trying a new site
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I'm trying out blogspot for my thoughts. You're welcome to visit the new place here.

Thoughts on the Debt Ceiling and the current "deal"
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A few random thoughts on the debt ceiling and the current debate:

1) Let's start with what I think a reasonable ultimate goal should be. Take a look at the chart below:

Chart from website

OK- pretty simple chart. The debt (not deficit, but actual debt) as a % of the GDP. And right now, we're higher than at any point except during WWII, when the country was legitimately fighting for it's existence. We don't have that type of crisis at the moment.

I consider myself a long-term optimist. Don't much with the basics, and the short term will take care of itself. I figure that as long as the government debt is stable, it's manageable.

But at the moment, the debt as a % is both higher than the GDP- and still growing. And demographically, our population is getting older- which means more money to be spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.

I think the goal should be to pick a reasonable range of what % of actual debt we should be spending, and tailor our expenses around that goal. I'm not sure what % would be low enough to prevent any worries about defaults and interest rate payments (which I think are generally a waste of money- we get nothing for the money spent on interest- but may be needed). Maybe 60%- maybe 80%- maybe even 90%. But right now, it's over 100%, it's growing, and there seems to be no desire to actually put that money under control.

2) Take care of the long term fundamentals and the short-term should solve itself. If you have a household budget where you're paying off your mortgage consistently and not being reckless, even a short-term obstacle (say, a massive car repair bill) is an annoyance rather than a disaster. It's the same way with government debt- we have income and spending, and need to watch both to keep the budget from getting out of control.

3) I don't have a problem with the budget deal discussed here as long as the 'trigger' actually causes the cuts. But I have to admit- I've seen this dance before. From to the budget deal that caused George H.W. Bush to break his "No New Taxes Pledge" to early 2011's sham... the spending cuts never seem to materialize. I've gotten very cynical about this, and if the spending cuts don't actually happen, then this fight was for nothing.

4) If this debt ceiling bill actually works, then we should be reducing the deficit- which means we'll be moving away from the debt ceiling and we won't have to deal with this again. Right?

5) Unlike some other Conservatives, I've never liked a Balanced Budget Amendment. There are times when a crisis is serious enough that you have to say "Screw the bills- we gotta pay for this NOW". But I still think a Term Limit Bill would do a lot more to help get the budget under control. A constant turnover of politicians would bring in more people who actually write budgets with a better understanding of revenues and spending.

6) If this deal doesn't work- if the spending cuts never come, and there's some workaround on the trigger- well, I give up. At this point, I don't think anyone will control the federal debt until we actually get some sort of crisis. Might as well actually trigger it today- because the longer it's delayed, the worse it will be.

NBA payroll solution- Hard Cap + Franchise Tag
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OK, I've got a potential solution for the NBA's lockout woes.

Here's the basic problem between the two sides. The NBA lost $300 million, as claimed by the owners. A lot of the NBA owners have signed players to poor contracts that end up crippling their franchises. Meanwhile, a few teams (Miami, Lakers, Boston) have worked the system to their favor, leaving a sport looking like baseball- a few elite teams and a bunch of teams that either have no chance or a very small window.

And most of the bad contracts aren't for the elite players- the Kobe Bryants, the LeBron James. It's for players like Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arenas, and Vince Carter that are hurting the franchises.

So here's my solution:

1) Establish a hard cap- whatever xx% of the NBA's revenue is- and that hard cap is not allowed to be exceeded for players 2-15 on the roster

2) This would set an average player's salary at $Y per year. The maximum any one player under the hard cap could earn is $3Y per year (ie, if last year the average salary was $4 million a year, then the most under player under the hard cap could earn would be $12 million)

3) Each NBA team is allowed to sign one player as a "Franchise" Player. The player is not required to agree to the tag (unlike the NFL, where the player has no choice). However, the "Franchise" player has NO salary limitations. Kobe Bryant could sign with the Lakers for $100 million a year, if he and the Lakers so choose.

