Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'll be gone this weekend..

...to visit the Chief in Jacksonville. He has been featured here and here on this blog.

I may even go to Mass with them. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been to Mass. The first time was Christmas Eve Midnight Mass @ Lackland AFB, TX during USAF Basic Training. Why should the Catholic guys be the only ones who get to stay up past lights out?

Twice was with the Nightfly. Once was a Spanish language Mass in Tampa, and at his wonderful wedding to the Ladybug.

I was visiting the Chief for the Super Bowl that was in Jacksonville and we went to Mass that day. I didn't recognize any of the music, but I had no trouble picking it up. During the homily, the priest got on his congregation for not reading their Bibles. (Preach it, brother!)

It will be a great time. There will be feasting Christmas Eve. Mrs Chief has a large family on her side and when they all come over it's a great time.

We've already established what kind of Senator you are...

... now we're just haggling about the price.

Bill Nelson, though, is a cheaper whore that Ben Nelson and Mary Laundry.

This site is not allowing me to cut and paste. Unlike Ben, who got a Medicare payoff for his whole state, Bill could only get an exemption of Medicare cuts for three Democratic counties. The other 2 million old-timers in Florida are screwed.

The phone line to Bill Nelson's Tampa office is busy. He's not up for re-election until 2012, so he's counting on short memories.

I know it's not Laundry, but I can't spell her name.

edit by the 'fly - it's Landreau, I believe.  And the new Blogger post editor/creator makes the cut-and-paste a bit of a hassle.  I grabbed the money graf for you:
Many pundits wondered how Nelson could justify supporting a health care reform bill that cuts Medicare by $500 billion when his home state has so many seniors. Now, we know. He is having the heart of his base exempted from the worst of the cuts.
When you try to paste now, you have to click the "allow access" button, and then Blogger should permit it.  Who knows why they do it.

You have a good point about the size of Bill Nelson's particular bribe compared to the others.  Ed Morrissey (courtesy of the Ace of Spades) gives a fine rundown of the pay-to-play largesse Harry Reid is funneling from the public purse, even while the Senate debates raising the debt ceiling.

There's a reason why consumers can't raise their own credit limits with most lenders - they'd go more broke, more quickly, and in enough numbers to risk the solvency of the banks doing the lending.  It takes a special brand of willful blindness to scold banks for going along with it, vote for a government bailout to that problem, and then turn around mere months later and try to commit the same mistake; akin to a parent who pulls his kid out of a fire and then dives back into the building to prove how hot it is.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Musical Monday, hockey edition, again

There's something about Dylan and the Lord's Own Hockey that inspires me.

Slapshots ring out in the October night
Enter the head coach from the player’s bench
Sees the goaltender sittin’ in a pool of red light
Calls out, “Get the backup in there now!”
Here comes the story of the Hurricanes
The ones the media have come to blame
For all those games they never won
Sittin’ in the box when they coulda been
The champions of the world…

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town
Erik Cole and a couple of friends are drivin’ around
A top contender for the Eastern Conference crown
Then they dropped the puck and the losses started comin’ down
Refs whistlin’ them for all those bogus calls
Just like the time before and the time before that
In Carolina that’s just the way things go
You might as well not even show up on the scoresheet
‘Less you wanna draw the heat

Jim Rutherford built this team from scratch
Got him some defensmen and a couple of scorers
Said his goalie was one of the best that there was
But the team kept gettin’ worse and he had to face the reporters
He said “All my guys are hurt and they’re on the IR
Ain’t gonna fire my coach or bench my star
We’ve just gotta have a little time
Get our team into a little climb
Just last year we won two playoff rounds!”

Two months later and the Hurricanes are still dead-last
Bloggers sayin’, “Hey, isn’t this the new NHL?
Everyone’s above .500 now, how can this pass?
We’re looking like the ‘75 Capitals!”
This is the story of the Hurricanes
Out of the playoff race by Christmastime
They’ve gotta hope the ping-pongs run
So they can at least draft #1
But they used to be champions of the world!

This one, much older, started life as a comment Chris Botta's Islanders Point Blank blog, in January 2009.

