SocraticGadfly: 1/12/20 - 1/19/20

January 17, 2020

Luka vs Trae: It's no contest

Atlanta Hawks fans trying to put the best face on the trade two years ago, and some general Trae Young stanners, try to put him in the same breath as Luka Doncic.


It wasn't close before Jan. 15, and it's surely not close since. (And, no, Trae-stanners, your stuffing the ASG ballot box doesn't change this, either.)

Against the Kings, Doncic entered select company with a 15-rebound, 15-assist triple double.

How select?

Wilt Chamberlain.
Magic Johnson, twice.
Larry Bird.
Jason Kidd, twice.
James Harden.
Rajon Rondo.
Nikola Jokic.
Russell Westbrook, several times.
And now, Luka.

Followed by this:

Two nights later, as part of a career high in 3-balls. (The personal best "dagger" starts at 1:40.)

Before this, though, it wasn't even close. Basketball-Reference (I think this is new, and I know it's new to me) has a player comparison tool, one that works on a year-by-year basis.

So, let's put Luka and Trae side by side.


Let's go to the baseline sabermetric stat first, VORP — Value Over Replacement Player. It's Luka in a landslide, 4.2 to 2.2. Why?

Luka's got better 2-ball AND 3-ball shooting percentages and a lot more rebounds. They're even on assists. Luka's slightly better on turnovers. Trae's better on free throws and that's about it.

That's just basic stats. On advanced stats like VORP, Luka has a higher assist rate, which means he gets teammates more involved. He's ahead on both offensive and defensive win shares and WAY ahead on total win shares.

Only Harden, Giannis, LeBron and AD are higher. Trae's not in the top 20. (Luka is third on VORP behind the Beard and the Greek Freak.)

I mean, Trae Young isn't a bad player, and I'm not saying he is.

I AM saying he's not Luka, and YOU, if you claim he is, need to stop it.

January 16, 2020

Will the city of Marlin replace Marlin ISD before TEA kills it?

The Marlin Independent School District has been a poster child for bad governance for a decade or more.

Michael Steck, touted as a turnaround artist in previous small school districts, claimed (as did TEA overseers) that he had at least made a serious start there.

He left just before the paper was sold and I left.

His successor, Michael Seabolt, threw him under the bus already a small bit before I left, and even more when I made my brief, undercut return.

It didn't add up to me.

Steck probably did some spinning, but, Seabolt wasn't a first-time or even a second-time super. Surely, he'd seen spinning before. Probably done some himself.

Also, if Steck was outrightly lying, would TEA monitors risk their reputations and even careers by cosigning that? Highly doubtful.

So, Seabolt got pointed toward the exit door last summer. BUT, he chose to open that door and go through it himself.

That, in turn, led to a dispute over whether he's eligible for unemployment. The district fought him.
And he's now won a round in his  battle against the district.

Meanwhile, the state-appointed board of managers is down to three.

Teachers fear/dislike the post-Seabolt administration.

And, the rumors are that the Texas Education Agency will stop the finger-wagging and finally close the district in six months if there's not real improvement.

Stop me if you've heard that before. It's the biggest district in the county. It would be tough for Rosebud-Lott, Chilton, Riesel or Bremond to swallow it. R-L is OK with vulture-picking transfer students in enough quantity to now be, I think, a bigger district by attendance. But, it doesn't want the whole district and the whole district's problems. Even smaller districts certainly don't.

Enter the city of Marlin.

The city has retained a former Waco superintendent to look at a city-run charter school. That said, he's "former" because of a misdemeanor pot bust, but says he's completed all legal hurdles.

The city still deserves better than the current school district, the mayor of a term back, and other things.

The county certainly deserves better than county attorney for life Jody Gilliam.

And, is a former denizen of the Dallas County Constables world (WHICH constable, given the amount of corruption exposed about them a decade ago), despite general police qualifications, an ideal police chief?

I wish I could do more from a ways away, but it's at least more than Ty Not-so Clevenger. 


Update, Feb. 11: At the request of Gilliam, the Rangers are investigating Seabolt.

Yes, wind farm opponents DO have gas leases

A couple of months ago, I called out Meredith Baxter Birney, I mean Meredith Lawrence, of the Dallas Observer for writing a piece about a proposed new wind farm in Cooke County, a piece that had a high ignorance level, IMO. I followed up a month later with a second article touching on tangental and additional issues.

