Out There

outrage for everyone!

Posted in politics, Uncategorized by Pete on January 25, 2019

I found myself entangled in one of those discussions on facebook recently:

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I have a lot of respect for the original poster. But as I say in my LOOOONG comment below, I don’t understand why people are dialing back on the outrage. I’m not going to link to all of the different videos and articles and the boy’s statement and everything else. Google if you need it. If there is a single, definitive repository for all of that stuff I’ll link it later. I will comment here and there in red.

Here are the facebook comments from the above post, with numbers for names:

1- Best line: ‘Take away Twitter and Facebook and explain why total strangers care so much about people they don’t know in a confrontation they didn’t witness. Why are we all so primed for outrage, and what if the thousands of words and countless hours spent on this had been directed toward something consequential?’

I can’t really articulate why, but I’ve been up thinking and writing about this for 4 hours, and it feels really important. I get the spirit of the comment and agree there is so. much. wasted. time and energy on social media and there are trolls and endless horrible rants and arguments. But to me this was like, I have to stand up and be counted, against this thing, whether anyone else I know does or not.

2-The public relations team the kids parents hired is top notch!
Really did a good job making blatant racism look like something debatable.
It’s saddening to watch more and more evidence of the true nature of Covington come out while the public discussion dwindles into the centrist myth of “they were both bad”

3-do you have video of what you are talking about? The only video I saw was blatantly racist, but these kids weren’t the one who were saying or doing anything racist, it was a third group.

2-we’ve all seen the videos, the 3rd group is irrelevant to the actions of the boys toward Nathan Philips. A bit of history: Cw sexual violence, brutality.

2-don’t forget, outrage is the product of centuries of colonization and brutally forced assimilation. You can’t observe this action in a vacuum removed from historical context.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

2-but don’t worry Covington doest have a history of blatant racism or anything
https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5c472a2de4b0a8dbe1752db5

3-we have not all seen the videos. I have seen one video; in which the same person spouting hate also targeted these young people. When I am no longer at work I will watch the video you shared.

2-I didn’t share a video just two articles, one explaining the historical significance of the song Philips sang and the second further demonstration of the wholesome nature of Covington catholic

2-I’ll explain my stance more clearly: whether or not the boys were provoked is irrelevant.
their actions speak volumes.
Philips claims to have approached the groups in order to diffuse, and was met with blatant racism by the Covington Catholic group.

I believe we should provoke racists. We should bring them to the light then chase them back into their holes.

I’m curious how many more angles we will need for white moderates to call a spade a spade:
“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice” Martin Luther King Jr

3-The video that I saw did not show the youths doing or saying anything at all. In what way did they display racism? Do you have a video of that?

2-https://youtu.be/sIG5ZB0fw1k

3-I agree with your statement about positive and negative peace. That is why I defend the NFL players who sit or kneel during the National Anthem. I am just very cautious to call anyone racist without proof, since it is such a nasty thing, and I have not seen that proof. Again, I have seen very little on the event in question.

2-Mockingly chanting and pretending to throw a tomahawk may not seem absurdly racist due to mainstream sports appropriation of native culture, but it is. Also, further context would be that until the passing of the American Indian religious freedom act in 1978 it was illegal for native to practice their culture. Children were forced via violence to assimilate. And if you haven’t take a look at the article about the Covington Catholic basketball games, they are no strangers to provocation.

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3-No, I agree that that would be offensive, but I don’t clearly see that happening. (I am baffled how anyone is okay with the Washington football teams name and emblem. It is totally unacceptable.) The young man directly in front of Mr. Phillips does nothing to either provoke or backdown.

As I mention further down, the fact that #3 can’t even see what is obvious to #2…that feels like a big deal. And they are really trying, sincerely. It isn’t *super obvious* in the video, but it also isn’t hard to see the chopping here and there especially in the beginning and to hear the “oooooohh, ooohhh” song, both popularized by Atlanta Braves fans in the 1990s.

2-You don’t hear the mocking chant or see the jeers and hand gestures? Of course he didn’t do anything he is the product of a society that has taught him to see himself as superior. Like with any situation it is easier to boil it down to individuals than address a problem as a systemic failure.
Also I should clarify: this situation to me is more important because of the reaction we are witnessing simultaneously, anattempt to say that the Covington group did nothing wrong and also say they were provoked. So which is it? To top that off, I think most people who are calling this racist aren’t upset at the kids themselves, we are the products of our environment, we are mad because we see racism being played down because it is children that are perpetuating it. And you better bet it is because they are white and from wealthier (than most) families.

