Sports Fans, Catastrophisizing, and Certitude

As most of you know, I am a big fan of sports. Well, SOME sports — primarily college basketball, college basketball, and some pro football, in about that order. (That includes WOMEN’s basketball, for those of you who haven’t seen the light yet.) As a result, I spend a lot of time reading three sites: Continue reading ‘Sports Fans, Catastrophisizing, and Certitude’

Same Old Bobby?

If you follow UofL football, or college football in general, you know that this past Wednesday was National Signing Day — the day when high school players make their commitments final to their chosen colleges by signing a Letter of Intent.

As a rule, I dislike all the hype put into recruiting, especially the over-the-top attention paid to some 17-year-olds simply because they can do skillful things with a ball. I tend to agree with Mike Wilbon of PTI:

But, there was one Louisville story that caught even my attention: the treatment of Matt Colburn, also known as Mr. Football of South Carolina.

For those who don’t know: Colburn verbally commited to Louisville eight months ago. Not only verbally committed, but shut down his recruiting process. Didn’t visit any other schools, didn’t talk to other coaches. Said he was committed to Louisville, full stop. And our coaches told him they were committed to him. Talked with him about training, about what he would have to do when he got here, about the plans they had for him.

Then two days — TWO DAYS! — before signing day, they pulled their scholarship offer.

There’s been a lot of discussion about this. They offered Colburn a “greyshirt” — basically a possibility that he could enroll in January, and maybe get a scholarship then. This is apparently a somewhat-common practice (Bama does it all the time, supposedly). People have pointed out that the athletes pull their commitments, too, sometimes at the last minute. And of course, there are the “winning is all that matters why do you care about this it’s all part of the business” apologists.

And you know what? I don’t care how you try to explain it away. This is simply wrong. This is bullshit. This is lying to a teenager who has given you his complete loyalty, pulling a fast one on him, his parents, and his coach.

When Jurich hired Bobby Petrino, I was of two minds. There was probably not anyone who said more negative things about Bobby Petrino when he was here, and after he left. As far as I could tell (looking in from the outside), he cared about two things, and two things only: Bobby Petrino, and winning. I don’t mean those were his priorities; I mean that was ALL he cared about.

Then, I thought “maybe Tom Jurich is right. Maybe Bobby has changed. Maybe the NFL blowup, and the loss of everything at Arkansas, and working to rebuild his relationships with his family, have caused him to reflect, to grow up some. Maybe I should give him a chance.”

So I did. I defended the hiring to friends, saying that we all make mistakes and we can all learn from them. I watched how he handled the quarterback situation, how he dealt with the media, how he related to the community. And I was impressed when he and his wife took their own money and set up the Petrino Foundation to serve the community, starting with endowing a pediatric trauma center.

But this? This event, and the way it has been handled, give me pause. This feels a lot like Old Bobby. This feels like the win-at-all-costs, “sucks to be you kid” attitude that the Old Bobby would have had. And to have an assistant coach make the call to the kid and his parents, and not the head coach — well, that just adds to the Old-Bobbiness of it all.

I understand that recruiting is a mess. I understand that the way it is done lets everyone jerk everyone else around. I understand that having a five-stay class is better than a three-star class. I get all that.

But you don’t wait until TWO DAYS before to tell the kid you’re going to drop him, and he needs to make other plans. And you sure don’t give that task to an assistant.

I’m not back to where I was before in my opinion of HCBP — not yet. But I’ve gone from “give him a chance” to “hmmm.” I suspect there are many people who are also saying “hmmm.”

We’ll see.

KY Senate: Politics as Sport

A quick post to comment on the C-J story about Senate Republicans gerry-rigging the rules to ram legislation through without due process: Continue reading ‘KY Senate: Politics as Sport’

dbPoweramp Comes to the Mac!

As some of you know, I recently switched from a PC laptop (Toshiba) to a MacBook Pro. I love the machine, I’m getting used to the differences, and eventually I’ll know the ins and outs on this box as well as I did on the Windows side.

One of the challenges, though, of switching platforms is replacing software. Some things are easy (Office to Office is fairly straightforward), some things are harder (Quicken Mac is a shell of Quicken Windows).

Then there are those special pieces of software that you just come to rely on, and that you miss on the new platform. One of those for me was dbPoweramp. It’s a multi-faceted audio tool, but my main use for it was ripping an entire CD and adding it to my music collection. Imagine my happiness, then, to find out that dbPoweramp Converter is doing an open beta for the Mac!

Go grab the download file from here, install it, then open it. You’ll see a pretty basic opening screen: 

As you can see, the software basically converts and moves audio files from one format and location to another. Simple, right? But oh, the features contained in those simple titles! Let’s take a look at the screen you get when you choose to rip a CD:

Looking at this screen, you can see the MANY excellent features included in this tool! Let me note the ones that I find most valuable:

  • It automatially loads the metadata for the CD by searching for the CD in a number of online databases, including freeDB, All Media Guide, MusicBrainz, and more.
  • It get the CRC for each track from other people who have ripped the track (more on this later).
  • It lets you edit the meta for both the entire CD and for each track before you rip and save the files.
  • It converts to a lot, and I mean a LOT, of different file formats: FLAC, MP3, AAC, and eight more.
  • It lets you name the files the way YOU want to name them. Like the disk and track number at the front? No problem. Want the artist’s name first? Easy. In fact, you can choose from 19 different pieces of metadata to build your folder path and track names.