I had speculated at the time that part of the issue was that some opponents have natural-gas leases and are afraid yet another wind farm (there's two in the Muenster portion of the area already) would further drive down the lease money they get. (Southwest Cooke County and southeast Montague County, the Saint Jo area, are the northern end of the Barnett Shale.)

Well, multiple things have added to that.

Following up on an addition I had to that original piece, for the next two months since October, Comptroller Glenn Hegar has shows production taxes from natural gas continue to fall. That means prices are down in general. Plus, production in Cooke County's been off slightly since last spring.

And, there's more.

One independent driller would like to see the RRC do its job on natural gas flaring, with the hope that would slow drilling enough on oil to prop the price up more, and also help natural gas prices. That said, if the indy gets his wish, MORE natural gas from the Permian means gas prices elsewhere (as in the Barnett Shale) go even deeper in the terlet. Per page 4 of the Dallas Fed's quarterly report, spot prices for gas aren't expected to get much better next year. (Neither is oil.) That said, one commenter on page 7 says that much of this is one-time flaring and that more Permian gas WILL come onstream later this year. At the Houston Chronicle, though focused more on oil, Chris Tomlinson had a recent business column about this same issue. He said a "mini-slump" is probably the best that producers should hope for this year. He notes the Permian is overproducing, that many CEOs are being paid for wells drilled and so have financial incentives to overproduce, and more.

In addition, as of earlier this month, for four months in a row, Comptroller Glenn Hegar's office reported that year-over-year monthly natural gas production taxes were down in the range of 30 percent.

So, the fears are there.

And, I have confirmed that at least one of the more vocal Muenster-area opponents does have gas leases, and at a substantial level.

As I said before, it's all about whose ox is being gored.

That said, other opponents, like Jared Groce, may be right on the land value issue.

EDP claims that the wind farms actually can boost land value. Well, sure, if you're taking in the value of the turbines, even though they're owned by EDP. But, at the same time, it may indeed depress the value on some other parcels in the area, while leaving yet others basically unchanged, with the result that overall value is actually up slightly.

But? That's capitalism, ain't it? And, as for tax breaks for wind turbines? What about the tax breaks for oil, and for the gas that's in the terlet?

So, my guess is that, like Caesar's Gaul, opposition is divided into three parts: one-third gas leaseholders, one-third a mix of developers and the people buying country sprawl from them, and one-third actual farmers and ranchers. Each has its own kind and degree of hypocrisy and fatted calves cum gored oxen.


As for Ms. Lawrence, a new piece of hers where she talks about renewables passing coal in Texas energy production does give a small bit of indication that she now knows a small bit about natural gas. Next, perhaps you can talk about how Texas' tax laws and other issues are anti-solar, especially anti-rooftop solar, even as you tout solar's growth.

January 15, 2020

Texas progressives talk Trump, Turd Blossom, Third Parties

Texas Progressives hope that Trump being a wuss on Iran (after the Soleimani assassination, and we think that's the case) remains a thing, and that more antiwar voters recognize that most Democrats aren't actually antiwar.

In the meantime, with one round of fake Snowmageddon (and videoshopped alleged tornadoes on Twitter) hitting North Texas, we hope you take Texas winter with all the relative seriousness it deserves and enjoy this week's Roundup, while congratulating the cheating Astros for getting off light. (See below.)

We also wish Sema Hernandez the best prognosis and recovery possible on her medical issues.

Texas politics

Greg Abbott is a heartless biatch, and has shown that most clearly by his announcement the state won't take more refugees.

Never Trumper Turd Blossom Rove is bigly worried that Trump will affect the election. Turd Blossom's worries shouldn't be limited to that, maybe. With Justin Amash still being coy about a Libertarian run and the LP's national convention this year in Austin, Trump could face his own problems in Texas.

Kenny Boy Paxton is trying to further stiff Planned Parenthood.

In response? It's not quite coat hangers, but "personal abortions" are on the rise.

Kenny Boy and Secretary of State Ruth Hughs (with help from SoS career staff) are trying at least as hard to further stiff third parties.

Gadfly, in addition to his regular blogging, had a brief update to his original post about the suit over HB 2504 and related ballot access issues.

