December 22, 2010

The Kids are Not All Right

This piece from Katherine Birbalsingh is simply fantastic.

Ms. Kirbalsingh, a minority teacher in England's public school system and a former Marxist, details how her experiences with leftist policies transformed her to the "right wing."

The best part of the piece:

The regular dumbing-down of our examination system is obvious to any teacher who is paying attention and who has been in the game for some time. The refusal to allow children to fail at anything is endemic in a school culture that always looks after self-esteem and misses the crucial point, which is that children's self-esteem depends on achieving real success. If we never encourage them to challenge themselves by risking failure, self-esteem will never come.

I started to climb the professional teaching ladder, rising to positions of middle and senior management. There too I succeeded but often only by fighting against people's innate liberalism. Indeed, I would sometimes find myself arguing with my own deeply-embedded liberalism: "Take pity on the boy. Don't punish him. It isn't his fault he didn't do his homework; just look at his home situation." Or "Why ask them to do their ties to the top or tuck their shirts in? What does any of that have to do with learning?"

I had become indoctrinated by all the trendy nonsense dictating that if children are not behaving in your classroom, it is because you have been standing in front of them for more than five minutes trying to teach them. If only you had sat them in groups with you as facilitator, rather than teacher at the front, then you'd have the safe environment conducive to learning that we all seek. The basic ideology is that if there is chaos in the classroom, it is the teacher's fault. Children are not responsible for themselves, while senior management fails to establish systems that support teachers and punish children for not doing their homework, whatever their home situation.

I argued constantly with my colleagues and bosses. Often, I won and, almost as if they were inextricably linked, as the innate liberalism within people waned, the department or the school would improve. In every instance, I could see for myself that a move away from liberalism was a step in the right direction, a step that brought calm out of chaos, learning in place of trendiness, and success instead of failure.

December 20, 2010

Danny Woodhead - My New Favorite Player

If you haven't been paying attention to Danny Woodhead of the New England Patriots, you are missing out on a great story.

Danny Woodhead is listed as 5 ft. 7 in., 190 lbs (this means he is 5 ft. 6 in., 180 lbs). He played his college football at Chadron State College (a Division II school in Chadron Nebraska).

He was cut from the NY Jets before the season started. The Patriots picked him up and he has been nothing short of amazing.

Here is a video of Woodhead trying to sell his own jersey to Patriot fans at Modell's:

December 17, 2010

Paul Ryan on the Tax Deal

I am really struggling with my position on the tax deal.

On one hand, I really find myself agreeing with what Mr. Quinn had to say on the issue.

However, Mr. Ryan in the speech delivered on the House floor is also very persuasive.

Sometimes you have to balance ideology with practicality, but if you do it too much and too often, you end up becoming a politician.

Pretty Spectacular

I am not much of an X-games guy, but the video below is pretty remarkable:

Vanderbilt's Next Football Coach

I am an alumni of Vanderbilt and a former student-athlete.

We just hired a new football coach.

Here is an email I sent to the Director of Alumni relations outlining my thoughts on the hire:

Dear ________,

I hope you are having a great day and week.

Well, it looks like we have a new football coach at Vanderbilt.

I hope my instincts are completely wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time), but I think this decision and the process behind this decision was about as well thought out and executed as the decision for Vanderbilt to support President Obama’s Health Care legislation.
I will hope against hope that James Franklin turns out to be the next great head coach in the SEC. That being said, I would be very curious to learn how the administration decided that James Franklin is qualified to be the next head coach at Vanderbilt.

You comment below that James Franklin is one of the nation’s “top offensive coordinators.” I would like to know what data set you studied to come to this conclusion?

In his three years as OC at Maryland, Coach Franklin’s offenses had an average ranking for total offense of 84 (out of 120 teams) and averaged roughly 23 points per game. Maryland' record in his time as OC has been 18-19.

So, in other words, roughly 70% of the offenses in the country had better numbers than Coach Franklin over the last three years, and let’s not forget that this was with the superior recruiting talents that Coach Franklin brings to the table.

In the two years he was OC at Kansas State, his offenses had an average ranking for total offense of 64 (out of 120 teams) and averaged 28 points per game. This was in a conference that played no defense and he had a first round NFL Quarterback in the two years he was calling plays. Kansas State's record in his time as OC was 12-13.

So, in other words, 53% of the offenses in the country had better offenses than Coach Franklin while at Kansas State. And let’s not forget that this was with the superior recruiting talent that Coach Franklin brings to the table.

So, all-in-all, we are looking at a coach with this resume:

No head coaching experience
No ties to the SEC
30-32 record as a signal caller
Average total offensive ranking of 74 out 120 teams
Average of 25 points per game

Just because Coach Franklin’s bio says he is one of the nation’s “top offensive coordinators” doesn’t make it so. When on average 61% of FBS teams have better offensive numbers than you, you statistically cannot be considered to be in the top.

