Monday, September 23, 2013

The Frustration That Is Fantasy Football

There's nothing more helpless than a coach standing on the sidelines watching his team fall apart.  Even more so in Fantasy Football where you have no control over what happens in game.  Fantasy coaches owning the Denver defense unanimously groaned when Danny Trevathan picked up a loose ball with no one to get in the way of 6 more points, only to start his celebration too early, dropping the football before he broke the plane of the end zone

One of the most infamous events happened in 2007 when Brian Westbrook took a knee against the Cowboys denying millions of fantasy owners a valuable touchdown.  Maurice Jones-Drew did the same thing in 2009 against the Jets, kneeling at the 1 yard line while down 1 point with about a minute and a half left, and no timeouts for the Jets.  The Jags then killed time until they kicked the winning field goal as time expired.  ESPN even did a bit after giving an estimate of how many fantasy coaches lost because of that move.

This year I am very much feeling the pain of coaching in my office league, but for different reasons. I studied up on what's known as Value Based Drafting (see here) before our draft, and picked up what looks to be a stellar team. Week 1 proved it to be so.  I ended up with 102 points, 3rd highest in the league...And I lost.  Because my opponent had who else but Peyton Manning and his Week 1 revenge game against the Ravens.

Week 2 looked better. I had dropped Sam Bradford and picked up Philip Rivers to compliment my Tight End pick of Antonio Gates, but left him on the bench.  After all, my QB nearly posted the greatest comeback in Fantasy Football history over Manning.  I was thinking "It's Kaepernick...What could go wrong?!"  Insert Seattle's huge, veiny defensive reaming, and I was 0-2 with a 14 point loss.  Insult to injury?  Rivers and his 29 points against Philly would have given me a 19 point victory instead.

After kicking myself in the butt for a week for that move, I looked at the week 3 match-ups...49er's at Indy, Kansas City at Philly?!  BIG WEEK!  To add to it, my opponent was MIA with 2 inactive players.  I watched Thursday night as the Chiefs defense unloaded on Michael Vick and Jamal Charles cut through the Philly defense.  I was up 45-0 on the back of 3 players.  I was ready to coast to victory.

Then Sunday came.  I watched as Rivers (on the bench again) struggled, but posted decent numbers against the Titans in their loss, and watched the Ravens mercilessly demolish the Texans (For the Hot Wing Conspiracy League) with their defense that was non-existant in week 1.  Next, I watched helplessly as Indianapolis shut down the 49er's offense and saddled Kaepernick with negative points for the 2nd week in a row.  All was not lost though.  My 45 point sprint on Thursday had left me only down 8 points with Damarius Thomas and Julius Thomas still left to play.  All I needed was their last player to be a non-factor, and history was in my favor.  Weeks 1 & 2 had only netted 5 points total, and they were playing...Daaaaah Bearssss.  That player was Antonio Brown.  Unfortunate for me, the Bears went ahead 17-0 early, forcing Big Ben to go to the air, and Brown was there to catch them pulling in 196 yards and scoring both of Pittsburgh's only 2 touchdowns.  I'm now down 90-60 against a team...with TWO inactive players!  I do have some glimmer of hope.  If Manning can perform like Week 1 again, I have Damarius Thomas and Julius Thomas who combined in week 1 for 45 points.  Unfortunately in week 2, they only accounted for 10 points total.

After tonight, I might very well be 0-3 with the 2nd highest scoring team in the league.  I swear I will have no hair by week 7.

UPDATE: Final score - 71 - 90. Julius and Damarius Thomas had ok, but not fantastic nights.  I don't feel as bad because even with my optimal line-up I would have lost by 1.  However, it would be nice to have had the projected +14 points from my QB, rather than -3.
I'm 0-3 but 4th in points instead of 2nd.  It irritates the piss out of me that the league leader at 3-0 is tied for 7th, 20 points behind me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Perfect Example of Government to Private Sector Disconnect

If you haven't heard, the Senate just passed a bill 74-20 that will require online retailers to gather sales taxes based on the purchaser's address.  This is something that on a consumer side could be very costly, not only for the consumer who may end up paying as much as 6, 10, or even 12% in some areas in additional taxes.  Having grown up in Tennessee where the tax can be as high as 9.75% and I could not stand how much extra I had to pay.
Then came websites like Amazon that allowed you to buy the exact same items as in the store, but didn't require state sales tax because they did not have a distribution center in the state.  And at nearly 10%, the shipping cost of most items was less than the sales tax on most items over $100.  Then when Amazon included free super saver shipping on items over $25, my brick-and-mortar shopping diminished down to groceries and must-have items.

