Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me Gusta

Coach Scott has the Cavs running:
Scott does heavy running at the start and finish of each practice in camp and then runs a crisp schedule so players are doing drills while fatigued to help build up stamina.

But the finish seemed to make the biggest impression. The players run three series of shuttle sprints (foul line, half court, opposite foul line, full court) in a row in groups and everyone must complete them within two minutes. Scott and his assistants watch closely to make sure the players touch each line. Cheating means they have to start over.

Then they run three more.

"I saw a couple guys throw up, I'm not going to point them out, but it is good for us," Jawad Williams said. "It wasn't nothing fun, my feet are on fire."

Breakfast wasn't the only thing that didn't make it for some. Rookie Samardo Samuels cramped up and missed about the last half-hour. But otherwise, every player made it through the first day's challenge.

"Whoa, it was very tough. But I know it is going to bring us closer together, it's got to," Gibson said. "Everybody made it through and we pushed each other the whole way. We're going to start to love him for it, but right now it's tough on us." 

I hope they stick with it.  Too often NBA teams return to training camp professing their new found love of the running game only to have it fall by the wayside once the games start. 

With guards like Mo Williams and Ramon Sessions and big men like Antawn Jamison and J.J. Hickson (plus Jamario Moon), the Cavs are better suited to run as opposed to a slower, grind-it-out style.  Plus, I'm not sure how good they're going to be on defense (because they have guys like Williams, Jamison and Hickson) so they may need to simply outscore other teams.

Unnecessary

This is stupid:
Lucasfilm Ltd. announced today that the live-action "Star Wars" saga will be converted to 3D.

"There are few movies that lend themselves more perfectly to 3D; from the Death Star trench run to the Tatooine Podrace, the 'Star Wars Saga' has always delivered an entertainment experience that is completely immersive," said the statement.
You know what would be cool? Rather than rereleasing the same shit (IN 3D!), why not just make new movies? Why bastardize the old stuff? I mean, sure, it's probably really easy and will make a ton of money but... oh. Right. Squeeze all the money you can out of these films.

Liberal Red Meat

Matt Taibbi on the Tea Party (I highly suggest reading the whole thing):
Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — "Government's not the solution! Government's the problem!" — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.

"The scooters are because of Medicare," he whispers helpfully. "They have these commercials down here: 'You won't even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!' Practically everyone in Kentucky has one."

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it.

After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.
 
"I'm anti-spending and anti-government," crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. "The welfare state is out of control."

"OK," I say. "And what do you do for a living?"

"Me?" he says proudly. "Oh, I'm a property appraiser. Have been my whole life."

I frown. "Are either of you on Medicare?"

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"

"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."

"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"

"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much." Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them

I need a cigarette.

[Edit] I also recommend this rant from Bill Maher on taxes:
When you raise taxes slightly on the wealthy, it obviously doesn't destroy the economy -- we know this, because we just did it -- remember the '90's? It wasn't that long ago. You were probably listening to grunge music, or dabbling in witch...craft. Clinton moved the top marginal rate from 36 to 39% -- and far from tanking, the economy did so well he had time to get his dick washed.

Even 39% isn't high by historical standards. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91%. Under Nixon, it was 70%. Obama just wants to kick it back to 39 -- just three more points for the very rich. Not back to 91, or 70. Three points. And they go insane. Steve Forbes said that Obama, quote "believes from his inner core that people... above a certain income have more than they should have and that many probably have gotten it from ill-gotten ways." Which they have. Steve Forbes, of course, came by his fortune honestly: he inherited it from his gay egg-collecting, Elizabeth Taylor fag-hagging father, who inherited it from his father. Of course then they moan about the inheritance tax, how the government took 55% percent when Daddy died -- which means you still got 45% for doing nothing more than starting out life as your father's pecker-snot.

and this piece on white people from the Village Voice:
What was going on? Had decades of sucking down so much high-fructose corn syrup not only made Americans incredibly obese, but also messed with white brain chemistry to the point that some sort of tipping point had occurred?

Not a bad theory, but no, there's a simpler explanation, with two parts: For the first time in their lives, baby boomers are hard up against it economically, and white boy is becoming outnumbered and it's got his bowels chilled with fear.

"In an age of diminished resources, the United States may be heading for an intensifying confrontation between the gray and the brown," writes Ronald Brownstein in his July National Journal article, "The Gray and the Brown: The Generational Mismatch." That's a polite and understated way of saying that older white folks are losing their shit as they're being replaced by young brown and black kids while the economy is in the crapper.

