Sunday, March 11, 2018

California is soooo smart

Businesses have to comply with all sorts of disclosure requirements, none more onerous than those required by The Moonbean State, aka California. Any product that contains any substance that might possibly maybe under some circumstances be hazardous requires a disclosure. This is the one for motor vehicles:

WARNING: Motor vehicles contain fuel, oils and fluids, battery posts, terminals and related accessories which contain lead and lead compounds and other chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm. These chemicals are found in vehicles, vehicle parts and accessories, both new and as replacements. When being serviced, these vehicles generate used oil, waste fluids, grease, fumes and particulates, all known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm.

What would we do if the State of California weren't there to tell us that motor vehicles contain oil and other stinky stuff that might be hazardous? Oh thank you Governor Brown, thank you!

OK you say, that's not so bad. Vehicles are big dangerous things and what's wrong with a few disclosures? But California requires it on all sorts of products. According to Amazon, this is the required warning for electrical cords:

WARNING: The wires of this product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.

Ridiculous, but what's the harm? It's a trap that allows California "consumer" activists to blackmail unwitting businesses that violate these requirements, even unintentionally. These warnings do nothing to protect consumers and do everything to promote the growth of the nanny state and line the pockets of class action attorneys.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

ESPN does it again

The first Summit League championship of the day is done with South Dakota State beating South Dakota 65-50 in the women's game on ESPNU. I consider myself neutral as I have a degree from both schools and actually drew a few (small) paychecks from both. I wish USD had played better, but SDSU earned the win. The same two schools face off on ESPN2 in the men's championship game tonight.

While it is nice to have local games on ESPN, I wish they would respect the region with their choice of TV crew, particularly the analyst. On ESPNU today they had some supposedly famous coach of whom I have never heard. She didn't seem to have anything to say beyond, "They are very familiar with each other" (which is obvious) and "They don't like each other" (which I think is a reach). She pronounced "coyotes" correctly (two syllables) for most of the game but lapsed into a few "coyotees" (three syllables) toward the end. In case an ESPN exec stumbles on this post, here is what you should do for this tournament: Hire Kelly Stewart of Midco Sports. Although she is only two years removed from playing for USD, she would have had far more insight on these two teams than someone parachuting in from wherever. In fact, let her do the men's game also. She knows about that too. And as a former Coyote she knows local pronunciation.

Midco has grown into a great local sports operation and in recent years has done a good job during the first three days of the tournament, but every year they get big-footed by ESPN for the finals. There really are people out here who can do the job.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


The CNN documentary on the Patty Hearst case angers me, not because of anything involving Hearst directly, but because the scumbag William Harris is given a platform to claim victimhood and explain away his criminal, murderous acts. My immediate reaction was, "How is this guy out of prison?"

Harris, the leader of the Symbionese Liberation Army, claims six of his comrades were murdered by the LAPD in 1974, a claim repeated later in the episode by SLA sympathizer Micki Scott, who was never prosecuted for harboring fugitives. Let's see, you have a group of bank robbers who call themselves an "army" holed up in a house, shooting at officers and news crews with automatic weapons, and how dare the LAPD shoot back?

Then Myrna Lee Opsahl was murdered when the remnants of the SLA robbed another bank, and Harris explains it away as an "accident." Never mind that this "accident" occurred during a bank robbery that he planned. Opsahl, a 42-year-old mother of four, was in the bank to deposit receipts for her church group. A threatening lady indeed. Harris eventually (30 years later) served four years in prison for this murder. His former wife Emily, who pulled the trigger to kill Opsahl, served five years. For the past decade these criminals have been free; meanwhile Opsahl's family has been without her for nearly 45 years.

