Linky Friday: Peak Performance

Athletics:

[A1] Now this is a goalkeeping fail.

[A2] College basketball may be moving towards the same split as college football has, between the haves and have-nots.

[A3] Vacating wins is still dumb.

[A4] I think this piece, and pieces like it, underestimate how valuable the illusion of the student-athlete is. It’s not the quality of play that drives the interest in college sports. Likewise President Obama’s and LaBron James’s belief that there should be paid minor leagues. I support the idea, but most likely the kids will want to still play at colleges because nobody cares about minor league sports, as indicated by the fact that a minor league basketball already exists that neither seem aware of.

[A5] Oh, man, what if the hippies are right?

[A6] Well that’s just dandy. {Related} Sure was useful using them to contrast with Trump, though, wasn’t it?

[A7] If you can somehow figure out a way to put this team in the world series, and you have a ragtag misfit team movie.

Food:

community coffee photo

Caution: This coffee tastes good.
Image by Digital Sextant Linky Friday: Peak Performance

[Fo1] The daughter of a friend said that her father should kill a crawfish in the bucket that looked like it was in pain. The father asked how she thought the crawfish felt when it was dumped in the boiling water. She cried.

[Fo2] I love my country.

[Fo3] Talk of a corporate/government sugar conspiracy may be overstated.

[Fo4] I’ll take my coffee bad, thank you.

Linky Friday: Peak Performance

Image by wuestenigel Linky Friday: Peak Performance

[Fo5] This argument would be better if we could compare (as best we can controlling for income) harvest box consumers and the rest. This isn’t a defense of Trump Boxes, and I’m generally more than happy to believe the government shouldn’t be picking out the food of anyone, but there are a lot of other things going on there.

[Fo6] Heather Dockray argues that wraps are the lowest form of human lunch. I kind of agree.

[Fo7] Carbs vs fat. Fat vs carbs. The war will never end… but it actually misses the point. The most effective diet will be whatever one you can stick with. Everything else is nibbling around the edges.

Healthcare:

[Hc1] The only time this ever came up with my wife, her superiors gave her the ability to dismiss the patient from the practice no questions asked. It’s unfortunate that nurses aren’t extended the same courtesy.

[Hc2] This plan actually seems better than most debt forgiveness ones, mostly because it’s front-loaded and I think that creates psychological incentives if nothing else. Plus, the #1 thing areas can do to attract doctors is set up medical schools and residencies there.

[Hc3] Physicians spend more time doing paperwork than seeing patients. EMR will always be a fantastic example of what happens when the user isn’t the customer.

[Hc4] In addition to everything else, we need psychiatrists.

[Hc5] Health insurance companies are the worst in big ways, more big ways, and small.

[Hc6] If Republicans had acted on health care sooner, they (and we) would have a lot more options to try to insure everybody than we eventually will. it wouldn’t even have had to be the Nixon era. They could have as late as 2005.

Pets:

pet dog photo

Image by gomagoti Linky Friday: Peak Performance

[Pe1] Well of course not. He’s not old enough in dog years. Maybe in a couple years, though.

[Pe2] Good dog! Good dog!

[Pe3] Check out the hockeydog!

[Pe4] Gene therapy… for pets!

[Pe5] Meet Barbra Streisands replicating pups. The $50,000 price tag really, really surprises me. This… could become more economically feasible for people than IVF.

Wildlife:

orca photo

Image by schoschie Linky Friday: Peak Performance

[Wi1] That time an elk took down a helicopter. Not without cost, however. Meanwhile, I love this cow so much I don’t even want to eat it.

[Wi2] Sometimes, to avoid prey, it’s better to run slower.

[Wi3] Harmless or vicious hunter doesn’t seem like a difficult question to answer here. The questions are more fundamental than that.

[Wi4] Birds are scary as hell, Australia is scary as hell, so

[Wi5] It’s a mutant invasion on our waters and an orca invasion on our beaches.

Environment:

[En1] We may be getting better at recycling batteries!

[En2] As I’ve mentioned before, this is really the type of thing that bothers me more than it should, given the other environmental problems we’re facing.

[En3] Instead of paying back its debtholders, the tropical island of Seychelles is going to pay forward to environmental conservation. With the debtholder’s permission.

[En4] Beware the Bradford Pear: A pleasant-looking tree that is dooming the environment.

[En5] Cool! The underwater levels are always my favorite.


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104 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Peak Performance

  1. A5: According to more athletic people I know, the parents might not have allowed keeping score but the kids took on the task themselves.

    AE6: Is anybody surprised?

    Fo4: Coffee is something where I can taste the difference between mass market coffee and more gourmet coffee but find gourmet coffee not quite as good as advertised.

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    • A long time ago the coffee moguls tasted every bean and selected the very best ones to become Folgers, Maxwell House, Nescafe, etc. because they wanted to sell lots of coffee. The beans they didn’t pick are the ones that tasted like dirt. Those nasty ones are now pushed as gourmet beans. I say this as someone who would put Marmite on surstromming.

