Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Official: Jazz Suck

They just lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder - a team which had only won 6 times all year.

I realize the Jazz are missing Boozer and Millsap, and Deron isn't really Deron yet - but come on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BCS Computers Calculate Other Winners

In my inbox today:
After determining the BCS championship game participants, the BCS computers were put to work on other major contests and today the BCS declared Germany to be the winner of World War II.

"Germany put together an incredible number of victories beginning with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland and continuing on into conference play with defeats of Poland, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Their only losses came against the US and Russia; however considering their entire body of work--including an incredibly tough Strength of Schedule--our computers deemed them worthy of the #1 ranking."

Questioned about the #4 ranking of the United States the BCS commissioner stated "The US only had two major victories--Japan and Germany. The computer models, unlike humans, aren't influenced by head-to-head contests--they consider each contest to be only a single, equally-weighted event."

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler said "Yes, we lost to the US; but we defeated #2 ranked France in only 6 weeks." Herr Hitler has been criticized for seeking dramatic victories to earn 'style points' to enhance Germany's rankings. Hitler protested "Our contest with Poland was in doubt until the final day and the conditions in Norway were incredibly challenging and demanded the application of additional forces."

The French ranking has also come under scrutiny. The BCS commented " France had a single loss against Germany and following a preseason #1 ranking they only fell to #2."

Japan was ranked #3 with victories including Manchuria, Borneo and the Philippines.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Layoffs - Are Business Owners Slaveholders?

I have recently written a couple of times about layoffs. In addition, I had an interesting conversation at SUMP on the same topic.

In that conversation an anonymous commenter expressed a view that one reason capitalism is evil is that employees are mere slaves to their employers. In fact, they are worse than slaves, the argument went, because slave owners paid a lot of money for their property, fed them, housed them, and clothed them. Employers in our capitalist society do none of these things, and when the employee is no longer needed they are let go.

It is an extremely jaded view, and one that predictably fails to see the whole picture.

Employers are as much slaves to their employees as the other way around. They can leave anytime they want - and many do. During the hey day of economic growth and all-time low unemployment rates employers often found themselves fighting each other for the best candidates. Candidates could pick and choose which position to take based on which offer was best for them. When that was the case, no one decried the capitalist system.

Turnover is costly. When employees leave a job for a better offer somewhere else, this results in a real, monetary loss to the original company. Generally a significant amount of time is spent on training employees - making them better at what they do. The time, effort, and productivity spent doing this is lost when they leave.

With a lost employee, the old employer has to find someone new to replace them. And this means time and money spent training the new people. New people are always slower, which results in lost productivity, which can turn profits into losses.

A real world example of this occurred in my company last year. We had an employee in one of our branch offices retire - and then go to work for our competitor. She took 1/3 of that office's business with her. We were unable to replace that business, and so we eventually closed the office completely. What was once a relatively profitable business is now closed because an employee found a better offer elsewhere.

So who really was the slaveholder here?

NBA Players

In an interview with Charlie Rosen during his final season in the NBA, Drazen Petrovic said,
"I don't really like most of the players in the NBA," he confided to me in the Nets post-game locker room. "They have no sense of personal responsibility. Every mistake they make is always somebody else's fault. And look at how they just drop their sweaty uniforms, socks, and jocks on the floor. And how they do the same with the tape they've cut off their ankles. They've been pandered so much all their careers that they pay no attention to cleaning up their own messes. In here, and in their private lives, too. I've had enough of these prima donnas. Players are more mature in Europe."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Crap! I Got A Freaking 'R' Rating...

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Seriously? My little Mormon-titled blog is rated R? Flip!

Digging a little deeper, here are the words that got me the rating:
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* abortion (5x)
* hell (4x)
* suck (2x)
* zombie (1x)
So there you go everyone. Shield your eyes!

"the whole conflict could be avoided if the Palestinians said one small thing"

Daniel Finkelstein in the UK TimesOnline:
The poverty and the death and the despair among the Palestinians in Gaza moves me to tears. How can it not? Who can see pictures of children in a war zone or a slum street and not be angry and bewildered and driven to protest? And what is so appalling is that it is so unnecessary. For there can be peace and prosperity at the smallest of prices. The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.
I wonder, is this true?

Friday, January 09, 2009

What's Up With Gaza?

Gaza is an area in the southwest corner of Israel. It is about 25 miles long and 6 miles wide. It has a southern border with Egypt, a western border with the Mediterranean Sea, and all other borders are with Israel itself.