I guess if you want to commit a murder, announce that you are a revolutionary and do in Governor Moonbeam's California. In a so-called red state, Harris would have been executed or sentenced to life in prison without parole for his violent crimes. It's actually hard to find a complete list of his crimes since web searches get sidetracked by the Hearst story, but from what I can tell Harris served about 11 years in prison total for kidnapping (Hearst), at least two bank robberies, involvement in two murders, and a whole bunch of weapons violations. Drug addicts have served longer sentences for possessing a couple of pills. Shame on California for letting this guy out of of jail, and shame on CNN for giving publicity to him and his apologists.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What next for the Summit? Minnesota?

For the basketball coaches at the four Summit League schools outside of the I-29 corridor (Fort Wayne, Western Illinois, Oral Roberts, Denver), this season their greatest fear appears to be coming to pass. In both men's and women's basketball, if the seedings hold, the nationally-televised Summit League championship games will be between South Dakota and South Dakota State. The games will be March 6 in Sioux Falls, an easy 50-mile drive down I-29 from both campuses. The winners move on to the big NCAA tournaments. In college athletics, success begets success, and USD-SDSU finals for both men and women televised from a packed Premier Center will be an all-day recruiting ad directed at high school basketball stars across the Upper Midwest. "Big 10 not recruiting you? Want to play in the NCAA Division 1 tournament? You can do it at South Dakota (State)."

Although teams such as the Western Illinois women and Fort Wayne men have proven it is possible to win de-facto tournament road games, there is no denying the I-29 schools (North Dakota State, USD, SDSU, Omaha) have a fan support advantage over the other four with the tournament in Sioux Falls every year. There's also no denying that the league has made a lot more money since it moved to Sioux Falls in 2009 than it did playing to mostly-empty arenas in Tulsa, Kansas City, Chicago or wherever. So while the four unfortunate coaches may not like the home-court advantage given to the other teams, their athletic directors like those big checks coming in from the league office every year after the tournament.

Still, the league has experienced a lot of turnover in its history and nothing prevents those four outliers from looking around for a better situation. Wikipedia lists 22 former members, including as far east as Connecticut (Central Connecticut State) and as far south as Louisiana (Centenary). Just last year IUPUI left the league, and next year North Dakota (I-29!) will join, making the league even more Dakota-centric.

I don't know if this will happen, but if you start with the five I-29 schools there are three logical choices for filling out an eight-team league. None of them are current members, so I would start by saying b'bye to the afore-mentioned Fort Wayne, Western Illinois, Oral Roberts and Denver. The three new schools should all be from Minnesota: St. Cloud, Duluth, and Mankato. The problem is all three currently are Division 2 in the relevant sports. To my knowledge, the only one that has considered making the switch is St. Cloud, which wanted to drop football a couple years ago. All 16 Northern Sun Conference teams play football and most of them want it to stay that way, so in a strange way the easiest way for St. Cloud to drop football might be to go D1 and join the Summit League, which does not have football. (The Dakota schools and Western Illinois are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.)

The question isn't why should the three Minnesota schools go D1, but why haven't they already? The official answer is the State of Minnesota budget, and the slightly deeper answer is Gopher protection. The powers in Minnesota do not want schools from the in-state hinterlands recruiting D1 players away from the University of Minnesota. What they can't prevent is schools from just across the border from doing it.

So because of money and politics we have a school like Mankato, which has 15,000 students and styles itself as Minnesota State, playing D2 basketball against church schools like Augustana which has fewer than 2,000 students.* In my opinion, the Summit League should consist of SDSU, USD, NDSU, UND, Omaha, Mankato aka Minnesota State, Duluth, and St. Cloud. These are all public universities of about the same size. Currently the longest trip in the Summit is Ft. Wayne to Denver, 1,100 miles. In the new Summit, it would be 500 miles from Duluth to Omaha.