Isles are in the basement, tankin’ on the season
I’m on Point Blank, thinkin’ ’bout the reasons
Bad drafts, dumb trades, front-office charades
Fifty games played and an injury parade
Look out, fans! Nothing getting done
Waiting on a new trend while riding out the old one
Snowie in a three-piece suit on the telephone
Wants a first-round pick, but they don’t wanna give him one

New coach, new kids, old vets, prospects,
Twelve third-liners and eleven second-round picks
Looking for a rebuild, tired of the quick-fix
Playin in an old barn in the middle of the sticks
Trying to save face, want to build a new space
Town drags its feet so they may be movin’ someplace
Look out, fans! It’s feeling old
Fifteen years with the same tale told
Feeling down, can’t get a shovel in the ground
And the town of Hempstead keeps jerkin’ us around

It's not so odd.  Dylan is from Minnesota dere, ya know?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas @ The Spider's Church




The top pic is our music team (along with some other volunteers) singing some special music last Sunday. That's me on the right with the other tenor. Most of the folks in this pic are real musicians; I'm just bluffing me way in. This pic makes it look like I can actually read music. NOT!
Actually I can read a little music. For example, there are two melodies to "Away in a Manger". I can tell which melody I'm singing by the sheet music.
In the next pic you can see that I haven't cut my hair since May. Well, it's coming off after Christmas. Too high maintenance. The beard wasn't gray until the 2000 election. The need for bifocals make glasses more practical (and cheaper) than contact lenses.
This pic also shows the difficulties that I have finding a dress shirt that fits. I am a laundry bag with legs. A shirt with a neck big enough for me to wear a tie will be a dress on me. But then the occasions of my tie-wearing are rare.
I wanted to end this by talking about the place these pics were taken, Hope Bible Church in Tampa. Sure, the preaching is standard evangelical. Our pastors just open the Bible and talk about what's in it.
But good preaching is a waste in a place that is unwelcoming. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13 that if he had all knowledge and all faith but no love he was nothing. This place and these good people are a sanctuary for me.
I really couldn't tell you how I am staying sober. Many have studied God's Word more than I, have prayed than I, have gone to more AA meetings than I and have stumbled. In this area I am totally at the mercy of the Almighty. Maybe the fact that these good people have taken me in as one of there own has something to do with it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fun with goalie numbers

In a long-distant post, I remember discussing goalie stats, and how the standards changed historically from the old, pre-expansion NHL, through the expansion and scoring boom of the 70's and 80's, and into the "dead-puck" era and beyond.  I can't find that post at all, sadly - it's not tagged.  But I do remember that in the comments, someone suggested that links to the pertinent numbers and goalies would have helped.

Well, this is that... kind of.  (I'm full of met expectations in this post, aren't I?)

The NHL's official stat pages for the keepers is a great resource for tinkering with numbers and comparing/contrasting.*  The guys I found and linked below, I've picked for particular reasons.  For example, you'll have heard that Martin Brodeur has won more regular-season games than any other goalie to play in the NH, and that he tied Terry Sawchuck's all-time-best mark for shutouts.  You may also know that after last night's game against Montreal, he is tied with the former Canadien, Patrick Roy, for most regular-season appearances by a goalie.  (If you click that first link above, you'll see it for yourself - at least if you click before the Devils play Ottawa on Friday, when Brodeur will pass Roy.)

*With one exception - they don't sort the career numbers based on any minimum number of games played, so the "all-time leaders" for the rate stats are pages of guys who played one game in net for their careers.  It can be a hassle to page through those and try to find the actual career guys.

Brodeur got his 103 clean sheets by allowing 2.21 goals per 60 minutes (the goals-against average is the goalie equivalent to a pitcher's ERA).  Sawchuck permitted 2.51.  Does that make Brodeur clearly better?  Is that more a function of the Devils' excellent system?  It's hard to say.  No complete records exist for the numbers of shots Sawchuck faced; we can't be sure what percentage of those he saved.  And from there, it's another step to compare his average to the league average.  Carl Yaztremski hit .301 in 1968, which sounds terrible to us, but he led the AL that year; it's possible that's more impressive than anyone who hit .335 in Coors Field during the steroid era.  To take Roy as an example: he led the league in GAA in 1991-92.  He saved 91.4% of shots against him, and surrendered 2.36 goals per full game; the league averaged 3.48 per team, per game.  Bob Sauve led the league twelve seasons earlier with an identical GAA (save percentage not recorded), with teams averaging 3.52 goals per game.  But nearly overnight, the game changed - in 1999-2000, Roy's 2.28 GAA (and identical .914 sv%) was only good for ninth, in a league where teams only scored 2.75 goals per game.  Was Roy actually better in 2000, or in 1992?

