Another 3-4

I don’t like 3-4 defenses very much, but apparently that’s exactly what Buffalo’s going to do.  They do have some of the base personnel for that kind of defense, and with Aaron Schobel perhaps thinking of retiring (even though he’s still an awesome defensive end), I guess it does make sense.  At the moment, I could see Chris Kelsay and Spencer Johnson as the defensive ends, and Aaron Maybin an outside linebacker.  Schobel may be another outside linebacker, and Kawika Mitchell and Paul Pozluzny would be the linebackers.  Unfortunately, that seems like a slow linebacker corps and I’m not sure how well Maybin or Schobel would do in coverage.  Without any good quarterbacks in this year’s draft, we might see Buffalo take a few defensive players for the transition.

Sports guy reader feels the pain

Had to reprint this here, from Bill Simmons’ mailbag on tortured cities.

1969: Cuyahoga River catches fire.
1974: Ten Cent Beer Night.
1977: Indians sign Wayne Garland to a then-enormous 10-year, $2.3 million contract. He goes 28-48 before his arm falls off.
1980: Red Right 88.
1981: Lowest point of Ted Stepien era.
1982: World B. Free era begins, 23 wins guaranteed. In hindsight, this is akin to building a team around Ricky Davis.
1982: Indians trade John Denny to the Phillies for Wil Culmer, Jerry Reed and Roy Smith.
1983: John Denny wins NL Cy Young Award.
1984: Indians trade Rick Sutcliffe to Cubs. Sutcliffe goes 16-1 and wins NL Cy Young Award.
1986: The Drive.
1987: The Fumble.
1989: The Shot.
1989: “Major League” premieres in theaters. Producers insult Cleveland by filming baseball scenes in Milwaukee as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium is “too drab.”
1992: MJ ends Cavs season again. Cavs become possibly the best NBA team to never reach the NBA Finals.
1993: Hurricane Andrew destroys Indians’ brand-new $18 million spring training complex in Homestead, Fla.
1993: Steve Olin, Tim Crews die in spring-training boat crash.
1993: Indians are no-hit by one-[handed] pitcher Jim Abbott.
1994: Baseball strike ends Indians’ first contending season in three decades.
1995: Art Modell moves Browns to Baltimore.
1995: First World Series appearance in 40 years ends in loss.
1997: Jose Mesa.
1998: Cavs sign “superstar” Shawn Kemp. He fathers a litter of children.
1999: Up 2-0 in ALDS, Pedro kicks the corpse of Cleveland fandom.
1999: USFL returns disguised as Browns expansion team.
2007: Up 3-1 in ALCS, Red Sox spit on grave of Cleveland fandom.
2009: Magic shock Cavs in Eastern Conference finals.
2009: Indians’ back-to-back AL Cy Young winners, Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia, face off in Game 1 of World Series, neither pitching for Cleveland.
2010: LeBron leaves Cleveland, goes on to win multiple championships.

My lifetime: Three major sports, zero titles, one river on fire.
–Brad, Cleveland

Amen, brother.

Hayek Strikes Again

Stefan Karlsson has a good point regarding whether macroeconomic models are "fraudulent." The model itself is not fraudulent; rather, it is the pretense of knowledge. Yet another of FA Hayek’s insights comes into play here: even when you understand the dynamics of a system, it does not necessarily imply you will ever understand the particulars of that system; instead, knowledge of the particulars of a system depends upon the simplicity of that system.

For a toy model, you can plug in figures and get numbers out of it. When I was teaching general equilibrium theory, I would create such toy models–one to three goods, some fixed number of individuals with fixed utility functions, etc. Once you do that, the calculus is trivial and you get solid numbers. You can see that if John increases his ability to fish by 10%, what kinds of effects it would have for him and all other participants of your tiny, simple island economy. It’s kind of fun to do, but certainly does not scale to complex phenomena.

In a real economy and real economics, there are far too many complicating forces to get any detailed level of precision. I can explain that if the minimum wage goes up, some number of low-skilled jobs will be eliminated by employers who cannot afford labor at the higher rate. I can further explain that if the minimum wage were to increase to a certain level, nobody would have a job (well, legally, at least–you would see a lot of black market laborers because we still have to eat). I cannot, however, tell you how many jobs would go away at a particular minimum wage rate. For illustrative purposes, I could draw a curve on a blackboard and pretend that this is correct—we do, after all, know the general direction—but going further is a pretense of knowledge we simply cannot have. That is knowledge of the particulars of time and place of which Hayek wrote so much, and which macroeconomists and other would-be central planners simply will never possess.

Incidentally, the above is why I laughed when Christina Romer (and the Council of Economic Advisors) talked about a "stimulus" multiplier of 1.57—that for every $1 of government spending, an additional $1.57 of GDP would be created. It’s amazing—they know it down to the penny! In reality, those are guesses fueled by guesses driven by half-baked models, with little to no bearing on reality.