Brownstein notes that 40 percent of the nation's population under 18 is already non-white, with that number significantly higher in the Southwest (read: Mexicans!). By 2023, that number of young non-whites will be an outright national majority.

At the same time, the baby boomers are getting older. At 80 percent white, boomers have gotten pretty used to dominating nearly every field of endeavor in this country since they came of age—politics, business, education, the arts—just about everything but MTV programming. Boomers set the national agenda in so many ways that we can forget how much the national economy and national media cater to them. Bewildered by the number of Cialis ads you see on television showing those flabby couples sitting in bathtubs? Or the way that older women are suddenly "cougars" and "MILFs" and . . . oh, yeah, you remember, boomers are getting old, but still want to think they can get the sheets sweaty. See? Boomers and their fixations and fears explain nearly everything. . . .
I really recommend reading the whole thing. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oh yeah, that's right

Is it weird that I'm still not used to the fact that Byron Scott is the Cavs head coach? I know LeBron is gone and that Z followed him.  But when I think about this upcoming season, all that comes to mind is Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and J.J. Hickson. I'm always like, "oh yea..... Byron Scott is the Cavs head coach. Sweet."

Anyways, I really enjoyed the feature on Coach Scott in today's Plain Dealer:
After playing 10 seasons with the Lakers, winning championships in 1985, '87 and '88, Scott played two seasons with Indiana and one with Vancouver before returning to the Lakers in 1996-97 to help mentor a young Kobe Bryant.

He finished his playing career in Greece in 1997-98, then joined the Sacramento Kings as an assistant coach for two seasons before being named head coach of the New Jersey Nets in 2000-01. The Nets finished in sixth place that season, but reached the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003, losing to the Lakers the first time and the San Antonio Spurs the second. Scott says the memory of losing those two series as a coach fuels him more than his three titles as a player with the Lakers.

Fired by the Nets midway through the next season, Scott took over the New Orleans Hornets in 2004-05 and the team slowly improved from fifth place in the Southwest Division to fourth and then first in 2007-08, when he was named the league's coach of the year. In the middle of his five-year stay, the team spent parts of two seasons in Oklahoma City after the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Scott, who still owns a home in New Orleans, called that situation the biggest challenge of his career.
"You're talking about people's lives," he said.

Scott, an old-school guy who still has a Doobie Brothers ring tone on his flip phone, faces another challenge here, rebuilding the Cavaliers after James took his talents to South Beach. But his former Laker teammates are confident Scott will succeed here.

"He's going to do a great job," Abdul-Jabbar said. "The fans in Cleveland will be very pleased. He knows the game and he relates to the players in a very positive way. He knows how to win. He did a great job in New Jersey, went to New Orleans and did a great job. In terms of knowing his job and being able to get the job done, they don't have any worries."

Added Johnson, "When he got the Cleveland job, I was really happy for him. Of course, I wish it was with LeBron. But it's not. Byron will still do a wonderful job. He has been a winner wherever he's been. He knows the game inside and out. He brings a championship pedigree with him. And he's a player coach. Byron will do well.

"I think when you look at what has all happened to Cleveland, he's the perfect guy to come in and coach, because he's going to take this as a challenge and he's going to work hard to hopefully one day bring them what they've been missing and that's a championship." 

I really don't think the Cavs are going to be as bad as pundits seem to think.  For instance, Yahoo has the Cavs going 12-70 and ESPN isn't that much better, ranking them 27th overall (behind such teams as the Warriors, the Pacers, the Clippers and the Nets). Is Cleveland going to be a championshp contender? Hell no.  But they aren't going to be the worst team in the league.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

I really enjoyed The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.  It wasn't really what I was expecting, but it was extremely interesting and I liked it a lot.

I started this book thinking it was a self-help(ish) book about how people could use checklists in their every day lives to keep themselves organized.  Heh.  This is something I always tell myself to do more. 

But Gawande focused his attentions on the use of checklists in three major fields: airplane pilots, medical facilities (mostly surgery) and building construction.  Each industry used checklists to help navigate every complex procedures and to make sure everyone was on the same page.

By going through a checklist before surgery (or flights), it helped make sure that those small, but critical, steps aren't missed and that everyone was prepared if things did in fact take a turn for the worse.

Gawande also discusses how people don't want to use checklists even though they're really freaking effective. We love the idea of the maverick doctor or pilot (don't tell me what to do!) and the idea of making every follow these checklists seems weird.  We don't want these professionals to lose their autonomy.

