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Archive for March, 2011

This has been an amazing NCAA college basketball tournament. Our final four consists of Butler, VCU, Kentucky, and UConn, and they are seeded 8, 11, 4, and 3, respectively. Here’s a fun way to show just how rare this is. Using this website, below is the summation of the final 4 seeds for this year and the ten years before it:

2011 – 26

2010 – 13

2009 – 7

2008 – 4

2007 – 6

2006 – 20

2005 – 11

2004 – 8

2003 – 9

2002 – 9

2001 – 7

As you can see, it usually adds up to less than 10. 2008 was a unique year in which all #1 seeds made it. While that tends not to happen, you instead typically get something like 1, 2, 2, 3. 2006 is also a bit of an outlier, as George Mason (11 seed) made the final four. VCU is the third #11 seed to make it, with the other one being LSU in 1986. However, the other three teams in 1986 were seeded 1, 1, and 2. Plus, the Butler/VCU semifinals matchup guarantees that a mid-major team seeded 8 or 11 will make the final.

Any way you look at it, this is a very rare event in NCAA basketball.

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And not because we decide to slaughter 15 year old boys for fun, and then lie about it and cover it up.

Fuck this war. Fuck those soldiers. Fuck everything about it.

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The above chart uses the same scale, and uses BMI as the means by which people are defined as obese. Now, lots of people like to shit on BMI. And it’s true, that if you are muscular and ripped, your muscle mass will cause you to be unfairly labeled as fat. And if you are one of those people, then go ahead and pat yourself on the back. But the number of people who have that issue is clearly not enough to throw off the scale for an entire population. We are getting fatter, and BMI is a rough but useful metric for looking at a large population, as illustrated above.

So, why are we getting fatter? I’ll throw out a few ideas. Many of these will be related or interdependent:

–  We exercise less now than we used to.

–  We eat more processed foods, which are higher in caloric density.

–  The median age of the population is shifting, and older people are always fatter.

–  Fewer Americans smoke, and nicotine is an appetite depressant.

–  We are subsidizing foods in such a way that worse foods now cost less and fresh produce costs more.

–  Because of technology, we are getting lazier. We will order something online instead of going out to buy it, for example.

–  Actually, we are working harder. We work more hours per week than Europeans, and for a lot of us that means sitting at a desk or computer for extended hours.

 

Anyone else have any ideas? Am I right? Wrong? Missing something? Is it all of the above? Or, is the above chart misleading and we aren’t actually getting fatter at all?

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Our second podcast. I hope the uploading is better.

Apologies for the echoiness of Linus’ sections. My mic picked up the feedback.

We cover:

  • The background of the NFL lockout
  • Reasons for public perceptions
  • Consequences for players and owners
  • Comparisons to Linus’ post about Albert Pujols
  • The problems of bluffing in negotiations

Enjoy! And let us know if there are problems with the audio in the comments.

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^NOTE: THIS IS NOT REALISTIC

The outsourcing of local (and national) government has been going on for some time. The current anti-union, anti-public employee winds, however, seem to be leading us ever closer to a government-by-contractor.

Costa Mesa, Calif. has laid off half its staff and will outsource essential services such as firefighting. Providence, R.I. has essentially changed its school system into an independent contractor system, by laying off all its teachers. On a federal level, independent contractors fight our wars and deal in our intelligence secrets.

Outsourcing to private contractors is all fine, so far as it goes. Yet, many of these cost-cutting measures end up being more expensive in the long run. Contractors are more subject to industry capture; no lobbying rules govern contractors. Similarly, contractors do not have the same kinds of accountability as public employees.

Outsourcing certain services often makes sense, particularly when specialized industries already do a better job. Unfortunately, outsourcing for the sake of outsourcing generally leads to massive blunders. Besides, the government is often employing the specialized people who are good at these jobs (private industry has not proven itself more efficient at educating children or operating highways than governments). And yet, this seems to be a general trend inside and outside of government, with consulting industries booming and traditional businesses trying to shrink their workforces.

If the right-wing dream of Contractopia arrives, will people be any better off? If current trends are any indication, I doubt it.

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Poledancing for Jesus:

I hear He loves that.

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On the one-year anniversary of the ACA health care law, Sen. Ron Johnson wrote an Op-Ed in the WSJ. There’s a lot of nonsense in there, as Steven Benen points out (there are no death panels, etc.)

But there’s one thing in the first paragraph I see repeated all the time without any pushback. He begins the piece with:

“Today is the first anniversary of the greatest single assault on our freedom in my lifetime: the signing of ObamaCare.”

Whoa. Single greatest assault on Freedom. That sounds serious. But for all the talk about the ACA being an assault on freedom, or of Obama attacking and taking away our freedoms generally, I always have one question for these assholes: name something you used to be able to do when Bush was President, but you can’t do right now because Obama took yer freedoms. Anyone? Anything? Bueller?

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