Dream Big: Saving the US economy

Now that Obama has gotten his federal aid / bailout package passed the House and is now headed for the Senate it makes me wonder if it will actually work.  Sure there are provisions for building schools, roads, upgrading housing as well as provisions for decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.  But, there is a big problem in my opinion.  There is no far reaching goal.  What America needs are some goals that seem impossible along with ones that are easily achievable.

What I’d like to see are large scale forward-thinking projects that can put all Americans to work now and secure our future as a leader.  These are a few off the top of my head I’d like to see:

  • Creating and updating the United States infrastructure.  Start by repairing and fixing the interstates while making provisions for high-speed rail to connect major cities.
  • Laying fiber-optics for broadband to all the US.  For as large and as powerful as the US is, we have a far lower penetration of broadband than many other nations.  Sure some of it is due to the fact the US is a large nation, but that shouldn’t stop us.  Lets prepare the nation for the next generation of technologies, copper wire is outdated.
  • A manned mission to Mars.  There are numerous obstacles to send people to Mars but we’ve already shown that we can put people on the Moon.  Lets show the world that American ingenuity can put people on Mars safely.  And bring them back as well.

Sure, these projects sound impossible, but that is what they said about flying, putting people on the moon and even gaining our independence.  We are the land where dreams can come true and we, as Americans, need to prove it again.

So what do you, my readers (if any) think?  Am I completely off my rocker, sane, or somewhere in-between?

Musings on Unions

You might not have ever heard of Checker Motors.  They used to make the Taxis until 1982 at which point they turned into a parts supplier for the Big 3 in Detroit.  They’ve been soldiering along pressing out body panels until recently (of course you knew this part was coming) when the economy began to hit the Big 3 hard it hit Checker Motors just as hard.  Then add in the unions clamoring for a new contract.  Well, labor costs and material costs have caught up with them and they are filing for Chapter 11.  An interesting aspect of their filing was this (from Autoblog):

Escalating raw material prices and dwindling sales for their customers’ products were cited as the main reasons for the filing, but another big reason was labor costs. It’s reported that a deal with unionized labor couldn’t be reached even after a year of negotiations.

Which leads me to wonder, at what point (if any) did the workers say or think: “Unions, lets make some consessions since having a job with less perks is better than no job at all.” ?

A coherent rant on why the BCS is crap

As college football fans we all hate the BCS.  It offers no resolutions to who truly is the best.  So everyone comes away cynical except for the team anointed number one (and even then there are issues).  So when I saw this article on Slate I was amazed.  First because it was on Slate and second because it was well written.  Bill James argues four points as to why the BCS is broken:

  1. That there is a profound lack of conceptual clarity about the goals of the method;
  2. That there is no genuine interest here in using statistical analysis to figure out how the teams compare with one another. The real purpose is to create some gobbledygook math to endorse the coaches’ and sportswriters’ vote;
  3. That the ground rules of the calculations are irrational and prevent the statisticians from making any meaningful contribution; and
  4. That the existence of this system has the purpose of justifying a few rich conferences in hijacking the search for a national title, avoiding a postseason tournament that would be preferred by the overwhelming majority of fans.

I’m sure there are more than 4 well-written arguments that can be made for why the BCS is such crap, but he does a good job in laying down reasons as to why the BCS is bad and why he thinks statistical analysts should steer clear of helping them.

On the Prevent Defense in Football…

As I was sitting at home last night watching the college bowl games on TV I once again saw something that bothers me everytime I see it happen.  The Prevent Defense.

In my opinion this is one of the worst defenses to use when trying to defend your narrow lead over the opposing team.  Why is it that a team would purposefully stop using the defense that helped get them the lead in the first place?  The idea of the prevent defense is to prevent a big play such as a long pass from occurring.  So you load up your defense with a bunch of DBs and go easy on the linemen then hope they don’t throw a 60 yard completetion on you.

The problem is, since your DBs play so far back and you have so few linemen, all the short passes are open to the opposing team.  Sure 7 yards here, 5 yards there doesn’t seem like a lot, but two or three plays and the other team has a first down.  And another 3 to 4 plays to get within scoring position.  Again the offense will abuse the defense and pick up some more short passes that can break into big yards.  Then before you realized the team that was down by 2 is now within field goal range with 30 seconds left to play.  Ice the kicker with your remaining time outs?  Sure, why not.  But do you really think that does anything to the kicker?  From watching the NFL and a lot of college games – it does nothing other than postpone them making the field goal.  In some cases it has given the kicker a second chance to make the field goal.

Now, what good has that prevent defense done?  Nothing, other than preventing your team from winning.  Sure you stopped the long bomb but you didn’t stop them from winning the game.  Please defensive coordinators – remember the defense that got you the lead and don’t go away from it.