January 31, 2015

Saturday Learning Series - Superbowl Edition (Part 2)

Earlier today, the Saturday Learning Series turned it's attention to football. Why not, the big game is tomorrow and a lot of people watching will not be familiar with some of the concepts they'll see during the game, and watching like that, the plays can seem like random mad scrambles with no strategy behind what's going on. Nothing could be further from the truth. Football is a highly strategic sport and is as much chess match as it is physical contest.

Bearing that in mind, let's now take a look at the basics on the offensive side of the football, starting with the offensive formations:

Because there are so many types of plays that can be run on offense, it's impossible to provide a compact explanation. But let's start with the really basic notion that in order to advance the ball down the field to score points, an offense can either run the football by carrying it, or by making a forward pass and catch to cover more ground in less time (theoretically). There are different styles or approaches on offense and these styles are what you are more likely to hear about during any football game. The common types we are going to look at are the Vertical Offense, The West Coast Offense, The Option (or Read Option), and The Pistol.

Unfortunately, there aren't as many clear and simple videos on offense to the highly fluid nature of the options available as well as the interpretations as to what qualifies as what. So if you are keen to learn this stuff, you'll have to sit through some verbiage.

The Vertical Offense

The vertical offense (a type of spread offense) is one designed to spread the defense out so that they have to cover the whole field. That means deep and shallow, passing and running. Luckily there's video for this one. Firstly there's the vertical passing game, then the accompanying vertical style run game (in a spread focused offense).


The West Coast Offense:

From the NFL itself, the West Coast offense was one of the Top 10 things that changed the game.  Here`s a brief but basic comparison of the West Coast versus the Vertical offense.


The Read Option Offense:

This offense relies on the Quarterback reading the defense and selecting which option to sue depending on how the defenders react;
The most common option scheme in the NFL is run out of a one-back look from the shotgun or pistol alignment with the running back on the inside zone and the quarterback “reading” the initial path of the edge defender (defensive end, outside linebacker) through the mesh point.

With zone blocking up front, the quarterback can give the ball to the running back (dive) or keep (pull) based on his “read” of the unblocked edge defender.

If the edge defender crashes on the dive, the quarterback will pull the ball and press to the outside. If the edge defender stays up the field or “slow plays” the mesh point (lateral shuffle to play both dive and keep), the quarterback can hand the ball to the back.

The Pistol:

Here`s what Bleacher Report says about the Pistol Offense;
...Chris Ault had installed himself as head coach two years before and his new "Pistol" offense one year before. Ault wanted to combine the passing strength of a spread-out shogun offense with the power running game of a traditional I-formation.

Ault shortened the shotgun snap, placing his quarterback four or five yards behind the line of scrimmage and the running back directly behind the quarterback...

The short distance between quarterback and center allows for a much faster snap, and the short distance between running back and quarterback allows for quick handoffs and fast-developing run plays. The quarterback still gets an eagle-eye view of the defense, though, without standing so far back that he doesn't pose a threat to run.
And here's a video breakdown.


And there you have it, a brief primer of some of the basics of football offenses.

Saturday Learning Series - Superbowl Edition (Part 1)

Since the Superbowl is tomorrow, it seems like a good time to educate potential casual viewers as well as some more seasoned fans, including myself, on some of the less well known and understood aspects of the game.

The first piece today will provide you some information on the different sort of defensive formations and terms you are likely to hear about during tomorrow's game.  Let's start with a really good and informative video on the different positions and roles.


Next let's look at a few common types of defense: The Nickel defense, the dime package, the cover 2, and the blitz.

The nickel defense - extra pass coverage:


Dime defense - Why run it? A sure passing situation (1 of 4):


Dime defense - positioning the players (2 of 4):

Dime defense - How to run a dime defense, double coverage (3 of 4):

Dime defense - Rushing the QB (4 of 4):

The Cover 2:


And finally probably the best simplified description of all, Football Sheology;s explanation of the Blitz:

January 29, 2015

Cuba is making demands now? Here's why Obama will cave.

A couple of stories on Drudge Report regarding the attempt by Obama to normalize relations with Cuba, caught my eye this morning.

In order to normalize relations, Cuba is demanding (yes, demanding) that the U.S. embargo of Cuba be fully lifted. But that's not all. Cuba is insisting that the U.S. return Guantanamo to Cuban control to have relations return to normal.

