Monday, October 24, 2011

Moneyday Musings

It's Monday. Baby's in day care. Hoping she finally acquires a superpower.

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Barack Obama announced he would be committing our tax dollars to bailing out student loans. That's nice. I'm glad we have a dictatorship model so the President can offer goodies directly to movements he is trying to co-opt.

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Let me be clear; I want Occupy Wall Street to fail. I've heard the spiel about how they have disparate aims, lack a cohesive message, and don't rally around any particular ideology.

So what? What is clear is that they are outraged by perceived injustice, and see the expansion of a government as a remedy. They've lost me right there.

But if they hadn't, I do not at all find it reassuring when a group favors government expansion, but does not know what it wants. Such a group is especially vulnerable to co-option.

I've told I am to disregard my concern, and simply support the group because they oppose "injustice". But I don't think we perceive the same injustices. Economic redistribution qua redistribution is not the same thing, and the unthinking support of that cause has led to some of history's greatest injustices.

Our middle class essentially* has more purchasing power than the middle class of any other country in the world. Is it perfect? No, but there exists the strong possibility the government will make it worse.

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*-Is Luxembourg really a country? Not in any sense material to this discussion**.

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**-Look at their growth industries, for example.

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I feel like the last half of Layla should be playing in the Middle East right now. Next, we're going to find Ahmadinejad in a freezer, hanging on a meat hook.

The best thing about the death of Gaddafi is we no longer have to endure the journalistic parlor game of "spelling Gaddafi's name counter-intuitively". Between this and the death of Usama Bin Laden, fully 10 percent of foreign correspondents will now be forced to retire.

Ironically, now that Obama has done a little bit to earn his Peace Prize, he will never again be considered for one. The key to winning the affections of the Nobel committee is to talk loudly and leave your stick at home.

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Caught Moneyball on Saturday. Some observations:

-A film about the 2002 Oakland Athletics that doesn't mention Barry Zito (who won the Cy Young Award), Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder is a bit like a movie about the 1980s Celtics that makes no mention of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale or Robert Parish. This movie is about the Rosencrantz's and Guildensterns.

-From a Moneyball perspective, trading Carlos Pena to make room for Scott Hatteberg made no sense. Pena was 24, and more productive offensively than Hatteberg had been the prior season. He wound up making less than 1/4th of what the Athletics wound up paying Hatteberg, while being more productive at the plate. The only defense for playing Hatteberg would be the notion a guy hits better when he's not facing the pressure to catch, for which there is no evidence.

-In Hatteberg's defense, the movie makes him out to be an incompetent first basement. He was actually better than Pena, and substantially better than that year's Gold Glove winner (John Olerud for some reason). The transition from catcher to the corners isn't particularly hard; Craig Biggio went from Catcher to 2nd base, won several gold gloves, and actually deserved one of them.

-The 2002 Athletics performed well above their Pythagorean expectation, while the Boston Red Sox and Anaheim Angels performed well below their expectations. In short, the Athletics needed a fair amount of luck to make the playoffs.

-Trading Jeremy Giambi had absolutely nothing to do with Moneyball, and everything to do with the intangibles. The movie basically throws that fact in our face, while eliding it at the same time. At a certain point, the sleight of hand shows contempt for moviegoers.

-Did a real life sportscaster actually suggest the Twins won that playoff series by playing the right kind of baseball? A team that had Christian Guzman and Luis Rivas manning the infield? Even Twins fans will concede that was probably the worst baseball team to ever win a playoff series.

Good movie, but having been aware of the advanced stats movement in baseball for over a decade, it's hard not to notice the fiction component of the non-fiction.

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That's all. Go back to Facebook.

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