But the data get better every day, as do the tools used to understand them.  Tom Awad at Puck Prospectus has developed something called Goals Versus Threshold, for example.  In brief, it takes offense, defense, and goaltending, separates and quantifies each, and translates it into how many goals that contribution is worth to a team.  It's not easy to calculate, but it's a substantial move forward.  Folks also like the Corsi rating, named for its inventor, former goalie coach Jim Corsi, though like any stat, it's not perfect.**

** I have a book on goalkeeping which has contributions from Corsi, and it's excellent, much like the article on Corsi you can reach by clicking his name above.

As far as the basics?  Start with the unassuming, yet wonderfully-named, Doug Soetart.  Soetart finished his career with a winning record... but his GAA was 3.97.  It's the largest GAA I could find for any keeper who won at least 100 games, and more than he lost.  Even during the superball scoring of his time, it was rare for a guy with much worse numbers to keep playing.

You'll notice that in the few years Soetart's sv% was recorded, it was fairly unremarkable.  Ken Wregget, the longtime Flyer and Penguin (among others), was one of the first keepers who played an entire career with shots and saves officially recorded, and you'll see that he never reached .900 until 1995, and never got under 3 goals per game until three seasons after.  Not coincidentally, these were the beginning of the lower-scoring environments following the loss of half the '94-'95 season.  Wregget only recorded 9 shutouts for his career, and six of those were beyond this cutoff.

There's a lot of examples like this that suggest that a goalie is often dependent on the team in front of him to put up the sorts of statistics that catch attention; it's also part of why a number of people don't automatically call Brodeur the best goalie in history, just because he tops so many all-time lists.  Had the Islanders drafted him in 1990 instead of the Devils, for example, he wouldn't have played behind Scott Stevens, Scott Neidermeyer, Ken Daneyko, and Colin White, but behind Kenny Jonsson, Scott LaChance, Rich Pilon, and Radek Martinek.  Jonsson was a fine defender, but I don't think there's much of a comparison.  (Didn't pick those names at random, either - they're the four defenders who played the most games for those franchises since 1993, when Brodeur came up for good.  And fifth/sixth are Brian Rafalski and Tommy Albelin vs. Eric Cairns and Roman Hamrlik.  Oy.)

The most stark example I could find was old-time Charlie Gardiner, a Scotsman (aye!) who finished his career way back in 1934 with a 2.02 GAA... and a career losing record.  He was one of the last goalies to be named a captain (the NHL forbade it for many years, but recently permitted Vancouver's Roberto Luongo the honor); and won the Stanley Cup his last year while suffering from an illness that eventually killed him; he was named to the Hall of Fame in 1945.  That 2.02 is eye-popping, but the league's teams only scored 2.41 times per game in his last season.  He began his career before forward passing was permitted.  He also played for the so-called "goalless wonders," the Chicago Black Hawks.***

*** The 1906 Chicago White Sox were known as the Hitless Wonders... the '59 AL pennant winners weren't much better.  Maybe it's the city?

At least Gardiner won a title.  More modern (and less successful) examples include:

Doug Favell - 123-153-69, 3.17 GAA.  Started with the expansion Flyers, moved to the dreadful mid-70's Maple Leafs, and ended with the expansion Colorado Rockies.  Played from '67-'79.
Gary Smith - 173-261-74, 3.39 GAA.  A victim of one of the worst squads in NHL history, the late, lamented Oakland/California Seals.  Went 19-34-12 in '69-'70 despite a respectable 3.11 GAA; moved to Vancouver and went 32-24-9 with a 3.09 GAA and six shutouts in '74-'75.  Played from 1965-1980.
Tommy Salo - 210-225-73, 2.55 GAA.  Favored whipping boy of his own GM, "Mad" Mike Milbury (may his name be razed).  Won a gold medal in the 1994 Olympics, then moved to the Islanders, and eventually the Oilers; good enough to shut out 37 NHL opponents from 1994-2004.
Jamie Storr - 85-86-23, 2.54 GAA.  Seventh-overall pick in the 1993 entry draft, and tossed into action too soon behind some mediocre LA Kings squads.  Went 0-8 in his last NHL season to sneak under .500, and now plays in Germany.  Played exactly the same years as Salo.
Ron Tugnutt - 186-239-62, 3.05 GAA.  Another fine example of how the game changes: in 1990-91, Tugger had a 4.05 GAA in 56 games for Quebec; in 1998-99, in the midst of the dead puck era, he led the NHL with a 1.79 GAA in 43 games for Ottawa.  During that 1991 season, he faced 73 shots in a single game against Boston, stopping 70, for one of the greatest ties in league history.  Played from 1987-2004.