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    • A5: Exactly my experience in first year Little League. Each team got to bat around every inning, so the unkept “score” was basically how many kids showed up that day plus whether the last batter got a hit, but every kid knew which side was “winning”.

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    • Coffee is something where I can taste the difference between mass market coffee and more gourmet coffee but find gourmet coffee not quite as good as advertised.

      That’s pretty much my experience. I do like gourmet better, but not heads over heels better. And Aldi’s instant coffee (Aldi’s is a discount grocery store in Big City, I don’t know if they have it where you live) tastes, to me, better than most mass-marketed coffee and better than some gourmet coffee. It’s cheap, just about $3 for 8 oz., and because it’s instant, there’s not the hassle of setting up a coffee machine.

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      • I’ve been told Aldi’s has the same parent company as Trader Joe’s so maybe they have similar suppliers? (IDK. I have never been in a TJ’s and have only been to Aldi a few times because I can’t deal with the bulk produce sales. And also there is not an Aldi right in my town)

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        • I don’t know if they have similar suppliers or not. I’ve been to both and their stuff *seems* different. But that might just be because I assume ahead of time they’re different and I don’t look for the similarities.

          I’ve never bought produce from Aldi’s. I’m not dead set against it, but my local grocery chain just seems more reliable.

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      • Suppose you can say I’m a coffee snob. Call and have a pound roasted for me they call me when it’s ready. If I run out before I order than Aldi coffee is my fall back. However I am not above coffe from On Cue/7-11 caffeine is paramount. I really don’t care much for Starbucks but will drink it.

        We shop at Aldi all the time. Cheapest place for staples. Not the widest or most consistent on what they stock but the occasional oddity as a treat.

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        • I agree that caffeine is the key for me, too. I actually like Starbucks, but even something I really don’t like, like Folgers, I’ll drink if it’s my only vehicle for caffeine.

          I agree with you about Aldi’s, too. One thing I like, when they have them, are the “gourmet” assortment of cookies. You can buy a box for $4 or so and serve them to guests. Like you, I also find Aldi’s good for staples, especially olive oil. For olive oil (and coffee), we’ll make a special trip there.

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        • You have to be careful to verify your small local roaster. I’ve been reliably informed that an employee from my neighborhood roaster once drove by a Walmart and almost went in to buy something. The employee eventually made the right decision, but I don’t want to support a roaster that has ties to big chains like that.

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  2. Hc3: My doctor now has a minion who follows her around with a laptop to do all the digital records stuff. I get why but I admit it’s disconcerting to have yet another person in the room when I’m being examined. (Have not yet had an, ahem, “Well woman” visit with the new set up. Not sure I will tolerate that very well….)

    Fo4: Denying yourself pleasure in order to build willpower. How very Puritan. (I get up and go to work five and sometimes six days a week. That’s enough willpower-building for me. A friend once commented to me, when I was whining over a series of unpleasant but minor setbacks that said setbacks “build character” and I looked at him and said, “Do you really want me to be more of a character than I am already?”)

    Anyway, I hate coffee. I am a tea-drinker. (And in tea, there is a huge giant difference between the good-and-slightly-more-expensive-and-involved tea (like loose tea) and the cheap supermarket teabags and I don’t care how much money I might save by switching to Lipton or something, it’s not worth it.)

    Pe5: I’ve taught a little about mammal-cloning and from what I know about it, it seems super-unethical, especially compared to, say, going to a pet shelter and adopting a new dog.

    En4: Bradford pears suck for MANY reasons and while I’m generally not big on the idea of banning things, I would not be sad if their sale was banned. The ice storm we had recently took out quite a few and I’m happy about that. (My pecan tree and elm tree and redbud survived unscathed) There are so many better native trees a person could plant that have nice flowers, and some of them even set edible fruit….

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    • Lipton is awful. When I order tea at a restaurant and they bring me a bag of it, I scratch the place off my list. (Speaking of which, how can Panera think that a bag of potato chips counts as a side dish?)

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    • Cheap versus good tea: That’s a funny thing… I just looked up the price of Lipton tea bags on Amazon. You can get 8 ounces (100 count) for about $15. I think that Liptons is just low grade orange pekoe, so I then looked up a much better grade of the same thing loose at Harney & Sons. You can get an 8 ounce tin for $13. There is a moral there. Several, in fact. One is that you pay for those bags. Harney & Sons will sell it to you that way. A 50 count package goes for $12.

      I used to use teabags in my backpacking days. There is less fiddling around and extra equipment. I figured that was worth the trade off of an inferior result. I can’t think of any other circumstances were I would voluntarily use a teabag if loose were available.

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      • I’ve seen “refillable sachets” you can use with loose tea. I’ve never tried using them, though.

        I kind of vacillate between Harney and Sons and Adagio for teas. I think Harney’s is perhaps slightly better, but Adagio seems to have more responsive customer service. (And yes, I mostly have to mail-order my teas. I live in the land of iced tea and cruddy groceries.)

        For a while my dad was ordering tea from an American reseller of Fortnum and Mason products, but I think they either went out of business or quit selling the teas.