This revision looks suspiciously like the North Central Conference, that great D2 conference of the northern plains that lasted from 1922 to 2008. All eight schools are former members of the NCC. The NCC broke up because the core four Dakota schools went D1 and others such as St. Cloud and Mankato weren't ready. Duluth actually joined the NCC after the core four had already left, but with more than 11,000 students they fit a mid-major D1 profile. I think the three Minnesota schools should decide to be ready, but I am not a taxpayer in that socialist state (thank God) so I have no say. For my own selfish reasons maybe I shouldn't want three more D1 schools competing directly with SDSU for Minnesota recruits (e.g. Jackrabbit legend Nate Wolters, a St. Cloud native), but this just makes so much sense.

I admit I spend too much time watching talking heads on ESPN. In turn, they spend too much time talking about just a few high-profile basketball programs that serve as one-year stopovers for NBA prospects. But there are 350 D1 schools. More than 99% of D1 college players have no chance of playing in the NBA or WNBA. Mike Daum of SDSU aside, it's this 99% that make up Summit League rosters. For them, D1 basketball is about playing some ball while getting an education and maybe getting to the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile they provide some entertainment in a place like Sioux Falls at a time when winter still holds a grip. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Compared to many other smaller conferences I think the Summit League is already successful, but I also think an I-29/Minnesota D1 conference would be even better.

* In 2015-16, Augustana beat Iowa of the Big 10 in an exhibition game and won the men's NCAA D2 national championship despite being the 15th-largest school in the Northern Sun, but that doesn't really help my argument here. 😁 Gotta have players, and that year they had three great players.

Update: Local talking heads have mentioned St. Cloud and Mankato as possible additions, but they also have mentioned Augustana. While this would make huge sense geographically, and while Augie competed against many of these schools in the NCC, it's just hard to get past the size disparity. It has more to do with number of alumni and their dollars rather than number of current students. If the Vikings made the move, they probably would want to keep football but perhaps as a non-scholarship sport, i.e the Pioneer League, which has 11 members spread across the entire country, the closest of which is Drake. So there does seem to be a path to D1. Having Augie in the Summit would be crazy, but maybe that's crazy good.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Nonsense from a Diva

The injured diva receiver for the hapless Giants posted a video which he claims demonstrates a double standard for the way he is treated after a sideline rant versus how Tom Brady is treated. For those dimwits who don't understand (i.e. everyone on ESPN's SportsNation yesterday, one of who subtlety threw the race card while the other three nodded knowingly), this is why they are treated differently:

  • In general, the quarterback is the leader and the voice of the offense. It is in his job description to tell the other players what to do, emphatically if necessary. A large percentage of wide receivers are selfish divas who usually open their mouths just to complain about their individual stats. For them to inject their selfish complaints into the in-game process is just unnecessary, distracting noise.
  • Specific to these two players: Brady has 18 years of experience and is the winningest quarterback of all time, including five championships. It is impossible to deny that the team wins because of Brady. Yes, he yells at teammates and coaches once in a while, then 78% of the time they win the game. The diva receiver's team has won 44% of the games in which he has played.

Last year, the only season the Giants have been any good during the diva's four years, he was widely criticized for his actions leading up to the team's playoff game. Then after he came up small during that game, a 38-13 loss, the New York Post described him as a sobbing mess. In that article, the diva's own teammate threw him under the bus: "Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas, a team captain who is close with Beckham, actually said the moment on Sunday 'might have been too much’ for Beckham." Astounding.

The diva receiver's biggest accomplishment was in a game three years ago that the Giants lost, a one-handed catch. Look at South Dakota State highlights and you'll see tight end Dallas Goedert doing that every week.

Piling on with a few more numbers: In the playoffs, Brady has 9,094 yards passing for 63 touchdowns, another 6 touchdowns rushing, team record 25-9 with five Super Bowl championships. The diva's playoff record is four catches for 28 yards, three dropped passes, and an 0-1 team record. This year, Brady has 3,632 yards passing (leads league) with 26 touchdowns and a team record of 10-2 (leads league). Diva has 25 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns with a team record of 0-4 with him and 2-6 since he got injured. Is this video just a narcissistic cry for attention as he languishes unnoticed on the injured list?