While the latter demand plays right into Obama's 2008 campaign promise to close the detention center there, it goes a step further and I'm curious as to whether this is a significant part of Obama's agenda on Cuba. He's going to engage enemies and close Guantanamo (because Cuba demanded it as part of the negotiations). How cute. I bet he thinks he's killed two birds with one stone.

But not so fast there Cuba. And Obama. What about that embargo. Is the U.S. just going to lift that free of charge,especially considering what the U.S. will be getting in return - squat. No human rights improvements in the country. No real trade benefits except for perhaps better cigars is implicit in this deal.

So why do it, and how many in the U.S. Senate are going to balk at ratifying a treaty that gives the U.S. nothing? I have two thoughts on that.

Firstly, if a treaty goes to the Senate for ratification, it requires a supermajority to pass. That's not going to happen but very likely will happen is a vote along party lines. And that could be exactly what Obama wants and he'll want it precisely before the 2016 elections, where he and (presumably) Hillary Clinton can complain that once again the Republicans are the party of 'NO'.

How do Republicans avoid this? Not bringing it up for a vote at all prevents it from passing but keeps the meme of GOP = NO alive. They could try to get bipartisan support to vote against passage of the treaty into law. Given the poltical importance for 2016, that may be impossible. We've seen the Democrats far too often converge around issues they clearly don't agree upon because they believe it will help the party. So that leaves one possible line of defense. I'm not even sure in the case of reaties that this is legal, but what I would do is attach so many riders to the passage of the treaty that it becomes unpalatable to the president. Repeal Obacare, pass Keystone, reverse Dodd-Frank. Anything you can think of adding, add.

Of course the instant media meme will be that the Republicans are trying manipulate passage and that they are either still obstructionist or else being unreasonable in their demands. But therein lies the opportunity to respond that the president had promised he would try to work together to get bi-partisan compromise and that because there has been none, this is the last opportunity during this administration to make something like that happen. If the president really wants this, then come to the bargaining table and finally talk to us. Repeat it. Often. Play clips of "I won" type comments from 2008 to the present and let people know, that's not post-partisan, and every Democrat who is knuckling under to this one-way deal, including Clinton/Warren/Biden is a partisan hack who is not open to compromise and will continue to poison the air in Washington during the next administration.

Boom.

One other thought I had on this is "Why Cuba"? Why not Iran? I'm sure Obama would like to be friendlier to that rogue nation as well. Evidence dates back to his early apology tour. The answer to that is pretty obvious. Cuba has been so unimportant over the last 50 years (post missle crisis) that it seems almost inconsequntial to strike a deal. The reason that Cuba has been so inconsequential? The embargo. It worked to keep a communist nation from becoming important geo-politically.

So, there's that.

Thursday Hillary Bash - The Coronation Awaits

Yep, it's a coronation. Hillary Clinton is delaying her campaign because she doesn't need to start yet. No competition is forthcoming.

Via Politico this morning, the following story about Hillary delaying her announcement to run for president by 3 full months. Why? She doesn't need to do it yet because the field is wide open for her.
Hillary Clinton, expecting no major challenge for the Democratic nomination, is strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July, three months later than originally planned, top Democrats tell POLITICO.

The delay from the original April target will give her more time to develop her message, policy and organization, without the chaos and spotlight of a public campaign.

...A huge advantage to waiting is that Clinton postpones the time when she goes before the public as a politician rather than as a former secretary of state. Polling by both Democrats and Republicans shows that one of her biggest vulnerabilities is looking political.
Silly me. Here I was thinking her biggest vulnerability was her lack of a meaningful resume or maybe an astounding lack of real qualification for the job.  

Please America do me a favor (not to mention the world, and yourself), do not elect another superficial senator for president.

January 23, 2015

January 21, 2015

A partial list of "Don't Care"s

President Obama delivered his latest State of the Union speech, replete with calls for more taxes, calls for more co-operation followed by insults and taunts directed towards Republicans.  He's done anyway. Don't care.

The New England Patriots balls were too small. Apparently they were under pressured and not regulation.  So what? Do you believe that accounts for 35 of New England's points in the game versus the Colts? I don't.  Don't Care.

