All posts by mallagher

So Which Team Do the Sixers Want to Face in the First Round??

One box is nearly checked off. The Sixers are not guaranteed to make the playoffs as a mathematical certainty, but they are highly likely to. So which team would be better to face? According to Liberty Ballers, these are the 4 most likely candidates

  • the Pacers
  • the Cavs
  • the Wizards
  • the Heat

They pick the Pacers and then the Wizards. Least favorite, the Heat?

I have a different view. Beating the Cavs in the first round would be so, so cool that I cannot resist begging for that possibility. Imagine it! LeBron axed by the process!  My least favorite option would be … drum roll please … the Pacers. The Sixers can run with the Pacers, but something tells me that this would be a tough series. I think the Sixers would take the Heat or the Wizards.

What do you think?



A Primer for Dealing with Disaster

This quote from a post by Al Wenger tells us something about ourselves that we should not forget

… it takes virtually no effort to ignore something and it takes a lot of effort to revise one’s explanation (of reality when observation conflict with our desired explanation)

That is why humans bring disaster upon ourselves.

A classic case:

Adolf Hitler was not stupid. Nor was he insane. But he believed in Nazi ideology, and made all of his pre-war and war decisions based on the explanations of reality that that ideology prescribed.  Dr. A Roberts brings this out in brilliant detail in the video below as well as the disasters that it led to.

One is concerned that the current president of the US, and other world leaders have a similar problem. I do not compare them to Hitler the man or Hitler the Nazi. I do assert that they have blind spots when it comes to observing reality. They entered office with strong beliefs about reality. and I see no evidence that they have changed any of their beliefs. To the contrary, Mr. Trump routinely changes what he says is reality when he doesn’t like what he sees or hears. This is a recipe for disaster and I fear that disaster will come as a result as long as he has the power to bring it about.

If and when it comes, there is no sense to weep and moan that we do not deserve the disaster. Instead, we do better if we start thinking what explanations of reality led us to such a mess and how to better explain ourselves to our children so that they can do better.

Surely they deserve better than what we have now.

Trump and his War Cabinet

This quote about Trump re-arranging his top level advisors might alarm you

Trump’s staff moves show he is “increasingly confident in his own judgment, irritated at being corralled for traditional (=sensible) policies by nat sec team” Institute of International Strategic Studies Deputy Director Kori Schake tweeted. Trump now intends “to carry out his campaign promises. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Not alrmed yet? How about this

“The combination of [Bolton] and Pompeo will be like putting gasoline on the Trump dumpster fire… Make no mistake: this is the makings of a war cabinet” Kelly Magsamen, the vice president of the National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress tweeted.

This is not business as usual. Nor is it even business. It is what folks do with power who have no business having it. “Bumpy ride?” It could be much worse than that.

As we live through this, keep in mind that the ONLY reason why Trump is able to do what he is doing is because the Republicans in Congress are enabling him to do it.

The midterms are coming. ´Vote the rascals out!

Trump Picks John Bolton to Head NSC. Now We Have More Reason to be Afraid

You might not remember John Bolton. He worked under under George W. Bush for a while and was appointed US Ambassador to the UN for a controversial 5 months.  We remember that less than these things

Bolton has said the United States should declare war on both North Korea and Iran. He was credibly accused of manipulating US intelligence on weapons of mass destruction prior to the Iraq war and of abusive treatment of his subordinates. He once “joked” about knocking 10 stories off the UN building in New York. That means his new appointment to be the most important national security official in the White House has significant — and frightening — implications for Trump’s approach to the world.

Bolton does not just have liberals worried

“I operate on the assumption that John Bolton should be kept as far away from the levers of foreign policy as possible,” says Christopher Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. “I think I would rest easy if he was dog catcher in Stone Mountain, Georgia. But maybe not.”

It is not just Bolton’s rash and hawkish policy views. He is a mean SOB who  played a role in the less than honest policy ideas that led the US into the first Iraqi war. Here is a snippet

In 2002, Bolton’s staff prepared a speech alleging that Cuba had an active biological weapons program. This wasn’t true, and the State Department’s lead bioweapons analyst at the time would not sign off on the claim. Per the analyst’s sworn testimony to Congress, Bolton then called the analyst into his office, screamed at him, and then sent for his boss. In this conversation, per the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, he derisively referred to the analyst as a “munchkin” and attempted to get him transferred to a different department.

So why did Trump pick him? The main reason appears to be that  Bolton appears regularly on Fox News.

That is the state of affairs in Washington now. And that is the state of affairs that Republicans in Congress seem just fine with.

The 2018 midterms are coming up. Time to vote the rascals out!

The Magic’s Whopper Tank against the Sixers

Over the last several years, the Sixers were on the receiving end of a lot of criticism for tanking. The argument was that NBA teams should always do all they can to win every game, or the fans are let down.

That may or may not be true, but it is time for a reality check. NBA teams  tank. I saw it last night when the Sixers played the Magic.

The Magic came into the game at 21 – 50 . Along with Memphis, Phoenix, and Atlanta, they are vying for top draft picks in the lottery.  Right behind them are Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas and Sacramento. It does not pay any of these teams to win at this point in the season,.

Some teams, like Brooklyn, still pay hard, but field new players. This is what the Sixers used to do. And that is still fun to watch. Last night the Magic did something different. They just didn’t really try. At one point in the third quarter, it looked like the Sixers would go up by 40. And the Sixers are not that good. BTW, the Sixers also were playing the tail end of a back to back.

So I would make a distinction. It is one thing to field young players who do not have the skills or experience to compete but who lay their hearts out trying. And some of those players might develop into solid NBA players – case in point, Robert Covington. It is another thing when a team dogs it up and down the court  It was no fun watching the Magic do that last night.

The corollary is that great teams tend to coast into the playoffs to rest their stars.

The answer?  Given the way things are, there may be no great answer to this. Aside from a few key games, the season tends to run out of gas when there are around 10 – 15 games left.  While I am at it, some of the early playoff series are not that exciting either.

Too bad!

Squeezing Water out of Desert Air? Impossible? Nope!

From Endgadget

Researchers at MIT and UC Berkeley have developed and now tested a device that can extract water out of the air even in the driest of climates. The team proposed the device in a Science article last year and now they’ve improved the design and tried it out in Tempe, Arizona. While there are a few ways to pull water out of the air, most come with significant limitations. They usually require humidities upwards of 50 percent and some need a lot of energy input to make them work. The research team’s latest design, however, works passively, without the need for energy input, and can work in places with humidity as low as 10 percent.

Very cool!