Let’s also consider the fact that Coach Franklin doesn’t have one bit of experience in the SEC. I would be willing to bet that he has never even attended an SEC game or recruited below the Mason-Dixon line.

As for recruiting, I don’t doubt that Coach Franklin can bring in some better talent than the previous staff. However, let’s keep this in mind when it comes to recruiting at Vanderbilt. In order for Vanderbilt to have the 10th best recruiting class in the SEC, we would have to jump 20 spots in the recruiting rankings. If we wanted to have middle-of-the-road talent in the SEC, we would have to jump over 30 spots in the recruiting rankings. Given our academic requirements and other limitations, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to out-recruit anyone in the SEC.

With this in mind, I would like to think that Vanderbilt would realize that if you can’t out-talent someone, you have to outsmart them or out-scheme them.

The way you can outsmart or out-scheme someone is to do something unique and something that is difficult to prepare for. Coach Malzahn runs a unique offense. Ken N. at Navy runs a unique offense. Troy Calhoun at Air Force runs a unique offense. Dan Holgerson at Oklahoma State (now HC in waiting at West Virginia) runs a unique offense. Chip Kelly runs a unique offense. Mike Leach runs a unique offense.

Vanderbilt needs a system offense that can give us a competitive advantage against more talented teams.

Coach Franklin is going to be bringing his “Cheesecake Factory Offense” (CFO) with him to Vanderbilt.

The CFO is just like the experience you have at the restaurant. If you want Chinese, they got it. If you want Mexican, they got it. If you want Italian, they got it. Coach Franklin’s offense is very similar. If you want a little West Coast Offense, he’s got it. If you want a little Power O, he’s got it. If you want some Norv Turner stretch passing game, he’s got it. If you want some read option, he’s got it.

In fact, here is what Coach Franklin had to say about system offenses in an interview:

Tony: What are the trends you see developing in college football.
James: I see the end of “pure systems”. Teams are combining parts of different systems to come up with hybrid systems. For a while everyone was in love with the Spread but as defenses saw more of it they started to defend it much more effectively

I wonder if Coach Malzahn or Coach Kelly, the two offensive coaches calling plays in this year’s National Championship game, would agree with Coach Franklin’s assessment of the end of “pure systems.”

If you want to understand the advantage of having a system, see the below comments about Mike Leach’s “pure system” offense:

Last year, Tech averaged 60 passes a game so it is obviously not a balanced attack, but this actually works in their favor. In practice, they spend virtually all their time focusing on fundamentals related to the passing game. From the time they hit the practice field until they leave, the ball is in the air and the emphasis in on throwing, catching and protecting the quarterback.

It takes great confidence in your scheme to be able to take this approach, but the players appreciate it because they can focus on execution.

Practice -- What's Different

When you watch Texas Tech practice, it doesn't seem as structured as most college practices. They do not stretch as a team and unlike most practices, there is not a horn blowing every five minutes to change drills. The bottom line is that the cosmetic appearance of practice is not as important to Leach as it is to some coaches.

Although not as structured, it is impressive to watch Texas Tech practice and you quickly see why it is so successful. The ball is always in the air and what the Red Raiders practice is what you see them do in a game. They work on every phase of their package every day and in most passing drills, there are four quarterbacks throwing and every eligible receiver catching on each snap.

There is great detail given to fundamentals in all phases of the passing game. Wide receivers, for example, work every day on releases versus different coverages, ball security, scrambling drills, blocking and routes versus specific coverages. 

I am not being negative just to be negative, but I cannot for the life of me find a solid reason to get behind the thought process of this hire.

How you make decisions is just as important as the outcome of those decisions because if the thought process is rational and reasoned, you can drastically increase the likelihood of positive outcomes.

If I am playing blackjack and I have 19 and the house is showing a 6, the right decision is to stay (this is not debatable). If I decide to go with my “gut” and hit and I pull a 2 out of my rear, that doesn’t mean I made a good decision. I simply got lucky and eventually bad outcomes will follow my errant thought process.

I hope James Franklin is the 2 to our 19, but I still can’t find a way to support the thought process behind this hire.

Please let me know where I have gone wrong. 

Go Dores! 

December 8, 2010

Was the Tax Compromise a Win?

