Friday, March 27, 2015

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Aw...what's got you down, Betty?  Your Mountaineers bite off a little more than they could chew?  Getting a little confused by the fact that we are destroying our relationship with Israel in favor of a an agreement with a country for whom we are providing air cover in Syria/Iraq and against whom we are supporting the Saudi's in Yemen?  Share your pain, friends.  Right here.

This update comes to you from Terminal C at BWI, where I am shortly to begin my quick hit to Jamaica.  I get there early this afternoon and leave on Monday midday.  This trip was driven by a great case of envy when the Kittens went to Mexico and I realized how the winter had--as Hammer's Mrs. might say--taken the piss out of me.  Four days at an all-inclusive little get away all by my lonesome.  The weather is shaking up to be dreadful down there, so I'll have plenty of time to sleep and grade dreadful War College papers.

Hammer is in full celebration as the Tar Heels lost a tough one to Wisconsin last night--I realize the depth of his hatred, but I put away such things when league honor is at stake.  Hell, I'm even rooting for Duke the rest of the way.  Really great to see Notre Dame still humping it.  I predict they will give Kentucky all they can take.

As this is a BFFFFA, I am obliged to provide weight data, but I forgot to weigh myself this morning whilst I floated about my bedroom thinking only about Jamaica.  I managed also to leave the house without my hearing aids, but turned around in the lane to retrieve them.  On the off chance that I engage in conversation with another human over the next couple of days, I suppose I ought to be able to understand them.  Fear not though, friends, it was a good, disciplined week of dieting and progress toward "150's by 50" remains steady.

Until Jamaica, then.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Does Freedom Die?

Good question right? Well lots of ways, and I would argue we're in the midst of real world examples of just how precarious is this liberty thing. The Founders knew it and so did Ronald Reagan when he famously said we're just a generation away from tyranny (unfortunately it appears our latest generation of college knobs is that generation).

But I'd like to talk about business, specifically BIG business and its role in the destruction of freedom. What's that you say, the Hammer speaking out against free enterprise? Eh, HELL NO! You'll never hear a word uttered from these lips disparaging economic freedom. But that's not what we have now. Oh there's economic freedom of sorts down at the Tickbite level of small bidnez, but we're small fry, I have no doubt they'll get around to us eventually. No what I'm talking about is the "public-private partnership" of Bill Clinton which BHO has elevated to the what I would term the "mercantile state" (one step below fascism).

How so you may ask? Well to talk about Clinton a second, he realized that corporate money was an untapped resource by the Democrats. He came from a State where it really wasn't an option to be a player without cozying up to the State's biggest industries (Tyson Foods. Wally World et al.). So rather than being a flaming Marxist ideologue (like the old lady) our amoral and politically malleable Bill, ever the pragmatist, peddled the influence and took the money. This as much as anything swung the pendulum his way both in Arkansas and nationally. But Bill being Bill he eventually sold his administration to the Chinese, but hey, when you're for sale you're for sale. We can't always choose our customers.

Anyway, back to the point. Obama has taken up where the Clintons left off. Wall Street, the tech giants, the entertainment industry have all benefited greatly from Obama's quid pro quo administration. He's the best president they every had. It's ironic (and laughable) that Trumka and big labor is weaker now than when Obama took office. Every policy this President has pushed weakens the middle class and enriches the wealthiest among us. He's taken the Chicago model nationwide.

So, can we as Republicans (a nominal Republican in my case, just like Trumka I have nowhere else to go) exploit all this? Can we overcome our pro-business leanings?

Before you say no let's get something straight. Big business, small business, medium sized business is NOT about freedom. They're about making money. That's it! No more no less, it's ALL about the bottom line. Lenin had us pegged when he said "Don't worry about the capitalists, they'll sell us the rope we hang them with".  No truer words have ever been spoken. If the tech industry CAN import cheap, cut-rate software engineers they will. In fact if Apple could impose sweat shops paying subsistence wages to nine year olds working seven days a week twelve hours a day... they would (in fact they probably do already in some rathole in China). It's not business' job to regulate itself. Think of it as an insect designed to do two things, eat and procreate. Same with business. Therefore business will do whatever it can to achieve its goals, and will make assessments strictly in terms of cost/benefit and risk/reward. They will lie, cheat and steal to attain their goals (which made them and the Clintons a marriage made in heaven). Business has no love of freedom, business has a love of market share.