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          • *fesses up to having a lot of this stuff* I have a Gertea the Dinosaur, a sword shaped tea thinger, a cloth teabag, and two quasi-regulation metal latching teaballs with ceramic weights on the other side of the chain (one sunflower, one moon and sun). The sunflower one is more than 20 years old, so props to whoever made it. I also have *strong preferences* about bagged black tea (Twinings or that one Ginger Peach from the hippy brand), bagged herbal tea (Celestial Seasonings), loose herbal tea (NOT Harney and sons) and loose black tea (Harney and Sons if it must be American, otherwise the scope widens). I haven’t settled on a perfect green tea yet but I am irritated by many
            of the options I have tried.

            I had a whole year where I wasn’t allowed any caffeine whatsoever for medical reasons and I managed to give *almost* all my tea away. I kept a box of super-fancy imported assam in the loose gauze bags, and a sack of gunner’s tea from our local tea shop that makes their own blends. Even though I couldn’t drink them for a year! Just because I also couldn’t give them up.

            Restocking when the year was over did not take me long :D.

            The worst part is that now I would like some tea This Very Minute, but Jay told me we’re about to leave for gaming 25 minutes ago …. (tbf he said it would be probably 20 minutes or so).

            *sighs*

            *wants tea*

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  3. [A5] Yawn. Olympics: moderately interesting. Who gets the highest number of medals? Even less interesting. How they did it (assuming no doping or new tech) couldn’t care less.

    [A6] You know, “sex work” vs being a peasant starving in the fields might be the better of two shitty option.

    [Fo6] Oh please. They are fine. They aren’t great lunches, but they are ok. What I should eat a chipolte burrito and feel like a beached whale all afternoon when I can get a wrap full of meat, cheese, and bacon? Nah. I will saw that the flavorless wrap itself could use some work, but I encounter that in regular and corn tortilla shells to so…

    [Fo7] You know the diet that works for me: Jujitsu rolling 4-5 times a week. Then again, I have the habit of eating more than a single sushi roll for dinner when I go out, unlike some of my friends….

    [Wi2] Sometimes, to avoid prey, it’s better to run slower….which is why some predators drive prey into ambushes…lions for example.

    [En4] The Bradford pear sucks as a tree. Stinks too. I far prefer the river birch or cherry tree.

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  4. A2: I still think that at some point the top five/six athletic conferences will set up on their own, independent of the NCAA. If I were betting, the new organization will be tougher than the NCAA on under-the-table payments, but will have a standard cash stipend for at least the football and basketball players.

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  5. A4: Frankly caring about the illusion of amateurism is bullshit. In my ideal world, I would do a hard ban on Division I college sports. That won’t happen so why can’t we just pay the kids instead of doing this elaborate dance. A few college athletes will become professional stars. Many will end up with injuries and questionable degrees. The point of reform is reform, not making nice with the defenders of corruption.

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      • It seems to cause more problems then good. I know this is a pipe dream because college athletics have been a big part of American society/culture for more than a hundred years.

        But I think it creates all the wrong incentives for what a university should be and spend money on. We have students drowning in debt while alumni, admin, and fans think of nothing more than spending millions of dollars or more on the big Division 1 sports (mainly football and basketball) and the facilities that go into training the athletes. The lucky athletes go on to the professionals, the unlucky ones get injured and/or graduated with questionable degrees and few economic prospects.

        We also have stories about adjunct professors who are scrapping by and often on public assistance with big time coaches (often at public universities) earning high six-figure and sometimes low seven figure salaries.

        Plus there are the scandals when university admins looked the other way to protect athletic staff and star athletes.

        The whole thing seems rotten to the core with tons of baked in incentives to bad and unethical behavior. I’m not sure that any reforms except burn the whole thing down and start again can solve these issues.

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    • Frankly caring about the illusion of amateurism is bullshit. In my ideal world, I would do a hard ban on Division I college sports.

      I’m not as much of a college sports fan or connoisseur as , but wouldn’t banning Division 1 sports just make Division 2 the next Division 1?

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  6. Hc4: I think the market is saying we have enough psychiatrists. There are alternatives available that don’t require a medical degree: licensed clinical psychologist or social worker. And in some states like Illinois, they are allowed to prescribe a class of medicine.

    Basically, the article equates mental healthcare with number of psychiatrists. This would certainly be how the American Psychiatric Society would see it.

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  7. Since there are articles on health care financing today…

    We needed to buy a health insurance policy on our state’s exchange this year. The state farms out assistance eligibility determination, including income tax credits, to the counties. At some point in the process, the county entered our household income as zero. During the interval while that zero was in our file, the software decided that we were eligible for Medicaid. The zero error was subsequently corrected, but the Medicaid eligibility has apparently taken on a life of its own. We got Medicaid insurance cards in the mail. Our state includes dental care under Medicaid but hires a private firm to manage the program; a week after the first cards, we got Medicaid dental cards from that company. Some time after that, my wife got a letter from the feds informing her that when she transitions to Medicare in May, she’ll get extra special assistance for drug purchases (this is standard for people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid). Our state has multiple Medicaid options; yesterday we got a letter explaining that if we didn’t choose an option by March 31, the state would make the decision for us.

