• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


    from Twitter


    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Why can't Utah get any BCS love?

    USC, stop sleeping with ESPN's Mark May (and the pollsters)
    In 2004 an undefeated Utah got shut out of the National Championship game and went on to beat Pittsburgh in the Mountain West Conference's (MWC) first BCS bowl game. In the era before BCS, Utah may have shared the national championship by virtue of going undefeated. Instead, they got a $4.5 million pat on the back, and Urban Meyer ran to the swamps of Florida.

    This year, the Utes are in an even better position, yet still seem to be the poor kid looking in to the party through the window because the doors are all locked. The MWC has taken care of business this year, going 9-5 against BCS foes, with Utah going 2-0. It's also produced 3 high caliber teams (Utah, TCU, BYU) that may all end the season with 10 or more wins and ranked in the top 20 in the nation.

    Here's the stats of the MWC against BCS conferences this year:

    2008 MWC record vs. BCS = 9-5 (5-1home, 0-1neutral, 4-3away)
    MWC vs other conferences:
    MWC vs Pac10 = Wash, UCLA, Stan, Ariz, Ariz St, Cal, Ore St = 6-1
    MWC vs Big10 = Michigan, ND = 1-1
    MWC vs Big East = NONE
    MWC vs ACC = NONE
    MWC vs Big12 = CU, A&M, OU, ISU = 1-3
    MWC vs SEC = Tenn = 1-0

    The BCS computers have Utah ranked #4 with 0.8500 points, lagging only behind Texas Tech (0.9800), Alabama (0.9600), and Texas (0.9300). However, the human pollsters have Utah ranked 7th and 8th, behind Florida, Oklahoma, and USC.

    Yet all three of these teams have a loss, and USC's loss came to an Oregon State team that Utah beat the very next week. In a head to head matchup of results it seems clear that Utah should at least be ahead of USC. I mean, look above, the MWC went 6-1 against the Pac-10 this year, so not only did Utah do better against common opponents, but it navigated a stronger conference field than USC did.

    So, I posed this question to Stewart Mandel, with Sports Illustrated:

    Stewart, what, if anything, needs to happen for Utah to have a shot at the title game? If they go 12-0, they'll have ran the table in a conference that went 9-5 against BCS foes, and beaten the team (Ore. St.) that beat USC. The computers rank them #4 in the BCS standings now, but the pollsters hold them back. If OU beat Texas Tech, then loses in the Big 12 title game, and Alabama stumbles somewhere along the way, and Utah destroys BYU, can Utah get pollster love and make the top 2??

    I don't know if he'll answer my question, but this is my plea: Oregon State, please win out. Utah, kill my alma mater. Tech, lose to Oklahoma. Oklahoma, lose to Missouri. Alabama, just lose, please. Florida, stop sleeping with pollsters. USC, stop sleeping with ESPN's Mark May (and the pollsters).

    If these things happen, then maybe, just maybe, Utah can get a little love.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    I love (miss) X96

    So, leaving Utah, there have been (surprisingly, for me) many things that I have missed. I've actually missed the snow, devotionals, hydroplaning in my car on ice, late nights at Walmart, freezing bleachers for BYU football games, enlightening classes, J Dawgs, mountain biking, and great people.

    But perhaps the thing I miss most of Utah is X96. It's easily in the top 2 radio stations I've EVER heard. I never realized how much its morning show, "Radio From Hell," was a part of my day until I moved back to Houston from medical school and didn't have it. I spent many mornings streaming it online while studying biochemistry. Even today, as I finished up my work at the hospital, and went to study pediatrics, I had that irresistible urge to listen to Kerry, Bill, and Gina. iTunes now has a podcast of it, and calls it,

    "Radio From Hell is the longest running radio program in the Salt Lake City-area market, and is consistently one of the top-rated programs in the area. ... Rolling Stone cited KXRK as one of the top-five rock and roll stations in the U.S."

    Yesterday I was doubly blessed, because while feeding my hunger for X96, Corey O'Brien, the DJ from 2pm to 7pm MST, released ten codes to download the new Nickleback album, Dark Horse, for free. What do you know? I got one! Bonus! When I get home, I'll listen to the new album and let you know how it is.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Combo Breaker

    There is sun peaking through the clouds. There is a silver lining in the tapestry of presidential politics. As the presidential race progressed, many people rightly questioned Barack Obama's pedigree, and his history.

    After all, this man will be president of our country. He is known to have dealings with ACORN, a local activist organization that has decidedly un-capitalistic dreams. Yet, to be truthful, the extent of his dealings and depth of his personal connection are misrepresented by both sides, obscuring true fact for the rest of us. It's probably somewhere in between what Democrats and Republicans assert.

    He also ran on a promise to expand federal housing subsidies, but in Chicago, his federal-private partnership garnered only 11 of 100 points on a federal inspection.

    Lest he be outdone by such stellar managing, he made it clear that his lack of managerial experience was not a problem before applying to be the manager of the most wealthy and diverse entity the world has ever known. He has the supreme experience of being a "community organizer," where he stood before others at local civic centers and railed on the establishment, preaching change. When he effected none, he kept going up the political ladder preaching that same message of change while leaving his previous position without any.

