatedly on Twitter the last few weeks of the NBA season that the Spurs should tank and get in the lottery this year.

Basketball Reference says the Clips would be interested, but who do they have to offer back?

I mean, Parker is 35. Aldridge is 32. Green is 30. Manu of course is 40, and Pau is 37. If you trade Kawhi, then trade Aldridge as well for a team wanting a more traditional center, and see if you can get something for Gasol for a team wanting a backup stretch 4. Getcha a bunch of draft choices plus young players and get lucky if you can. And tank. Beyond that, if Elhassan is right and this injury is also worse than thought — but with the psychological side a factor there — don't the Spurs have to look to move him if they think he's got some permanent limitation?

From the Spurs POV, moving him might make sense psychologically, just as much as the Cavs moving Kyrie Irving. But, Kawhi will have to pass a physical AND look mentally committed to Boston or whomever for a trade to come off with any value to the Spurs.

At the same time, some people have commented on the Spurs' difficulty signing free agents, and the idea that no Kawhi would make that worse. Well, the Spurs have been good enough at retaining their own when getting lucky in the draft they haven't needed a lot of big-name free agents.

The real question is how free agents potentially coming to Alamo City would read the Kawhi-vs-et al showdown.

Art Bell can rot in hell

Art Bell can go rot in hell.
Unfortunately, there is no such place for him.

Bell, known as hosting late-night talk radio on paranormal and other topics, died on Friday the 13th.

Jokes aside, he was a major popularizer of a lot of pseudoscience. This included the idea that the government was manipulating our weather through the HAARP program and that it was conducting experiments on Americans through what looked like ordinary jet contrails but were really "chemtrails" of toxic substances.

Bell was a major popularizer of chemtrails.

(So, too, is Dennis the Menace Kucinich, which I had forgotten.)

My mom never did full post-stroke therapy and never was totally complaint about taking post-stroke cholesterol medicines, because she believed that chemtrails had caused what she often refused to call a stroke rather than her "arm problems."

So Art Bell can rot in hell.

So can Ohio Green Party chair Chemtrails Bob Fitrakis. And, it's not just Fitrakis. I don't know percentages, but it seems like Greens and Green-leaners in general are more ready to espouse a number of conspiracy theories than mainstream Republicans and Democrats. That said, on one in particular, antivaxxerism, they're joined by capital-L and small-l L/libertarians.

And, per Wiki, chemtrails conspiracy theory often led to others.

Please don't mention an actual government conspiracy found true, like the Tuskegee Airmen experiments, or the government spraying of zinc cadmium sulfate. Two wrongs don't make a right. Nor do photoshopped pictures, or other claims about airplanes. And, these other tests had records on file that were leaked or otherwise got into the public domain. If chemtrails existed, the same would have happened by now.

April 13, 2018

#ClimateChangeIsReal so get ready to sweat, Texas

Two months ago, the Dallas Morning News ran a story that had some climate scientists predicting Dallas and environs could have 120-degree summer days by 2050.

In other words, take Phoenix now. Add Dallas' summer humidity, which is closer to that of Houston than that of Phoenix. That's Dallas in 25 years, while many readers of the Snooze are still alive.

Alarmist? I don't think so. I'm no James Howard Kunstler, but I am more worried than the the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as more worried than Michael Mann and many US climate scientists.

A non-climate scientist who is more worried is an emeritus engineering prof from Cornell, Anthony Ingraffea.

He does know something about fracking, and he expects that will push the world over that 2°C doorstep within 15 years, per DeSmog Blog. That's less than the 25 years for Dallas to become a sweatier version of today's Phoenix.

Specifically, he knows about methane leaked from fracking for both natural gas (methane) and oil.

People who know much at all about climate change know that methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, even if relatively shorter-lived. Over a 100-year period, per the pre-Trump EPA, it's about 30 times more potent. And, governments try to make methane look even that benign by using a 100-year period rather than 20 years, per Scientific American.

And, speaking of leaks, per Wikipedia, let's not forget that HC-134a filling modern air conditioners.