On the other end, there's Michel Larocque, who backed up Ken Dryden on the Montreal dynasty teams of the 70's.  He finished 160-89-45 with a 3.33 GAA from 1973-1984; but more accurately, he had two careers: Montreal ('73-'81: 144-48-31, 2.83 GAA,17 SO) and everywhere else ('81-'84: 16-41-14, 5.56 GAA, 0 SO).  Nobody could blame Larocque for playing second fiddle to Hall-of-Famer Dryden, but he failed to beat out Denis Herron in 1980; was supplanted by Richard Sevigny in 1981, and was moved to Toronto.  There he was outdone by backup Vincent Tremblay (out of the NHL by age 24!) and then lost his job to the underrated Mike Palmateer.  His last year was as the third goalie for St Louis, who had Mike Liut and Rick Heinz (who only played 49 games in his career, but now runs a goalie school).  At every stop Larocque was usually a half-goal or more worse per game than his fellow keepers.  The W-L-T record is wildly misleading when compared to his other stats and his teammates.

Two other notables are John Vanbiesbrouck, the all-time winningest US goalie, and Oilers/Sabres/Blues stalwart Grant Fuhr.  Both Hall-of-Famers from the 1981 draft class, with numbers which may pale next to modern keepers, but which were considerable when measured against their peers.  VBK played for mostly forgettable teams and won 30+ games only once, leading the league with 31 in 1985-86; Fuhr was the keeper for the Oilers dynasties in the mid-late 80's, and thus won more often; but his career GAA and sv% were worse and he had fewer shutouts (3.38, .887, and 25 SO against 2.98, .889, and 40 SO for Beezer).  He also had two fewer cool nicknames, though that wasn't his fault - "Grant Fuhr" is simple and memorable, and no reporter wants to spell "Vanbiesbrouck" five times, especially in the days when "cut and paste" involved an X-acto knife and Elmer's glue.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sharp-saving

This started ten days ago... I read about Hawerchuk's quick item here at Tango's site.  It's devoted mostly to baseball and sabermetrics - excellent for fans and students alike.  The art of recording and analyzing hockey data is jumping forward, and Tango posts a couple of times a week on it.

In any case, I stuck a comment out there... and, like most of my comments in places like this, it made no visible impact.  I don't mind that, actually, since what I don't know about advanced statistics could fill a typical introductory textbook on the subject, no matter what the real standings posts may say.  But I do find it interesting to follow the topics as they develop and see other people who may have thought along similar lines, and see what they post about it.
It is not surprising that winning teams tend to have higher save percentages, but this save percentage split is much larger than normal (this year goalies have averaged .939 in all wins and .873 in all losses). Even though these teams outshot their opponents by a 2-to-1 margin on average, they still lost 40% of the time. This indicates that often a goalie does not have a low save percentage because of a low shot total, but rather that he has a low shot total because of a low save percentage.
Emphasis mine, just to highlight the similarity to what I'd written last week:
Those two trends seem to suggest that stopping a high percentage of shots is what pushes the totals higher, not the reverse. In his four worst save % performances of the year, [Cam] Ward was yanked every time, meaning that he didn’t play well enough to be allowed the chance to face a lot of shots - in much the same way as a pitcher getting smacked around doesn’t get a lot of IPs.
Incidentally, the author of that Puck Prospectus piece, Phil Myrland, blogs at the provocatively-titled Brodeur is a Fraud.  Many of his sidebar links go to other worthy, puck-oriented writers (haven't checked them all).  At this rate I may need a separate hockey section of the blogroll.

If all this puck talk bores you, I do apologize.  I haven't the energy to risk much more right now.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Clone cars

I was glancing through this slideshow and, when I saw Honda's P-NUT concept car, I felt something... a presence I'd not felt since...





It's a trap! We can't repel mileage of that magnitude!

Whose Idea Was This?

Was Joan Baez booked?