    But let's not let our president-elect's dubious relationships or lack of genuine leadership experience stop us from supporting his socialist policies as he tries to effect change to this nation!

    No! Here, more than ever, we need to put aside our reservations -- genuine though they may be -- and realize that America has done a great and heretofore unthinkable thing. America has chosen an African-American president because it genuinely feels that he is the best candidate for the job.

    Imagine what they'd say, if you went back in time, and told a slave on a plantation in 1858 in Georgia that one day a black man would be president of this country. Imagine what you'd hear in respose to your declaration of Obama's win outside a voting line in the 1870s, where black voters were being harassed by klansmen and turned away by an obsurdly high poll-tax. Envision the scene if you walked into a restaurant through the front, "whites only" door in Alabama in the 1950s and addressed a crowd where the blacks all sat in the back, having come through the back door, and announced this.

    Granted he is half-black, and some, including your's truly, thinks he showed poor form by divorcing himself from his white side - the side he identified with his whole life until Harvard - and transformed himself into a "black man" for political expediency.

    That said, he has still broken a large racial barrier, and done it on a message of hope and change that has unified the country more than anything over the last 8 years. We all, whether we voted for him or not, should do our best to make him a successful president because it will further strengthen destruction of that horrible and artificial wall of race in politics, serve as an impetus to help minority men and women strive to attain high goals (since, yes, somebody has actually done it!), and frankly bring America back to a path of solidarity that will serve it well at home and in the international community. Too much hatred lately.

    Now, if only we can do this without enacting broad-based socialist "reforms"!

    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Does your vote count?

    The most ubiquitous reason for not voting that I hear from friends, acquaintances, and CNN, is that "my vote doesn't count." It comes from Republicans and Democrats (and Libertarians) alike. Living in Texas, my fellow Democrats (yes, I am a registered Democrat) complain that Texas will always be red, so there's no point.

    First, looking at it along party lines neuters the point anyways. Yes, Eugene Volokh just recently made a very cogent argument for voting straight party tickets, but I would counter that if you can educate yourself on the candidates, you should vote individually instead of straight party because people are complex entities and rarely stand with the party platform on every issue. This is incredibly prevalent today, as Republicans are a hodgepodge of Libertarians who cast their vote with a major party and conservative christians.

    Instead, you should look at the elections race by race. Then your vote always matters.

    Second, this feeling of voting impotence is so widespread that it feeds on itself and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just look at Florida in 2000. Clearly, had Democrat voters not thought this, and stayed home, Gore would have taken Florida and the white house.

    This year, because of the euphoria of Obama -- Obamaphoria, so to speak -- numerous democrats DID go out to the polls. The result? Let's look at Harris County, my county and one of the largest counties in the country.

    5 of 6 races were separated by less than 6%
    Historically, Harris county has been strongly "Red." Republicans make up most of the west of the county, in suburbs outside the Houston metropolitan area. The east part of the county is downtown Houston and some blue-collar small cities in the metroplex. It's much more Blue, but never achieves very good voter turnout -- hence the overall Red nature of the county.

    In this election, besides the vote for President of the USA, there were 42 contested elections in Harris county with 2-3 challengers. I'm ignoring uncontested races or races with 4+ challengers, as the odds of receiving a majority vote is infinitely small.

    Harris county went to Obama 51% to 49%.
    Out of the other 42 contested elections, 34 of 42 (81% or 5 of every 6) were decided by margins 53% to 47% or closer. 7 elections were statistically 50/50, separated by mere votes, in a county where each race often garners 600k to 800k total votes. 18 races were 51%/49%, 4 were 52/48, and 4 were 53/47 (and 1 was 54/46).

    Plus, all these elections were for the local leaders that impact the daily lives of voters -- arguably making these races far more important. They determined who'd try their cases in civil or criminal court, who'd determine what roads are built or repaved, and how to best lead the police force keeping the populace safe. That impacts more people on an immediate, temporal level, than whether Obama pulls troops out of Iraq in April 2009 or 2010.

    So, your vote really does count. Remember this, and take pride in standing in line, clicking those boxes, and submitting your ballot. Yours could be the vote that puts one candidate over the edge.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Long Live Comrade Obama!

    Clearly the American people have spoken. Most, nearly 80% purportedly, made up their minds over two months ago. Most in my county, nearly 60% I last heard, voted straight party tickets -- leading to a historically Republican county going 51% to 49% for Obama.

    Obama obviously ran the best campaign, so it's no surprise he won. McCain was incredibly and inexplicably inept at streamlining his campaign's points, becoming assessable to the people, and changing direction when the hot topic moved from Foreign Affairs to the Economy.

    Secondly, McCain was a very poor debater. Numerous times he had opportunities to pin Obama on vague remarks and wrong assertions. Whether done on purpose or not, McCain clearly never took advantage of these moments and hence never took advantage of the debates.

    I can and will go into the interesting points of this election at a later date, but now I want to say,

    "Long Live Comrade Obama!"