So, no, 120-degree days in Dallas is not an alarmist prediction at all. It's also why I say that people tut-tutting about Trump exiting the Paris climate accord are tut-tutting about something toothless, while they are something clueless.

April 12, 2018

Some philosophers are more equally wrong than others

I like Massimo Pigluicci a lot. He makes philosophical issues accessible to the general public, and he covers a variety of issues. We agree on a lot of issues, like ev psych, will and volition and more.

That said, I can't let a comment on this post by Dan Kaufman go without a response. And, since Massimo has twice refused to post moderately (but no more than that) snarky comments by me about Dan's comment, I shall go in more depth, and higher or lower snark, here.

Yes, it's Massimo's blog and he has the right to moderate comments as he pleases. And, this is my blog, and I have the right to write posts as I please.

Anyway, here's the comment:
Philip, your reply is a dodge. You claimed that mathematics is empirical. I pointed out that this would entail that mathematical statements are probabilistic, which they clearly are not. Simple modus tollens. To which you reply “it’s random.” 
No one ever died from admitting they were wrong about something. Why not give it a try?
Emphasis on the second graf is mine, because that's what this is about.

First of all, other than a British astronomer named Coel and a Canadian confusednik named Garth, not currently commenting on posts, and DM, not a total favorite of Massimo's either. NOBODY among past or current regular commenters has more difficulty admitting they're wrong than Dan. Dan is right a lot more often than them, but, when he's wrong, he doubles down on it as much as them.

And, Massimo knows that. (Or at least, believes something close to that.) I can mention specific issues, the biggest in my mind being that Dan rejects medical science's claim — and has done so on Massimo's blog — as to what constitutes one standard drink of an alcoholic beverage.

Hence my riff on Orwell's "Animal Farm" and Dan as Napoleon. It's part of why I stopped writing for Dan's site after a couple of posts. I disagreed with the editing-for-content and direction on my second piece and knew it wasn't something he's let me win, or even get closer to 50-50.

If Massimo is going to moderate posts over this issue, then why not start by editing Dan's to remove that second paragraph? Or keep it from being posted in the first place?

And, he let Dan and Philip have a 4-5 comment back-and-forth before that. So, my one denied comment really can't be that much worse in lack of contribution than their original back-and-forth.

(For the wonderers, both of my would-be comments did a pull-quote on Dan's second graf. In the first, I then said "posted without further comment." In the second, I said something about this being similar to "electric" comment of a week or two back. (Dan's blog is The Electric Agora.)

For Philip, it's not a matter of whether he was right or wrong on the particular back-and-forth. (I think he was pretty much wrong, myself, per Dan's first graf.) It was Dan's ... well, Dan's tacit hypocrisy. "Pots and kettles" come to mind. And, nobody else challenged him on it — or, at least, Massimo allowed nobody (else) to challenge him.

I tried again, on Massimo's next blog post. Again, no soap.

And, on a third post, where Dan was clearly wrong, and has been wrong in the past — what constitutes alcohol abuse and similar.
Calling people who regularly drink more than 3.5 drinks a day alcoholics is calling them exactly what they are. They are addicts, just as smokers or drug users are.
= = =
What a load of nonsense. Someone who has a beer with lunch and two glasses of wine with dinner is an alcoholic? If so, the term is useless to make any characterization that would be of any interest to any productive purpose.

And, Massimo even knows, via old convo on Google+, my thoughts on this issue. And he hasn't explicitly disagreed with Dan's wrongness.

So, there you go, Massimo. If you won't let me hoist Dan by his own petard over there, I'll still do it here.

April 11, 2018

TX Progressives want Havana Ted's DNA!

The Texas Progressive Alliance is neither the subject nor the target of an investigation, but it is bringing you this week's roundup, while wondering if Ted Cruz can prove he’s human.

Off the Kuff noted that Texas lost another federal lawsuit about voting rights.

Brains and Eggs took a look at the latest events in the Houston-area CD-7 runoff

Socratic Gadfly, seeing the latest anti-Palestinian violence by Israelis, looks at myth vs reality in a major piece of Jewish history.

