Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hot Take Alert: Kaep

So Kaep isn't standing for the National Anthem because, in his own words: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

The first reaction of many people has been:

Deadspin later took a different angle, attacking Trump in a video saying that he shouldn't be criticizing America because America is where he got rich.

I think both of these angles are missing the point pretty badly.

- - -

Everyone is quick to jump on Kaep for saying that this country oppresses black people because he's a black person making millions of dollars. That because he is financially successful, he is not being financially oppressed himself, that he can't comment on oppression of any kind in America.

That seems pretty contrary to what we know and see often. LeBron has successfully raised awareness of Trayvon Martin, among others. Bill Gates, the richest person in the world does perhaps the most for the poor.

And when it comes to making social change in America, it often/usually requires support from people outside the people being affected to actually enact change. Same-sex marriage being legal across the U.S. required the support of some straight people. The Civil War and abolishment of slavery needed the support of some white people. For the Black Lives Matter movement to be truly successful it needs support from people of all races.

A person like Kaep is actually someone who can make a difference. Because reporters will listen to him. A random Black Lives Matter protester is not going to get the same kind of coverage that a NFL player will.

So the issue should not be that Kaep is not permitted to comment on oppression.

The issue should be: Is sitting during the National Anthem an effective/good comment on oppression?

My personal opinion is that it's not a very clear message. It can be easily interpreted as "I don't support America, I don't like America" instead of "there's an important problem in America that needs to be fixed." He faces the press every day, he could easily have made the same statement, he could wear a shirt supporting whatever message he wants, he could write a piece for The Players Tribune, he could make a website or foundation that inspires action. Instead he chooses to say that he can't take pride in a flag for a country that oppresses people of color.

- - -

As for Deadspin's Trump angle, it's pretty dumb. Presidential candidates are allowed to point out things they want to improve. Yes, I thought the RNC and his campaign in general is very doom and gloom, often trying to paint a picture worse than it really is. But of all the things to criticize Trump for, this is way down the list.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prediction Recap

I'm going to go through the archives to check on older predictions.

1. Brit picks 2015 Chiefs to go 13-4. 

Including the playoffs, they were 12-5 through 17 games. Pretty good. I predicted 10-6 in the regular season.

2. Brit picks Ravens and Eagles to be good.

5-11 and 7-9. Not good.

3. Chiefs fans hate Mitch Morse pick.

Turns out Mitch Morse is awesome. We'll see if Strong develops into a good WR, 161 yards in his rookie year. Reminder not to get worked up during the NFL Draft.

4. Me calling Winston a semi-bust and Mariota the better pick. 

Too soon to say for sure, but it's not looking great for me at the moment.

5. Me predicting 2010-2014 Illinois Basketball team would be great.

We won a total of two tournament games, as a #9 seed and #7 seed. Not great.

So there you go. Predictions are hard.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fixing The Summer Olympics

Some Olympics sports are unnecessary. Golf, tennis and soccer all come to mind that are redundant, because they are inferior versions of existing tournaments (majors and the World Cup.) Basketball is necessary because its world championship is inferior to the Olympic tournament. Equestrian can go just because it's not even a sport. And let's lose racewalking because honestly.

Before I get to the sports I'd like to add, holy shit look at this Field Hockey Game. That was brilliant. I only saw that researching this article to see if floor hockey as I know it would be different than field hockey. Let's just stick with field hockey.

The IOC is adding karate, skateboarding, baseball/softball, surfing and climbing. None of these get me excited.

Here are some sports I'd like to add.

This is really the best one. Putting countries in direct competition with each other. I would watch the shit out of this.

I would make it so that the course changes from day to day, forcing teams to develop new strategies on the fly. Basically this is simulated war between countries, but harmless!

Tug of War
I really liked Deadspin's plan for this, using Olympians from the existing roster. 

Beach Soccer & Futsal
Look, beach volleyball is more fun than regular volleyball. And we already have the World Cup so we don't need the real soccer teams. This would be fun.

Outdoor Basketball (3 on 3)
Likewise, I think 3 on 3 could be the beach volleyball version of basketball. I'd make it outdoor just for aesthetics.

Bowling Pin Knockdown 
This game may not be well known at all. I played it in middle school. We called it Handball but it's not the handball that's in the Olympics. It was played with a small dodgeball, with ultimate frisbee rules of catching and passing, and the goal was to knock down a bowling pin at the end of the court. It was awesome. It's probably too close to Handball but whatever. In researching this, I found something called Pin Knockover which is just a less war-like dodgeball. I'd watch that too.

Ultimate Frisbee
Why not?

Shuffleboard & Darts & Foosball
If we have ping-ping, why not other bar games?

Monday, August 22, 2016

State of Sports: 2016 Preview

I'm all in on sports. A huge part of this is the outlook of my teams. Let's go deeper, chronologically.