That's the consumer side of the bill, however I am more concerned about the company side of the bill and how it's going to affect their business.
1) Companies now will have to track every single transaction, where it is shipped, and will have to file a sales tax form for every single locality that has even one transaction.  There are over 7,500 different sales tax jurisdictions in the United States (with over 1,000 tax code changes to keep track of in the last year alone).  Look at this map below (Source: Journal of Accountancy) This represents every single sales tax locality in the United States.  And don't forget, many localities charge different tax rates for items based on their use.

In 2010 Amazon reported 13.7 Million items were sold to addresses all over the world on JUST Black Friday.  The logistical nightmare of this task is enough to make accountants all over the country cringe. iTunes is another company whose accountants will feel the hair on their neck stand up if this passes with an estimated 1.2 Billion sales for just music in 2007.

2) Companies may lose revenue based on this.  As mentioned, for two items priced the same, the difference in having to pay sales tax may be enough to justify waiting to get the item.  A perfect example of this is the Electronic Arts' online retail outlet, Origin.  There you can buy video games, start to download them immediately, and not have to pay sales tax.  Origin is not able to reduce the price of their games because they have to ensure that the big box stores like Best Buy, Wal Mart, Target, etc... are able to sell their copies as well.  With that being the case, the only benefit this site has over some place like Best Buy is the fact that you don't have to pay sales tax on your new $60 video game.  This effect may not be great for other websites who offer discount prices, but for some (like Origin) it may completely destroy their entire business model.

Why would something like this bother me?  Because it shows just how much of a disconnect there is between the government and the private sector.  A legislator looks at this bill and decides "Hey, this looks easy enough." and votes yes without researching how amazingly complex this task will be for companies to keep track of.

Chalk this up as yet another reason why I believe we need "Professionals who are legislators", not "Professional Legislators."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tax Rates and Tax Revenue As A Percent of GDP

The discussion about the Fiscal Cliff and taxes got me thinking today.  Does tax revenue TRULY increase when you reduce taxes?  Many Conservatives point to the Reagan tax slash and revenue increase that occurred in the 80's but Liberals will claim that it merely followed the rate of inflation.

So I went out to look at details, and found some surprising results.

First I wanted to see if you raise taxes, does the tax revenue REALLY change?  So I thought, "What is a good stable comparison to measure tax rates against?"  The comparison I came up with was Tax revenue as a percent of GDP, and this is what I found;

What I noticed was that as a percent of GDP, after 1950, regardless of the tax rate, the tax revenues as a percent of GDP was stable around 18%, even when Reagan slashed taxes.

I was just about to post that information when I thought of a rebuttal; "Well, that doesn't account for the growth in GDP created by lower taxes!"  So, I looked that up as well, and I found this;

Looking at the major changes, the Reagan cuts did boost the economy from in the red to 5% and about 7% growth, but quickly fell back to 5% the next year followed my modest 3% GDP growth years following that. The real confusing stats are looking at the cuts in 1968 and around 1988 when the rates were slashed, but GDP soon fell to 0% growth, and in the 90's when Clinton raised taxes and GDP grew at between 4% and 5%.

At best what I can conclude is this;
Cutting taxes may or may not raise both GDP and total tax revenue, but the growth is strictly short term, and regardless of what you put the income tax rate at, the government is only going to haul in about 18% of GDP.  From that, this whole bit about soaking the rich isn't going to make a difference.  The wealthy will simply find a way to prevent their money from going into the government coffers.

The real money maker?  Cutting spending.

Friday, December 14, 2012

RGIII Overreaction?

There's been a lot of news lately about Rob Parker's comments on RGIII.  People saying Parker is a racist because of this line;
"“Well, [that] he’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us.  He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else.”
Why is that your question, Parker was asked.
“Well, because I want to find out about him,” Parker said. “I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue...
 I've noticed a trend of selective hearing with news agencies.  They take the 5 second clip that they want to get a reaction from, and completely disregard the rest.  At first it was Ann Coulter who was notorious for doing this, then radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have turned their shows into a farce with the same tactic to get ratings (which is why I don't even bother listening to them anymore), and no doubt will be all over this screaming at Parker.

However, read what Parker said immediately after, and the conversation becomes clearer;

...Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.”
Then Skip Bayless asked Parker about RGIII’s braids.
“Now that’s different,” Parker said. “To me, that’s very urban and makes you feel like…wearing braids, you’re a brother. You’re a brother if you’ve got braids on.”
Then Stephen A. Smith was asked for his take. He exhaled deeply.
Well first of all let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with where we just went,” Smith said. “RGIII, the ethnicity, the color of his fiancée is none of our business. It’s irrelevant. He can live his life any way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that’s his business, that’s his life. I don’t judge someone’s blackness based on those kind of things. I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.
“What I would say to you is that the comments he made are fairly predictable,” Smith went on. “I think it’s something that he may feel, but it’s also a concerted effort to appease the masses to some degree, which I’m finding relatively irritating, because I don’t believe that the black athlete has any responsibility whatsoever to have to do such things.
“Let me say this clearly. I don’t know of anybody who goes into something trying to be the best black anything. We understand that. That’s a given,” Smith said. “But I do think it’s important to acknowledge a level of pride and a feeling of a level of accomplishment for being somebody who happens to be of African American descent, who competes and achieves and accomplishes things on the highest level while also bringing attention – to some degree anyhow – to the pride that they feel being black. Because they’re allowing themselves to be a reminder to those who preceded them, who worked so hard, accomplished and achieved so much, but were denied the accolades that that individual is receiving.”