But people make mistakes. Even the best of us. And going through a checklist can help prevent... well... these preventable mistakes (stuff like wrong dosages or procedures).  Using a simple checklist drastically cut down on many routine errors and saved lives (Gawande helped devise the checklist in this link).  It really is amazing how well they worked. It's practically a miracle drug.

And while Gawande never brings up using a checklist in your every day life, it isn't too hard to reach that conclusion on your own. If these simple checklists can help surgeons and airline pilots, I'm pretty sure they can help Ben Cox.

The book itself is fairly short, clocking in at 224 pages and Gawande is a good writer.  I wouldn't say the book flew by but it wasn't a long tedious slog to finish either. Anyway, I recommend it. It's definitely interesting and possibly even useful.

Would he have still counted against the cap?

Mo Williams didn't care for LeBron's decision either:
Mo Williams is 27, healthy and has three years and $26 million remaining on his Cleveland Cavaliers contract. But none of that mattered much to him this summer after he watched LeBron James leave the Cavs to join the Miami Heat. Williams said he was so depressed by James’ exit that he considered walking away from the NBA.

“That’s how bad it got,” Williams said. “I contemplated it. I really sat down and envisioned life after basketball. …I really saw myself not playing.


“It just didn’t make sense to me. …It doesn’t make sense to me.”
 I can't say I'm really surprised.  I mean, Mo Williams thought about retirement, that's not really all that crazy.  He's going from one of the best situations in the NBA to one that is decidedly worse.
“This summer was very, very stressful for me,” Williams said. “I really lost a lot of love for the game this summer.

“You play this game for one reason. You play to win games and win championships. I couldn’t understand why a lot of things were happening to our organization, to a really good basketball team. I couldn’t really understand it. And when you don’t understand things, it can really stress you out.”

Williams is slowly adapting to the new Cavaliers, who, along with their new coaching staff, will have a new offense that will be heavy on pick-and-rolls. Scott might play Williams at shooting guard with Sessions or Daniel Gibson running the point. In addition to being relied upon to score more, Williams inherits additional leadership responsibility with James and veteran center Zydrunas Ilgauskas gone.

“It’s crazy because ever since [James left], everybody I see, they approach me and say, ‘Hey, you’re going to be able to play your game now,’ ” Williams said. “ ‘You are going to be able to show everybody what you got,’ or ‘you’re going to be able to do this.’ I was happy with my role. We were winning basketball games. I was coming home every night a winner.

“Who can’t love that? That is what playing a role on a team is all about. …Everybody can’t be the star. I was perfectly comfortable being that piece.”
I can understand how Mo could be so upset.  Hell, we all felt upset and we weren't the guys going to work with LeBron everyday. The Cavs certainly looked like they had good team chemistry these past couple years. I can see how one could feel jaded after their team captain declared that he's taking his talents to South Beach.


 One of the more frustrating things (speaking as a Cavs fan, though I'm sure this is true for members of the organization) about LeBron leaving is how close they were to a championship.  Yes, the Cavs folded early in the playoffs these past few years but you don't win 60 games entirely due to one player. The Cavs had stumbled a bit but they were heading in the right direction.

Teams have to learn how to win, then have to make the playoffs, then have to win in the playoffs, then they had to deal with being expected to win and then they win.  That's how these things tend to play out.  The Cavaliers struggled mightily with being the favorites.  Mike Brown was better at coaching overmatched, scrappy underdogs than dealing with a veteran ballclub that was expected to win.  They were at that last step.

And then LeBron left.

So am I surprised that Mo was jaded and contemplated retirement? Not really. I can completely understand how LeBron's decision could affect him so much.  Now, had Mo actually retired? Ya, then I'd be shocked. But he didn't.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jawad

The Cavs resigned Jawad Williams to a one year deal:
The Cleveland native has decided to accept the Cavaliers' one-year qualifying offer and will sign it this week, agent Kevin Bradbury said. The sides have been in talks for months with Williams hoping to secure a multi-year deal. But the small forward has decided to settle the contract issue in time for training camp, which starts Sept. 28.
The contract is for $1.02 million, but is not fully guaranteed. But that is a position Williams is used to, as he made the team in each of the last two seasons out of camp with nonguaranteed contracts.
Williams had talked with several other teams, including the San Antonio Spurs. But as a restricted free agent he had limited options because the Cavs had matching rights.
"Jawad has stated from day one that his desire is to stay home and be with the Cavs," Bradbury said in a text to The Plain Dealer. "Jawad did not want to hold out and wants to get to camp and help the team get back to the playoffs. He's excited to be coming home to Cleveland again."
Good.  I like how Williams plays there game.  He's in control and he doesn't try to force things.  If he's got someone smaller guarding him, he'll go down to the block, if he's got someone slower on him, he'll take 'em off the dribble.  He's not spectacular at any one thing, but he plays a complete game. 