Stace writes about Tex-Mex music Grammy winners Los Texmaniacs' new album, Cruzando Borders, which will touch on border and Mexican American themes. It's quite timely during this era of Trumpismo.

After more than a generation of one-party dominance, it’s tough for any Texas Democrat to predict what a winning statewide campaign would actually look like. But if Texas Leftist had to take guess, it would come pretty close to the Beto O’Rourke campaign thus far.

And speaking of winning, TL notes more great news for Texas’ classical music community as the Houston Chamber Choir receives a very prestigious National honor.

Neil at All People Have Value attended, as he does each week, the John Cornyn Houston Office Protest.  
 
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

At the Dallas Observer, Stephen Young reports on how Plano City Councilman Tom Harrison faces a recall drive over numerous anti-Muslim comments.

Stan Spinner, Lindy McGee, and Julie Boom urge Texans to not politicize vaccinations.

Better Texas Blog explains why a property-tax-for-sales-tax swap is a bad idea.

The Houston Press ties gun ownership and gun violence – including suicide — to older white males and their psychological issues.

Also at the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze notes politics and charity make strange bedfellows, with Dallas ISD trustee Bernadette Nutall taking Koch Bros.-laundered money.

Elise Hu remembers her first mentor and his warning about Sinclair Broadcasting.

Deborah Beck urges elected leaders to have in-person meetings with constituents.

Therese Odell grapples with the politics of Roseanne.

April 09, 2018

Is Thomas Frank right to worry that Trump can be re-elected?

As he does here?

Yes and no.

He's right to worry that national-level Dems are too reliant on Robert Mueller putting Trump behind legal guns.

He's wrong, IMO, in thinking that Trump is going to get a Slickster Clinton economic goosing.

First, his own trade wars — wrongly framed, even though fair trade vs "free trade" is an issue — will shoot him in the foot.

Second, labor force participation has remained flat for the last four years and is still far short of pre-Great Recession numbers. With or without trade wars, I don't expect Trump to fix that in the next 2.5 years.

So, it will have to be Trump getting an economic expectations goose. Trump train voters, especially in coal-mining West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and manufacturing Great Lakes states, will have to believe that Trump has indeed fixed the economy. Those tax breaks for the rich and big biz will have to trickle down.

Can that many voters stay that self-deluded (in many cases) that much longer, in the face of no more than modest economic gains?

Or, if Dems regain the Senate, can they fuel themselves with social revenge votes? That seems more likely.

That means a Democratic candidate who can get minorities, as well as working-class whites who may be less than totally self-deluded, to turn out.

There's one such person, who is not perfect, but is better than the last few Democratic candidates. And, he's starting to make more sense on guns now too.

April 06, 2018

#StlCards and Mo's cheap trades — Ozuna biting them back

Marcell Ozuna, another
less than perfect trade by
John Mozeliak?
I said in my season preview that I don't think the Cards did enough upgrading in the starting rotation plus position players. Marcell Ozuna is nice, but he's had a high variability level. I said at the time I preferred Christian Yelich. The Brewers found a way to acquire him. Mo and Girsch have never indicated that he was unavailable at the time they got Ozuna. (More on that later.)

And now, we find out that Ozuna's shoulder problem, per the second slide on this Derrick Goold quick hits, was known to the Cards last year. We also, again, find Goold playing PR for the team.

If the team knew, did they consider backing off? Did they get Miami to take less than the Marlins first wanted?

Let's look at what the Cardinals paid for Ozuna and the Brewers for Yelich.

The Cards gave Miami Sandy AlcantaraMagneuris SierraZac Gallen and Daniel Castano. The Brewers, for Yelich, gave the Mariners Lewis BrinsonMonte HarrisonIsan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto.

If you're the Birds, do you throw in, say Jose Martinez instead of Sierra? Jordan Hicks instead of Gallen or Castano that they did send? And, that's your initial offer for Yelich instead of Ozuna? And, if necessary, both Martinez plus Hicks? Or, say Harrison Bader instead of Sierra, and Hicks? I do, or whatever reasonable gets the Yelich trade done.