The "issue" was not that RGIII might be a black Republican with a White fiancee, RGIII doesn't want to be known as JUST the best BLACK quarterback, or the best BLACK runner.  He wants his accomplishments to be remembered separate from his race.  He wants to be known as simply "The Best Quarterback," period.  That's the "issue" and the "cause" that Parker describes.

People see the words "Black" and "Republican," and immediately think that he's trying to say that RGIII is not black enough because he may be a Conservative.  That's a load of crap.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

4.5 Million Jobs? Actually...Yes.

I was listening to Former President Bill Clinton tow the Democrat Party line last night when I heard him announce that 4.5 Million Jobs had been created since Obama took office. Immediately my brain went into fact-check overdrive.
After my foray, I actually find it funny how the Romney camp and everyone is debunking the 4.5 Million jobs created number the Democrats have put out there.  Their rebuttal is that there has actually been only a net increase of 300,000 jobs since Obama took office because of jobs lost in his first year.
However, looking at it from an economic standpoint, the number is not wrong, and the Democrats shouldn't hide it.  The real number is 4.5 Million jobs created *since the economy bottomed out in January 2010,* a year after Obama took office.
I can't rationalizing counting that first year against Obama.  He was elected in November of 2008, and sworn in in January of 2009.  But the market down-turn started in October of 2007, and escalated with the collapse in October of 2008.
*WARNING: Here comes a potentially offensive statement* To me, counting the jobs lost between January of 2009 and January of 2010 as being "Caused by Obama" is like blaming the 3,000+ deaths at the World Trade Center on G.W. Bush because he happened to be president when the Twin Towers were attacked. The economy had been falling for a full year before Obama was elected, and once it finally hit bottom the jobs did start coming back.
So in my opinion, 4.5 Million jobs were created WHILE Obama has been the President.  The true question is were those jobs created BECAUSE Obama has been the President, and could there have been more jobs created if different policies had been enacted.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How Will You Be Remembered?

I was listening to the radio yesterday and one of the guest speakers was talking about the “Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day” and Gay marriage in general.  They made an excellent point about the issue.  Morally, you can feel however you wish about it.  If you disagree with it, then that is your personal opinion.  But when it comes to the issue of the government, it becomes a civil rights issue.  The fact of the matter is that gays DO NOT have equal rights in the United States because of the legal benefits that come with marriage (See for a list of benefits).
In the history of the United States, people have used Biblical passages repeatedly to justify legislation that prevents equal rights to a particular group of citizens whether there was actually a legitimate scripture quote or not.  Back in the 1800’s slavery was justified by politicians through biblical verses, and later it was used by some to justify laws against interracial marriage. In 1958 when Virginia Judge Leon Bazile refused to hear the case of Loving v. Virginia and was quoted as saying of interracial marriage, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay, and red, and placed them on separate continents, and but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend the races to mix.”  There actually is no direct verse in the Bible but the story of the Curse of Ham was often used.  There are also verses in Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, Judges, and others that have been used for the same justification.
All of those issues have been overturned.  All races in the United States legally have equal rights, and and any man can marry any woman.  However, being born homosexual is apparently grounds for inequality in the United States.  So in this time, the fact of announcing opposition of gay marriage, I feel, is to say you are for the willing oppression and denial of civil rights to a specific group of United States Citizens.  Gays will have equal rights, and I will vote for them to have those rights.  And when that does happen, how will those who opposed it be remembered?
Ask yourself, how does history remember the likes of Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, Howard Smith, or Former Alabama Gov. George Wallace Jr?

To Melissa Carter, you are amazing, and every person needs to hear your voice. Listen, and be informed.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Worst Legislation In History?

Three weeks ago, Democrats in the Senate led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defeated the Cut Cap and Balance Act of 2011, calling it "some of the worst legislation in history". In a nutshell, the bill would Cut spending, Cap the budget at a certain percentage of the GDP, and required a Balanced budget amendment. Here is the rundown of the bill's key points.

Cuts total spending by $111 billion in FY 2012. The savings is divided as follows:
Reduce non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels, which saves $76 billion.
$35 billion cut to non-veterans, non-Medicare, non-Social Security mandatory spending.
Defense budget at President’s level.

