Saturday, October 18, 2008

Connie Mack has definitely left the building

Last week I posted to the effect that Terry Francona should not have taken his starter out of the game after pitching 7 innings of 4 hit shutout ball. I took a bit of a reaming in the comments, but that was dumb even though the Angels manager eventually out-dumbed him and the Sox won the game.

Now, in an even dumber example of the same strange self-destructive phenomenon, Tampa manager Joe Maddon pulls his starter after he'd pitched 6 innings of 2 hit shutout ball. This time, since Francona eschewed the suicide squeeze in the inevitable Boston comeback, the Sox win the game to extend the ALCS.

WTF people, Does Connie Mack have to choke a manager up in here?

Friday, October 17, 2008

KPC Fave wins Booker Prize

This week Aravind Adiga won the Man Booker prize for his debut novel "The White Tiger". Back in August I wrote the following:

3. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

An even better debut novel. This is a 270 page anti-India screed. It's lovely. It reminds me very much of an extended Thomas Bernhard rant, though there is way more action here than in a Bernhard book. Indian politics, corruption, caste system, and the heinousness of village life all get vigorously rubbed in your face. I read this all in a single afternoon here in Santa Fe. Just wouldn't stop and put it down to go outside. You gotta check this out.

This was something of an upset as "The Secret Scripture" was the favorite. If the favorite had won, that would have been the biggest travesty since "Cloud Atlas" didn't win in 2004.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

God Bless America

Rational Ignorance: yer doin' it right!

In a recent survey of over 3,000 American adults only 18% of them got all three of the following questions right:

1. What is the majority party in the US House of Representatives?
2. Who is the US Secretary of State?
3. Who is the Prime Minister of the UK?

All ur knowledge is belong to us!

Pujols Good, Howard Also Good, But Not AS Good

(From "Fire Joe Morgan," a site of REAL Baseball Knowledge)

Albert Pujols Was Not A Good Enough Pitcher To Win The MVP

I for one can't wait for the deluge of Ryan Howard-for-MVP columns from older dudes wearing RBI Glasses™. RBI Glasses™: Available at ShittyLensCrafters all across the country. Hey, here's the first one, from Bob Klapisch.

Me: Bob Klapisch, you're writing a column about your awards picks. What are you going to call it?

Bob Klapisch (stopping to think for exactly 0.00038 seconds): The Klappie Awards! I'm on break.

Bob Klapisch's Klappie Awards

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER, NL: Ryan Howard, Phillies.

Nope. Wrong. So so so so so so so wrong. You should be criticized on some sort of hypercritical baseball blog for that opinion.

We’re prepared to face the firing squad on this one, having passed over Albert Pujols.

Klapisch is talking about a literal firing squad. He has written his farewell notes to his wife and kids. But he's doing this because he's a man. A man taking a stand. A man choosing another man who is ranked 30th in his league in VORP for MVP. These are the kinds of causes for which a man like Bob Klapisch is willing to stare death in the face.

Mark DeRosa and Cristian Guzman had higher VORPs than Ryan Howard. VORP is not the final word by any means; it obviously has deficiencies. But hey, also: Ryan Howard was 6th on his team in OBP. Think about that.

But as unthinkably dangerous as the Cardinals’ slugger was, he couldn’t get his team to the postseason. Howard did.

You're right. Albert Pujols did not nearly pitch well enough, or for enough innings (Can you believe zero innings? What a bum!) for the Cardinals to to make the playoffs. (The Phillies had a team ERA of 3.88; the Cardinals 4.19. Albert Pujols? More like Albert Not A Very Good Pitching Coach!)

Pujols should have lobbied to have St. Louis the city moved to Oregon, where his Cardinals would have won the NL West by two games and he would be lauded as a clutch MVP baseball superhero with quality intangibles and a leader with the uncanny ability to come through when it counts. But unfortunately, Pujols has never been good at getting entire cities to spontaneously change their geographical locations.

Ryan Howard batted .168 in April. Albert Pujols' batting averages, by month (and I know batting average doesn't matter. Here they are anyway): .365, .373, .302, .347, .398, .321. Bob Klapisch, do you think for some reason that games played in April don't count in the standings? Ryan Howard batted .213 in August.

Granted, Pujols had better season-long numbers.

Granted, "The Wire" is a "better" show than "Hole in the Wall."

But Howard was in another reality in September, when impact players make their mark.

But "Hole in the Wall" and one very funny moment where a guy couldn't fit through the hole in the wall, and that is the kind of impact that impact TV shows make when it counts.

While the Phillies were catching and passing the Mets (again), Howard batted .352 and hit 11 home runs — one every eight at-bats.

While the Cardinals were playing baseball, Albert Pujols batted .357.

Ryan Howard hit behind Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. If Albert Pujols hit behind Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, he would have had 493 RBI. Do the math. It checks out.

He finished the season with a mediocre .251 average, but otherwise led the majors with 48 HR and 146 RBI.

Sure, he hit by far the most home runs. RBI are bullshit. Here are things he didn't lead the majors in:

EqA VORP WARP1 WARP2 WARP3 OBP OPS SLG WPA BB BA R

Literally any defensive statistic. Any of them. Just pick one.

You know who led or was damn close to the lead in a shitload of those statistics? Albert Pujols. The 2008 NL MVP.


(Nod to the Bishop, who also knows baseball)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If it weren't for us gringos, Chavez would be broke

Oil production in Venezueala has falled by 25% since Chavez was first elected, from 3.2 million barrels per day down to 2.4 million, meaning that Venezeula has to a large extent missed out a lot from the recent oil boom. Not only that but,

"About half of this oil is now delivered at a discount to Mr Chavez's friends around Latin America. The 18 nations in his "Petrocaribe" club, founded in 2005, pay Venezuela only 30 per cent of the market price within 90 days, with rest in instalments spread over 25 years."