A new poll is out indicating GOP voters are at best lukewarm to both Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney attempt #3.  Voters don't care.   It's an early poll so I don't care.

Negotiators are headed to Cuba from the U.S. to discuss human rights among other things.  Cuba's dictatorial communist regime is surely laughing at America right now.  They aren't going to change.  They don't care about the same things as Americans - things like liberty and free speech.  But this isn't going to get all that far all that fast.  When Marco Rubio is president and reverses course on this, it won't matter.  So I don't care. [For the sarcasm-challenged, don't buy the Rubio comment above]

Joe Biden's threatening to contest Hillary Clinton's coronation next year. Do I need to say it? Don't care.  In fact, no one does, including Biden's family.

Academy Award nominations (and SAG awards, and Emmy's and People's Choice etc.) - DO NOT CARE.

The NASA assertion that the earth had it`s warmest year in 2014 was only made with 38% certainty.  Nobody should care. Lick your finger, stick it in the air and test the wind.  Your resulting scientific model is about as viable as anything they've postulated so far. Don't Care,

50% of the world`s wealth held by 1%.  Is that fact supposed to astound us? I bet the ratio 100 years ago was far worse.  Ancient Egypt?  Forget about it. If you don't like it, do something about it.  And by that I mean, innovate, not complain and pout. Don't Care.

Are there more things I don't care about?  Yes.  But I don't care enough to write about them just now.

January 19, 2015

2 New Planets Found: Biden and Clinton

It's a mere mathematical assumption at this point, but two more planets apparently exist in our solar system. I personally have always suspected that the gas giant Biden will be the next discovery,.  Then, the farthest planet to be found from the light of the sun, will be a coreless planet named Hillary.

The guy who normalized relations with Cuba

It seems a lot like the president's decision to normalize relations with Cuba are nothing more than something else he can put on his "list of accomplishments".  50 years from now if things are good with Cuba, president Obama expects it will be his name that gets appended to the positive news.  It overlooks the likelihood that every piece of geo-political clean-up, and every difficult hurdle that comes with trying to make this work, will be thrust upon Obama's successors.

He doesn't care.  He's working on his name for posterity.  Nothing more, And by nothing more, I mean zero thought given to implications, consequences or soundness of the decisions being made.

January 16, 2015

The right to disrespectfully disagree

Culled from the articles on HotAir, a recent Allahpundit entry discusses a poll that indicates only 36% of Americans believe that they have the right to blaspheme religion.

The problem? Of course you have the right to blaspheme. The real question is whether it's a good idea or not. The real problem as Allahpundit points out is the high number of "I don't know" answers. Yes people could be interpreting the question to mean should you do it.

Other than that Allahpundit does his level best to try and interpret the results. The problem is, there's too little information - about how the question was asked, the wording itself, respondents' views on religion and on civics, their knowledge of their rights - to explain it.

My takeaway from the survey is that it is a single dot in the snapshot of the American political and/or moral and/or civics landscape and as a standalone exercise it means and explains very, very little and can be disregarded. For now.

That aside, everyone has the right to disagree with the precepts of any religion. They have the right to do so respectfully or disrespectfully. The decision to do so disrespectfully should be carefully considered and not undertaken lightly. To insult someone has consequences. Those consequences should come in the form of counter argument, boycotts, perhaps even shaming. But to voice your opinion is, pardon the reference, a God-given right. No terror group can take it away from you. ISIS and Al Qaida believe they have that right, indeed obligation to do so. It would appear a number of Americans require a reminder, or a lesson, that such is not the case.

Al Qaida becoming the MySpace of terrorism?

In a bid to remain relevant, Al Qaida is claiming responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last week.

Al Qaida's fading prominence may have been the rationale behind the attacks moreso than the specifics about offense to the prophet Mohammed.

Like MySpace, Al Qaida we just don't care about you any more. There's a bigger threat and a broader issue to deal with. You are now part of the scenery of the problem, not the entire problem.

Frost quakes?

Frost quakes sound like a breakfast cereal to me. But they aren't.

In fact they're something akin to an earthquake, and they're real. While a frost quake is not an actual earthquake, it's a similar, far more localized effect accompanied by a loud boom that results from water in the ground freezing rapidly due to a sudden cold snap. It can cause the frozen ground to crack suddenly and create a boom along with some tremors.

