Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Programming Note

This blog has been replaced by an even better blog. You may find it here. Or you may not, I don't know, I don't run the internet.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Predictions

Two of the oldest NFL franchises. Two of the most aggressive defenses. Two of the most challenging quarterbacks. Two of the best fan bases. Green Bay. Pittsburgh.

It will be a battle for the ages. So how will it go down?

Steeler Offense vs. Packer Defense

The Packer defense has consistently shown up, game after game. With stalwarts like Raji holding the line, Matthews rushing the passer, Woodson covering the slot, and a couple of young talented corners, the Packer defense has playmakers at every level. But how do they stack up to the Steelers offense?

Up front, the Steelers have a patchwork line with only one original starter, left guard Chris Kemoeatu. However, despite the injury bug, this unit of backups has jelled down the stretch, and is playing decent football. The Steelers have also used extra tight ends to shore up pass coverage and to run the ball. Green Bay's defense is strongest against the pass, and I think they can be run on. Pittsburgh showed last week against the Jets that even without Pro-Bowl center Markice Pouncey, Mendenhall can still scratch out yards in chunks.

The Steelers have exceptional strength under center, with arguably the strongest QB in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger. His size, strength, and mobility can frustrate pass rushers, but his patchwork protection can leave him vulnerable at times. Against Green Bay's elite secondary, and strong pass rush, I expect Ben to have a challenging day, and to take multiple sacks.

Speaking of the Packer secondary, they are perhaps the best in the NFL. Look for them to play the pass with an extra corner back. Pittsburgh's wide receivers will have a hard time separating, so look for Ben to target mismatches with his rookie recievers, Sanders and Brown, as well as tight end Heath Miller.

I predict the Packers will limit the Steeler's passing attack, while having trouble stopping the run. Though Pittsburgh's offensive line is in shambles, they have proven they can still win in the trenches.

Packer Offense vs. Steeler Defense

Aaron Rodgers has become the hottest name in football, and deservedly so. He has pinpoint accuracy, great movement, and terrific speed for a quarterback. Pittsburgh has struggled against top-flight QBs, losing to both Tom Brady and Drew Brees in the regular season. Look for Rodgers and his great receivers to attack Pittsburgh's mediocre secondary.

Up front, Green Bay's line has struggled to protect Rodgers. The sack numbers don't show it, as Rodgers is talented at evading the rush and making the play, but he has spent a great deal of time this season running from pass rushers. His speed and ability to make plays on the run make him very dangerous regardless of his protection, so containment with pressure will be the key for Pittsburgh's defensive front.

Remember, those Pittsburgh front seven have become one of the best in NFL history at stopping the run. Green Bay lost their star running back early in the season, but have been riding back-up James Starks through the playoffs. He runs strong, with conviction, but he hasn't faced a defense like this before. I see the Green Bay running game being fairly limited in the contest, relying on Rodgers using the pass to set up the run.

Ultimately, the Packers will have success through the air, but will struggle in the run game unless it can force the Steelers into a nickle defense.

Special Teams

Both teams have struggled on special teams this year, so I see this matchup to be relatively even. Steelers have had some success with Antonio Brown returning kicks, but he's certainly no Devin Hester. A big play by either team on special teams is possible, and could greatly affect the outcome.

As for kickers, neither are top of the class. Both are adequate, but don't expect great accuracy on field goals or long kickoffs for touchbacks.

My Prediction

These teams are mirror images of each other. Elite 3-4 defenses, mobile playmaking quarterbacks, and talented wide receivers. Both teams emphasize developing draft picks over trading for free agents. Both come from old football towns with incredible fans. Both poised to win the biggest game in football. But only one can be crowned champion.

Very little separates these teams. Green Bay can score points through the air, and Pittsburgh can score points on the ground. Green Bay has enough talent to beat Pittsburgh, but ultimately, I think it comes down to Pittsburgh's experience in the big game mixed with the ability to ground and pound. It will be close, but even if it comes down to the final drive, no one has proven he can finish playoff games better than Ben Roethlisberger.

My pick: Steelers, in a thriller.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fuck You Comcast

The Net Neutrality debate is about to heat up again, as Comcast strong arms Netflix's delivery company, Level 3, into paying higher fees to deliver content that Comcast's internet subscribers have requested.

Comcast is using its monopoly status to exact rents from Level 3 and Netflix. Many people in this country have no option when choosing an ISP. In my town, only Time Warner is available. Since there is little to no competition in the ISP arena, Comcast is able to extract unreasonable fees from content providers.

Comcast subscribers are already paying for the bandwidth, that's what their monthly payment is for. But Comcast wants to squeeze more money out of their crooked system by charging companies like Level 3 extra to provide content that Comcast customers have requested.

Internet customers are paying to have the data they want delivered to them. Had Level 3 not given in to Comcast's demands, Comcast would have breached their agreement with their subscribers by blocking Netflix content. They can do this because they know their subscribers have no other options for broadband internet.

It's a racket, it's anti-competitive, it's anti-net-neutrality, and it is illegal. The FCC needs to do it's job and prevent monopolies like Comcast from controlling what their customers can and can't get online.

When Unemployment Runs Out, the Unemployed Get Cranky

Q: How can a government that has done such a horrible job of managing the economy keep its citizens from revolting en masse?

A: Spend like there's no tomorrow.

Unfortunately for the government, and the unemployed masses, tomorrow is almost here.