There's no reason to apologize for supporting U.S. war efforts, American country singer Toby Keith said Friday, just hours before performing at the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert.

Keith, whose 2002 saber-rattling hit "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" was inspired by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said he stands by President Barack Obama's decision to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Keith's appearance at the downtown Oslo Spektrum arena, scheduled for 1900 GMT (2 p.m. EST), has been questioned by Norwegians dismayed that a performer known for a fervent pro-war anthem is playing at a show focused on peace.

Toby Keith is one of the most politically incorrect country singers around. He would be the last guy I would expect to be invited to play at the Nobel Peace Prize concert.

I guess Europeans like country music because, Toby played there last year as well.

Real Standings 4½ - now with value-added commentary!

I'm running this earlier than usual so the links below wouldn't grow stale.  The standings are updated through Thursday's action. -nf

As a twist, I've added an additional line to the end of the tables, which you will see at the end - the teams are still sorted the way the NHL wants them to be, but next to "actual points" is a new column labelled 3-1-0.  That simply means, three points for a win, one for a tie, and nothing for a loss.

I love the idea behind the system, in that it would assess a premium on winning the game.  I'd extend overtime to ten minutes, or even a full period (twenty minutes), to further increase the chances for a decision, and scrap the shootout, because it's inherently unfair to have teams cop extra points on a skills competition after the game is finished - especially one that is more luck than skill. Teams would definitely push for more wins, even at the cost of an occasional loss: 1-1 would be better than 0-0-2; heck, 3-5 would be better than 0-0-8. Notice how, below, the Sabres would be well ahead of the Bruins, on the strength of having four more wins?  That's the idea - reward teams that win their games, knowing that ties are no longer an option in the playoffs.






The only downside is that, at the extremes, it could become almost as unfair as the system it replaces.

Assume two teams go to OT every game. One goes all out for every point and finishes 30-52 for 90 points. The other tries to stall for the sure point every time, only countering in the most obvious situations (blocks leading to breakaways, for example). They split their games with the all-out team, draw everything else, and finish 3-3-76 for 85 points.

A team that has 49 more losses than another would look very odd indeed above them in the standings, even given the 27 more wins. Not that either would make the playoffs anyway, but to take a less extreme example - say the same two teams with 20 OT games each, not an unheard-of total.  They each go 40-22 in regulation, but the tie-up team takes its 20 draws, while the all-outers split their games 7-13. The 47-35 team will finish ahead of the 40-22-20 team by one point.  That could be a problem.

One compromise is to muddle up the two systems - three for a win, nothing for a loss, but only for regulation and overtime.  Once the game gets to a shootout, each team gets a point, with the successful team (it could hardly be called a "win") gets the third point.  The standings would look odd: just as an example:

A. 35-30 (12- 5) 134
B. 38-34 ( 7- 3) 131
C. 34-28 ( 7-13) 129
D. 33-33 (10- 6) 125
E. 30-30 (11-11) 123

That's regulation record (shootout record) total points, where the total points equals 3*wins + 2*SO wins + SO losses.  It looks odd, but people would get used to it if you broke it up in pairs like that; but I dislike it for a different reason.  If you go through it and subtract shootout losses from the total points, you would make just one change: team C would finish behind team D, which would be more fair, because D's winning percentage (43/82, .524) is better than C's (41/82, .500).  Whenever possible, we want the teams winning more often to be the playoff teams, because in the playoffs, it's win or lose, no pity points, and no pat on the back for hanging in there for 60 or 65 minutes.

The thing is, nobody - NOBODY - complained that the 2-1-0 system was unfair.  They complained that there were too many ties, that the ends of games were boring.  The league added the five-minute regular-season OT in response, but ties didn't go down "enough," so they cooked up solutions to a problem that really didn't exist, and made it worse.  All the fixes debated above, and elsewhere in the hockey world, have varying merits, but the simplest fix would simply be to go back to the old, not-really-broken system... just make the OT a real hockey period, sudden death, and not the five-minute afterthought we currently have.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Das Leben der Anderen

or The Lives of Others.

The story of the Stasi (the East German secret police) monitoring a playwright and his actress girlfriend circa 1984. These lefties who think that the old Soviet Union was the greatest thing since sliced bread need to see this movie.

German with English subtitles. Maybe twenty years ago I could have gotten by without subtitles, but not today.