And, if Mo and Girsch for whatever reason, wanted Ozuna first? Yeah, the Cards lineup didn't have huge power last year. But, Paul DeJong does. Gedd Gyorko is decent himself. So is Tommy Pham.

Due to better cost control, more stability in his career to date and more? I take Yelich over Ozuna and said that repeatedly. That was before finding out the Cards knew about his shoulder.

April 05, 2018

#Masters2018 thoughts and semi-predictions


No, Red Shirt won't cover his apparel with a 5th green jacket. (Mono P/Flickr)
First off, straight out of the chute? I'd like Rory to win. Would be great for him to get that career Grand Slam and to put his 2011 collapse out of mind. Would also be great for a game of golf where casual fans either have to eventually let go of Tiger Woods Red Shirt or else stop being even casual fans. If Rory gets his slam (and assuming Philly Mick doesn't get "revenge" at this year's US Open at Shinnecock or wins any US Open) you then have the "rivalry" of Jordan Speith needing the PGA for his slam. And other young guns like Thomas and Koepka to at least add a second Slam win to their games.

That said, bearing in mind what Hank Haney and several others have said about how it's a lefties course today? (There's over 390K hits for that on Google; one piece even notes lefties have a specific advantage at the nerve-rattling 12th. Many people, including triple winner Nick Faldo, say that modern equipment makes a cut easier to hit than a draw. In that same piece, Phil agrees that 12, especially, is better for lefties.) Phil has won again, but I don't think he has the length to contend there. Bubba Watson, on the other hand, has gotten hot and straight himself recently. He might be my No. 1 as far as likelihood, Justin Rose 2, Rory 3, Jason Day 4 .... 

Tiger ... 10th? 15th? He's got the length, and earlier this year has been OK with the putter. But, driving accuracy sucks. Driving is indeed for dough at Augusta National. But, what if accuracy offsets that? Or a small putting sample size goes awry? Or that Augusta's walking length, with hills ... well, if not injures a back, at least tires it a bit? Phil? 15th?

Out of the full field, I don't see too, too many other serious contenders. Speith appears too far away yet from being a contender, even though this course seems to like him. Rain is in the forecast for Saturday, along with winds approaching 20mph, though removed for today. But it did rain fairly hard Wednesday morning. That and a cool start Sunday could hurt a short player like him. OTOH, Zach Johnson won in 2007 when Sunday was almost frigid. And, don't forget that Rory's had a good record on majors with rainy tracks.

It's a small field, once you remove older champs like Olazabel, Langer, Singh, Immelman, Lyle and Woosnam who won't make the cut. Faldo, interestingly, is firmly retired. Maybe in a few years, he'll be added to Nicklaus and Player as an honorary starter.

Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm and Thomas Pieters are the few others that jump out at me for this year. Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey as sleeper picks do nothing for me.

And speaking of lefties, will Li Yuxin take top amateur honors?

April 04, 2018

#MLK50 and #JFK, and #LBJ and the #MuellerTime FBI

First, MLK and JFK.

They aren't even close in terms of political morals. If you believe Camelot was real, click that link. If you still believe Camelot was real after that, whether on Vietnam, Cuba, or other foreign policy adventurism, Jack as first neoliberal president or other things, please go away and never bother me again.

Second, MLK, LBJ and the FBI. Per this cartoon, if you're "normalizing" today's FBI, also please go away. NOTE: This is NOT to support two-siderism, to say that Devin Nunes is anything but a Trump stooge or anything else. But, both Hillbots AND a fair chunk of Berniecrats among Dems need a reality check, too.

And, speaking of Democrats, to tie to MLK another way, namely, police violence? When Dems trot out "Oh the SCOTUS" again in 2020? A ruling like this, where Kagan and Breyer said that's it's OK for cops to shoot black people, is a good rebuttal.

What if there were no successful "Maccabean revolt"?

The revolt is of course, connected with Hanukkah, not Passover, but, with the Ahed Tamimi conviction and other Israeli ramp-ups against Palestinians, and us nearing the end of Passover, this deserves pondering.