Our job (among others) will be to shine a light on the Democrats' nefarious and illegal ties to Big Business and to position them as enemies of the working and middle class. Our job should be to ensure that every time a Democrat starts in with the class warfare rhetoric a light goes on in everybody's head saying HYPOCRITE! We can do that, we should do that. It's the right thing to do and it will pave the way for retaking the White House. But we can't do it with Boehner and McConnell snuggling up to the Chamber. We can't get in a bidding war with the Democrats...WE'D LOSE!

So, this next presidential election we have to attack our enemies, and some of these huge multinationals are fair game. Plus big media IS big business! Our attacks on one will be attacks on the other and we'll neutralize most of the media bias (they'll spend all their time defending themselves). Furthermore we cannot allow the Warren Buffetts and Bll Gates of the world to get away with it. If they want to kiss the Democrats ass they have to know there's a price to be paid. So let's get on the phone and see if they'll sell us some rope.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dispatch from the Road: Newport RI

If it's Wednesday, this must be Newport.  I flew here yesterday for a conference thrown by the Naval War College where today I will once again do my "why aircraft carriers don't suck and aren't a waste of money" pitch.  The audience is a group mainly of academics, with most of us having arrived yesterday and attended the opening dinner last night.  Held in the rotunda room of the original War College building (or the traditional one), I was reunited with an old friend who had previously served as the Naval Attache to China.  Dude is the real deal and funny as all hell.  He told marvelous stories, none of which I can share here....

I will be here until tomorrow afternoon, at which point I will fly back to Baltimore and then head over to teach my class at the Naval Academy.  We are in the final phase of the course, two more months or so and then we're done.

I'm staying at the Hotel Viking, a grand old place here in Newport.  The conference is putting us all up here (by us, I mean the speakers), and we were picked up at the airport in Providence too. All of which is very convenient, but without a car, I am left at the mercy of the shuttle bus they provide to get us back and forth to the college.  Last night for instance, there was a cocktail hour before dinner.  My usual habit is to make it to the last 20 minutes of cocktail hours, but since there was only a shuttle to get us there, I had to act like my brother Tom for a full hour of cocktail party chit-chat.  The good news was that I was among several good friends/interesting people.  The bad news is that I ate a ton of bacon wrapped scallops.  Actually not bad from a diet selection standpoint, simply from a total mass ingested standpoint.  Our dinner speaker was a good friend, a retired Brit two-star with whom I traveled to Taiwan last year.  Gave a pretty rousing, 'the world is going to shit if America doesn't get its act together" speech, one I could probably give myself, but I would not sound nearly as wonderful as he does.

It is cold still here in the arctic regions of America, and there was a good bit of snow on the ground as we flew into Providence.  I am weary of winter, and as we've discussed earlier, I will be turning around rather quickly on Friday morning for a solo weekend in Jamaica.  It appears that the weather gods are not smiling on me, as there is a 50% chance of rain each of the four days I am there.  I will not let this bother me though, as I will have good books to sustain me if forced indoors.

That's all for now.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

UVA Hoops: "Here we are not afraid to follow truth, wherever it may lead".

This quotation is etched into the traditional entrance gate to the University of Virginia
For those uninterested in a post about college basketball, move along. Don't even waste the time bitching about the post with a comment, because I won't post it.  And if I am writing for myself and the Hammer, so be it.  He knows my pain.

Virginia just lost for the second year in a row in the NCAA tournament to Michigan State University.  We were a number 2 seed, they were a #7.  They deserved to be a better seed,  but that is another story entirely.  Last year they beat us  61-59.  This year we lost 60-54.  We had a better team this year than last, they did not.  But we still lost.