Of course, all of this would be pretty useless if the tool didn’t create quality audio files. The great thing is, it does! In fact, not only can it rip brand-new CDs to a high level of quality; it can read worn and scratched CDs through a process of multi-reading and auto-correction, comparing the resulting CRC to the one it pulled earlier. I’ve had it successfully rip some old CDs and “bring the music back,” as it were.

dbPoweramp is my go-to tool for any sort of audio conversion or CD ripping. It is well-thought-out, well-built, well-maintained software. I loved it on my Windows PCs, and now I’m thrilled to have it for my Mac. Give it a try — you’ll be glad you did.

DUI Senator Misreads Constitution

Kentucky State Senator Brandon Smith, already famous for his amazingly bad misreading of climate science, has now added a bad misreading of the state Constitution to his repertoire. And so far, a judge is letting him get away with it.

Arrested on January 6 — the first day of this year’s legislative session — for drunk driving, Sen. Smith is now claiming that all charges should be dropped because of this clause in the state Constitution:

“The members of the General Assembly shall, in all cases except treason, felony, breach or surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House they shall not be questioned in any other place.”

The judge and the county attorney in the case have delayed the case until February 12 so they can “review the documents.” Let me give them some help. Continue reading ‘DUI Senator Misreads Constitution’

Are We Really Shooting Worse?

Lots of people are saying this is one of the worst-shooting teams of recent memory. I know it seems that way, especially last weekend – but let’s look at some data and not trust our lying eyes.

So, using the great site Sports Reference, I pulled down game stats for the past five seasons. I then did some analysis.

First, I ran out FG% by game for the past five years, and did some graphs to see if I could see trends. The game-by-game graphs were too volatile, so I added four-game rolling trendlines. That seemed to show that this team was under earlier teams – but then I realized that our FG% was only part of the equation.

If you are a bad-shooting team, but your opponents shoot WORSE, isn’t that the stat that really matters?

So, I went back and added a rolling cumulative percentage, game by game, for both us and our opponents. THEN, I did a column showing the cumulative game-by-game difference.

Here are the results, both through 18 games and through the end of the year, showing both our FG% and the difference with our opponents:

2010-2011 — 47.7% through 18 (up 8.7%), finish 45.3% (up 5.9%)

2011-2012 — 43.2% through 18 (up 6.7%), finish 42.2% (up 3.8%)

2012-2013 — 45.4% through 18 (up 5.8%), finish 45.6% (up 6.1%)

2013-2014 — 47.1% through 18 (up 7.6%), finish 47.1% (up 7.5%) 

2014-2015 — 42.7% through 18 (up 5.7%), —

So, no matter how you look at it, this year’s FG% is lower through 18 games than any of the previous teams, AND their margin against their opponents is smaller as well.

Note, of course, that if you subtract the margin from our FG%, you can see our opponents are also shooting lower than any year except 2011-2012. So, this year’s defense is usually giving us a margin of safety. But not always.

Let’s hope that the offensive numbers go up at least a little, and that our defense continues to be strong. I’ll post updates on these stats as the season goes along.

Can A Loss Be A Win?

My wife and I traveled to a funeral on Saturday, and listened to the game on the way back to Louisville from Dayton. We were able to pick up the game at halftime, and listened to the end. And while I was disappointed in the loss, I have to say:

Outside of the score, this was a win for Louisville.

Yes, I know, that’s at best an oxymoron, and at worst one of those “moral victories” claims. But seriously, this game is going to produce more dividends down the road, I think, than if one of the two shots at the end had actually gone in and we had won.

Chris Jones continued his upward trajectory as a point guard. Terry Rozier was, once again, amazing. The 5 position finally showed some signs of life. All good things, all positives we can celebrate.

But you see, we have a HOF coach, and he is going to use this as a teaching-tool-slash-club-to-beat-you-with for probably the next three months. As in,

“See what happens when you don’t play defense?”
“See why you need to get stronger, Mango?”
“See what happens, Trezl, when you disappear?”
“See what happens, bench players, when we get nothing from you?”
“See what happens, everyone, when you lose focus and let a team back into the game?”

I’m going to predict that this team is going to make a deep run in March, and when they do, they are going to reference this loss. They are going to learn from it, over and over again. Because as a person who works in adult learning in my career, there’s a truism that definitely applies:

Adults learn more from failure than from success.

Wrong Approach on Heroin

So, the new legislative session starts, and everyone wants to do something about the heroin problem. Citizens are calling for action, treatment professionals are calling for action, local elected leaders are calling for action. So the General Assembly acts.

And promptly takes the exact wrong action. Continue reading ‘Wrong Approach on Heroin’

I’m Back

After many months away from all my sites, after many months of combining work with campaigning, after many months of doing no writing except for campaign blurbs and publicity pieces, I am very pleased and excited to share this important news:

I’m back.

After the election was over, I took some time away by doing one of my “custom Bruce Maples trips” (point the car in some direction, in this case Northeast, and take off). After that trip was over, I had to do some campaign clean-up tasks, and get some music things ready at church, and catch up some things around the house. But now, almost exactly a month after the election, I am ready and eager to begin writing again.

I am cross-posting this to all four sites, so if you follow me in more than one venue you will see it multiple times. After this, though, I should be back to keeping different content on each site.

Thanks for hanging in there while I was away. Thanks for coming back and reading this. And thanks for your encouragements, your friendships, and your willingness to see what I have to say.

Let’s get to writing.

Explainer: Government Shutdown vs Government Default

As we stumble, seemingly inevitably, to a government shutdown at midnight Monday, there is already talk of a possible default later in October. Some people may not be clear on the difference, so it seemed timely to do an Explainer on the two topics. Continue reading ‘Explainer: Government Shutdown vs Government Default’