It turns out that we are his only retail paying customers,

"The other half - 1.2 million barrels per day - goes to America, Venezuela's only genuinely paying customer."

One reason why oil production is down is that Chavez has made the national oil company a footsoldier in his Bolivarian revolution,

"Meanwhile, Mr Chavez has given PDVSA countless new tasks. "The new PDVSA is central to the social battle for the advance of our country," said Rafael Ramirez, the company's president and the minister for petroleum. "We have worked to convert PDVSA into a key element for the social battle."

The company now grows food after Mr Chavez's price controls emptied supermarket shelves of products like milk and eggs. Another branch produces furniture and domestic appliances in an effort to stem the flow of imports. What PDVSA seems unable to do is produce more oil."

The article makes a guess that

"now that prices are falling, Mr Chavez faces huge financial problems. Nobody is sure at what point his government would be unable to pay its bills, but most sources consulted believe this would probably happen if oil falls to $80 a barrel."

FWIW, oil is around $75 a barrel this afternoon.


I liked this photo from the article:




Chris Buckley gets Fatwahed

Chris Buckley puts it all rather well, I think.

First, his endorsement of Obama (as opposed to the increasingly evil, and entirely incoherent, J. McCain).

Second, his goodbye to the National Review.

An excerpt from the latter:

Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.)

My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.


(Nod to Anonyman)

No Bradley Effect?

Is this true? There wasn't even a "Bradley Effect" in the Bradley election?

So it is said.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The NFC Least

When I lived in the DC area I was continually assaulted by the relentles pimping of the Washington Redskins by WAPO columnists. Now in this new era of communications, they are still doing it to me long distance via PTI.

The big trope this year has been that the NFC East is the toughest division in any sport since Ali and Frazier were mixing it up. "Three playoff teams", "Best division in football" and the like. It's not just Tony & Mike though, here are links to others banging that selfsame drum.

Thus it made me happy yesterday to scroll through Yahoo sports and see that the NY Giants had been thrashed by the lowly Cleveland Browns, the 'Skins gave the hapless St. Louis Rams their first W, and Dallas fell to the Arizona Cardinals.

I know, I know, "any given Sunday", but for one week at least mabye things will quiet down.

Well that didn't take long

According to humorist Andy Borowitz, Paul Krugman has wasted no time going Hollywood after getting word of his prize.

Here's an excerpt:

"Mr. Krugman could not be reached for comment and instead referred all questions to his publicist, Sherri Hefstein, whom he hired minutes after winning the Nobel.

According to Ms. Hefstein, Mr. Krugman plans to spend the next few months "building his brand" and will be adapting his book, International Economics: Theory and Policy, into a feature film to star George Clooney. "

Hat tip to Mrs. Angus.

Paulson finally puts out

Details in the NY Times including this graphic:

According to that chart it adds up to $125 billion so far.....

hat tip to LeBron James

Monday, October 13, 2008

I feel sorry for Paul Krugman....

because his well deserved Nobel Prize is always going to be tainted by the idea that the Scando committee wanted to send an anti-Bush message. Just look at this article on Yahoo news:

"Bush critic wins 2008 Nobel for economics"

"STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - U.S. economist Paul Krugman, a fierce critic of the Bush administration for policies that he argues led to the current financial crisis, won the 2008 Nobel prize for economics on Monday."

While I think that Krugger has the right opinion about Bush but for all the wrong reasons, he (Krugman) is/was an excellent trade theorist and is, in my opinion, above the median quality level of all the Econ Nobelists. It's too bad that his receipt of the prize at this point in time will put focus on his political views rather than his economics skills which are/were mad!


Latin American currencies are getting hammered

The US dollar continues to strengthen, especially against some Latin American currencies:

Here's Mexico (graph is pesos per dollar), where the $ has appreciated around 30% in three months:



Here's Brazil, where the $ has appreciated around 40% in the last three months:




And finally Chile, where the $ has appreciated around 25% in the last three months:



Update: The situation is the same in Colombia where the $ has appreciated around 30% in the last three months (thanks to commenter marecha for suggesting this case).

Irony: yer doin' it right!

From the Associated Press:

"World Bank to protect poor from economic turmoil"

"WASHINGTON - The World Bank agreed Sunday to help developing countries strengthen their economies, bolster their financial systems and protect the poor against the financial turmoil in international markets."

This would be a welcome change from the Bank's previous policies!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Put up or Shut up!

I have come the conclusion that all our gub'mint has done so far vis a vis the financial crisis is to make matters worse.

First of all, they helped kick it off with overly lax monetary policy and almost a complete lack of regulatory oversight over private firms selling mortage backed securities and derivatives.

Second, they picked which firms to save and which to let go down in a fairly arbitrary manner (bailout for Bear, toilet for Lehman).

Third, they put together an ill advised rescue plan, and when Congress balked, larded it up with $150 billion of pork to get it through.

Fourth, despite apocalyptic statements like those of Ben Bernanke (if this doesn't pass today we might not have an economy Monday) and others, nothing has been done to implement the plan in the 10 days since its passage.

Now, the NY Times reports that buying the so called toxic assets is on the back burner and the new plan is to directly inject capital into banks by buying shares. While I and many many others have advocated this approach over the buying asset approach, check out this sentence from the article regard implementation:

"Treasury officials said they hoped to make the first capital investments within the next two weeks."

Wow. Our goverment's statements and actions and lack of follow through have had, in my opinion, the effect of increasing fear and uncertainty rather than mitigating either.

People, they can't even follow the first rule for being in a hole.