My purpose in writing this post is to talk about objectivity, and to urge my fellow Wahoos to begin to use some of it when they evaluate our Men's Basketball Program.  First let me try and objectively do so.

We just completed our second straight 30-4 season.  We won the ACC Regular Season Title for the second year in a row, after winning the ACC tournament last year.  UVA is a gutsy team of players who were not recruited by the top programs in the country, and they are exceptionally well-coached by Tony Bennett, who has improved the team each year under his tenure.  By any objective analysis, this is a good team and maybe a great team, and a program on the rise.

Virginia Basketball has a distinctive style; I will not spend this column talking about whether it is exciting or good for basketball, or any of that garbage, because it is unimportant to the point about objectivity I wish to make.  That style flows from two main lines of operation:  the first is a crushing, stifling, defense, one that demands a considerable amount of teamwork and floor intelligence.  Watching UVA play defense is a thing of beauty, and objectively, we are among the top two or three teams in the country in total defense.  There is a great deal of pride among the players in their ability to shut other teams down, and the team's ability to force other teams into bad shots at the end of the 35 second shot clock is a big reason for its success.

The other line of operation is a patient, ball control offense that values ball movement and screens, and which all things being equal, passes up the opportunity for a decent look at the basket early in the possession in order to get an even BETTER, higher percentage look later on in the shot clock.  Because we use up a lot of shot clock, we score relatively less than the other "elite" programs in the country.  Because of our stifling defense, we used this formula to gain 30 victories.  It is however, a long term strategy that will continue to result in gaudy regular season accomplishment and disappointment in the Tournament. Simply put, our offense is average at best, and this is with good players.  It is average because of its design, just as the defense is unparalleled because of its design.  UVA will not advance to the next level until we recognize this. Which brings up the question of fan objectivity.

For two months, I have conducted a low-level Twitter War with a legion of Wahoo fans who simply do not look at the team with objectivity.  They've fallen in love with Coach Bennett and with his scrappy players (as I have), and they are genuinely (and justifiably) grateful to see UVA Basketball return to a serious level of competition.  I am right there with them.  Having the ability to write a blog post about my disappointment in a 30 win season seemed a distant dream five years ago, but here I am doing it.  That said, UVA has reached "peak basketball", as it has ridden its defensive prowess about as far as it can take them, because when they reach the tournament, they face bigger, stronger, faster teams than Miami, Boston College, Wake Forest and some of the other teams Virginia beat this year during the ACC (sometimes, in very unconvincing fashion).  Unless the offensive "system" makes adjustments, UVA fans are going to have to become satisfied and familiar with the disappointment many feel today.

We played Duke--a generally acknowledged elite program--when we were 19-0 this year.  At home.  At full strength.  A week or so before the game, a friend of mine who I love dearly, but who I fear had fallen victim to the lack of objectivity trap, told me that he thought UVA could beat Kentucky five out of ten times they played.  I was incredulous.  This is a team that got run around on by Davidson, nearly beaten by Virginia Tech, and beat a Maryland team that was missing its two best players.  Duke beat us in no small measure because our offense simply could not produce against them.

Two games later, we beat a spry Louisville team 52-47.  Yes, we won.  But we scored 52 points.  In that game we lost one of our two stars/leading scorers.  But what people forget is that at the time we lost him, he was 1-9 from the field.  In other words, we were again at full strength and nearly lost.

It was actually during the Duke game that I began to publicly question our offensive production, but it wasn't until today that I realized that it isn't a bug in the system, it is a feature of the system.  It is an offensive scheme that will -- all things being equal-- lead to lower scoring games.  And when you encounter another team that plays good defense, or even great defense, and which has an elite offense, we were and are at a great disadvantage.  And that is why unless we figure out how to raise our offensive production, we are going to have to be satisfied with unsatisfying exits from the tournament.