    While it all seems kind of amusing, there’s the problem, as a friend puts it, that “It’s all grins and giggles until the fraud charges are filed.”

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  8. Fo5:
    We can predict how things turn out, just by looking at the motivations and attitudes surrounding the debate.
    What prompted the proposed change? Was it an outpouring of concern for the poor?
    What is our attitude towards the people who are going to be affected?

    Generally, what I see is that the attitude of the people who are proposing this is a Dickensian indifference verging on an active malice.
    So the program, if it succeeds at its goal, will inflict suffering and cruelty.

    If it fails, it may help someone, somewhere.

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  9. Ae4: No one really knows what, if anything, the pretense of amateurism is worth for college sports. College basketball and football are unique in American sporting culture in that they are not the top tier of competition, yet people care about the games, even with no obvious connection such as being a current or former student at the school. Contrast this with minor league baseball. People have various reasons to enjoy going to the games, but even the people in the stands don’t really care who wins.

    Why is this? There are all sorts of interesting historical reasons for this that only apply today as path dependency. What is relevant today? I’m not sure. It the pretense of amateurism part of this? Maybe. Heck if I know.

    The linked piece is interesting in that is seems to be advocating not direct hires, but legalizing payments by third parties such as agents, bidding for their cut of future contracts, or businesses offering endorsement deals. Might this be sufficiently removed from direct payments that we can still pretend that these football players are spending their time studying Latin and Greek, when off the field?

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    • It… might. I favor the part about agents. Among other things, they may actually help the kids stay on the right side of the rules. And I favor the ability of professional teams to essentially subsidize college players in exchange for drafting rights out of college. That’s the main way I support players getting paid.

      Getting money from Nike et al runs the risks of essentially booster payments. The best players will go to the schools with the biggest platform where they can get the biggest endorsements, but that’s usually how it goes now. The rest runs the risk of alumni funnelling money through their businesses for tens of thousands of endorsements for spark plug resellers that don’t really even make it into the promotional material.

      And the more rules you set up against that sort of thing, the more the new system looks like the old system.

      My guess is that this all ends with a flat stipend. Which I don’t think is actually that mutually exclusive with amateur athleticism. Or at least is close enough to it. And hopefully getting 30k or whatever in addition to room and board will keep the players happy enough so that few enough of them are accepting under-the-table payments that they are more easy to identify and enforce.

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      • Regarding booster payments, the linked article addresses that and is OK with it. My initial reaction is to agree. Yes, of course this means that the schools with the most financial resources to throw at athletes will get the best talent. Explain to me how this is both bad and avoidable.

        As for a flat stipend, this would remove the stupidity of the star athlete worth millions who can’t afford to buy lunch. But it is still a severe market distortion, and likely unsustainable. The incentives for both school and athlete still are to work around the rules. So while we might see a flat stipend, I don’t think that will be where it ends. It will be a transitional phase.

        As for amateur athleticism, my study of sports history has made me profoundly unimpressed by the ideal. It originally was entirely about confining competition to the right sort of people, with the necessary financial resources and free time to participate serving as a proxy for being the right sort. feh

        The modern NCAA version, as applied to the “money sports,” is a perverse bastardization of what was a bad idea in the first place. Now it isn’t about keeping the wrong sort out, but getting them on the cheap. It is practically the dictionary definition of “exploitation.”

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      • Why should Nike, Electronic Arts, the Schools, and whoever else be able to profit on the kids but the kids cannot?

        This is not exactly the 1890s anymore. It isn’t even the 1960s-80s anymore. College sports are big money for a lot of people and I am frankly not concerned with the sentimentality fans have for the idea of “amateurism”. If they really wanted “amateur” athletics, they can go to a Division III swimming competition. People are watching to see who the next big stars will be professionally.

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        • Minor league baseball (and, to a lesser extent, basketball) indicate the lack of interest in seeing who the next big star is. The value in college sports is the institutions far, far more than the players. The lack of interest in D3 sports is directly related to that.

          Regarding profiting, all but 25 schools have athletics departments that lose money. Whatever extra money football and basketball make ends up going to the other sports. And all but 60 or so football programs actually lose money, when all is said and done.

          I don’t object to the players getting payed. It’s just that if it becomes a professional league, I no longer have any interest in it. Why settle for a league of cut-rate athletes? The answer right now is that I don’t consider it to be a professional league. It becomes one, there is another professional league with much better players I could be watching instead.

          I fully support the formation of a minor league system for those student athletes who do want to be paid for it. Unfortunately, I suspect it would have problems because I think the ability to play on a big stage for big institutions is itself a form of compensation that exceeds what any minor league system would be able to pay them. One indication that this is true is how comparatively few basketball players actually pursue those opportunities, which are available to them. But I think that’s ultimately the solution to this. Or at least the one I would like to see.

          I also like my “Let the professional leagues pay them for future drafting rights”… but I don’t expect that to go anywhere.