In December, the unemployment extension, which allowed people to continue receiving unemployment benefits for 99 weeks after losing their jobs, will run out, immediately dropping tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans from the unemployment rolls, and eventually dropping many more.

Up until now, the government has managed to keep a lid on the anger of Americans by keeping the unemployed fed with foodstamps and kept money in their pockets with extended unemployment benefits. But these are stopgap measures that count on a rebounding economy to get people back to work. However, our economy shows little signs of a rebound, and people continue to lose their jobs.

In an era when banks receive billions of federal dollars for a job poorly done, Americans are fully justified in their anger towards their government. Our economy is crumbling while our legislators twiddle their thumbs, while devising new ways to reward corporate failure.

Now that the unemployed are about to feel the full force of the crappy situation we're in, we can expect their anger to grow.

Notice that even though this is the worst economy since the Great Depression, we haven't seen any bread lines or droves of unemployed workers flooding the streets. This is a testament to the effectiveness of food stamps and unemployment checks at hiding the devastation. But once we run out of money for those programs, things will get ugly.

I'm not thrilled about the prospect of a breakdown of social order, but this is the bed we made, and come December, we will have to lay in it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Higher Taxes Won't Reduce the Deficit

Politicians claim we need to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, but history shows that higher taxes have always lead to even higher spending.

In the late 1980s, one of us, Richard Vedder, and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University co-authored a often-cited research paper for the congressional Joint Economic Committee (known as the $1.58 study) that found that every new dollar of new taxes led to more than one dollar of new spending by Congress. Subsequent revisions of the study over the next decade found similar results.

We've updated the research. Using standard statistical analyses that introduce variables to control for business-cycle fluctuations, wars and inflation, we found that over the entire post World War II era through 2009 each dollar of new tax revenue was associated with $1.17 of new spending. Politicians spend the money as fast as it comes in—and a little bit more.

The only option left is to cut spending, but we already knew that, didn't we?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Walking the Walk

Politicians in Washington are great at talking the talk. It gets them elected, it gets them soundbites on TV news, and it convinces their constituents to continue supporting them.

But now it is time to walk the walk. The conservative swing in this year's election has been an indictment of overspending in Washington. The Tea party formed in direct response to corporate giveaways and budget busting entitlements. The mission for Congress this session is clear:


And now it is time for them to walk the walk. It is easy for a conservative to call for lower taxes and spending, but the process of actually cutting things from government is anything but simple. It will be an uphill battle with deep political consequences. Nobody wants to lose their access to the Federal Gravy Train. But it must be done.

So let's do it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A thousand words

I like it for three reasons.

1. I am personally enraged by redundant, time consuming paperwork.
2. Reducing paperwork means increasing freedom and economic efficiency.
3. I really want to reach out and squeeze those scissors

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Fed Conjurs Up $600 Billion

In an effort to support sagging interest in US Treasuries, the Federal Reserve has resorted to what they call "quantitative easing" which is a fancy way of saying creating new money out of thin air.

What they are effectively doing is monetizing the losses by both the banking sector and the federal government, by which I mean stealing wealth from every person who holds US dollars to pay for boneheaded mistakes at the highest levels of power.

The Fed has couched this new money magic in a false effort to, well, I don't know what bullshit they're spinning this time. Increase demand, increase lending, reduce interest rates, support the stock market, stimulate the economy. Whatever, don't believe them. This is yet more trickery to hide the fact that America is in a deep, deep hole.

It's as if the Chilean miners were given massive doses of hallucinogenic drugs to help them forget that they were buried thousands of feet below ground. Unfortunately, the drugs eventually wear off, and you're still 2,300 feet underground.

On the news of fresh, new money, stocks jumped, as did gold and silver. The new money shocked the stock market up sharply, and the loss of faith in the dollar pushed more investors into already inflated gold and silver.

Those in the know can see right through the Fed's trickery and are making out like bandits. Everybody else is getting royally screwed, but probably don't even know it.

The Fed is playing roulette with the wealth of an entire nation. The fact that so few people are outraged is proof that Americans are woefully uninformed about their own monetary system.

Or, as Henry Ford once said, "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tea Partiers Come to Polls in Droves

Tea Party Fever sweeps the nation as conservative candidates across America win a multitude of races against liberal opponents.

When asked for an explanation of the poll results, Democratic Strategist Melanie Kessler had this to say, "I honestly didn't think those rubes would be able to find the polling places. It's probably the result of some Fox News propoganda ploy."

President Obama was equally baffled by the mid-term results, "These morons don't know how much we're doing for them. We're helping you, dip-shits! I can't understand why they'd vote against us."

As conservatives re-take the House of Representatives, Democratic strategists attempt to regroup with a new round of initiatives. "Americans were clearly dissatisfied with the level of spending in the bank bailouts, stimulus programs, and health care reform. So we've come up with a bill that will outspend all of those put together. Try and vote against THAT come 2012!"

Minorities and the disabled have already begun barricading themselves inside their homes, in preparation of the coming onslaught. "They're comin to kill me, I know it," said black man Ronnie Jackson. Wheelchair guy Chris Ingle was equally frightened, "I heard they used guys like me as hunting decoys."

Keith Olbermann could not be reached for comment, as his head exploded. One camera, two microphones, and a lighting fixture were damaged in the blast. Luckily, no one was watching.