I debuted this sense of systemic flaw in my Twitter ranting today, and the answer I received most prominently was, "there's nothing wrong with the system, we just didn't execute".  Today?  Or against Carolina in the ACC tournament?  Or against Louisville in the final game of the season.  Or against Duke, at our place, when we were at full strength?  No.  This is NOT solely an execution issue. This is an issue of emphasis.  It is an issue of priority.  We have skilled, athletic players who can occasionally get hot shooting.  But we have a system which supports them sub-optimally when we have the ball.  And when they are not executing, the systems architecture--slow, patient, methodical--almost destines the team to long droughts without scoring and subsequent Herculean efforts to dig out.  Which always DEPEND on the stifling defense--which will tend not to be as stifling when you play a quality team.

So back to objectivity.  I think Virginia fans need to be willing to question Tony Bennett's judgment.  I think we need to recognize that we can be constructively critical without begin "Haters".  I think we can all be incredibly happy with our coach, our team, its vibe, and its accomplishments and STILL be able to say, "there is something missing in this team."

Let us not be afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Aw...what's got you down, Champ?  Bracket already busted?  People talking about you team like they are pushovers likely to get beaten by a 7 seed?  Share your pain friend.  It is why we are here.

Weighed in today at 173.8, down 3.6 from last week.  Had a bit of a stomach bug the last two days which helped things along a bit.  For those keeping track, that's 25 lbs since 27 December.  And the lightest I've been since 26 February 2010.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dispatch from the Road: San Diego End of Trip

My apologies to faithful readers who hoped there would be daily updates from San Diego.  I worked all day, had dinners with friends at night, then got home to my room and went right to bed...before waking up early and starting the whole shebang all over again the next day.  Sorry.  Sorta boring.

I landed on Sunday evening, and as I walked off the plane through the jetway, I was greeted with a warm blast of air, a welcome event after a particularly tough winter.  It was sunny and in the 80's still at 1630, but this was to be the best weather of the trip.  Sorta cloudy the rest of the time and it cooled down a bit.
The abomination Hertz gave me

I got to Hertz, where I am a Gold Member.  This means I get to hop into a car without having to speak with a human.  My cellphone told me what space the vehicle was in, but I really didn't pay any attention to the make of the car, thinking it would be some formless mid-size.  Instead, when I got to the car, it was an enormous pick-em-up truck.  In retrospect, I should have gone to the counter and said "uh, no".  But I didn't.  Instead, I drove this behemoth around for four days, much of which time included driving around finding parking spots big enough to accommodate it,  I absolutely hated it.  I certainly can see the utility of such a vehicle for lots of things.  But as a rental in a major metropolitan area? Nope.

Things picked up this afternoon though, as brother Tom arrived in San Diego for  a business trip, and our schedules overlapped enough to have dinner before coming out here to the airport.  Tom is a pleasure to dine with, and he was very complimentary of my bethinned condition, at one point informing me that "you look almost as good as I do".  This is what passes for a compliment from Tom.

I am now at the United Club in San Diego, and the TV is droning CNN annoyingly.  I despise cable news, I really do.  I get almost all of my news these days online, and if I didn't, I'd buy a damn newspaper.

When I downloaded my boarding pass earlier today, I got the little bonus of seeing that I had been upgraded to first class.  This is a nice thing, of course, but to some extent it is wasted on me.  I will put my mask on and earplugs in, and as soon as wheels are up I'll be off to sleep.  For the distance.  Hopefully my seatmate will have a large bladder, as I hope not to be disturbed.

That's all for now, friends.