Obviously, this isn't a make or break move, but I like what Jawad brings to the table. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

LeBron's Special on ESPN hurt LeBron's popularity, reports ESPN

I for one am shocked, shocked, I say!
The Q Scores Co., which conducts popularity polls, has James rated as the sixth-most-disliked figure in American pro sports. The results, known as "Q Scores," were reported Tuesday by CNBC.
According to the report, James is viewed in what the company considers a negative light by 39 percent of the general population. In January, while still a Cleveland Cavalier, he was viewed positively by 24 percent of the population, negatively by 22 percent, according to the figures from The Q Scores Co.
"LeBron's positive score at that time [January] was the highest we had ever seen it," Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Q Scores, told CNBC.
The company's current tally puts James' drop in positive rating in the past seven months at 41.5 percent. Q Scores considers James to be viewed in a positive light by only 14 percent of the people polled.

Who could've known that taking a shit on your hometown fans during a nationally televised special would hurt the 'ole Q Rating?

(And yes, I know LeBron doesn't feel that Cleveland is his hometown.  But he's from Northeast Ohio.  Most people in Northeast Ohio root for Cleveland teams. This is dumb).


Monday, September 13, 2010

Missed both of em

Due to work, I missed both the Ohio State-Miami game and the Browns season opener against Tampa Bay.  Though to be fair, I did see the 4th quarter of the OSU, so I didn't miss the whole thing.

My main thing I take away from both these games is how annoyed I am with the fans of these teams.  The Buckeyes won fairly easily but my Twitter feed was full of people calling Pryor overrated and bitching about Tressel-ball.  During the Browns game, people were freaking out about Mangini and some were even calling for Seneca Wallace.  Awesome, only took about a half.

I mean, all Jim Tressel does is win a crap load of games. Sure, he can be conservative at times but the dude wins.  Period.  Pryor is kinda difficult, because he looks so good at times (like his 2-play, 80 yard drive) but then he'll botch some short out pass (he throws too hard, kinda like Derek Anderson).  Sometimes I feel as if OSU are pissed that Pryor isn't better than he is.  

And the Browns... I like what Terry Pluto had to say:
They have a new quarterback in Jake Delhomme who is desperately seeking a fresh start and a revival of his confidence. They are a team with limited talent, a team that must win with shrewd coaching schemes, smart players and an approach to the game that avoids big mistakes.
Exactly.  The Browns best players are their kicker and their return man.  They can't afford fumbles inside the red zone or throwing picks at the end of halves.  I'm always pessimistic about the Browns but I think they should be better this season, but as Josh Cribbs tweeted:  
 today it was browns vs browns, & the browns lost... 
The Browns have the talent to beat other teams, they just can't lose their mental focus and beat themselves. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Because you're the oldest guy in the NBA

Shaq (via NBA Facts & Rumors post about the Cavs):
"I like that they play together and nobody really worries about shots, " O'Neal said. "When I was with Cleveland, guys who couldn't even play were worried about shots. Why was Mo (Williams) taking 15 shots, and I'm only taking four? If LeBron takes 20 shots, that's cool."
The Cavs had a lot of problems last season but "not enough shots for Shaq" wasn't one of 'em.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Neat

So remember that letter to the editor I wrote awhile back? Someone read it.


Mr. Cox - Good letter to the editor. Keep speaking out- your comments matter. Sherrod Brown



Friday, September 03, 2010

Not a bad way to spend a Thursday

Ohio State looked pretty good in handling Marshall (though the Thundering Herd kept tripping themselves.  OSU played well but Marshall coughed up some balls) and the Browns looked actually competent.  I'm basically in love with all of their running backs. And I know it's a preseason game, but man, you gotta love Phil Dawson.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I like fall

Tonight, September 2nd, the Buckeyes kick off the football season against Marshall.



September 12: Browns open their season against the Bucs in Tampa

September 12: new season of Venture Bros begins.  The trailer looks super awesome.



September 15: surgery for my deviated septum. I should be able to breathe! Huzzah!

September 16: new season of Always Sunny in Philadelphia begins

September 21: Civilization 5 will be released.  I'll have no life for a solid 3 weeks.

September 21: Tor will release the prologue to the Towers of Midnight as an ebook.

Gonna be a good month.