According to James Quinn, no it was not:
I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood movies. Below are two of the greatest scenes in movie history, with two of the greatest, most quoted lines in history. The lines are:

“Go ahead, make my day.”
“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
For some strange reason these two lines came to my mind as I watched President Obama announce the Great Tax Compromise of 2010. In both scenes the criminals came to their senses when confronted with Dirty Harry. Our criminal Congress and criminal president reached for the gun, because they feel lucky. We know what happens next when confronted with a .44 Magnum.
Obama and his new Republican friends agreed to add $1 trillion to the national debt in the next two years. That is 30% of our entire budget and 7% of GDP. Here are some words of wisdom on this subject, spoken a few years ago:
“Deficits mean future tax increases, pure and simple. Deficit spending should be viewed as a tax on future generations, and politicians who create deficits should be exposed as tax hikers.” – Ron Paul
I have no issue with low taxes. I would like lower taxes. But, we’ve all become Keynesians if we agree with the “compromise” that was reached yesterday. Republicans have not kept taxes low. They’ve insured that future generations will have higher taxes so they can enjoy the good times in 2011 and 2012.
The big surprise was the 2% payroll “tax cut” for 2011. The social security tax would be reduced from 6.2% to 4.2% for one year. This will provide a tax cut of $1,000 for the average American family making the median income of $50,000. It will cost $120 billion. This is certainly an interesting idea when social security has already promised to pay out $17.5 trillion more than it will ever bring in. The Washington, D.C., politician solution to a massive entitlement liability is to make it larger, so that we can buy a new 52 inch HDTV today.
A $1,000 tax cut comes to $20 per week for the average family. Now here is where the Federal Reserve and their politician protectors in Congress and the White House get you while you are not looking. As the world realizes that American politicians have no intention of cutting deficits, the U.S. dollar will continue to weaken. This is what Ben Bernanke wants. It makes our debt burden easier to pay back while screwing our foreign lenders. The result of the weakening dollar has been a dramatic surge in oil and food prices. The average American family drives 25,000 miles per year in two cars. The average car gets 20 mpg. Therefore, the average family is using 1,250 gallons of gas per year. Gas prices are at a two year high and will go higher as the dollar weakens. The entire $1,000 “tax cut” will be utilized to pay the higher price for gas. This doesn’t take into account the much higher food prices headed down the track, along with higher cost for all the stuff we import.
The ruling elite have convinced you that the tax cut will benefit you, when the inflation they have created has actually made your poorer. Thank you sir may I have another.
The 10-year Treasury surged 16 basis points this morning to 3.08%. This is the highest level since July and is now up .68% since Ben Bernanke indicated QE2 was on the way. QE2 was supposed to reduce long term interest rates. Mortgage rates are going up, not down. Housing prices are already in free-fall again. Higher mortage rates will destroy the housing market. Obama, Bernanke and Congress have created the perfect storm. Keep partying today, for tomorrow will be painful.

December 6, 2010

200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

This is amazing stuff:

Bye Bye Bake Sales

From Paul Jacob's blog:

It sounded like a good idea — Michelle Obama would get involved in a campaign to reduce childhood obesity. Obesity is a problem, yes, and a good cause for the First Lady. But, today, advocacy must always be paired with legislation.

An AP news story provides all you really need to know:

A child nutrition bill on its way to President Barack Obama — and championed by the first lady — gives the government power to limit school bake sales and other fundraisers that health advocates say sometimes replace wholesome meals in the lunchroom.

So now we are to have federal government’s micro-mismanagement reach far beyond the curriculum. The basic idea being . . . give up on parents. Give up on local control. Go, Washington!

Our national nannies took special care with the bill’s language, adding the category of school fundraisers as a special target of the regulations. Apparently, they can’t stand the fact that, on special occasions, mothers and fathers bake up sugary treats to sell, to support special school activities that affect their kids.

I guess they want us to sell broccoli.

Yup. That’ll send the school band to Disneyland.

The whole bill is a bad idea, and not just because Washington can’t tell special occasions from one’s day-in/day-out diet. The very singling out of special fundraisers for federal attention shows just how far into our lives Washington’s busybodies believe they can insert themselves.

Eye Popping Stat of the Day

From Paul Kedrosky's site:

U.S. share of world's 100 tallest buildings:
  • 1990: 80%
  • 2012: 18%

December 1, 2010

Avoid Facebook - Save Your Marriage

Headline from an article in Britain's Daily Mail: The marriage killer: One in five American divorces now involve Facebook

From the article:

It used to be the tell-tale lipstick on the collar. Then there were the give-away texts that spelled the death knell for many marriages.

But now one in five divorces involve the social networking site Facebook, according to a new survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

.......Flirty messages and photographs found on Facebook are increasingly being cited as proof of unreasonable behaviour or irreconcilable differences.

Many cases revolve around social media users who get back in touch with old flames they hadn’t heard from in many years.
Facebook was by far the biggest offender, with 66 per cent of lawyers citing it as the primary source of evidence in a divorce case. MySpace followed with 15 per cent, Twitter at 5 per cent and other choices lumped together at 14 per cent.