Illinois Football

For me, sports start on September 3rd. Illinois is hosting Murray State before facing off against North Carolina a week later. Someone got paid to predict that Illinois will go 2-10 this year. 

We went 5-7 last year with Cubit. We can't get 5 wins this year with Lovie? SBNation has us on par with Rutgers and Purdue as the only worse team. That seems a bit harsh.

I think we either get 5 or 6 wins most likely. 7+ would be holy shit! 4- would be shit. But it seems like we're going to get better and it should be exciting. For the record, @alioneye has penciled in October 12, 2019 as a key date for Illinois football, as in possibly undefeated and hosting ESPN Gameday in Champaign vs Michigan.

Kansas City Chiefs

Last year I was optimistic before the season started. I predicted 10-6. The won their first game. Then lost 5 in a row. I called them garbage. They would then win their next 11, including a playoff game, ending a terrible streak.

This year, people are split evenly whether the Chiefs or Broncos will win the division. Teams being predicted for the AFC Championship include Patriots, Steelers, Bengals and Colts. But I've got $160 that says the Chiefs will win the AFC Championship and go to the Super Bowl.

There are two kinds of playoff teams. One is a team like the R-E-L-A-X Packers. They're really good and capable of reeling off 8 out of 10 games, so they can overcome a fumble or penalty or whatever. The other kind of playoff team isn't as good. They can get to 10 even 11 wins, but they need some bounces to go their way. Even if they have two games left and only need to win one to secure the playoffs, you're not fully confident it's going to happen. Except for 2003, I've felt like the Chiefs have always been in the second camp. This year, I think they have a good shot of making the playoffs. The question will be are they a R-E-L-A-X team or not.

Illinois Basketball

In 2014, I predicted that Illinois would make it to the Final Four by 2019.
Since I made that prediction, Illinois has lost in the first round of the NIT and then didn't even get invited to the NIT.

So things are generally...not great. Most people would look at that paragraph and think that Illinois stinks and I'm crazy.

But talent has been committing to Illinois. 5-star Tillmon, 4-star Frazier, 4-star Williams (son of Frank). Take a look at the 2018-9 roster.

I know it's a ways away, but that team looks really good. 2019 Final Four. Let's do it.

Colorado Avalanche

Is it a good thing to not have a coach less than two months before the season starts? At this point, you'd have to assume they'll miss the playoffs, maybe finish 11th or 12th in the conference. Disappointing, considering they have talented players.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Where do I buy Chiefs' Super Bowl tickets?

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Patrick Roy resigns as coach of Avalanche

So that's not great, eh? He had his problems as a coach (Corsi for one) and it's possible to get a coach that could improve the x's and o's. But also, I saw what happened to the Illinois football team when they had to replace a coach shortly before the season. They went interim, then hired a new GM, then hired Lovie Smith. 

A lot of pressure to replace Roy with someone good.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thoughts On The 2016 Presidential Election

I tend not to write about politics very often because I don't usually see the point. When I do, it's certainly not to change anyone else's mind. I'm much more selfish. My reasons are 1) to sort through all the thoughts in my head 2) to serve as a time capsule that I can look back on in the future.

- - -

So here are we are once again.

The nation has to decide who they think will be a better president: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? The truth is, we don't really know. We think we have a good idea based on what we know about them already--we feel that we know who's better--but until it's happened we won't know.

But will we know after it's happened?

No. Not as a national consensus.

The average approval rating for all presidents is 53%.

In June 2016, Obama's approval rating was 53%.

But let's go deeper.
His approval rating by Democrats is 90%.
His approval rating by Independents is 46%.
His approval rating by Republicans is 10%.

You would think the status of the country is something that would have more consensus, either things are going pretty well or they aren't. But no, your opinion of the country right now is heavily, heavily based on what party you prefer.

- - -

The differences in the party's outlook is clear from the conventions. Republicans want to Make America Great Again, convinced that things must not be going very well. Democrats are making the argument that things are pretty good and we should keep things on course.

Today, Trump said Obama will go down as one of the worst presidents in history.

Obama has been ranked by historians twice so far, 15th in 2009 and 18th in 2015.

(In case you're curious, rankings while president for Reagan, Bush 41, and Clinton held very steady. Rankings for Bush 43 dropped between 2005 and 2008 while still in office.)

I think the discrepancy between how both parties view Obama is telling. How can we as a nation judge presidencies that haven't happened yet, when we can't agree on where we're at right now? The answer is we can't. I expect future approval ratings to mirror the 90/10 party split no matter who is in power.

It's like if you have a group of vegetarians and a group of pepperoni lovers and you expect them to share one pizza. They want different things, so they're going to be unhappy unless they get what they want (ordered).