Texas Democratic Senate candidates had a forum in Houston. ConservaDem M.J. Hegar was a no-show. Maybe she was worried about having to field gunz issues in light of yet another relatively recent shooting in Tex-ass.

The Texas Signal looks at some key indicators for 2020.


Grits talks about various criminal justice issues, and also discusses Danny Goeb's call to look at ways of reforming judicial selection. (Your blogger, having seen it at work in New Mexico, thinks the retention election system is better than Texas' current, while agreeing with Grits that Patrick et al are whining because urban metros are voting for Dem judges.

A study claiming that eating plenty of red meat was just fine for heart health, based in part on Texas AgriLife Extension funding, has had a correction appended over some of its financing from A and M AND due to that funding being given as part of recruiting the one author to teach at College Station. Sadly, the correction is only an appending of the new financial information; the authors and Extension refuse to modify the controversial claims. Hat tip Retraction Watch. Shock me that the U won't do what it needs to do; even before becoming system chancellor, John Sharp struck me as a shyster. But there's a Part 2, also hat tip to Reaction Watch. The folks claiming conflict of interest? They've got their own conflicts of interest, arguably worse.

What's worse than Trump's wall? A private individual wanting to build his own wall when the Trump Administration doesn't even want it.

Busted for 3,300 pounds of pot? No, it was actually hemp. Cases like this are going to start leading to false imprisonment lawsuits, I hope. And, small counties with hang-em-high district and county attorneys can't afford such lawsuits.

The Bloggess presents her TED talk.


They lost on Reverchon Park, but Jim Schutze notes that a Hispanic bloc on the Dallas City Council, outside of white-black North-South Dallas horsetrading, could be emerging.


The Astros got off light. AND, read what I said in the first graf, other Houstonian TPA members or Houstonians in general.

Off the Kuff interviewed the three Democratic candidates in HD134: Ann Johnson, Ruby Powers, and Lanny Bose.


SocraticGadfly looks at the New York Times' 1619 Project, trying to claim that year, not 1776, is the keystone to US history, and says BOTH it AND its major opponents are all wet.

Brains goes Bernie-heavy on his weekly update.

Reason's libertarians (now that they're done lying for now about Venezuela) expect more never-Trumper Rethugs, or general vagabonds like Lincoln Chafee, to seek the capital-L Libertarian prez nomination. (The lying includes blatant falsehoods about Venezuela's historical GNP, among other things.)

Rogelio Sáenz notes that children of color are already the majority in many US states.

January 14, 2020

Clean slate for the new year: blogroll changes

Another White Atheist in Columbia is gone, gone, gone. A 2,500-word pontification about how some fellow secular humanists are meanies over food allergies, complete with nice polite Canadian martyrdom reflex about how maybe she had been, too, exemplified everything wrong with her.

Lobelog went off the air, and in its farewell, and Jim Lobe said much of its work would continue with the Quincy Institute. I didn't realize it was that left-neoliberal rather than independent. But, being funded by Ploughshares Fund and Rockefeller Brothers Fund? Uh, probably. And, with its move to Responsible Statecraft? Well, that critter doesn't have an RSS feed. And, it doesn't allow comments.

My Public Lands? Had some nice pictures on its Tumblr, but ... it doesn't post that often, and it's BLM, and BLM propaganda.

I finally got tired of Michael Hudson being wrong on on a boatload of shit in one post, which almost duplicated one two days earlier. Among the wrongs? The rest of the G20 would do no more about climate change than the US if you removed US front-running flak; our government deficit is about more than oil; we went off the gold standard before the US ended domestic price controls on oil or the first Arab oil embargo; parts of global warming are not directly related to oil, including US natural gas well leaks and related problems, cow farts, leaky AC units and more. In addition, since Hudson is a big MMTer, why isn't he proposing that as "the solution"?

On the bubble?

Driven to Abstraction, from whom I had come across Another NP Canadian Nutbar, has been posting less and less often. I'm not looking for something to write as often as me, but ... he may be deblogrolled soon. Shem, blog more!

Fleck's Colorado River blog? Melting away as fast as lost Colorado snowmelt here. Not canned it yet because I've not found a good replacement. (Update, Feb. 5, 2020: Apparently I've been ghosted out of commenting on his blog. I could just use a new email address, but he's not worth it. I tried FF as well as Chrome, home and office both. Wouldn't post. When I used same email but new user name, my comment posted, but "under moderation." I've been ghosted/banned. So, bye to Fleck.)