Of course it's already been linked by some to global warming. The notion that global cooling is explained by global warming is ridiculous. The notion that every little climate event is a result of global warming is ridiculous. The notion that all climate change is man-made is ridiculous and full of smug self-importance. People believing that meteorologists who cannot get the weather predictions right for next week have solved the model for predicting future climate shifts 10 to 100 years from now is so ridiculous that it is laughable.

Why rant about it now? Because NASA and the NOAA are busy trying to convince us that 2014 was the warmest year on record. If anyone is still buying the veracity of this type of hysteria as science, have I got a bridge for you.

Friday Musical Interlude - Boom Clap

Boom Clap by Charli XCX.

January 13, 2015

The problem with GOP primary voters is...

...that they just love the front runners from last time around.  How else do you explain Mitt Romney leading the Iowa straw poll? The good news is he's ahead of Jeb Bush.  The other bad news?  Jeb Bush is in second place.  

Coming soon?  Clash of the Establishment Titans.

S'Obama skips Paris and...

Really, who cares?  President Obama did not go march in Paris in support of free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.  He should have, but did anyone really expect him to go?  He spent a significant portion of his presidency cozying up to the Muslim world as ineffectually best as he could.  Why change course now, just because free speech a cornerstone notion in America, is anathema to vast swaths of that religion? Exactly.  It's cowardice or else it's disinterest. Either trait is unbecoming the in the 'leader of the free world'.

But at this point, it's expected.  So who cares?  That is, besides ISIS and their moral victory.  And the offended French?  And freedom loving people all over the world?  And the Russians and communist Chinese who see opportunity written all over this?

Obama: Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo.  Vraiment.

January 12, 2015

Could crude oil price collapse spell the end of jihad?

It's an interesting thought experiment but the short answer is no.  I for one will not lament lower prices at the gas pump, it's a significant relief that many consumers need - myself included.  Lower oil prices has such a trickle down effect on the price of everything, it's a big win for a beleaguered middle class.  But if I'm in Iraq or Syria and oil prices fall it spells disaster for the economy.  That means more economic hardship and therefore more of an agitated population.  That in turn provides a fertile landscape for ISIS to sew it's seething brand of evil hate.

ISIS hacks U.S. military social media, but was it really them?

Today, ISIS hackers or their sympathizers apparently broke into the U.S. military's social media and posted seriously threatening messages.  It's not really that scary, but it is meant to be intimidating as well as a morale boosting win for ISIS supporters.
It is not clear whether the hackers are actually with the Islamic State, sympathizers with the militants, or simply pulling a prank on the Pentagon. But J.M. Berger, an analyst and non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, said there is reason to believe it could be someone affiliated directly with the Islamic State.
Here's my take on this. If I were Russia or China, if the hacking against the U.S. government or say...Sony, looked as if it were coming from ISIS or North Korea, that would not be a bad thing. In fact it would be really convenient for me.

It distracts the West from my own nefarious intentions, and it looks like it might continue to spur further fanatical terror attacks that cost me nothing but harm my geo-political enemies.

Russia is suffering from sanctions (supposedly) and certainly from the price of oil. They have every motivation to be angry with the West. It's not beyond them to lash out in ways they believe they have no cost to undertake. And China has had a relentless push into cyber espionage since the Clinton era. It's part of their DNA at this point.

Paranoid? Maybe, but if I were U.S. Intel, I would not overlook either of those possibilities.

January 9, 2015

Friday Musical Interlude - Uptown Funk

Catchy, old school 70's and 80's style funk fusion from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk. A wonderful contrast to a lot of prefab uninspired music of today.

On Cosby

Bill Cosby is in Canada for a few shows this week (even CNN is covering the story) . His performances have been met with protests. Given the accusations of rape it is understandable. But in Canada as in the U.S. the concept of innocent until proven guilty is a given.  While that applies to the legal system,  clearly the court of public opinion is not held to the same standard.  In one radio interview I heard a demonstration organizer state that given the number of allegations,  they must be true. Really?   Bill Cosby has a lot of things to answer but the tone of the comment just seemed to be gossipy for lack of a better word. Until something legal actually transpires, I am going to ignore all things Cosby.

