Is Buster Olney stupid or brilliant?

I have failed you, those who count on me for Hall of Fame coverage. I have missed that two writers have already claimed they are abstaining from the process. First up, Buster Olney:

To repeat: I think Mussina, Schilling and Raines and others are Hall of Famers, but it’s better for their candidacy if I don’t cast a ballot.

If that sounds backward, well, that’s how the Hall of Fame voting has evolved, squeezed between rules that badly need to be updated and the progression of the candidates linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The process needs to be pruned to allow voters to get back to answering a simple question about each candidate: Was his career worthy of the Hall of Fame?

He also slams the BBWAA for “retroactive morality”, which I love. I don’t know if his failure to vote actually mathematically makes it easier for people to win, but given that Buster Olney is about as radical as somebody named Buster could possibly be (hint: not very), maybe this will wake up the Hall of Fame.

Lynn Henning did the same thing, for much the same reason: the impossibility of only choosing ten names. Preach it, Lynn:

I choose to vote for players whose careers, apart from any relationship with performance-enhancing drugs, were, in my view, unambiguously Hall of Fame-grade. Clemens and Bonds, as odious as they were with their lies and with their apparent reliance on PEDs during an ugly and lawless era of big-league baseball, pass this excruciatingly distasteful challenge. Their numbers would have won them a trip to Cooperstown if they’d never once dabbled in the ugliness of PEDs.

In the end, she used her space to not only criticize stupid writers, but to poke another hole in the HOF process:

I was told by BBWAA officials this year that the Hall of Fame bosses want ballots to be private. And I can’t for the life of me figure out why that would be helpful or necessary. In fact, it’s a policy as easily remedied as doing away with the 10-man limit. But we know how that urgency was met in 2014 and there is no real hope that public disclosure of votes will happen any time soon.

In better (and more awesome news), via Tangotiger, I offer you the HOF Tracker.

100% of the people reading this post are reading this post (and other lies about statistics)

A friend recently shared an article about the Ice Bucket Challenge that claimed only 27% of the money raised is going towards research. Here’s the article. 

Here’s the headline: 

ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE: ALS FOUNDATION ADMITS LESS THAN 27% OF DONATIONS FUND RESEARCH & CURES

$95 Million Later: Only 27% Of Donations Actually Help ‘Research The Cure’

I was pretty angry. The tone of the article is really awful too, slamming the ALS foundation for these heinous crimes. Yet, there’s some additional facts tucked away in a pie chart that give the lie to the headline. 19% of the funds raised go to patient and community outreach; a viable use of funding, don’t you think? 32%, the largest chunk of the funding, goes to public education. How dare they spend the money trying to make people aware of the disease and its effects! That’s what Wikipedia and webMD are for! Oh, and the $95 million figure they quote isn’t what they actually break down in the chart either — it’s only the expenses for the year ending January 31, 2014.

Given that pie chart, in fact, 79% of the donations go directly to aiding sufferers of the disease or increasing awareness; that’s pretty good. The foundation is rated very highly by Charity Navigator too. 

The salary for the CEO is pretty insane — $300k+ is nuts for a non-profit. However, it’s only a tiny slice of the total pie, and not nearly as bad as scaremongers would have you believe. If we, in the United States, don’t want to use tax dollars to contribute to health care, funding of organizations like this one is a great way to contribute. 

Josh Gordon is better than an air traffic controller

I’m not surprised that Josh Gordon’s 1 year suspension was upheld. Here’s what I did find surprising, courtesy of Dawgs by Nature:

ESPN’s Outside the Lines first broke the story of the impending suspension on the second day of the NFL Draft back in early May.

 

Later report near the end of July revealed that Gordon had tested positive for marijuana, but that the level of THC metabolites were 16 nanograms per millimeter (barely over 16.01 parts per billion) in one of his samples and above the league’s absurdly low threshold of 15 ng/ml to consist of a “positive.”

 

That threshold is higher than any other major sport, including the very strict IOC, which stands at 175 ng/ml. Even air traffic controllers can have a level up to 50.

 

However, due to what effectively equates to a coin flip, the NFL’s standard testing procedure is to randomly select one of the two samples provided by the player. The first one is tested and if it comes up positive, above the threshold, the second sample is tested merely for the presence of the same banned substance, without regards to the threshold. If the first sample comes up negative, below the threshold, the second sample isn’t tested.

