TPP: We Need Some Trust-but-Verify

“Trust me — it’s going to be a good thing for everyone. It’s one of the strongest trade agreements ever.

Just trust me.”

President Obama’s message on the Trans-Pacific Pact, the secret trade agreement affecting 40% of the world’s commerce, is beginning to ring pretty hollow. As pointed out by Senator Warren in her staff report “Broken Promises,” the same statements have been made about every so-called “free trade” agreement for the past 20 years.

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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:

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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!

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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.

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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.

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.