SocraticGadfly: 1/19/20 - 1/26/20

January 25, 2020

Fredericksburg is the new Aspen? No, Texas Monthly;
it's being Californicated or New-Texified

Fredericksburg is the new Aspen. No, really. That's the skinny from Texas Monthly in a new series on small towns. I Tweeted to TM is this wasn't some new version of pay-to-play like that which got Tim Taliaferro kicked upstairs and sideways out of the editor in chief office a couple of years ago. After all, the series IS "Small Towns, Big Money." Battling for the soul of Marfa? That's realistic. Fredericksburg the new Aspen? Thanks for the laugh.

Just because property prices are skyrocketing doesn't mean it's the new Aspen. There's no skiing, and while the wineries might be nice, they ain't Californian.

Speaking of, THAT is the issue.

You got a bunch of Texans getting butt-hurt over one of their picturesque small towns being Californicated, is what it is, at least in part.

Plenty of us who grew up in the actual West know all about that.

Taos, more picturesque, smaller and poorer than Fredericksbug, sheds no tears for it.

That said, the idea that this might be a political tipping point, as Derek Thompson claims? Tosh or at least semi-tosh. The majority of California migration here is from places like the OC, the Inland Empire, San Diego exurbs to the south of that, and portions of the Central Valley. Red, or at least red-dish. Now, these folks may not be as conservative as the likes of Former Fetus Forever Fuckwad Jonathan Stickland or Gohmert Pyle, but they're conservative enough. That said, many Californicators aren't moving to Tex-ass. Per the Wall Street Journal, high property taxes (and they are, for Texans who still think they may not be, but refuse to look at an income tax). a $10K cap on state and local tax deductions, while not hitting Texas as hard as California or New York, is hitting it hard enough.

The non-Californicated part is simply a picturesque small-town version of the sharing economy world. Houses in Frederickburg are apparently being snapped up in part for Air BnB type rentals. Again, not Aspen. A few of the rich may rent out their rich places; most don't.

Besides, this is capitalism, allegedly the second Texas national religion after football, hard at work. Kwitcherbellyaching, you Hill Country Krauts!

Third, a lot of this BnB grifting, per the story, is being done by yer fellow Texans.

The real thing TM is missing, per that, is that this is just old-fashioned Texas fucking greed on steroids. I'm sorry, let me be more precise. This is just old-fashioned ANGLO Texas fucking greed on steroids. It's no accident that Fredericksburg is just a shoot and a shout down the road from Johnson City.

As for Marfa? It had its own Hispanic high desert soul long before Anglo artists and hipsters started overrunning it. Their high dudgeon over the latest interlopers is hypocritical as hell.

But, of course, that's how the Pointy Abandoned Object State™rocks.

January 24, 2020

Can the Mavs really make the NBA West finals without Powell?

ESPN's Seth Greenberg said recently he believes they can.

But, several things have to happen.

Well, two big things.

First, Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porziņģis must learn to play together more.

Part of this is the Unicorn still knocking bits of rust off plus adjusting to a new team. I know that without anybody at Red Satan telling me. But, he shot much better during Luka’s recent ankle-sprain absence.

Spacing is surely part of the issue.  But shot selection is too. I will tackle this in more detail in a separate post next week.

Let's just say for now that, if the Unicorn is going to be getting even more minutes for the rest of the year, he's got to become a better shooter. And that doesn't mean just, or even primarily, on the 3-ball. (Hint to Carlisle: It means making him the best player he can be with his skill set, and the best complement to All-Star Game starter Doncic. Period.)

Second, per WHY he'll be getting more minutes?

The team has to find something on options to replace Dwight Powell blowing out his Achilles:

If that doesn't happen? That means reset time. If the Mavericks don't finish higher than No. 6, they're likely facing the Clips or the Nuggets in the first round and not even getting to the second. (If they finish No. 8, they're of course facing the Lakers.)

What are their options besides more Zinger time?

Hoops Rumors says they're kicking the tires on Joakim Noah, first. I agree that he's not optimal. Or close. Out of the league this year after just 42 games at 16.5 minutes per, last year. The trending on Twitter didn't like it either, with alternative suggestions such as Tyson Chandler (barely playing, but Rockets won't trade him to the Mavs) or former Mavs stiff Salah Mejri. No, neither of them is a real improvement over Noah.

Willie Cauley-Stein is "nice," but has different tools than does Powell. Ditto on Tristan Thompson. The same is true for Noah, or his two alternatives, for that matter. While Powell wasn't a big 3-baller, none of that trio is a threat outside 15 feet, period.

(Update: Mark Cuban apparently thinks Willie IS the answer.)

The other options are even worse.

So, that means getting more out of Maxi Kleber as well as the Unicorn. On D as well as O. That said, he just might have the potential, and might embrace the opportunity for a breakthrough.

There's another issue at hand. Kleber is younger than any of those stiffs above AND he is signed for the next three years after this. The team and fans have no idea what time next year Powell will come back, and in what playing condition. So, for not only the rest of this year but beyond, it's time to see what Maxi really has.

Otherwise, on that side of the ball?