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          • Minor league baseball is a peculiar critter. Yes, no one in the stands cares who wins. No one, not even a ten year old boy, lives and dies by the fortunes of the Lansing Lugnuts. On the other hand, people are in the stands anyway. I have on more than one occasion been turned away from the gate because the game was sold out. Why are those people there? MiLB markets itself as affordable family entertainment, with games and carousels and the like for the kids, and only modestly overpriced concessions. So on a pleasant summer evening it is a good place to go hang out.

            But there is more to it than that. Seeing the next big star is certainly part of it. The big league club likes having its minor affiliates near it for logical convenience. The minor league clubs like being near their big league affiliate for marketing purposes. This is quite specifically seeing the future stars. So this is a thing. I couldn’t say how big a thing it is.

            The other thing about minor league ball is that back in the day, people did care. Minor leagues had real pennant races and fans got excited. What changed this was the farm system. This developed gradually, and wasn’t really complete until the 1990s. In the modern model, the on-field personnel of a minor league club are actually employees of the big league club, and everything they do–who plays, where they play, and for how long–is for the benefit of the big league club.

            So you might see a starter pitch for three innings and do really well and get yanked. Or a guy get bombed and left in. These might make no sense if the point is to win the game, but make perfect sense as player development. An extreme case is where a pitcher doing well might get yanked in the middle of an inning. Why? Because the manager got a phone call from the big club: one of their pitchers just got injured. That guy is yanked from the mound and put in a car to the big city.

            More generally, there is no continuity with the players. If a guy is doing well, he will disappear in the middle of the season to move to the next higher league. Even if you get to keep him all year, he will be gone the next. Yes, we root for laundry. But there are, it turns out, limits.

            At this point we are pretty thoroughly trained to only care about the top level, with the exceptions of NCAA Div. I football and basketball, plus Texas high school football. I don’t know that this was inevitable, or if it is irreversible. Texas high school football looks a lot like the old town semi-pro baseball teams. This might be a model to base on. The difficulty generally is that sports fandom is a collectively agreed-upon fiction that this matters. Getting people to agree to this fiction is tough.

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            • @saul-degraw One thing I’ve found being at a school with nearly no D1 sports, is that people still do *care* about D3 sports, just not to a financially booming degree.

              I’ve been to regular-season, non-rivalry, not-even-one-of-our-most-popular-teams D3 games with 500 people in the stands. At a school with about 2000 FTE, and considering only 1/2 the people there appeared to be students… I think that’s pretty good.

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                • We don’t have a football team either (though it had good attendance before they shut it down for complicated reasons mostly due to travel costs, during the recession of ’08. Alumni still complain every few years and try to get it back).

                  We (collectively, the whole community including our townie neighbors) go to a lot of D3 soccer and basketball games though. Even volleyball gets pretty great attendance. Other sports, afaik, attendance depends on competitiveness… but there are always SOME people showing up for every home game. Perhaps part of it is that our athletes and coaches also do clinics, etc., for local kids in their sports.

                  So athleticism, the scholar-athlete, does seem to fit in well with that approach. Our athletes are mostly on at least partial athletic scholarship, and mostly do very well academically. (Some of ’em are on academic scholarships and just happened to also make the team!) Some of ’em win conference / national awards for their combined prowess.

                  (We only have two D1 sports, one gender’s hockey and one gender’s soccer. Everything else is D3 with some D2’s…)

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        • I don’t think that’s correct, actually. The NCAA isn’t monetarily motivated to enter the debate one way or the other (it’ll have the same power/revenue either way). And individual schools probably aren’t motivated by a monetary calculus all that much either *except* in terms of scope. Seems to me there’s no way to easily pay college men’s basketball and football players without that principle slipping into paying every athlete in every sport on campus.

          I think the NCAA as well as major D1 programs are all aware of how problematic the current policies and procedures are wrt policing and enforcement and so on. But I also think they view the prospective solutions as unworkable – even worse – on a bunch of evels too. One thing they could do is get rid of the college requirement for HS kids to get drafted. Another is to put money into developmental leagues where kids whose only interest is pursuing a career in BB/FB get paid right away.

          My best guess – and it’s just a guess – is that insiders and beneficiaries of the current system realize that things are too top-heavy and unstable right now and that the whole inverted money-pyramid could come crashing down. They just don’t believe – and I sorta do to – that paying college BB players is the right solution.

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  10. Fo4: I find to my surprise myself agreeing with a Lifehacker article. I went through my “good coffee” phase several decades ago, in the pre-Starbucks era. I long since reverted to ground coffee in a can. As a caffeine delivery system it works just fine, and the expense is trivial. The trick is that once I get my early-morning shot of caffeine, I switch to tea. I am a complete tea snob. But the thing is, good tea is cheap. I buy it online from Harney & Sons, putting in two or three orders a year for somewhere between one and two hundred bucks total. I get the best of both worlds.

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    • I don’t get the part where the author talks about turning down a cup of coffee from a friend. Assuming this is a situation where the author would otherwise be amenable to a cup of coffee, I don’t think we’re talking about coffee snobbery anymore. The step past being a snob, I assume is being a jerk.