Egberto Willies? Good insights, and lots of contacts. OTOH, the man thinks that Elizabeth Warren is about as pergressuve as Sanders, and even defended Julian Castro's endorsement of her.

Black Agenda Report. It's not the same, and definitely not as good, since Bruce Dixon, a certified Green, died. Glen Ford is a Tulsi stanner and Danny Haiphong is worse. And not black. I discussed this in detail last fall.


The Syllabus, a generally biweekly roundup of interestingly weird stuff on the Net, curated by Evgeny Morozov and a board.

NM Political Report, edited by Heath Haussamen. Much more in-depth on anything besides insider politics stuff than Joe Monahan's NM Politics, which may go away, especially since he's a sucker for wingnut teens and hasn't responded to my email. (He also soft-pedals the damage the oil boom is doing in Little Texas let alone the big picture. He would never write this about the BLM, unlike NMPR, or this about methane emissions. But Monahan would and does snark on moving the state to more green energy; NM Political Report has a much more nuanced take.)

Finally, a note to commenters.

I recently allowed comments from people without Blogger or other Google IDs. That said, if you have "interesting" websites as part of your posting, I'll not allow, or I'll delete after I found out.

A recent semi-regular commenter with brief, generally positive, but semi-canned remarks, for example? I noticed that his website was not a personal one, a personal blog, a Twitter account, etc., but rather for an Indian business. Comments deleted.

Celebrate steamy nights with Gwyneth Paltrow

Inside the mood for hot romance? Men, are you or the lady also into alt-med? A fan of Gwynneth Paltrow and her steamed vagina?

She's here for you. For just $75, you can get this Paltrow allegedly vagina-scented candle.

Kind o like this?

That night's gonna be REAL romantic.

And, you're gonna be a $75 poorer sucker.

At The Cut, Goopster friend Douglas Little puts his spin on how the two of them made this. As part of that, he goes snobby in response to Martha Stewart and says "this was never intended for the masses."

Bullshit and marketing-speak right there.

Don't make yourself $75 poorer by buying one, even though Little says they're back in stock.

January 13, 2020

Quick hits on the cheating Astros

The Houston Astros got off relatively light for cheating, especially given that, in the last decade, Atlanta and St. Louis have had staffers barred for life from baseball. And any Houstonian, including Houston members of TPA, can either fellate me or kiss my backside if you don't like it. One-year suspensions are bullshit, and no, Jim Crane wouldn't have fired them if Manfred had given even lighter handslaps. And, no current or former players were punished at all.

Losing first and second round draft choices isn't THAT big a deal in baseball. A $5M fine isn't in any of the Big Three sports. The Cardinals lost $2M in a fine payable to the Astros, two draft choices, and Chris Correa banned for life for allegedly stealing analytics. Lower the lux tax line for the Astros by $20M each of the next two years and you have a penalty.

Yeah, Commissioner Corleone said if they give even the appearance of cheating again, they could be permanently banned. Didn't give Correa that out. And Mark Saxon claimed at the time the Cardinals got off light? Let's see if he says anything now.

The Astros' self-righteousness over Correa looks pretty hypocritical now.

Two years later, Corleone banned for life now-former Braves GM John Copolella and stripped the team of a dozen prospects.

Jeff Passan reports other owners are pissed about how light the penalties are.

The fact that Crane said no players would be disciplined — whether he means just by himself or by Commissioner Corleone Rob Manfred, adds to the "got off lightly." As for manager AJ Hinsch GM Jeff Luhnow (misread the original) claiming he knew nothing about what then-players Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran were doing, along with others? That's about as believable as Tony La Russa, when running the A's, claiming he didn't know Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were roiding.

Update, Jan. 14: The Sox have fired Cora, while the chickenshit Mets continue to say and do nothing about Beltran. Update, Jan. 16: Beltran got the ax too.

Update, Jan. 18: Other fans largely agree with me. Punish the players!

And, since Crane's comment about players not punished is coming from Manfred? Did players union head Tony Clark push for that? If so, why? The players union looks hypocritical itself if so. If not, players are still part of MLB. As Buster Olney said (damn, me agreeing with Buster) , the integrity of the game is one of five casualties.