White Privilege plus Black Power equals no Rednecks

White privilege? It's an interesting concept but I'm white and I don't feel very privileged. I do have a question though. As a white guy, I've been told I can't relate to the black or female or (insert your own whiney grievance group here) experience. Ok, fair enough, but then how can they relate to mine?
I've worked my ass off all my life; cropping tobacco, washing cars (detailing they call it now), digging graves, washing dishes (crockery maintenance they call it now). I could go on and on about the shit jobs I've had but my point is I didn't start off as a titan of the Tickbite small bidnez community or a world renowned opinion leader and political thinker. True, I went through college on the GI Bill which I'll point out I earned after putting up with halfwitted Staff Sergeants and super halfwitted officers telling me shit I already knew.  My benefits included a generous and ginormous education stipend of $288.00 per month in January of 1977 (the same month Jimmy Carter took office). At that point in time those federal dollars paid my rent and utilities (for which I am eternally grateful to the American taxpayer). But it gets better, four years later I was hauling down an incredible $340.00 from Uncle Sam, to which I added $10.00 and got my rent paid (thanks again Sam, you da man!). Brother I was riding the welfare gravy train for all it was worth, but unless I'm badly mistaken minorities had access to this largess as well. Yeah, I'm almost positive they did.
I just get the feeling minorities think life for Whitey is like the old Eddie Murphy skit on SNL when he take on the appearance of a white guy.
Two guys waiting at news stand counter in NYC, one black one Eddie Murphy in white-face.
Black guy gets a paper, pays and leaves.
Eddie gets a paper and the clerk says "It's ok, he's gone, you don't have to pay" Eddie is dumbfounded. The clerk repeats "It's OK! You don't have to pay, the black dude is gone!" 
Eddie laughs and leaves, clerks gives him a 'thumbs up' on the way out. 

Little Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate minority second banana behind Harry Reid (wouldn't you LOVE to work for that idiot?) just accused the Republicans of racism because they're not pushing through Loretta Lynch's AG nomination as fast and as enthusiastically as Democrats require. He said Republicans were "pushing her to the back of the bus". Let's see, we just got rid of the most blatantly racist Attorney General since the Jackson administration (Andy not Jesse) and the Senate is vetting Madame Lynch (appropriately so) and this fat little dweeb from a bankrupt, corrupt state where black folks are often living WORSE than Jackson, Missississippi in the 30's, and after the way he and his Democrat colleagues treated some minority Republican nominees...well Dick is a REAL Dick in my estimation.
I always hated that jumped up, smooth talking little bullshit artist. There's been a trend of recent years for Democrats to talk like castrati with these Mr. Rogers voices. Hillary sounds like Hulk Hogan by comparison, in fact so does Barney Fwank. Anyway they probably do it to annoy us, and with me it works.

Speaking of the willfully androgynous, did you see the CEO of Starbucks wants to start a "conversation about race" presumably while drinking their $7.50 double latte mocha latte deluxe. First let me just say, I'm sure you can get a better cappuccino at an Italian cat house than Starbucks, and probably with a lot less attitude. But this idiot want to talk about race, like we don't now? Jesus H. Criminy that ALL we talk about! HE wants to talk about race because HE lives in Seattle in a gated community where HE has ZERO contact with anybody who doesn't share his tax bracket. Asking a bunch of laptop dependent losers sitting around half the day in a coffee shop to talk about people they haven't a clue about seems to me like self-indulgent bullshit! But then again, that's what liberals do isn't it? Liberalism is just the way they forgive themselves their white privilege. Maybe they should wash a few cars.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bracket Time

Yes sports fans it's that time of year again when the finest in tv network hype and over-the-top corporate hucksterism combine to create an unparalleled spectacle of sports competition performed by abused, exploited and UNCOMPENSATED ghetto-rats (mostly) and million dollar salaried coaches (in $3000.00 suits), all for the amusement of barroom drunks and has-been athletes. Yes indeed MARCH MADNESS is upon us. What a wonderful time of year!

I typically wait for 'you know who' to fill out his bracket because hey, the man is always right, but not this year. I am literally chomping at the bit having been denied my just deserts as the greatest prognosticator since Nostradamus! I am the Edgar Cayce of the court, the Wolf Messing of hoops, the Jean Dixon of dunks! And this year I will NOT be denied!

So...the Conservative Wahoo having recently consumed large quantities of DEA Schedule A pain killers (hip) and antidepressants (UVA 67-UNC 71) is now ready and is firing it up over at CBS sports. The bracket password is rosebud and the address is Don't be a punk (even if you went to a preppy school and wear Dickie-bows), get that bracket filled out and and be somebody!

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