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      • If you are at a friend’s house and he offers you a cup of coffee, I don’t think you are under any obligation to accept it. If you accompany your decline of the offer with an explanation of your friend’s failings as a coffee brewer, then you are indeed a jerk.

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        • I’m not suggesting its obligatory, but I’m suggesting that an offer of a cup of coffee is not merely about the coffee, it is a social gesture that I wouldn’t reject because its likely to be a store bought brand. I certainly wouldn’t feel obligated to accept an offer of coffee made in the evening.

          I am probably a coffee snob to the extent that I buy whole beans from a roaster near my house, but probably not that I would think a cup of Folger’s would taste “like stomach acid run through a dishwasher.” Maybe I lack the taste for hyperbole?

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  11. Hc6: Makes one wistful. It is mind boggling to speculate how differently the American ship of state might have moved if the right propeller wasn’t jammed up with republitarian pap for the last 30 some years.

    I admit to a kind of horrified awe at the towering foolishness of Trumps tariff plans. I never thought the GOP would let him get away with a stunt like this (also I didn’t realize the executive could apply tarrifs like this on its own). I suppose one can never overestimate the GOP but surely they have to realize the kinds of fire Trump is playing with at threatening a trade war eight months out from a midterm election?

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    • Embedded in Trump’s tariffs is a logic which I’m unclear on and need help understanding: apparently China is subsidizing the cost of production on these items and in at least one case – solar panels – are selling them at a loss in an effort to establish market share.

      Assume that is true.

      1. What recourse do nations have to re-balance the competitive playing field other than imposition of tariffs? (Presumably appeals to the WTO haven’t worked.)

      2. Should the tariffs downstream effects on price and jobs be the only, or merely part of, the calculus in determining whether they are justified?

      3. How do we balance the prospects that tariffs lead to a trade war, then a cold war, then a hot war against the (assumed) fact that China is unfairly gaming the system?

      Lastly, the assumption: is it true that China is subsidizing the production of steel, aluminum and solar panels to gain an unfair edge and does it matter if they are?

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          • “Free trade has always been important to Democrats and Donald Trump’s xenophobic trade isolationism will endanger women and minorities and the overwhelmingly cis-het white male steel workers’ union’s support demonstrates how toxic this racist isolationism is.”

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              • Probably nothing.

                If they say anything it’ll be like “We have a First Amendment and people can give their opinions about whatever they want and we’re not going to get in the way of these PATRIOTIC AMERICANS STANDING UP FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE BECAUSE STANDING UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS WHAT AMERICA IS ABOUT.”

                (There will be a handful of sad-sack killjoy “well, actually” types who will talk about the difference between public sector unions and private sector unions and be dumb like that but they suck.)

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          • It will be interesting, because even within the lefty sphere, there really isn’t much of a pro-tariff lobby within living memory. For as long as I can remember, even-the-liberals went along with the notion that tariffs were a bad thing.

            FWIW, I can’t see tariffs as fitting in with the “we are all in it together” theme of liberalism; they just always seem like a special interest niche.

            But…

            I can see tariffs being tied together with broader generalized rejection of “free trade” as an unquestioned good especially for the younger generations living with the fallout of global trade.

            So, we are living in interesting times.

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            • It will be interesting, because even within the lefty sphere, there really isn’t much of a pro-tariff lobby within living memory. For as long as I can remember, even-the-liberals went along with the notion that tariffs were a bad thing.

              Certainly true since the Clinton administration. I’m sure you can find some old school lefties cheering for tariffs, but I don’t think they have much traction.

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            • The Democratic Party has always supported free trade. FDR considered Free Trade an essential part of rebuilding Europe after WWII was over and said no to tariffs. Of course he died before the war was over but still.

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      • China should be kicked out of the WTO and lose most favored nation status.

        Nearly all of Chinese steel is produced by state-owned companies. Under those conditions, those trade privileges make no sense other than it would be painful to admit.

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      • These are all valid points that a functioning market would remedy; a remedy that the WTO is supposed to mitigate… so if the threat of tariffs and the WTO can’t curb the practices, then either the threat or the WTO isn’t credible (or the accusations are false).

        What I remain agnostic on is whether Steel/Aluminum are the proper targets… if the trade isn’t fair, then I have no issue.*

        Solar Panels are pretty well documented, and despite the hit to consumers, it is in our interests to not abandon a growing tech being skewed by a market landgrab…

        I’m also agnostic on whether Trade Diplomacy has been exhausted; personally I suspect yes – these are not new issues that have just popped up in the past year – perhaps a competent focus could yield results… or perhaps a flash of the threat is needed for a negotiated settlement. I personally believe the US was derelict in protecting trade practices, but I’m not competent to say whether this is the right remedy at the right time. That it could be a remedy? I have no problem with that contra “so-called” free traders.

        Do I fully trust that Trump and his team are the right people to make that determination, no, not really… but I also won’t pretend that markets don’t need curation and agreements honored just because Trump is doing something.

        The Establishment Left and Right cry that Tariffs are wrong always and everywhere forever and ever amen is partly the clue to me that something is amiss.