Seth Curry is not bad.

J.J. Barea is not good, and while not necessarily horrible, never has been good. So far, Jalen Brunson doesn't grade out well, though he is a good add on the offensive side. Tim Hardaway Jr. is OK at best. Luka has improved since last year on overall D.

Otherwise, I think the continued development of Dorian Finney-Smith as a swingman on both sides of the ball at both the 3 and the 4 is going to be a key for the Mavs.

This is interesting to observe of a Rick Carlisle team, is the need for beefing up the D. They’re only 28th in the league in steals and, despite the height of the Zinger, and height elsewhere, only 22nd in blocks. Most of this lays to the guards, including Luka on the blocks side of that equation. They don’t have very good takeaway defense in particular or perimeter defense in general. That said, their overall defensive rating is 15th in the league.

January 23, 2020

Texas Progressives tackle cheating, missing ballots
and the high cost of Texas living (no really)

This outpost of Texas Progressives reminds an in-state wingnut climate denialists that weather isn't climate, that any cold blasts you feel are normal, and that none of the above refutes the fact that we had the hottest decade on global record, with eight of the 10 hottest years on record, and that last year was the second hottest year on global record. (Even nutters at the Daily Mail admit it!)

Texas sports

SocraticGadfly did a non-political double dip on Texas sports, first talking about the glories of Luka Doncic, then noting why he, along with a majority of other non-Houstonians, thinks the cheating Astros got off light.

And, while we're here, from Twitter:
Yep, that's about right. (Yes, I know some, per Brains, are trying to claim this was just a riff on the roots of the two teams in the 1962 AFL title game. Lemme see, December 1962 was FIFTY-SEVEN years ago. About 2 percent of Twitter users are old enough to have been alive, let alone old enough to remember, the original game. It's butt-hurt jealousy tweeting, no matter how much of the actual history you can present, if you didn't actually experience it.)

Cort McMurray gets to the heart of the Astros' cheating scandal.

Texas politics

C.D. Hooks talks about "schadengreg" on his refugee rejection, which has since been blocked by a federal court.


Not quite Duke of Duval County George Parr and Landslide Lyndon, but a ballot box that went missing after a November bond vote in Midland ISD finally resurfaced and has now (finally???) flipped the bond vote to "no." And, really? Midland ISD said it needed not one but TWO new high schools? Why?

Trump's lies about wanting to do something about gun control are more fully exposed now that he is allowing 3D printable gun blueprints back online.

The Observer, after a series of stories on rural hospital closures and other country health problems, asked for reader stories. They got plenty. The solution, as I've said before? A British-style National Health System.

Blacks got less favorable coverage than women from Texas newspapers over protests.


D Magazine notes that, while Dallas County DA John Creuzot appears committed to bail reform, the reality on the ground is a hot mess. The piece is a good read about Creuzot's efforts, his department's work on the Amber Guyger case and more. Will OK Jim Schuetze be kind enough to reference that Guyger part?

And, interesting indeed, on the civil justice side. Judge Tonya Barker wants to ramp up instructing civil juries, as part of their deliberation instructions, to work to avoid implicit bias.

Bizzy week for problems in Dallas. Due to environmental concerns and other things, the Byron Nelson is leaving Trinity Forest. The course's co-owner, who got a sweetheart deal from the city to build the course, admitted it wasn't the ideal spot. Nelson ticket sales confirmed that. Of further concern is that, although the city incentives required 25 percent of rounds to be offered to the public, ie, nonmembers, that wasn't actually happening.

The Dallas Observer also notes that the city just took it in the shorts on a First Amendment case re the city's panhandling ordinance.

The Metromess and Helltown ain't cheap

When transportation sprawl, and housing and other costs relative to pay are all factored in, both Dallas and Houston are LESS affordable than New York City. For whatever reason, even though the Metromess and Houston are almost dead even on these costs, Texas Monthly writes its story on the issue only about Houston. (Unless it does the rewrite I suggested.) Related? Contra former Houston mayor Annise Parker's past bragging about how Helltown would eventually pass Chicago? The Windy City is cheaper, per the first link. And that ignores the humidity, skeeters and flooding of Houston, along with the climate change that will exacerbate all. Do we file this under "Rick Perry's Texas Miracle" or "Greg Abbott's Texas Miracle"?

The Dallas Observer DID pick up on the Dallas angle.


Off the Kuff interviewed three Democratic candidates in HD138: Akilah Bacy, Josh Wallenstein, and Jenifer Pool.

John Coby wraps up the 2019 city of Houston finance reports.


Brains offers a wrap on the latest Dem Debate, especially its "she said, he said."

Therese Odell revisits Impeachment Corner.


The Great God Pan Is Dead revises its Best Comics of the Decade list.

The Lunch Tray looks at a new effort to eliminate "lunch shaming".

January 21, 2020

Needed: New baseball sabermetric stats

Fielding-Independent Pitching may be "nice," but I'm not sold on it as being greater than ERA+, which IS, of course much better than ERA.

There are several reasons.