4) Each NBA player is only allowed one "Franchise" player. Everyone else has to be under the hard cap rules.

5) All contracts are guaranteed for the first four years. Any subsequent would be both player and team options.

6) Rookie contracts would apply for three years, after which they could become free agents.

Here's the fallout from these rules:

1) Overall, salaries wouldn't go down- but they would be less spread out. The top players would earn the most, but the second tier stars would earn a lot less.

2) Top players would stop trying to form superteams and instead try to become the "Franchise" player for a franchise. Ideally, the thirty best players would each go to a different team, spreading the wealth for each franchise.

3) Teams would have to decide which players are worth the "Franchise" tags. If they chose not to apply a player with that tag, they would have a little more money for the hard cap, but would need all of their players to fit under the hard cap.

4) Players would get to free agent status earlier in their career and keep their guaranteed contracts

5) Teams would make much fewer franchise-crippling decisions. There's always going to be bad decisions- but with this plan, after your first bad decision with the franchise tag, it would limit the amount of damage for any other move.


Project 190 update
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May 29th- 219.6 lbs.

Not good. I've flattened out the past two months. I suppose that's better than regaining, but I still want to lose a lot more. It's a combination of a lot of factors, but the big thing is I need to refocus and go back on the regime.

At least I'm still working out 5-6 times a week (45 minutes on the elliptical, with 15 pounds of weights on wrists and ankles). But exercise hasn't been the problem- the fact that I eat way too much and way too fast is.

NBA: Playoffs and Draft Thoughts- 05/18/2011
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* Dallas took game 1 off of Dirk Nowitzki's incredible performance (48 points). This is shaping up to be a "Youth and Athleticism vs. Experience and Guile" series. I expect Oklahoma to bounce back (especially when they get back to Oklahoma), but I suspect Dallas takes the series in 6 games.

* Game 2 of Chicago-Miami is tonight. Miami's had a problem all year with Chicago's stifling defense (they haven't beaten the Bulls this year). As good as James/Wade/Bosh are, up front they are in trouble, and will need to find some answer. Their best bet might be for someone else to start hitting three point shots.

* The Cavs won the #1 pick in the lottery, and also have the #4 pick. The trade with the Clippers turned out to be a gold mine. This isn't supposed to be a great draft, but Cleveland has an opportunity to draft two players who can be the foundation for the next decade.

* Kyrie Irving is the consensus #1 pick- Duke Point Guard, and coach Byron Scott builds around the point guards. Baron Davis is on the team, but he is a veteran and I can easily see Irving starting slowly and learning from Davis.

* The other pick is #4, and here the Cavs can go in multiple directions. Everyone they can pick has questions, but there is significant talent- and I think the player the Cavs choose here will go a long way in determining what type of team the Cavs want to be. Every team that doesn't have a great point guard would take Irving; but who they pick with #4 will show what direction they want to go in.

* Though I've heard the Timberwolves might trade the #2 pick, so if the Cavs could package #4 and a veteran to move up and grab Derrick Williams, I'd be thrilled. I doubt that a deal is possible- but it's worth exploring.

Various Thoughts- 05/16/2011
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TV: "Boston Rob" won Survivor last night. I checked out more than halfway through the season. Survivor, at it's best, is a great mixture of smart strategic playing with just enough 'characters' to make it more than a chess game, with just enough twists to make things unpredictable.

This year, it was all characters, no thinking. I don't want to accuse the producers of stacking the deck, but no one on the show outside of Boston Rob acted like they were trying to win the game. And the "Immunity Idol" are far too game-breaking- they should be finished by the final 6.

TV: Been watching Discovery Channel's "Dual Survival". Absolutely fantastic show. The concept is simple- two survivalists are sent into various survival situations for a few days.

Both guys are badasses in different ways. Dave (army ex-sniper) has built weapons out of local materials to hunt animals for food, killed alligators, and used black-powder to cauterize a wound... and he may not nearly be as tough as Cody, who builds his own shelters and has gone 20 years in shorts and without shoes. Which, considering some of the survival locations include snow-covered mountains, is impressive as hell.