        * I’ve read that we’ve basically outsourced the poison/pollution controls to China so their “subsidies” come partially in the form of production that we wouldn’t tolerate on our soils. If that’s true, then I have the same issues I have with outsourcing labor… if there are labor practices that we won’t tolerate for our neighbors and we price them in to the cost of doing business in the US, then we shouldn’t unprice them when we make other people’s neighbors do the work.

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          • Functionally or legally? Functionally no difference.

            Politically in 2018, most taxes are transaction taxes used to fund the ongoing costs of being the United States and/or the costs of managing the customs/markets for different goods. A Tariff in this sense is different because it is a targeted tax to remedy a market imbalance. Could a tax be a tariff and a tariff a tax, sure. Also, legally, only congress can levy taxes, but the president has some authority to impose tariffs.

            Taxes and Tariffs can both be evil and awful depending on how and why they are levied. In the instances outlined above, I’m saying they may not be… but acknowledging that as a layman reading the newspapers I may not be in a position to judge.

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          • Pundits and experts are calling this tariff evil and awful because a) it raises prices and will cost jobs, b) will punish Canada far more than the target of the tariff, which is China, c) given the paltry imports of Chinese steel it will have no appreciable effect on changing China’s price-distorting behavior and d) there is a very good chance – like a really good chance, yo! – that this action will lead to a trade war culminating in a real full-blown war war.

            To their credit, it probably will lead to a trade war since the EU just proposed tariffs on a bunch of US exports. .

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            • CNN had an article that discussed a poll which found that 57% of respondents believe Trump is racist. It expressed increasingly mocking outrage before noting that that number was closely in line with his disapproval rating. And in line with a number of other polls of his supposed bad behavior. Basically, the premise was that we have to add some grains fo salt to these numbers because it is possible people here any poll asking about an opinion on a specific aspect or action of Trump and simply responding based on whether or not they like him.

              So I’m trying to figure out, in this case, are most objecting because this particular act is uniquely problematic in a way that other taxes or tariffs aren’t. Or are we objecting because Trump did it and everything Trump does is evil.

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              • Undoubtedly some mix of the two, but the Scott Lincicome’s of the world aren’t freaking because the tariff has no merit on the merits (as punishment against China’s behavior) but due to its downstream effects on prices and jobs coupled with the likelihood of initiating a trade war.

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              • See PDShaw’s comment below. I suspect it is the latter… at least in the initial outcry.

                Which isn’t to discount some specialists who may surface objections based on 1) Actual knowledge of the Steel industry or 2) China’s defense to the WTO, or 3) How trade diplomacy and the WTO could resolve the matter without this step 4). etc.

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                • I think an important difference is that Obama was an open and vociferous advocate of free-er trade whereas Trump rejects those principles. The textural difference between the two presidents goes beyond, say, how well they understand the underlying economics.

                  That is, I think lots of free marketeers viewed Obama’s proposed tariffs as a one off and Trump’s proposal as a beginning.

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        • The WTO has rules/guidelines on what subsidies are and aren’t illegal.

          Its been an “open secret” (and we’re all a little more savvy about open secrets these days) that some of China’s export products have been subsidized beyond these limits… what to do about that is, of course, in dispute. China also disputes their subsidies… so, what to do?

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          • I know nobody really knows what Trump thinks or is going to do, including His Trumpness, but aren’t’ we threatening tariffs against sort of everybody, not just China. That would seem to sink the argument that we are retaliating against Chinese unfair practices. Obama actually did that in 16 i think. I’m sure conservatives hated it then or something or other.

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            • That would seem to sink the argument that we are retaliating against Chinese unfair practices.

              A tariff that applied to only Chinese imports would violate WTO regs. It has to be applied generally. So Canada will take a bigger hit than China on steel, for example, even tho China is the target.

              Turning your friends into your enemy’s friends is the Art of the Deal, dude.

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              • Well Obama put a specific tariff on China so it is possible somehow. But why target an intervention when you can spray and pray i guess. I’m sure the Chinese will be very impressed and scared by the show of manly manly force.

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                • Trump’s an idiot. Of that there is no doubt. I just think there’s a “what do you do if…” question that needs a better answer than we’re hearing right now. If it’s true that the Chinese are manipulating international markets by subsidizing production cost, then is a punitive tariff justified or not? If it is justified, is it still bad policy or not? Etc.

                  Right now people are panicking like this tariff is the end of the free trade world as we know it, which strikes me as a bit too quick given everything that’s in play.

                  Remember when Bush II drew a line in the sand re: China unfairly pegging their currency to the Dollar? This has been going on for along time.

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                • Wow! Check out this article. It sorta supports your earlier claim that Trump’s tariff is targeting Canada and not China. The context is Obama’s tariff on Chinese tires.

                  The decision signals the first time that the United States has invoked a special safeguard provision that was part of its agreement to support China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

                  Under that safeguard provision, American companies or workers harmed by imports from China can ask the government for protection simply by demonstrating that American producers have suffered a “market disruption” or a “surge” in imports from China.

                  Unlike more traditional anti-dumping cases, the government does not need to determine that a country is competing unfairly or selling its products at less than their true cost.