January 8, 2015

Conservatives: Suck it up, you won't find perfection

Not exactly.
Pardon me for the following stream of conscience thoughts on the state of conservatism in the Republican party.

One thing is perfectly clear, as far as the general public is concerned, there are currently two major factions within the Republican party: the establishment wing and the conservative wing. The latter group has been predominantly classified as being aligned with the Tea Party. It's an interesting classification, since there are other identifiable groups that may align to some degree with Republican party that don't get as much attention. There are libertarians, social conservatives, economic conservatives, Republicans In Name Only (socially and/or economically liberal Republicans) for example.

Granted, there are some overlap between these groups, but that's what makes it a political party. If we were aiming for 100% ideological alignment within a party, the country would consist of 300+ million political parties of one.

The fight over Boehner's role as House speaker emphasizes that difference, or rift within the party.
In the end, their rebellion was not enough to unseat Boehner: The speaker won on the first round with 216 votes, 11 more than he needed. But it was far larger than a similar coup attempt against Boehner in 2013. In fact, it was the largest rebellion by a party against its incumbent speaker since the Civil War.
Focusing in on the main ideological rift is too simplistic a way to view politics on the right. Conservatives have described Democrats as an amalgamation of disparate special interest groups, banded together to advance all of their causes through co-operation. We've viewed that formula as a recipe for eventual failure. But you have to hand it to the Democrats, they've managed to do pretty well using that formula for a century.

Conservatives meanwhile can be described as fractious. There's no love lost between the Tea Party (who see the establishment as out-of-touch liberals in Republican clothing)  and the establishment (who see the Tea Party as a fringe element, incapable of winning elections). Because of the notion of the Big Tent, because Republicans (in theory) also encourage vigorous internal debate, it's only natural that there should be a divide within. In fact there should be multiple divisions on multiple issues, at multiple times. That's the sign of a healthy, vigorous party, not afraid to turn over ideas again and again to test for robustness.

But there comes a time when that becomes unhealthy, and when it deters the party from achieving anything. Part of the problem the party has faced became apparent in both 2008 and 2012 when a number of conservative voters stayed home instead of getting out to vote for McCain (a RINO to be sure) and Romney (an establishment Republican and a squishy Romneycare one at that). As bad as either of those two gentlemen may have been as president, they both would have been miles greater than what the country got instead - 8 years of president Obama hubris, inexperience, debt, Obamacare, no Keystone, Benghazi, IRS scandals, VA scandals, etc. No one on the right can realistically argue that all of that would have transpired under either Republican nominee. Some, like the VA scandal may have happened anyway, but the totality of the national failure since 2009 would not have transpired.

While conservatives have been busy blaming the media for Obama's continued job approval rating not completely cratering, they are missing the point. American needn't have suffered through it had conservatives stepped up, held their noses, and voted. Solidarity is not a bad thing. It worked for Democrats, hell, it worked in Poland to kick out the communist leadership. Why be loathe to support a less than perfect candidate? Yes there are better candidates out there than what the GOP has foisted on the public, but they didn't end up as the nominee.

Conversely, it can be argued that this sort of internal discord, in the long run, is a healthy thing for the Republican party.  For one thing, it proves that, unlike the Democratic Party, ideas get debated, rather than everybody just bending to the accepted, politically correct view.  That's a sign of a healthy party.  That in turn means that ideas really get considered.  Thought goes into them, and they are far more likely to have a basis in reason.  It also means that divergent opinions can exist within the same tent.  That reduces the likelihood of the party charging  off on the wrong tangent on some issue.  Overall, it also increases the likelihood that bad ideas get shaken out and that the party emerges from the discord stronger, with more focus and better priorities.

But those things primarily provide differentiation of the Republican party with the modern day Democratic party.  Furthermore, the 'emerging from the discord' doesn't provide a timeline.  What if it takes 25 years?  The country does not have that amount of time to wait for a party capable of solving the majority of what ails America.  Conservatives are going to have to suck it up, we won't find perfection in any single candidate, group or idea.  If you want perfection, you're on the wrong planet (or haven't gotten to Heaven just yet). We have to settle - that's life. Deal with it.    Have the debates, but once the candidates are settled, turn out and vote even if the candidate is less than stellar.  You can always try again next time.