And, Commissioner Corleone is also hypocritical when he says "they moved to other teams" as far as not punishing players.

Speaking of, roiders have never been treated that way. Manny Ramirez got suspended with the Dodgers for stuff he did while with the Red Sox, for example. A-Rod was allegedly getting needles in his butt before he was with the Yankees, and some of his Cousin Yuri procurement was surely for pre-Yankees time. Michael Pineda, suspended with the Yankees last year, has to finish that out with the Twins.

So? Rescind the trades if they moved that way. Void free agent contracts and give teams the money back if they moved that way.

Or? Strip their World Series bonus money if nothing else. Yes, that was either 2017 or 2018? And? Find a way to freeze their bank accounts, or get their current teams to dock their pay.

Beyond THAT, there were rumors — rumors that GMs of other teams should have heard — before Mike Fiers spilled the beans. And, Astros players now claiming maybe the sign-stealing didn't work, and the proof is in having a better road record? Per the book of Proverbs: "The guilty flee when nobody pursues them."

In other words, we all knew some sort of hammer was coming long ago. Manfred could have talked to Clark and top player reps in advance to get their buy-in. If they refused, drop the fucking hammer, collective bargaining agreement be damned, and let the players association try to defend cheating. Per Buster, the players' union, if Manfred even hinted at player penalties in private and it said no, has no leg to stand on, even as it continues official radio silence.

Also, given indications that the Red Sox similarly cheated in 2018, will Alex Cora be punished as a manager, if not a player? What about Beltran, newly named the Mets manager? See above.

No, now, finally.

If Corleone isn't going to punish players (I KNOW Adam Silver would), baseball has a lingering black eye.

Cardinals do another cheapskate fake rotation upgrade

I'm going to keep kicking the ass of John Mozeliak and Mike Girsh until they actually do something.

So far, via either a SERIOUS trade or a SERIOUS free agent signing, they've left the starting rotation untouched from last year.

Dallas Keuchel? To the White Sox at 3/$55.5, which could vest to 4/$74. Still cheaper than Hyun-Jin Ryu and $4/80 with the Jays.

They even passed on getting Gio Gonzalez for just $5M for one year. Though they did avoid paying, or overpaying, Madison Bumgarner at 5/$85.

I do NOT consider Gwang-Hyun Kim an acceptable answer for upgrading the rotation, certainly not if the question is "Do you want to go to the World Series?" rather than "do you want to make the playoffs?" (With Cubs in sell mode and the Brew Crew kind of consolidating, making the playoffs next year should be a given. That said, MLBTR fans expect the Reds to win 85-89 games, so no sleeping on your hands!)

Nor do I consider acquiring Class A ball Rays prospect Matthew Liberatore to be doing anything for this year, and I don't consider it to be doing THAT much for beyond. He's only an A-ball player so far, and other Cards fans should stop foaming at the mouth until we see him in AA. I'm OK with cleaning out Jose Martinez, as we all know his defensive limitations and now he's going to an AL team. But Randy Arozarena as well? AND moving DOWNward in draft pick slots, in exchange for getting a back-of-the-bench catcher prospect, Edgardo Rodriguez as a throw-in?

If this DID necessitate trading two OFs (and I don't see anything in Liberatore that does), I would have traded Harrison Bader or Tyler O'Neill first.

I'm definitely not as much a fan of the trade as Red Satan's David Schoenfield. That piece can stay behind the paywall, ESPN, and I know it's not worth paying to read.

Beyond that, this trade, as noted two paragraphs above, does nothing for 2020.

So, we're still at me wanting Mo to be daring and creative — daring enough to trade Matt Carpenter for David Price, while taking on Jackie Bradley Jr. as well in a salary dump.

For more on the details of that trade idea and how it would benefit the Sawks, and benefit them enough in my opinion for them to stop asking for prospects, and how it benefits the Cards by getting a starter still decent when working through nagging injuries and still very good when fully healthy, read this blog post.

That said, with Mookie Betts now reportedly getting a record $27M in his last arb-year, while avoiding arbitration, Red Sox head honcho Chaim Bloom either has more incentive to dump more salary, or else more incentive to shut up and lump it on lux taxes. (JBJ is getting $11M in his final arb deal, per the same piece.) But now that the award is in, he's at shit or get off the pot territory.