- - -

For me personally, I feel like the country is much better off now than it was in 2008. Even though the president doesn't control the economy like people think he does, the economy is in a much better place than the 2008 recession, helped by Obama's stimulus bill. We took out Osama bin Laden, gay marriage was legalized across the country, one step was taken toward Universal Healthcare, ended the Iraq war, made progress on climate change, unemployment is around 5%.

I don't think Obama is flawless or everything is perfect--gun violence is a problem across the board, and in particular, the killing of unarmed black people by police is dividing the country. And while the economy has rebounded, it's not as strong as it could be. I think it's difficult for the middle class to achieve the American dream--being able to find work, live in an affordable area with good schools, and be able to send children to college without the burden of student loans. We still don't have paid family leave, so two days after coming home from the hospital with my new baby I had to go back to work to be able to pay for the huge hospital bill for having a child.

But overall, I do think the United States is a great country with genuine freedoms, things are going pretty well and Obama has done a pretty good job.

I fully realize that a Republican could look at my list of successes and say that gay marriage was bad for the country, that Obamacare sucks, and the economy is either not very strong or the recovery is not due to Obama. See vegetarians receiving a pepperoni pizza.

- - -

If you look at my list of goals, of what's important to me, it becomes clear that I'm going to be voting generally for Democrats. I'll say right away, I don't love being tied to a particular party. Both parties have their share of problems and problem people, and it sounds more intellectually open to not have a strong party affiliation, and instead vote on particular candidates.

So why am I a Democrat?

I read the Republican Party's official 2016 platform, the GOP website and Donald Trump's Positions page.

Here are some of the biggest core values the Republicans seem to stand for: smaller government, marriage between a man and a woman, the Constitution as an enduring covenant not a flexible document, protecting guns, repealing Obamacare and building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

First of all, I'm not even joking when I say that seems to be a core value for Trump's positions--it's the first position listed on his page: "Pay For The Wall." You click on that and it doesn't even give a reason for why we need a wall. Mexico is not going to pay for a wall. If we raise the cost of Visas to enter the U.S., Mexico will just do the same thing to us, not pay for the wall. I can't believe I'm even wasting my breath talking about this stupid wall. It's in the top 5 dumbest ideas I've ever heard of and it's his lead policy position.

Also, he only has 7 policy positions listed. 2 are about immigration. 1 is about repealing Obamacare, 1 is about protecting guns and 1 is about tax cuts which is a bunch of crap since every article shows how his tax plan benefits the wealthy not the middle class like he claims. The other 2 are about veteran's benefits and trade reform with China. For comparison, Hillary Clinton has policy positions on 37 issues on her page.

Okay, back to the GOP core issues. Smaller government is really their best idea. One I'm not opposed to in theory. But once you start looking at the budget in a chart like this, you have to start thinking about where to create a smaller government. We spend a lot on Medicare/Medicaid to provide healthcare to the elderly and poor. We spend a lot on Social Security because we owe it to the American workers who contributed from their paychecks all those years. We spend a lot on National Defense because we realize how important a strong military is. You've also got veteran's benefits, education and transportation in there. That's the bulk of it. So if you say you want a smaller government, you've got to make some cuts out of there. If you're going to focus on NASA or FEMA any of the smaller agencies that hardly get any money but still do important stuff, and not make any cuts to the behemoths out there, it's not going to make much of a difference.

GOP Core Issue #2 is "traditional marriage." Guys, I hate to break it to you, but that train has left the station. And it's got rainbow streamers on it.

#3: That the Constitution is not a flexible document. Again, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but having a process for amending it makes it flexible. I'm sure you'll claim that has a liberal bias though.

#4: Guns. Goddamn, you guys love your guns. A bit ironic from the pro-life party, but it is what it is. Pro-gun and anti-gun people are never going to agree. So I'll just say that I wish less Americans died because of gun violence and leave it at that.

#5: Obamacare. I know you don't like Obama so you're not going to like his health care plan because it's his, but I don't understand how you're so up in arms about providing affordable health care to more Americans. Health insurance is insanely expensive in this country. It eats my paycheck like crazy. But until we get a different system, people need health care.

#6: We're back to that stupid wall. I've already wasted enough time on that.

So yeah. I don't love the idea of being attached to a particular party, but I really can't get behind anything the Republican Party has to offer.

I do think it's hilarious that the on the GOP website, their first core value is "I believe that our country is exceptional" and Trump's slogan is "Make America Great Again" and continually defends the idea by saying things like "Our country does not feel 'great already' to the millions of wonderful people living in poverty, violence and despair." So which is it, GOP? Is our country exceptional or not great? Because you kind of have to pick one.