Total federal spending is scaled back based on the glide path for the fiscal years below:
  • 2012, 22.5% of GDP.
  • 2013, 21.7% of GDP.
  • 2014, 20.8% of GDP.
  • 2015, 20.2% of GDP.
  • 2016, 20.2% of GDP.
  • 2017, 20.0% of GDP.
  • 2018, 19.7% of GDP.
  • 2019, 19.9% of GDP.
  • 2020, 19.9% of GDP.
  • 2021, 19.9% of GDP.


Requires the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment before raising the nation’s debt limit.

The bill was killed on a partisan vote 51-46 with all 51 being Democrats. John Kerry and Kirsten Gillibrand did not vote, but I'll give you one guess how they would have. John McCain was the lone abstaining Republican.

Fast forward 3 weeks to today. The S&P has downgraded the United States debt credit rating from AAA to AA+, and Democrats in government are pissed. They send the S&P to an SEC hearing as to why they downgraded the credit rating. The question was finally asked what kind of budget cuts would have saved the AAA rating. Joydeep Mukherji answered with this;
“What S&P wanted to see from the deal was a stabilization in the debt-to-GDP ratio over time,” he said. “We wanted to see something other than a line that kept going up. That’s what we didn’t see.”

Ironic how "the worst legislation in history" actually contained EXACTLY what would have saved the United State's AAA rating.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Laughing All The Way To The Polls

This is way too awesome. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was one of the main proponents of ObamaCare last year, donating millions to Democrats to push ObamaCare, and now in response to the health care bill passing has this to say;
“In addition, new federal health-care reform legislation requires plans with dependent coverage to expand that coverage up to age 26...our limited resources are already stretched as far as possible, and meeting this new requirement would be financially impossible.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Swick's Black Ops Review

I picked up my copy of Black Ops the afternoon it came out (didn't want to be a part of the midnight mess) and have logged about 20 hours or so of multi-player game play in the past week. That has given me a chance to get a pretty good feel for the pros and cons of the games So with that, here they are;

1) Environment Visuals - If you have not seen the game in 1080p, you should. On a large screen (I have a 42") the environment is gorgeous, and very photo realistic. One of the things I did not like about Modern Warfare 2 was the "cartoonish" look of the scenery. A good thing that Treyarch needs to run with every time.
2) Difficulty - It was SO frustrating to start off initially with the game restricted to core with only the M16, a shotgun or a mule-kick LMG. This was very similar to World at War and I like it! MW2 was a very good pick up and play game. The M4 started off as my primary weapon from level 1 and it never changed. With that, there was no learning curve. This game had plenty of it.
3) ONLY Gun Kills for Killstreaks - This makes care packages worth the time. No more Predator, Harrier, Chopper Gunner combos.
4) Scavenger doesn't pick up equipment - No more Double coverage for snipers/campers. A big plus.

1) SPAWN ENGINE! - Countless complaints have emerged about this one. This to me is a MAJOR downgrade from WaW and MW2. Did it suck that you might respawn across the map from the enemies because of an AFK/camper? Yes, but it is much better than spawning 3-5 times in the middle of multiple enemies, or getting in a Spawn loop
2) Particle Effects - For items like dust, moths, and sparks, these items look rushed. Dirt in the air looks like an over-zoomed pixel in MS Paint. It looks like the deadline was coming and this was totally overlooked.
3) Enemy Footsteps - I'm an old school Counter Strike player. Footsteps in that game were amazing. You could tell the location and number of enemies through a wall with good headphones. MW2 and WaW you could at least hear one coming, but were unsure where from. In Black Ops, enemy footsteps have been silenced so much that what is the point? This makes the Ghost perk VERY powerful. At least in WaW and MW2 you had Dead Silence/Camouflage and Cold-Blooded/Ninja Pro that took up 2 perks. Stealth became a class in itself.
4) Massive Maps - Like World at War the maps are massive with lots of places to hide/maneuver. Unfortunately this can cause game play to get ridiculously slow (esp. in Hardcore) and encourages camping. MW2 had Derail, Estate,and Wasteland. Black Ops has Array, Crisis, Grid, and Jungle. Radiation isn't on the list but I would consider it a major camping map.

So there you have it. Overall the game is good, and with some quick patching it can be great.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Even More Fuel To The Enhanced Pat-Down Debate

Via Prison Planet;
"As AirSafe News reports, “The current system of background checks may have allowed those convicted of rape and other sexually based offenses to join TSA.”

Indeed, back in March it emerged that TSA worker Sean Shanahan, who was employed at Boston Logan International Airport to pat down passengers, had been charged with multiple child sex crimes targeting an underage girl.

Given the fact that the TSA’s new policy allows workers to fondle breasts and genitals, expect a flood of sex perverts and rapists to eagerly sign up."