One scene of nudity, but it's not porn. It's actually quite depressing.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Difference Between Tiger Woods and Max Baucus

Tiger pays off his mistresses with his own money.

In nominating his girlfriend for the job of U.S. attorney, Montana Sen. Max Baucus didn't disclose the relationship to the White House, Montana's other senator or a local attorney tapped to review potential candidates, several people involved in the process said Sunday.

Dana Christensen, a Montana lawyer who reviewed Mr. Baucus's recommendations for the post, said in an interview Sunday that he didn't know that one of the six applicants, Melodee Hanes, had a personal relationship with Mr. Baucus, a Democrat.

It may be his personal business, but when former NJ governor McGreevey put his boyfriend on the state payroll, when SC governor Sanford disappears for a week and may have used state assets to "hike the Appalachian Trail", and when a US senator tries to hook his girlfriend up with a federal prosecutor billet, then it becomes the people's business.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Classic (Standings) IV

Your Eastern Conference:



And your Western Conference:



This week's charts highlights one of the big downsides to the pity-point system: the playoff races aren't as tight.  Five of the six divisions would have closer races if the league still scored under its previous rules.  Only the Central Division would be otherwise, as Chicago's lead over Nashville and Detroit would move from five and six points to six and eight points.  The Southeast and Northeast are the strongest the other way - Washington's nine-point edge over Atlanta would be a less-comfortable five, and in the old Adams Division (the Northeast), Boston's lead over Buffalo would actually be a deficit.  That's rather a huge deal.  Instead of the third seed as the weakest division winner (and a home-ice advantage over sixth-seeded Buffalo), the Bruins would slide all the way to seventh, and have to open the playoffs on the road, against Ovechkin and the Capitals.

Further, it's harder to make up ground in the new system.  Not only are certain teams further behind than otherwise, but to make up that extra distance, they have to hope the teams ahead of them don't scrape points after regulation.  That just makes it harder.  On the surface it's more exciting to look at the standings and see your team at or above .500, a thrill that 80% of the league currently enjoys.  It's not so much of a thrill, however, when you realize that even a great run isn't likely to move you up in the standings so long as the teams you chase are getting extra points from a skills competition after the actual games end.  Think of the Columbus Blue Jackets and their fans.  13-11-5 sounds better than 11-11-7... except now they're eleventh in the conference, well out of the playoffs.  They have to pass Vancouver and Detroit and catch Dallas, currently eighth.  But in the old system, they'd already be ahead of Detroit, and they'd only be behind Dallas by one win (31 points to 29).  They could do that on Wednesday against Florida, who are fairly poor.  Oh, but not now... and not with Dallas' Marty Turco leading all goaltenders in overtime games.  If he wasn't 1-5 in shootouts, it would be even worse.

(OK, to be fair, Columbus has Steve Mason, who is the only goalie in the league currently WORSE than Turco in the shootout this season.  But is it fair to either team to have it come to this?)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Tiger Woods, Job Creator

Full disclosure: the guy posting this flunked out of the Accounting Department at Rutgers.

Tiger Woods is a job creator. Would Nike even have a golf division if Tiger didn't exist? Nike pays him millions because he moves product. People need to be hired to make and sell the product Tiger moves. Tiger, therefore creates jobs. Sadly, Tiger's current issues prevented him from going to the White House for the jobs photo op and tell this to a president who appears to be ignorant of these things.

Tiger Woods makes money for the other golfers he beats. There are many people (I am one of them) who only watch golf to see Tiger. Tiger sells more tickets and gets more eyeballs watching commercials. Tournaments get more revenue from sponsors and ticket sales. Organizers can raise the prize money. You may have finished fourth, but you made more money than if you finished third in a Tigerless world.

Two things I think of when I hear chuckleheads saying higher taxes for those making $250K per year or greater won't affect them. First I wonder which commandment talks about coveting what is not yours. Then I think, "You chuckleheads! Obama's taking money from the customers of your employer!" A central air system installed right starts at $5K. Fewer people are going to be able to pony of that kind of dough if they have to hand more over to the US Treasury. What does a tax increase on the rich mean to guys like me? Bye-bye overtime, and maybe 40hrs per week as well. And chucklehead wonders why he got laid off.