Exit Note:  One concern that I have not addressed is the idea that coalescing around a candidate after the nomination may serve to entrench the existing establishment leadership, which leads to a moribund party.  Perhaps I'll mull that over in a future post.

January 7, 2015

Sorry Charlie.

The terror attack in Paris today on the offices of satirist magazine Charlie Hebdo,  like every other terror attack, was a pointless, senseless tragedy. It was heartening though to see the French out en mass holding up pens in a tribute to free speech as much as in sympathy for those slaughtered by crazy jihadists.  But it brought to  mind another thought.

The pen is mightier than the sword.  Today, it wasn't exactly the case, but in general that;s a truism because the pen is a metaphor for an idea. An idea can survive a person being slaughtered because once ideas are born they cannot simply be killed out of existence.  There are still people who identify with Nazism and Hitler's ideas, and those were some really, really bad ideas.

The point is that while so many people are not on board for a holy war in the Middle East to eradicate radical Islam, they don't always realize that a war can be waged with a pen rather than a sword. Right now, an all out war on the evils of these radicals is what is needed.  These attacks will continue, and without a worldwide condemnation from the West, the East and from the Muslim world itself, they will continue.  The idea that this is pure evil must take root and it must be driven home around the world.  Jihadists should see themselves not as martyrs and heroes but as wrong.  That starts by spreading the word that that is what they are

I urge anyone out marching, holding a pen, to let it not be a simple vigil but also serve as a symbol of a future effort to truly share the idea that needs to be shared, and to educate the uninformed  - radical Islam is evil and will not be tolerated. Period.

January 6, 2015

Pope Francis, still a socialist

I'm sure the Pope is pursuing what he believes is a moral God-centered agenda, but really, lighten up Francis. Stop sticking your head in the political arena. Yes, I'm sure it's a best of intentions world view he has. But I'm even more sure he's wrong. Just because he's Pope doesn't make him right. I'm sure Pope John Paul II would disagree with him on a number of his decisions. Two Popes, two world views. It only proves they are human, and they both can't be right about something they disagree on.

Yes, everything is political, but a Pope blessing a climate treaty is left-wing political tripe. Of course Bloomberg loves it - your Pope agrees with us on global warming so now you have to believe too! No.  No I don't.

Yes, and he's against capitalism too, the same as the radical environmental movement. It's the same as socialists and communists are against capitalism.

To stretch his concern for the poor motif to climate change is as much a stretch as it is to say the polar ice caps will be gone in a few years (i.e. it's an impossible stretch).

The more I see this Pope, the more I believe his elevation to the Papacy was based on geography and demographics and not on his beliefs.

January 5, 2015

Because socialism works in Europe, right?

Europe has a history of failed socialism (stretching back decades) and successful capitalism (stretching back centuries). So when Germans want to be like the French, is all finally lost?
All across Europe, political parties are under strain. After years of high unemployment and flatlining economies, voters have had enough of austerity and budget cuts. They don't want any more rhetoric about tightening belts - they want promises of milk and honey. Just one problem: There is no money left.

Europe is experiencing is a classic middle-class squeeze - a typical fixture of American politics that has crossed the pond to pester European politicians. Leaders across the Continent are left facing this dilemma: How to strengthen the middle class in an adverse environment where money is tight, debts are high, and budget deficits loom large?

It gets worse.

Recently, another European think tank released yet another graph projecting the aging of populations in the coming 20 years. The findings revealed deep trouble for a country thought to be at a peak of economic power: Germany. And even as its population starts to shrink and age, resulting in a smaller labor work force and dwindling fiscal contributions to social programs, the demands of Germany's middle class are increasing.
Peugeot and Camembert cheese or Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen? Which has been a more successful economy?  

And now there's word Greece wants to leave the E.U. Let them go (see Let California fail for the reasoning).  Seriously GErmany, let them go.  Before you turn into France.  And make them pick up their own over-the-top-social-programs-debt themselves.

China: Don't bother to resist or we'll beat you.

The so-called worker's paradise is facing a reality of "not so much".
This week a coalition of scholars from mainland and Hong Kong universities issued an open letter citing the death of Zhou as emblematic of systemic hardships besetting migrants across China....