On one hand we have the most accomplished on-field leader in NFL history. On the other we have a selfish diva on a team that loses most of the time, and the one time he had a chance to shine in a playoff game he fell flat on his face. Apparently that meets L.Z. Granderson's definition of a race-based double standard.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Not going to happen

The Patriots are down to one (great) quarterback after trading Jimmy G to the 49ers. Here come the tweets saying the Patriots should sign Colin Kaepernick, who according to some sources used to be a quarterback. (Who knew?) The "reasoning" in a tweet from someone named Ron Clements is that no one would second guess Belichick or Kraft if they did such a thing.

So Bill Belichick, whose father was in the Navy during WWII, who grew up on the campus of the Naval Academy playing catch with Roger "Captain America" Staubach, who recently narrated a WWII documentary, is going to be the guy who steps forward to sign a Castro-loving, America-hating SJW to be the backup quarterback? And Bob Kraft would be OK with that? Bill has made a lot of surprising personnel moves over the years, but that one would Trump all of them by 1,000,000x. Capitalization intentional.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Conspiracy Theory

Bob McNair, owner of the NFL's Houston Texans, managed to piss off all of his players and plenty of other players from around the league by butchering the cliche about inmates running the asylum in relation to the silly national anthem controversy. I actually understand why players might be feeling disrespected, especially when you substitute "prison" for "asylum," as McNair did.

But wait, said McNair, the prisoners I was referring to were not the players, but staffers in the league office who he apparently believes have been too out in front on this issue to the detriment of the owners. From their reactions, it is apparent the players did not believe this explanation.

No matter, everyone involved looks bad. The owners are disorganized idiots, the league office panders to the players as if it is running a Clinton campaign, and the players are petulant brats living in a perpetual state of outrage in reaction to every slight, real or imagined.

But wait, I have a conspiracy theory. The protests were sort of dying down until The Donald stirred things up about six weeks ago. Since then Trump had been goading the owners into taking stronger action and the league has been in turmoil. Why would Donald do this to the owners, who presumably are his buddies in the old white billionaire fraternity?

Consider Trump's history with pro football. After failing in an attempt to buy the Baltimore Colts, Trump bought a team in the USFL in 1983 with the goal of competing with and perhaps forcing a merger with the NFL. After the USFL hit the rocks, he led a monopoly lawsuit against the NFL. The USFL won the lawsuit but was awarded only $3 in damages. He failed in attempts to buy the New England Patriots in the late 80's and the Buffalo Bills in 2014. A quote attributed to Burt Reynolds, a minority owner in another USFL team, said Trump's "dream was to be in the National Football League. And they didn't want him."

So was this recent kerfuffle stoked to an inferno by Trump to stick it to the guys who wouldn't let him in their club? His core white trash supporters get to be mad both at pampered black athletes for disrespecting the flag, the military and the country, and at rich CEOs for not "putting them in their place." Isn't such scheming beneath the dignity of the office of President of the United States of America? Of course it is, but we're talking about Donald Trump here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

1st Amendment

The national anthem thing involving NFL players was in the process of dying down until the Tweeter In Chief injected life into it. I watch the NFL because I like the strategy and the action and don't give a damn about who sits, who kneels, and who stays in the locker room. As long as my two favorite quarterbacks Brady and Rodgers are slinging it, I don't care about peripheral issues.

I do think one thing needs to be mentioned about this: The First Amendment to the Constitution does NOT say, "Your employer can't can your ass if you say something they don't like." Have 99% of the people who cry "First Amendment" ever read these words?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment guarantees that you can't be thrown in jail for expressing your opinions. It doesn't say anything about other consequences. Colin Kaepernick has not been jailed for his sitting and kneeling (or for supporting the murderous dictators Castro), but no one is required to give him a job. Yes I despise him, but that is because he made the Packers look foolish in a playoff game, not because of his political views.