First, what am I saying?

That, per this academic piece, Antiochus the V granted Jews restoration of full Temple rights not too long after Antiochus IV Epiphanes died. And that Antiochus V was petitioned for such by Menelaus. And that Judas Maccabeus did not magically conquer, then cleanse and restore, the Temple.

What I am saying is that the "framing" by 1-2 Maccabees (and lesser extent by Daniel) is both historically and theologically inaccurate. Critical scholars have long known that what happened 168 BCE and ff was more than just a revolt; it was to some degree a civil war, just like the "American Revolution." This idea further extends what that means. And, per analogy, the Maccabean "patriots," just like the American ones, wrote history and the Loyalists and Hellenizers had to suffer in silence. And, to the degree it was a revolt, non-theological political drives may have been part of the cause.

I have said elsewhere that Judaism, just like Christianity, has supersessionist elements. (Most religions do; Navajo religion incorporates — and won't admit – large chunks of Puebloan belief.) One of those elements, as I have noted elsewhere, was the Maccabees' forced conversion of Idumeans, like the ancestors of Herod. Another may have been restrictions, and attempts at conversion, of Samaritans. Per that first link, they rejected being lumped with Jews at the time of the Revolt. Surely this would have drawn some punishment, not at 164 BCE or immediately after, but decades later. And this likely carried into Christian New Testament times.

And, of course, this has effects today.

April 03, 2018

TX Progressives talk Sema, Beto, P Bush, Julian Castro

The Texas Progressive Alliance believes that everyone counts and everyone should be counted as it brings you this week's roundup.

Geoff Campbell aka Miami Gator on Twitter, interviewed Sema Hernandez about her meeting with Beto O’Rourke. She apparently has more of his respect. He apparently still doesn’t have her endorsement; she, and your author, await the phrase “Medicare for All” to leave Beto’s lips.

Socratic Gadfly offers some updates on what now clearly appears to be a weird triangle in Marlin between Houston real estate "flippers," a former VA hospital building, and the General Land Office and P. Bush.

David Bruce Collins has moved on from Harris County Greens (at least for in-person meetings) and gives his report on happenings at Socialist Alternative.

Jobsanger tries to figure out why Boomers and “silents” are allegedly voting against their own interest, when actually, being richer, having investment income, and knowing that any Social Security cuts won’t hurt them, actually ARE voting their own interest by tilting GOP.

Jim Schutze sees how chickens are about to come home to roost in Dallas on
Off the Kuff takes two more looks at precinct data in Harris County from the primary races.

Neil at All People Have Value again made the point that there is authoritarian/Constitutional crisis on the way.

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

Luke Amphlett criticizes the San Antonio ISD handbook on SB4, the so-called "sanctuary cities" law.

Texas Observer notes a Fort Bend County commissioner wants to gut the Open Meetings Act.

Therese Odell sees a chance for the Roseanne reboot to open a national dialogue on important issues, but fears it will take the easy way out.

Durrel Douglas unveils a project aimed at placing more Black people on government/NGO Boards and Commissions.

The Texas Living Waters Project reminds us that urban wildlife and people need healthy creeks and streams, not channelized ditches.

Amy Pearl asks who "walkability" is for.

BeyondBones explores the origins of timekeeping.

Guest Texan Aviva Shen examines the primary ouster of McLennan County DA Abel Reyna.

March 30, 2018

#Cardinals 2018 — quick hit takes

First, I don't think the Cards did enough upgrading in the starting rotation plus position players. Marcell Ozuna is nice, but he's had a high variability level. I said at the time I preferred Christian Yelich. The Brewers found a way to acquire him. Mo and Girsch have never indicated that he was unavailable at the time they got Ozuna. (More on that later.)

Paul DeJong was great last year. Will he be again, or will the Aledmys Diaz sophomore slump hit?

Miles Mikolas may have gotten his spring training problems straightened out, and thus be bringing back to MLB what he learned from Japan. Or he may be who the Rangers had in 2014. Carlos Martinez did not look like an "ace" on opening day. The walks — something he had problems with last year in early innings of games — got him again. We still don't know how much Adam Wainwright has in his gas tank.  And, his WHIP and FIP were both almost as bad in 2016 as in 2017. Even if he has injury-free gas in the tank, that gas may still be only 83 octane — or whatever the top speed is on his fastball these days.