The analysis revealed that workers suffer from chronic wage violations and job insecurity, denial of social security payments, and job-related injuries. Those problems are nothing new, but the scholars point to 12/13 as proof that President Xi JinPing is failing to live up to his repeated promises to institute “rule of law reforms.” Xi has vowed to crack down on official corruption, while also suppressing dissent. Meanwhile, labor unrest has seemed to intensify, and China’s fast, but waning, growth remains offset by roiling inequality.
So, tell me again, why is it you think that America is the root of all global evil/racism/inequality/etc.?

Obama's willful blindness on the international stage.

This WaPo piece from Jackson Diehl sums up the Obama approach to the world quite well:
An enduring characteristic of Barack Obama’s presidency has been his determination to implement the ideological agenda with which he arrived in office without regard for conditions in the real world. He imposed timetables for “ending the wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq unlinked to military progress. He insisted on pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, even though the leaders of both sides were manifestly unwilling. He began his second term by seeking a new nuclear arms deal with Vladi­mir Putin, despite abundant evidence that Putin was preparing for confrontation with the West.

Now, six years into his presidency, Obama has launched, as his first significant initiative in Latin America, detente with Cuba. It’s a torch that many liberals have carried for decades. Once again, however, the president has acted with willful disregard for current events...

Obama ignored the slowly mushrooming crisis that triggered Castro’s distress and that ought to be the focus of U.S. energies in Latin America. That is the slow but potentially catastrophic collapse of Venezuela, a major U.S. oil supplier with three times Cuba’s population that, as 2015 begins, is well on its way to becoming a failed state.
Some people never learn.

January 3, 2015

Saturday Learning Series - Byzantium

Knowing what worked and what didn't with regard to past empires, provides a lesson for future societies if they choose to learn from the past.

January 2, 2015

Friday Musical Interlude - Röyksopp

A spooky video and an ethereal song "What Else Is There?" by Norwegian duo Röyksopp from 2005.

2015 for Nonsensible Shoes (uh, in case you were wondering).

There's some interesting things going on here at Nonsensible Shoes.  Firstly, after 6 years of blogging, I'm closing in on 1 million page views.  Having not checked that in some time, I was surprised by that.  It's higher than I expected and yet less than I had hoped for initially.  I had also hoped for 100 followers by the end of 2014.  While the tracking isn't exact, it would appear I'm close but a bit shy of that number as well.  Additionally, I had hoped to be able to make at least 500 posts each year.  In 2014 I fell a bit shy of that, even though I probably could have made it with a late December push.  As one additional consideration, I do a have a time consuming day job that has kept me busy this year.  I also have the domain name locked up for more than another year (although no one is breaking down my door with offers to buy the ridiculous moniker).

So much for context.  Where do we go from here?  Get ready for short.  Obviously 1 million page views is an immediate goal.  But that's not a far off event horizon given the historical rate of page views. But I'm still enjoying the blogging and I do plan to continue with it into the foreseeable future - well beyond one more year.  However, there's probably a change coming in terms of the approach I've been taking.  In fact in recent months you may have already noticed that some of my posts have been far shorter than in the past.

I enjoy crafting essays, but blogging does not lend itself to that sort of readership.  Given the social media influence on attention spans (Vine videos max out at 6 seconds for Pete's sake), shorter makes more sense to capture attention.  I still am holding myself to a minimum of 500 posts this year, and shorter posts certainly lend themselves to being able to reach that goal.  So expect more posts of a much shorter, more to-the-point nature.  It's a win-win: easier for me (even though I normally like to fuse multiple points into a longer narrative) and it's less taxing for readers. I will still try to work in the occasional longer, more analytical essay type posts, but they will be less common than in the past years.

Getting more followers is no longer a goal for me, but rather a potential outcome of good posting and more importantly more outreach (it's something I've been preaching the GOP should be doing, so it wouldn't hurt to do a lot more of that myself).  Shorter posts may be an attention grabber, but getting more directly and frequently involved in social media is probably a healthy approach to achieving that.