Egypt governed the Gaza strip from 1948-1967, with Israel taking control from 1967 until 1994. During this time Israel created settlements within the Gaza strip. 1994 began a period of phased transfer of governmental control of Gaza from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. The leader of the PA during this time was Yasser Arafat, who also controlled, through the PA, the West Bank (another, separate Palestinian controlled territory in the northern part of Israel).

In September 2005 Israel removed all military installations and civilian settlers from Gaza, giving full governmental control to the Palestinian Authority. However, Israel maintains complete control of airspace, sea ports, and all border crossings.

In January 2006 the PA held elections, and a group called Hamas won. They were viewed as a terrorist organization and refused to recognize Israel or renounce violence. As a result, the United States and the European Union ended monetary aid to the government. The economy of Gaza suffered greatly during this time.

One year later, in January of 2007, fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah, the political party they defeated in the previous year's elections. Fatah had been the ruling party, being led by the now deceased Yasser Arafat. An intense civil war between the two Palestinian groups lasted for about 6 months, with Hamas winning and taking over complete control of Gaza. However, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank refused to recognize Hamas, and most of the international community followed suit. Hamas now controlled all of the Gaza Strip, but was completely isolated except for support from Syria and Iran, with the latter providing substantial monetary and military aid.

Throughout this time, thousands of rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza over the walls and into Israeli civilian areas. During just the first six months of 2008 there were 2,660 projectiles fired. Israel often responded with air strikes and incursions into Gaza to attack Hamas installations, resulting in militant and civilian deaths.

On June 19 a six-month peace agreement was signed, and rocket fire was cut to 65 for the next 4 months. Then in November, Israeli security forces caught a Hamas man tunneling under the wall. A small battle ensued and 5 Hamas members were killed. Consequently, rocket fired picked up, with 237 firings from November through December 10. The peace agreement ended on December 19 with no renewal, Hamas complaining that the borders were still closed and Israel unhappy with the continued rocket fire.

In late December, Hamas continued and increased its shelling of Israel while Israel remained steadfast in keeping the borders closed. On December 24th 87 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza. The next day the Israeli Prime Minister went on an Arabic station in an effort to convince civilians to apply pressure to Hamas leadership to stop the shelling. On the 26th Israel opened 5 border crossings and allowed humanitarian supplies into Gaza. About a dozen rockets were fired that day from Gaza into Israel.

On December 27th, Israel began its attack.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Large Families Could Save Economy

Yep, you read that title correctly. Despite the furor regarding the so-called overpopulation crisis, KCPW is reporting that economist Kelly Matthews believes Utah's population base will help it to weather the economic storms much easier than other locales:
"That natural population increase has been a very important factor that is attracting businesses to come to Utah and establish their manufacturing or economic facilities," Matthews says. "And furthermore, it will be one of the factors that, I think, will begin to lead us out of this housing situation, because we simply have to have more homes being built."

Another Awesome Article on the Utes as National Champions

From John Feinstein of the Washington Post:
Do what's right. Vote for Utah because the Utes beat every team they were allowed to play and because everything about the BCS is rancid and corrupt. If you are part of the system -- and you are if you go along like sheep and vote the Florida-Oklahoma winner No. 1 -- then you're responsible for the system.

Surely you want no part in this system. This is your chance to be free of it, to stand up and do something that will be remembered, to do something for which you'll be proud, years from now, to tell your children and grandchildren you did because it needed to be done.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Utes as National Champs

ESPN's Rick Reilly:
Some gifts people give are pointless: Styling mousse to Dick Vitale. An all-you-can-eat card to Kate Moss. The BCS Championship given to Oklahoma or Florida.

It means nothing because the BCS has no credibility. Florida? Oklahoma? Who cares? Utah is the national champion.

The End. Roll credits.

Argue with this, please. I beg you. Find me anybody else that went undefeated. Thirteen-and-zero. Beat four ranked teams. Went to the Deep South and seal-clubbed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The same Alabama that was ranked No. 1 for five weeks. The same Alabama that went undefeated in the regular season. The same Alabama that Florida beat in order to get INTO the BCS Championship game in the first place.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hitler Reacts to BYU's Loss to Utah

My Second Favorite BCS Game Ever

First favorite? That'd be the greatest game ever played, Boise St's Fiesta Bowl.

But Friday's game was awesome. Utah won the Sugar Bowl in convincing fashion. My favorite play, the one that epitomized the way Utah dominated the game, was when Alabama's running back tried to block a Utah blitzer and was pasted. They kept showing him lying face down on the sideline, until finally a few minutes later they reported he had gotten the wind knocked out of him.

Last undefeated team from a "real BCS conference" indeed.