And now, after Mo and Girsch tried to pretend they were comfortable with the roster in general, and with a bullpen by committee in particular, they showed they weren't by overpaying for Greg Holland. (And they lose a comp draft pick because of the signing, which is part of the overpay beyond cash. But with that and more, Ben Hochman, the worst excuse for a sports columnist in St. Louis, still defends it.)

I wondered two months ago if the Cards really could vault past the Brew Crew into second in the NL Central — and a wild card spot; finishing ahead of the Brew means nothing if it's still out of the money.

After all, Milwaukee signed Lorenzo Cain as a free agent after trading for Yelich. That was followed by Post-Dispatch award-winning columnist team scribe Rick Hummel falsely claiming Cain is no better than Dexter Fowler.

In short, we don't know much the Birds have improved. Nor do we know if the "paper of record" can be trusted to provide an honest answer on that.

That said, it's not just the P-D that drinks Kool-Aid.

Bernie Miklasz, at the top of "Ten Bold Predictions," says Matheny will embrace change. That's even more humorous than his No.  2, that the rotation will be better than expected. (I am with Bernie on one more pessimistic prediction, that Tommy Pham will have a solid year this year but don't expect a repeat of 2017. Try 4.5 WAR, not 6+.)

Contra Bernie, and modifying my comments above, one Post-Dispatch staffer, Ben Frederickson, generally is straightforward. He says the rotation is built on hope and said that before Waino's hammy. He even wondered if the Birds shouldn't resign Lance Lynn.

I'll give 50-50 odds, and no more than that, that the Cardinals get one of the two wild cards.

Should they not make the playoffs for the third straight year, I'll give no more than 50-50 odds they get rid of Mike Matheny. DeWitt reportedly still likes him.

Would Mo himself be shown the door in such a case? I don't know.

March 29, 2018

Marlin, the Veterans Administration and P Bush
with petards for Houston real estate flippers

About a month ago, I wrote a piece about a Houston real estate development and investment group buying the old VA hospital in Marlin a little over a year or so ago, and questions I have. Full story is here, with edited excerpts and follow-up following in this piece.

The Marlin VA hospital in its glory days, or near them. The
shuttered facility was purchased earlier this year
on a promise of being re-opened while being re-purposed
for other veterans-related needs, yet nothing has happened so far.
Photo by Waco Tribune/Rod Aydelotte
As I noted then, I wasn't aware that the state of Texas had finally sold this, let alone that it was being reopened.

Well, per various news stories, the idea that Marlin may be returning to an Eisenhower-era or earlier golden age (for white people, at least) seem to be fading more and more. Perhaps the most recent hope shouldn't have been so spit-polished in the first place.

Let's try a more honest reality. From my figurings and listenings, and lack of being talked to by some people, like the former mayor, Elizabeth Nelson, this reality check is needed for some.

Houston's Sterling Real Estate Development appears to have bought the place to flip it. (It also tried to buy the iconic — and deteriorating, but that's being arrested — Falls Hotel, the eighth original Hilton built by Conrad himself. It failed on that, and it was not the only interested would-be buyer.)

If former mayor Nelson truly is clueless about this being a likely planned flip, she needs to wake up and smell the coffee. If she is not, then my next suggestion would be to have the integrity to join Denny in resigning from the oversight committee for the building, at a minimum.

That again leads to my original questions, with some follow-ups in italics.
1. What price did the Texas General Land Office sell the building for? (This is a state agency; if nobody told you at the time, it's time for an Open Records Act request. But that's not for me.)
Was the price lowered under "false pretenses"? (Put in scare quotes for legal reasons.) This certainly seems possible. And, if so, did anybody in points 5 or 6 aid this in advance?