There's a lot of shows like this- the best ones are both entertaining and educational. Hell, I HATE camping and find this show fascinating.

Politics: Mike Huckabee announced he won't be running in 2012.

I was never a Huckabee supporter- never agreed with his economic ideas- but he's a great speaker and was a serious candidate in 2008. I can't blame anyone for not wanting to run for President. The way campaigns are run, you need to be running for two years or more constantly, and your reward is a job for four years where you are blamed for every problem on earth. I completely understand why someone wouldn't want that.

I'm glad he's not running, because I don't think I'd be very happy with the decisions President Huckabee would make. But I wish him health, wealth, and happiness.

Sports: The Bulls beat Miami in game 1

I don't like LeBron James. (that's pretty obvious to anyone who knows me). I think he used Cleveland's past pain as a way of spotlighting his own ego, and I think he quit on the team in 2010 against the Celtics.

I don't like Schadenfreude To me, I shouldn't wish ill upon people I don't like. I'd rather me succeed instead of tearing down others. But this past year, I've been indulging in it. I've jumped for joy every time the Heat lose, and I don't care who wins in the NBA this season as long as it's not the Heat. Hell, I even named my fantasy team name "Dwayne Wade and His Amazing Sidekicks".

So to see that thrashing by the Bulls (who had the best record in the NBA this year?) Yeah, I'm happy. Let's see three more just like that.

Lessons Learned Following Politics:
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‎1- The next Presidential Election is "The Most Important Election In Our Lifetimes!"

2- The public, deep down, really WANTS our side to win, and only ever supports the other side because of dirty tricks and mindgames.

3- Our side is full of ...weak-spined buffoons and morons.

4- Their side is full of devious geniuses who are willing to take that extra step to win.

5- Any issue that is unimportant to you, personally, is a 'distraction' from the 'real' issues

6- We are against the politics of personal destruction. However, implementing any part of our opponent's agenda will send the country into a nightmarish tailspin that we will never recover from- and did we mention that our opponent is a cannibal?

7- The single most important issue to a politican is "Will this get me re-elected?" Every other issue is subservient to this.

Project 190 update:
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Current weight: 218.0 lbs.

Been on the 'Carb Addicts' diet. In a nutshell, that means (a) don't do anything stupid and (b) only have carbs for one meal a day. I've gotten as low as 216.4, but gave into temptation (and by temptation, I mean homemade chocoalte chip cookies). Still, it's working. Just need to keep things up.

Baseball 2011
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I was going to make some 2011 baseball predictions, but (a) I really don't know enough to make educated guesses and (b) I really don't care.

And considering how obsessed I used to be about baseball, it's weird. I have a ton of baseball cards and books, and was a huge fan of fantasy baseball (Hell, draft day used to be one of my favorite days of the year)

But now... it's not even 'meh'. It's 'ugh'.

Maybe it's just because I've given up hope that the teams I root for (The Indians and Cubs) will ever win and that the game is too biased towards the teams that can outspend the smaller market teams (sports seems to be the one area that I'm a Socialist)

I don't think that steroids themselves were the problem, but I think that the concentrated effort of people to pretend that the 90's and ealy 00's didn't exist is really disheartening. Look, I think Barry Bonds is as much of a jerk as anyone, but I still think he should be given credit as one of the best players ever.

I don't know what it is, exactly. And because I can't tell you why I lost interest in the game so dramatically, I have no idea when (or if) I'll get back into it.

But it won't be this year.

Project 190 Update
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Weight: 223.2 lbs

Recenlty gotten more serious about dieting. I've restarted the Carb addicts diet plan (no carbs except for one meal a day). Seems to be working- I've lost four pounds already. No to mention my sense of humor and ability to emphasize with my fellow human beings. But becoming a sociopath is an occasional side effect...


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