I admit I don't want him on my team, but I'm going to claim (you can choose whether or not to believe me) it is because the job of being an NFL quarterback requires extreme attention to detail, and he doesn't have time in his busy Social Justice Warrior schedule to be an NFL quarterback. Brady has done everything he can to avoid being drawn into the political arena after the fourth estate pounced on his indiscretion of displaying a hat from a golfing buddy who happened to be running for President. Since then everyone has assumed Brady is a Trump supporter, but will someone please point me to any statement by Brady supporting any of Trump's policy agenda. Brady's roles in life are father, husband, philanthropist, NFL quarterback, and TB12 pitchman (hopefully in that order), and he doesn't have the time or inclination to be controversial.

Maybe a player at another position could pull off being a part-time player and part-time SJW, but not a quarterback. I don't think the skepticism surrounding Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett regarding his fictionalized account of a confrontation with Vegas police has affected his performance on the field. Maybe Kaepernick should switch positions. Punters and kickers have plenty of free time.

Oct. 26 update: Receiver Anquan Bolin retired from the Bills in August to devote his life to social activism. A return to football was out of the question, he said at the time. Last week the Bills gave Boldin's agent permission to negotiate a trade so Boldin can start drawing a paycheck again. Turns out that being a SJW doesn't pay very well.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Kneel, stay in the locker room, whatever...

Sometimes I imagine myself as a time traveler, viewing the moment as an outsider and trying to put it in some greater context. What would someone from another time and place think about the uproar over The Donald's NFL comments and subsequent actions by the players?

As a time traveler from elsewhere, I don't feel obligated to take sides. I'll just observe that far too many people feel they have the right and obligation to tell others how to behave. This country is supposed to be about freedom and liberty. Instead we have politicians (not just Donald) who pay lip service to such ideals while working furiously to gain power and wield it over others. Well screw you Donald (and Nancy and Chuck), you don't tell me how to live or what to watch.

In fact, having spent more than 60 years on this earth, I am sort of a time traveler. Back in the '60's, I became aware of the NFL at the height of the Packer dynasty. Just after the turn of the century, I was living two exits down from Foxborough where a young backup was called on to hold the Patriot fort until Drew Bledsoe could return. At the end of Sunday's games, I was happy because my two favorite teams (who coincidentally have the two best quarterbacks) had dramatic comeback victories. Meanwhile, most of the deplorables got humiliated, namely the Giants, Seachickens, Raiders and Ravens.

I understand why some people got upset with Donald's speech and subsequent tweets. I refuse to take the bait. Every epoch has its demagogues and heroes. It's hard to ignore someone when they are the President, but demagogues don't deserve our attention. Let's find some heroes of freedom and liberty on whom to lavish our attention.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Another boycott

I am boycotting United Airlines. Not because they pummeled a passenger for being unwilling to be "re-accommodated," but because flying in general is a miserable experience and United is the worst of the worst. Denver is 650 miles away. You can say I have no choice but United when flying from FSD to DEN, which is true, but I have a choice besides flying. I would rather spend all day driving across scenic Nebraska than subject myself to being stuck in a tube and flung across the sky.

Fortunately, as of yesterday, I am unemployed and won't have to fly to one of the coasts anytime soon.

I've always had two rules about investing. Never buy auto companies, and never buy airlines. United's stock got pummeled like an elderly doctor after the incident. It probably will recover in the short term, but in the long term an airline stock is just too volatile for anyone but speculators.

Final takeaway: In my 30 years of business travel, I noticed that hotels got a lot better and airlines got a lot worse. Why is that? Hotels started feeding customers and airlines stopped, but that's just a small part of it. I usually enjoy staying in hotels, the Embassy Suites in San Diego being a rare exception, but flying is a descent into hell. I haven't even mentioned the power-mad pervs at TSA. I don't know what the global solution is, but for me the solution is to avoid airports as much as possible.