 

Gordon’s first 16 ng/ml sample sparked a test of his second sample. The second one came up 13.6 ng/ml. Based on this procedure, it confirmed what the league considers a “positive.” And the rest is history.

Well, it’s good to know he’ll be able to find a job directing air traffic while he’s suspended. A much less stressful job than catching footballs, apparently. 

Josh Gordon is a professional grade moron

I begin my day, as always, by going to Facebook. A friend comments that Josh Gordon has done something stupid again. I sigh and look it up. There are two problems with this scenario.

1) Dude, you’re trying to appeal a suspension for using marijuana. How about, I don’t know, putting down the marijuana for a while? I get that THC is addictive, but it’s considerably less so than caffeine or alcohol or nicotine or any of a dozen other drugs.

2) There are many, many places in the US where going 15 miles an hour over the speed limit will not get you a ticket. Northeastern Ohio is not one of them. Even doing 10 over is pushing it. I know that the highway speed limits are stupid. I was young once, and fancy free, and earned myself a speeding ticket or two doing much what you did. However, I was not (and am not, sadly) a phenomenal athlete who could become a millionaire. I was a dude driving a Buick or Ford Focus (depending on the occasion in question).

So, if for some reason you’re reading this blog, Josh Gordon, find a cave somewhere. A cave where there is no marijuana. A fully modern cave, with an awesome TV, broadband, video games aplenty, all the food you can eat — I’m not a monster — but no marijuana. Live in this cave, and do not come out until the appeal is reviewed. Then, go back into the cave, and stay there for the rest of your NFL career. At least, the portion of it that involves the Browns.

Failing that, give me the cave. I kind of want to live there now. There’s broadband and TV!

Stratfor: Disband the CIA and NSA, it’s all the intelligence gathering you’ll ever need!

A friend pointed this out to me on another website. We have this brilliant tagline:

Best-selling author George Friedman founded Stratfor in 1996 to bring customers an incisive new approach to examining world affairs. Under his direction, Stratfor taps into a worldwide network of contacts and mines vast amounts of open-source information. Analysts then interpret the information by looking through the objective lens of geopolitics to determine how developments affect different regions, industries and markets.

So, they Google stuff on the internet and watch CNN. And calling geopolitics “objective” is hilarious.

Their vision:

Stratfor’s vision is to be the foremost provider of predictive geopolitical-based intelligence services.

Stratfor’s core philosophy is that transformative geopolitical events are neither random nor unpredictable. Building on nearly 20 years of experience as the world’s premier geopolitical intelligence firm, Stratfor develops constraint-based narratives for key trends around the globe — placing today’s events in context and forecasting tomorrow’s new developments well before they appear in the headlines.

This reminds me of this Dilbert comic. Wally has a ponytail because he’s discovered it makes people give him venture capital. Ah, 1999.

The core philosophy is bold, I’ll give them that. I love the idea of “constraint-based narratives,” which makes me think of unconstrained narratives. “We predict that giant robot whales will develop nuclear technology, but we think Aquaman will try to calm them down, until he realizes whales are mammals and not fish. ESPECIALLY robot whales, who are clearly robot mammals.”

Of the three experts they champion, the one thing they all have in common is that they’ve sold a lot of books. That means they’re good at convincing people to believe their bullshit, which is not the worst qualification for running a geopolitical intelligence firm, you have to admit.

You can check out their methodology, which successfully proves that they have at least one graphic artist. Oh, one of the award winning reports they author?

The very first sentence is complete horseshit.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.

Since you’re using “are” — indicating present tense — I would argue the exact opposite: most people who are Americans did come from the United States since, you know, no matter how bad illegal immigration is, it has yet to reach over 50%. Even if you include legal immigrants, it’s still way less than 50%. According to the Brookings Institution, it’s actually less than 20% (although it is not clear whether or not this figure includes illegal immigrants, they link to a paper I could read if I cared to break it down.)

It takes a special kind of stupidity to achieve almost complete incoherence one sentence into a flagship paper. One more insane sentence, which leads off the second paragraph:

The American geography is an impressive one.

“One?” One of what? Are you trying to say, “The American geography is an impressive geography?” Because that’s moronic. “Geography” — specifically, the science of studying the earth, or physical location on the earth of some natural feature — cannot be impressive. Would you call the “Grand Canyon an impressive geography of America?” No. You could say “the Grand Canyon is an impressive feature of American geography.” But geography, in and of itself, cannot be impressive. I’m theoretically paying damn good money for your nonsensical advice. Try to make it coherent nonsensical advice!