First, while some singles, doubles and triples that drop in, instead of being fielded for outs, are infielders' and outfielders' faults, not all of them are by any means. Many of them are ... the pitcher's fault. Defensive sabermetric stats remain somewhat subjective; injecting that into pitching stats doesn't totally solve the subjectivity of who's responsible.

Second, FIP is itself not exclusive of fielders. It ignores the man behind the plate and his skill or lack thereof on calling pitches, handling pitchers and framing pitchers.

Third, while where a ball goes may be partially outside a pitcher's control, it's not totally outside. An MLBTR commenter said Fangraphs WAR for pitchers was better than B-Ref's because it was tied more closely to FIP. Ironic, or something, then that the idea that a pitcher still has partial control of where a batted ball goes ... is part of a Fangraphs blogger saying he doesn't use FIP. One part of it, getting a batter to hit to spot, has only increased in the five years since the author wrote, with more teams shifting on defense more often against more hitters and having pitchers pitch to the shift.

Fourth, until we get balls and strikes called by machines, umps are human and subjective.

Fifth, unlike ERA+, FIP is not park-adjusted. Said Fangraphs blogger notes that xFIP exists, but? Fangraphs doesn't use it!

So, we need an FIP+ that like ERA+ is park-adjusted and neutralized to 100 before I'm ready to move on from ERA+.

From there, we could average ERA+ and FIP+ and get PP, or Performance Plus, which, IMO would be the best judge of pitching performance. I can do that myself, without B-Ref doing the averaging, unless it wants to.

Second would be doing a takeoff on Jay Jaffe's JAWS stat. Exact same framework, but base it on WAA instead of WAR, as I think WAA is actually a better estimate of how much a player stands out. I'm using it more than WAR to judge Hall of Fame candidacies, any more. I also use it in conjunction with WAR. If your WAA isn't 50 percent or more of your WAR, you probably were a compiler who didn't stand out. Non-HOFer Dale Murphy is an example, and it's part of my case against him.

Third? Whether on its own, or cribbing from Baseball Prospectus, 538 or others, getting some new stat for relievers to replace saves etc. It's already started down this road by tweaking high-leverage pitching for relievers and offering WAA adjusted and Runs Against-Role Factor. To put it in some classic way, they're both great, but they came from different reliever eras. Is Mariano Rivera greater than Goose Gossage? (By WAR, Rivera, exceptional for a reliever, is. What about, say, Billy Wagner vs Trevor Hoffman? Either against Bruce Sutter?)

January 20, 2020

GOP wingnut of wingnuts fears ‘Sahara law’

Nutbars running for Congress were on full display in Gainesville Thursday night. Local Republicans hosted a meeting for the plethora of candidates seeking to fill Mac Thornberry’s 13th District shoes.

Catherine “I Swear” Carr couldn’t even pronounce “sharia” correctly, as she seemed to call for elimination of “Sahara law.” Her one opponent, a piece of work in some of her own ways, openly corrected her. (Carr also has misspellings on campaign literature, and combines wingnut Christianity with a prosperity Gospel twist by claiming God will bless her paying her full filing fees.) Otherwise, other candidates, when asked about foreign threats, demonized Islam, starting with Jason Vogelsong. Josh Weingarner claimed that “the wall” would stop terrorism, the same claim that led Shrub Bush’s presidency to shut down the Boquillas crossing at Big Bend.

Carr, along with most the other candidates, tried to show how close they are to You Know Who. "I'm friends with Donald Trump on Twitter," she said. It's unconstitutional, and the GOP would use it in both racist and classist (they overlap but they're not the same, Marxists!) ways, but it's a shame that we can't require BOTH an intelligence test and a psychological profile test to run for office.

Otherwise, on domestic spending, half the candidates called for elimination of the old stereotypical “waste, fraud and abuse.”

In an attempt to prove his pro-life bona fides, another candidate, Richard Herman, called for eliminating Planned Parenthood, not a federal agency. He later seemed to believe that yelling into his microphone was a sure way to gin up support. The former Potter County JP also has been arrested for domestic violence and other issues. Shock me.

Other candidates had interesting stances on their campaign material.

Matt McArthur wants to make child support tax-deductible. Why? You a baby daddy that doesn't like paying up?

One candidate, Elaine Hays, did briefly reference entitlement programs, but moved on without offering details of any possible reform.

Learn more about all the candidates via Ballotpedia.

This definitely non-Republican sees Elaine Hays as overall the least bad candidate in the most GOP-friendly Congressional district in the nation, according to Cook’s Political Report. That said, while she mentioned the national debt increasing from $17 trillion to $23 trillion in the past five years, she didn’t note that Trump had been president for the last three of those five.

And, her elective experience isn't as valuable if, contra any claims on her behalf that may be floating around, she is not the only candidate with such experience. And she's not. Herman and Wichita County Commissioner Lee Harvey (almost as looney as Lee Harvey Oswald) obviously have also been elected.

As for “socialist” policies? If government ownership of a business is socialism, I think — and am old enough to remember when it still existed — the old government-owned U.S. Post Office worked better than today’s semi-privatized Postal Service.