A little more in the way of background/direction that is probably salient here.  I've spent a lot more time invested in an NFL pool this year.  Consequently I am in striking range of first place going into the playoffs (4th place of 29 competitors, only 2 games back of first).  That's been at odds with the previous few years where I've ended up in the middle of the pack mostly.  So that's something that has reduced my ability to focus on blogging in the fall and winter, and will continue to be the case in later 2015.  Lastly, and far more relevant, I've begun writing outside of the blog and in addition to the daytime job I have, and that has been consuming a considerable chunk of my free time.  That is likely to persist throughout 2015 and 2016.  Both of those factors lend themselves to shorter, more direct and distilled thoughts on my posts to Nonsensible Shoes as well as Left Coast Rebel, where I am also a contributor.

January 1, 2015

Thursday Hillary Bash - This is not the Announcement the media is looking for

With all apologies to Obi Wan Kenobi and Sir Alec Guiness, this is not the announcement the media was looking for from Hillary Clinton:


It's a plea for money from the Clinton Foundation.  Is it worth bashing her over?  Maybe if you were waiting for her to announce a run, because you are a rabid Clintonian.  Or maybe if you want to bash rabid Clintonians...

Obama Hearts Pope

Um, who couldn't have seen this coming from a socialist Pope and a socialist president?
President Obama increasingly is finding a key policy ally in the Vatican, with Pope Francis standing virtually shoulder to shoulder with the White House on income inequality and a historic diplomatic reboot with communist Cuba. The pontiff next year also appears poised to offer greater support to the president on climate change initiatives and reportedly wants to be a leading voice at a U.N. global warming summit next year, where the American president will make perhaps his greatest pitch to date for more dramatic action on the environment.
I know I did, except I thought it would be much less in the visible spectrum.

Polar Ice Caps at Record High Levels

2015.  I'm hopeful that the climate change debate gets laid to rest this year.  Hopeful, but not optimistic.  Despite the evidence, low information celebrities and willfully blind media outlets will continue to decry the fact that the polar ice caps are melting despite the fact that they are not. |In fact, sea ice is at record levels.

Maybe eventually the facts will catch up to the hyperbole from the Al Gore crowd.  We can always hope.



The Congress vs. Obama and Reid

GOP self-imposed future?
Happy New Year everyone.  Looking ahead, 2015 is going to be an interesting year in politics. Obama will be forced to veto all sorts of legislation that finally makes it to his desk, despite Harry Reid's efforts to filibuster. A smart Mitch McConnell would leave the Senate rules to negate the need for super-majorities in place for as long as the GOP feels it can hold the Senate.  That would be the smart thing to do.  It may not be the GOP thing to do. I've been on vacation the last 2 weeks and not paying as close attention as I normally would, so I'm not sure if the idea of normalizing those Senate rules is still on the table for the GOP majority, but if it is, it shouldn't be.

The flawed calculus of public opinion as led by the mainstream media that the GOP are doing something sinister and so they should not do it is simply that - flawed.  The leverage given by Reid's distortion of the rules is too powerful to ignore.  Reversing it is a good idea, but not now.  The Democrats have dome a massive amount of damage to America, and the top priority right now has to be undoing that.  Afterwards, normalizing Senate rules can be given some thought.  Obama is still in charge of the Executive branch and is increasingly likely to do ill-advised things.  Taking away your own ability to fight those decisions, even in part, is like tying your own hand behind your back.

If it's public opinion that the GOP leadership is fretting about, I'd advise them to get over it.  It's easy enough to say in every single interview, a la Debbie Wasserman Schultz the same talking point over and over again: these are rules that the Harry Reid Democrats put in place for themselves and we are simply obeying the rules we were given.  Or perhaps something more well-crafted, but the point remains "they did this" repeated often enough and long enough will deflect blame.  And hey, if things go south anyway, it might at least force the public to reconsider the notion of the Senate's role in government to not just be a rubber stamp to the Congress' or the president's will. It's meant to be deliberative. That would not be a bad thing.  It'd be easy to tie it back to the Obamacare push debacle, especially after the 2015 tax collection from the IRS starts to hit taxpayers' wallets.

Mitch McConnell might be a parliamentarian, and a good one at that, but he's not a bold leader.  That's what the GOP lacks in the Senate.  Mitch McConnell strikes me as an effective back room, number 2 guy; an advisor to the GOP Senate leader on the options available.  #1?  That's a role that Rand Paul might fit well, if he were not likely going to run for president instead.


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