Oh, and a free tip (the next one is $100,000): nothing is inevitable, in a historical sense. Only Marxists think that. Wait a minute… you aren’t a big Commie, are you, Stratfor?

Spoiler alert: Ken Ham is an idiot, not delicious

I’ve been looking for a transcript of the Nye/Ham debate, but it isn’t available. (C’mon internet — HK-47 and Bastila flash fiction, but no transcript of this debate?) Here’s the next best thing.

Ken Ham is either an epic troll or the most stupid individual of whom I have ever heard. Here’s his entire argument, in one sentence: the Bible is true because it was written by people who were actually there.

What.

The.

Fuck.

Creationists, couldn’t you find somebody who at least knew the book he was supposed to using as his evidence? Especially when he says that the “most true” part of the Bible is Genesis. You know, the story of creation. Was written by somebody who was actually there. Of course, that would be a hell of a trick, since WRITING HADN’T BEEN INVENTED YET.

Unless, of course, you are suggesting that Gob himself wrote the Bible. In which case, Gob is a moron because he writes a bunch of contradictory stuff. You lose either way, Ken Ham.

A slight digression, but a worthwhile one: the Bible is not a primary source. We don’t even know who wrote most of it (spoiler alert: not Gob). Historians have to use the Bible as a primary source in an ancient history for a very good reason: nobody else thought the early Israelites were worth writing about. (I’m not saying they were right, you understand, but it’s true.) This is like using a German or English source for the history of Luxembourg in World War II; there are no 15 volume studies of Luxembourg in World War II. I don’t even know if there’s a one volume study of Luxembourg in World War II.  For the record, here is a one sentence history of Luxembourg in World War II. The Nazis were coming, they shit their pants, and surrendered without a fight. They were 100% right to do this.

Some of the stuff in the Bible is backed up by other sources. Some of it isn’t. Some of it isn’t even backed up by other parts of the Bible. The literary effect on the modern world is profound, and there are some good messages in there. There’s also a lot of nonsense. It’s important to know the difference. If you understand and accept that difference and continue to believe in whatever flavor of religion you do, more power to you. I think you’re wrong, but we’ll agree to disagree. If you do not understand and accept that difference, you’re either incredibly naive, a moron, or a fraud.

Purely from a historical standpoint, the Bible is slightly more reliable than certain parts of Herodotus. The parts with giant ants, for instance, or where he insisted the Persian army had 100 million soldiers in it or something. I think Herodotus asked a couple of guys, drunk on resina, “how many guys were there in that fight?”, and they responded, “like, millions, man. MILLIONS.” Herodotus thought “seems legit” and it becomes history. This is why any time somebody calls Herodotus the father of history I want to punch them in the face. Maybe him too, but he’s dead, so some of the challenge is gone.

 

 

Hey Hoynsie: you’re an idiot

Paul Hoynes, beat writer for the Plain Dealer, has a regular mailbag feature called “Hey Hoynsie”, in which he answers fan mail. I approve of said concept. He mostly has good information and is usually coherent. Then there’s this gem:

Hey, Hoynsie: In a recent column, you said that you think Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer considering his 254 wins. Some people would argue that wins by a starter are a meaningless stat. So many variables that are outside of his control go into recording a win (i.e. run support, fielding, relievers in some situations). Given that I think we should stop paying attention to wins by pitchers. What is your position? -– Joseph Tablack, Youngstown.

Hey, Joseph: Wins are still the most important stat in baseball and a starting pitcher who is a consistent winner is still one of the most important players on a team. Just ask his manager. Jack Morris did that for the entire decade of the 1980s. That’s why he’s a Hall of Famer in my mind.

I call Hoynes an idiot here because he completely evaded the substance of Joseph’s question. Joseph wasn’t saying “wins are meaningless”. He said “we should stop paying attention to wins by pitchers.” You know, since they’re slightly more useful than RBI. Was Jack Morris a durable innings eater who played on some very fine teams? Yes, absolutely. The “winningest pitcher of the 1980s?” Only if you cherry pick. Quick: in the entire 1980s, how many times was Jack Morris in the top ten in wins? 6. That’s not very good.

Hoynesie, get rid of the Morris fetish. It serves nobody.