2. What was the asking price at the time? (That may not be on any record, but somebody may talk.)

3. Does the Falls County Appraisal District have an appraised value for the site, both now that it's private property, but also when the state owned it?
It's on the tax rolls now, whatever its value is. That means the flippers have to get flipping quick enough, even if they have a fairly large portfolio. Maybe they'll put up barbed wire, run 10 cows out, and claim an ag exemption. And, the appraisal district, especially after it's on the rolls for more than a full year, doesn't have to accept P Bush's sales price as its appraised value.

4. If there's a significant difference between 1 and 2, above all, and maybe 1 and 3, why?

5. If something pans out on 4, how much did either state Rep. Kyle Kacal or state Sen. Brian Birdwell facilitate this price drop?

6. Related to 5, if you get names of principals at SRED, have any of those names made some campaign contributions? Had any lobbying-type visits to state House or Senate committees on which one or the other of those two gentlemen serve? FYI, Birdwell served this past Lege as chair of the Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection; I'm sure this committee has interactions with the GLO. Sounds like a place to start right there. He was also on the Senate's State Affairs Committee.
This is for somebody else to ask, too. Given that the Waco Trib only really covers schools news in Marlin, and the teevee folks don't do investigative journalism out here to any great degree, it probably won't happen.
I still wish somebody from the Houston Chronicle picks up a thread on this due to the Houston-based nature of SRED. But, that's not going to happen, either.

The local paper in Marlin? Sorry. That's all I can say now on that angle.

And, no, I'm not being cynical. I'm just being properly skeptical on all of this.

People in Marlin have been critical of Chris Martinez for not doing more with the hotel. But maybe the reason the deal with the developer fell through is that he did more due diligence or exercised more scrutiny. And that may be not just with the Houston flippers, but with other offers he received.

And, now, it's reality check time.

For the Houston flippers? You're in a county that's still one of the poorest counties in Texas outside the lower Valley. Good luck with the flipping, because you're going to need lots of it. Marlin already has a hospital. The VA has been consolidated in Waco and Temple for more than a decade now. Marlin already has public prison units; a private prison is going nowhere. The state's juvenile prison system is a clusterfuck; it needs large-scale communal type facilities near larger cities, but it's nowhere near getting ready to do that.

Marlin as the home of a possible real estate frenzy sounds kind of funny. The home of a possible real estate bubble that collapses soon enough sounds, per Marx, like farce first, tragedy second. These people deserve better from anybody who has ideas of a real estate frenzy, whether the bidders are coming from Houston or possibly elsewhere on I-10.

March 28, 2018

Repeal the Second Amendment? Why not? #2A

For wingers in general and 2Aers in particular frothing in their mouth-breathing on Twitter that amendments can't be repealed, of course they can.

The 21st Amendment specifically by word repealed the 18th:

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Nothing clearer than that.

Second, another person, who's a 2A mouth-breather, or semi-so, and a friend of Brains to boot, claims all of the Bill of Rights is about individual rights.

Not so. Contra pseudo-originalists like Nino Scalia, and apostates like Laurence Tribe (for whatever reason), the Second Amendment, with the "well-regulated militia" being the controlling clause, had a corporatist angle. Also, I don't know about 1790, but in 1775, only 10 percent of Americans, by estimates, even owned guns.

Beyond that, the Tenth Amendment talks about right of states, who aren't individuals.

Third, to turn back to point No. 1, amendments 12-17, while not repealing previous amendments, did partially (14th) or fully "repeal" specific items of the body of the Constitution rather than create new rights.

The mouth-breathers, in their claims to originalism or other things, rather stake a claim to historical ignorance. And interpretive ignorance.

Now, it may be highly idealistic to repeal the amendment. But, that's a different story. It has historic precedent. That said, the original Eighteenth Amendment was even more idealistic.

March 27, 2018

TX Progressives salute the #MarchForOurLives movement

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the marchers as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzed the Harris County precinct data for the Democratic Senate primary.



As if last weekend’s March For Our Lives events weren’t epic enough, Texas Leftist was glad to see some Houston Area high school students start yet another impressive movement. By bringing prominent Democratic and Republican leaders together in ways that political forces have fallen short, the Inaugural Day of Unity Texas is off to a great start.