                  So, if I understand that correctly, Trump could impose a punitive tariff specifically on Chinese steel without violating WTO rules and without including Canada in the mix.

                  Huh.

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                  • Two words: national security. The Administration is acting under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows a lot to be done once national security is invoked. WTO rules also have an exception for national security, as none of the major players would accept the WTO without that. TTBOMK, there is no standard, either domestically or internationally, for what constitutes national security.

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                    • Let’s unpack that. If Trump’s acting on national security concerns to enact a tariff on *all* steel imports rather than appealing to a narrow provision for which there is precedent that allows the US to target China specifically, then the motivation for the steel/aluminum tariff *isn’t* Chinese price fixing and so on.

                      Is that a fair conclusion to draw?

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                        • This is from Kevin Drum:

                          “Donald Trump plans to levy tariffs on overseas steel and aluminum, and now the trade wars have begun. From Reuters:

                          The European Union is considering applying 25 percent tariffs on $3.5 billion of goods — a third steel, a third industrial goods and a third agricultural — to “rebalance” bilateral trade, EU sources said. “We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans — Levis,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told German television.

                          Hmmm. Harley-Davidsons are made in—what? Wisconsin, right? In Menomonee Falls, actually, about 50 miles from Janesville, where Paul Ryan lives. The Jim Beam bourbon distillery is in Clermont, Kentucky, about 20 miles from Mitch McConnell’s house in Louisville. Levi’s is headquartered in San Francisco, about two miles from Nancy Pelosi’s house.”

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                          • But the jeans are not manufactured in the United States as far as I know.

                            Serious question how are tariffs done here. Suppose an American company manufactures a product in Foreign County A and ships it to Foreign County B from A. Does the tariff get computed based on point or manufacture/origin or the location of where the Corporation is headquartered?

                            Otherwise brilliant plan from the E.U. I also don’t know why they would ding the opposition here.

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                      • I suspect that the causality arrow runs in the other direction. Speculating…

                        Trump wants to win on something that he promised during his campaign. “Bring manufacturing jobs back to America,” was one of the messages where he stayed relatively consistent. So, tariffs… on steel! Aluminum! With a side benefit that contemporary production methods involve large amounts of electricity… need more coal!

                        Then he — or more likely Kelly — actually asks the civil service-level staff “How can I do this in a way that’s not subject to review by the f*cking courts or international regulators?” Because if there’s any lesson the administration ought to have learned after their first year, it’s that court reviews drag out forever, and the WTO asks for actual evidence. The staff looks at the problem and tells him, “Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Just say ‘national security’ and you’re golden. Oh, and by the way, it’s straight out of St. Ronnie’s playbook.”

                        From time to time and I assert that engineers are inherently dangerous people because they create answers to the question “How can I do X?” I have long asserted that there is a group of people — often lawyers by training, but not necessarily — in government-oriented jobs who are equally dangerous for the same reason: “Within existing statute and regulation, how can I do X?” They do have one advantage that I envy when I have my engineer hat on — sometimes they can change the way physics works. Eg, in 1996, some two hundred years after the Constitution went into force, the Supreme Court discovered a previously unknown individual right to gun ownership. (That’s not a complaint about the legal decision, it’s the engineer-me being jealous that the referees can create the equivalent of a loophole in the 2nd law of thermodynamics.)

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                        • In a sense anyone who knows how to solve problem is dangerous in that way – I sometimes joke that the US healthcare system could have been designed by a Dark Economist to be both terrible and impossible to replace.

                          it’s the engineer-me being jealous that the referees can create the equivalent of a loophole in the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

                          In fairness, I’m pretty sure a 19th Century engineer would look at a lot of our technology and think it was cheating somehow.

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                        • I agree, this is looking like the first attempt at a more general tarriff dealie and that’s astonishingly bad policy. The Chinese have got to be shaking their heads and wondering what in Mao’s name they did to deserve this much good fortune raining down on their heads.

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  12. A7: The Rays and Pirates traded away formerly great players who are getting long in the tooth. Also, they traded with the Giants. Both are generally smart things to do.

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      • The strategy they used in the late 90s/early 2000s: while Bonds is still around, reload, not rebuild. It ls to some very good teams, though no championships. Now they’re doing the same around Posey and MadBum. If Crawford was just having an off-year, and Belt stays concussion-free, and Cueto and Samardzija have good years and a few other miracles occur, it might work.

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        • And, of course, if MadB comes back from his injury. He’s a big, strong guy, but so was Matt Cain.

          Sobering thought:

          Lincecum’s last good season was 2011, when he was 27.

          Cain’s last good season was 2012, when he was 27.

          Bumgarner is 28.

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        • It’s an even-numbered year, so I can see a wild card, but I think the strategy would have made more sense if they got Stanton. And I think Pittsburgh should have kept McCutchen at this point. I’m sure even if the oldtimey Giants have another bad year, the fans will still enjoy seeing their favorite players. Pirate ownership isn’t even giving that.

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  13. Pe3 – I’m trying to think of situations in which “checking out the hockeydog” wouldn’t override anything else I was doing. There are a few. Most of them involve arterial blood loss.

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