You guys who know more about this stuff are welcome to correct any faulty thinking I may have. Remember, I flunked out of Accounting at RU.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tiger, Tiger burning bright

Keep your way far from her And do not go near the door of her house,
Or you will give your vigor to others And your years to the cruel one ;
And strangers will be filled with your strength And your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien ;
And you groan at your final end, When your flesh and your body are consumed ;

Proverbs 5:8-11

Not a whole lot has changed in the 3000 years since these words were written. And from what we know of the writer he didn't follow his own advice.

The technology makes things more interesting. Bathsheba never had any text messages or voicemail to hang over King David's head. And maybe a rewrite where the poor guy loses his hard-earned goods to the cocktail waitress.

For a guy who is world famous, Tiger has worked hard to mind his own business. He's never been on MSNBC calling me a teabagger or a racist. He has done nothing to harm the economy. In fact, he has probably created more jobs than the other public figures mentioned on this blog. Hopefully he can get his family back together.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The real standings, hopefully improved

These images should at least be larger and more legible - I uploaded each conference as a separate image. Blogger lets me make each individual picture a bit bigger, with better resolution, if I do that rather than upload the whole shebang as a unit.

A table would be the gold standard, however. Hm... in a series of posts mocking the league's pity points, my method could at best be described as a shootout loss - thus deserving of a pity point itself. At least I've successfully employed the concept of irony in my blogging.

Nonetheless I will still decry; heck, at least I'm trying to improve. The NHL seems more than happy about their system, and I think I see why. Say you're Commissioner Garrison Keillor Gary Bettman.  You have to interest a non-market such as Phoenix to accept a transplanted team like the Winnipeg Jets, who finished the 1993-94 season a dreadful 24-51-9.  Or, let's say you're trying to expand into new markets... but your expansion Tampa Bay Lightning were less than an exemplary example - that's 17-55-10 in '97-98 and 19-54-9 in '98-99.  Yeah, who wants in?

So, the very next year, Bettman introduces an overtime loss column.  Instead of Tampa duplicating its 19-54-9 record, it gets to say it was 19-47-9-7.  Voila!  And the brand-new Atlanta Thrashers avoid 60 losses by moving four of them to this OTL column.  Huzzah!  So what if these points wind up costing the Carolina Hurricanes (37-35-10) a playoff spot in favor of the inferior Buffalo Sabres (35-36-11, but four of the losses were in OT)?  And by 2001-02, there were no 50-loss teams in the league; or, scratch that, there were three, but only if you actually count the OTL as an L.  And the year after that, 27 of the 30 teams could say, hey, we got points in more than half our games!  Somehow only three NHL teams managed to lose 40 or more games.

The extra column drove purists crazy, but it kept the owners happy.  Nobody wants to say they were well-below .500, so the extra points were a godsend.  Then, after they blew up the 2004-2005 season, they came back with the shootout - because if points for losing was good, then points for winning after the game was over was doubleplusgood!

As a result you have the table below, where 24 out of 30 teams are .500 or better.  Everybody's above-average!





Well... not Carolina. Even their pity-point record is 5-17-5; it's almost impossible to be that bad under any circumstance. That translates into a full-year record of 15-51-15 with one game to play; even under the old rules, it's a record of futility that few teams have matched.  But under the old rules, the 'Canes would be 2-19-6.  There's just no way to sugar-coat that.  It's epically bad, a SIX WIN pace.  Even if they could scrape the seventh win in the last game, that's a full-year of 7-57-18, and only the ties would keep them from being possibly the worst team in the history of the league.  Their seven wins would break the old 1975 Washington Capitals record for the fewest in the expansion era.

Okay, Van Owen

I felt uncomfortable using four dead police officers to slam Huckabee. Which is why I haven't blogged it. Also, Huckabee's was the first stumble in a long line of stumbles that kept the killer on the streets.

But there is some comfort now that no more tax dollars will be used to feed and house the savage who committed these crimes.

Michelle Malkin (who happens to be from my home town of Absecon, NJ) has a roundup.

What she shows is a guy who was very generous with commutations, especially if one could push the buttons of his Christian compassion.

Maybe, as a pastor, Huckabee displayed a trait which is commendable in clergy but a problem for a governor (or president). Romans 13 says the king does not bear the sword for nothing; his duty is to punish the wicked. Perhaps Pastor Mike doesn't have it in him to fulfill that duty.

One more thought. According to Michelle, Huckabee has granted clemency to 703 convicts, including a dozen murderers. Clemmons and Wayne Dumond we know about, but how many more are out there?