Neil at All People Had Value made the point that we are facing an authoritarian/Constitutional crisis.

Ted at Jobsanger enjoyed watching Trump squirm over Stormy Daniels but wants the country to move on — to Hillary 2020 presumably, or maybe JoePa Biden, now, since he wants to fight Trump.

The Texas Trib notes that Texans are getting ever harder to count as the 2020 Census is just two years away.

=======================

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

Stephen Young lists ten Texas celebrities who ought to get into politics, a list that might have been a bit more useful before the primaries.

Also at the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze says Ben Carson may be right about something.

Space City Weather explains why a hurricane forecast for 2018 will be a challenge.

Jeff Balke puts the blame on negligent drivers for the spate of car crashes with light rail trains in Houston.

Dwight Silverman shows how to manage your Facebook privacy settings.

Mean Green Cougar Red takes a long look at the Uber self-driving car that caused the death of a bicyclist.


March 22, 2018

Why electric demand is flat

Electric demand in the US has been flat for most of this decade and looks to stay that way.

Why?

At the bigger ticket level, homes are better insulated, and more older homes are going off the books.

At the medium ticket level, appliances continue to get more efficient. Thank government EnergyStar regulations.

At the moderate ticket level, computers and devices are ever more energy efficient.

At the small ticket level? A trip to WallyWorld illustrates.

I just moved, and needed a couple of light bulbs.

Two-three years ago, approximately, Wally just started selling LED bulbs. They had plenty of CFLs, halogen incandescents and some traditional incandescents.

Now?

NO, none, not a single CFL. (NO traditional incandescents, either. Just halogens.)

And, plenty of different types of CFLs.

Again, in part, due to regulation. Halogen incandescents are for those who want to spend less, even though paying more later. But, Obama's lights bill did this.

Other reasons include more backyard renewable energy. Thank regulation that requires at least partial feed-in tariff to utilities in many states, though not Texas.

Vox also wants to thank outsourcing of industry. Actually much of that happened before the start of this decade.

Anyway, even without the feed-in tariff here in Texas, obviously, Energy Future Holdings, the parent of TXU, is going to struggle more. And, that's the flip side of electric dereg.

March 20, 2018

TX Progressives roundup supports equality vs bigotry

The Texas Progressive Alliance takes note of the growing number of bombings in Austin, all apparently targeting politically active minorities, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff examines the relationship between primary turnout and victory in November.

SocraticGadfly offers up a game of post-primary Texas mainstream media bingo.

As always, Neil at All People Have Value attended the weekly John Cornyn Houston Office Protest.

Brains and Eggs discussed both Harris County primary results and projections and reminded broad-minded people of Texas Greens' ballot access drive.

=========================

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

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer said a couple of Texas Senate races could be key to how much or how little power Dan Patrick has in a year.

R.G. Ratcliffe at Texas Monthly discusses the ramifications of the state winning most of the talking points on appeal of SB4, the sanctuary cities bill.
Shari Biediger tells how the San Antonio River came to be green for Saint Patrick's Day.

Bonddad reminds national Dems to “curb their enthusiasm” over the primaries.
Space City Weather says it's still a bit early for a hurricane outlook.

Greg Jefferson reviews some of the many victories won by women in the primaries.

Leah Binkovitz points to a new study out of Houston that suggests that the benefits of homeownership are also ensnared in a discriminatory appraisal process that perpetuates racial inequality.

G. Elliott Morris interprets the PA-18 special election data, and finds no good news for the GOP.

Raise Your Hand Texas reports from the recent public school finance commission hearing.

Grits for Breakfast discusses TDCJ bias in its Youthful Offender Program.

David Bruce Collins talks about the “other” IT — inverted totalitarianism. Read Sheldon Wolin for more.

Lewisville Texan Journal says the city council there is expected to support the Texas bullet train.

Texas Freedom Network discusses ongoing gay marriage inequality issues.

Texas Standard notes iHeart Media is officially bankrupt. (Financially; morally, probably long ago.) See Brains' roundup for more links.