- - -

Also, I hate how they use the term Family Values as some sort of secret code word to say that they are pro-life. Look, if you're pro-life, I get it, just say you're pro-life. But don't try to wrap it up with Family Values. I'm raising a family in America. The values that matter to me are the same that I mentioned earlier: affordable housing with good schools and affordable college. Other people may have different Family Values that are important to them, but I'm sure I'm not the only one concerned about my actual family and not telling someone else they can't have an abortion.

- - -

So now I'm back where we started: Clinton vs Trump.

Look, I'm not as excited about Clinton as I was about Obama in 2008. She's not that likable. She's not as trustworthy. One of my biggest concerns is something that Trump, Sanders and Clinton all share: the youngest of the three is 68. I'm not saying older adults are terrible or anything, and of course experience and wisdom are invaluable, but these are modern times and I think it would be nice to have a leader that was more Elon Musk and less Al Davis.

So I totally get anyone not super jazzed about voting for Clinton. But damn, if she's not super qualified. In Obama's speech tonight, he recalled how she aggressively argued to take out bin Laden in the Situation Room. She's seen multiple presidencies from inside the White House.

Her issues align with my issues. Do I think she can actually make in-state public universities provide free tuition? No. But I'd love to be proved wrong! Can she actually make progress on gun violence? It's as tough as challenge as there is, but at least she wants to do something about it. I trust they she will appoint intelligent Supreme Court Justices that will preserve marriage equality and advance the progressive issues of the future.

So in a vacuum, I'm content to vote for Clinton, even if she doesn't have the same appeal that Obama had. Besides, it's not like Obama and I ever got to hang out anyways.

But I don't know if you've noticed, but this election is not being held in a vacuum.

I really don't even want to talk about how unqualified Trump is for the office. He claims to be such a successful businessman who happens to have filed for bankruptcy six times. He's openly racist, sexist and mocks people with disabilities. People apparently like him because he "tells it like it is" and yet every other word out of his mouth is a lie.

If the GOP candidate were Kasich or Jeb, I would vote for Clinton but still be able to respect them and believe they are trying to do their best to improve America, even if I think they're making cheese pizza and I prefer pepperoni. But with Trump, I'm just scared. Without hyperbole, he could literally start a nuclear war.

So yeah, I know who I'm voting for this November.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Introducing the Chiefs Hit List

I debuted the Avalanche Hit List back in 2013. This feels like a tremendous oversight.

This list goes back to my childhood when I saw the Chiefs beat the Raiders and Eagles. I've also seen the Chiefs lose to the Chargers and Jaguars, for an all-time record of 5-2 at Arrowhead.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

My First Red Rocks Concert

I first heard about Red Rocks Amphitheater because of 311. They had played there in 1996, 1997, 2000. I don't remember exactly how this venue became important to me  (they didn't make a dvd or anything) but when I visited Colorado for the first time in 2004, I made a point of visiting Red Rocks. 

It's amazingly beautiful. I took Mark for a hike there in 2012. I've taken my mom, my kids, my in-laws. But I've only ever been there during the day when nothing's going on. Until yesterday. 

Last night I went to my first concert there: Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday. (In case you're keeping score that's my #2 and #41 favorite band as of 2014.)

I went with a work friend and we got there during one of the opening acts, Saosin. (We missed The Early November completely.) 

Before we knew it, Taking Back Sunday came out. They were really good. The singer swung his microphone around constantly, including around his neck and high into the air, never dropped it once.

And then Dashboard Confessional came on.

You could see that his face had aged, but his voice was as good as ever. It's a truly great, unique venue and one of the best concerts I've ever seen.

The standout performance for me was "The Best Deceptions." I'm hoping someone posts it to YouTube eventually.

My Favorite Part of Episode Four

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

MPG Math

So I recently got a new car and it tracks your average MPG in real-time. Because of this, every time I drive I treat it like a game to get better MPG. I thought it would be fun to see what that means practically.

I'm going to use some ballpark figures.
If I drive 12,000 miles a year, and gas is $2.50, what's the difference between getting 30 mpg and 35 mpg?

30 mpg = $1000 in gas money per year
35 mpg = $857 in gas money per year

That's a savings of $143 every year, reduction of 14.3%. Not too bad.

- - -

You get better mpg on uncongested roads vs stopping and starting all the time. So I wondered, it is cheaper to take a longer route with better mpg or a shorter route with worse mpg?

First up, let's compare a 20 mile route where you can get 30 mpg vs a 25 mile route you could get 35 mpg.

20/30 = $1.67 in gas
25/35 = $1.78 in gas

If your route is 20 miles and you're getting 30 mpg, and you know that you can get 35 mpg on a longer route, it only is cheaper if the longer route is less than 23 miles. But you're still putting more miles on your car. My take is it's generally best to take the shortest route and drive to get the best mpg you can.