2-https://www.theroot.com/an-open-apology-to-the-covington-catholic-maga-hat-hara-1831957176?fbclid=IwAR0QXqo57FrXevBa8wpzL4CYEgRTQFo6Fhk-BexZXnoz8gMt961Aq6TdnUc

ME-Hi ____ (I’m not naming them here). I avoided getting into this on my own profile, but then it was hard because some people (not you) said some hurtful things, the worst of which I deleted tonight. I will make a long comment here and maybe I will paste it on the profile on my page as well, I don’t know. I hope I don’t come across as hurtful or like I’m “going after you.” I saw your comment on my profile, and wanted to respond, and I know that you aren’t wanting to get into an ugly troll-exchange on facebook, something I try very hard to avoid. : – ) So all that said, I don’t really understand why everyone has been walking back their outrage. I have watched 3 or 4 different videos and read several articles. I freely admit that my perspective is very shaped by living among and identifying with native americans for the last 15+ years. As Evan stated above, the CONTEXT is so huge for something like this. For an idea of the history and depth of feelings that go into it, the “counterpunch” article he linked to above works well, but you probably already have the general idea as far as literal genocide. If Mr Phillips and his group were white, then I would just say the boys were being really loud and disrespectful by not listening to his song, and why didn’t they just move away from him or whatever. It wouldn’t be nearly as disturbing to me. You mentioned that the boy in front of Mr Phillips does nothing to provoke or back down. And I can see where you’re coming from. He doesn’t appear to move to block Mr Phillips’ path, for example. In the video Evan links to above, you can see the boy in question laughing with his friends before Mr Phillips goes in front of him. But not much else, unless you count the smirk on his face for much of the song, which maybe was him just trying to be strong or save face or not knowing what to do because he is a normal insecure high school kid. I think that might be the one area for me that softened somewhat, is letting go of some of my previous conviction that he was smirking at Mr Phillips and mocking him. Now I’m unsure. But I can’t see how some people are sure that he had pure motives. And I agree with Evan that the student’s statement reeked of the PR firm that handled it and the language did not remotely resemble genuine teen-speak. But most of my outrage wasn’t just for that one boy anyway, it was more for the spirit of the whole scene. The Atlanta Braves style singing is mocking that man’s song and completely disrespectful to the entire native group. It’s bad on TV and in the stadium, but it’s a completely different level when it’s drowning out an elder’s song who is singing a sacred song right in front of you. A song that allegedly includes “We pray you give us peace with these people who only want war and to kill our Nations/Peoples.” The hatchet chops are mocking them as well. (I think you said you didn’t see those in the video? I can kind of see how you missed that – my dad did too. They are more toward the beginning of the video above, and I’ve seen it in a few different videos. They aren’t all doing it together or anything, but several kids are doing it, it’s not ambiguous if you’ve seen it before. It’s the same hatchet chop often seen at Atlanta Braves games in the 90s) All the derisive laughter, the obvious enjoyment of the mockery and the mean-spirited cultural denigration… Isn’t that racism? I always wondered why people liked to go to hangings or lynchings or whatever, and it felt like that to me in my spirit. Add in the real, beyond debate, genocide of the past, and ongoing marginalization and neglect, and you get bitterness for a lot of people, and yes outrage from watching the video. Maybe that is really subjective, but I’m just explaining my feelings of outrage, since that is the whole subject of the article that Josh linked to for this post. I’ve thought about it, and I really haven’t grown less outraged with time as apparently so many others have. Again I agree with Evan’s comment above with the MLK quote about the “white moderates.” And I say this as a lifelong people pleaser – but this to me was on a level where it has to be called out. I know that cultural ignorance is a contributing factor, and a lot of those boys just thought it was all in fun and no big deal. Because they are lacking the contextual knowledge as I mentioned before. I was cringing because I knew that the song was probably sacred to the ones singing it (Imagine a white crowd singing in an exaggerated, mocking “black gospel” way, with mocking hand gestures and laughing their heads off with their 200 white friends toward a small black group in peaceful protest singing Amazing Grace or We Shall Overcome), and that this man is an ELDER, yet they were laughing, yelling, singing over him, “chopping” the air… In my village, if an elder says something (from up front or just 1 to 1) that is just clearly factually wrong, no one corrects them. You might think that is crazy or dumb. It’s certainly a distinctive cultural difference. I was shocked when I first experienced it. I bring it up only to underscore the level of authority and respect that is customary. Going back to the boy – eye contact. Young people, at least in the culture where we live now, are to look down and away, never in the eye, and DEFINITELY never to maintain eye contact like that. Even adults avoid eye contact and never sustain it unless close friends or something. And if an elder walks toward where you are, as he does, then you get out of the way. Move to the side, anywhere to get out of the way. So I just wanted to give some native cultural context in response to what you said about how he didn’t do anything to provoke or back down. I can see from a native perspective that by not moving, by sustaining eye contact, and by smirking during his song…I can see why people are upset with that kid. Not that it would justify death threats or anything like that, that’s terrible. And again, I was a lot more upset with the whole crowd, the disturbing carnival-esque group racism (mob) vibe that was going on. I don’t know what Mr Phillips’ motivation was – it is odd to me that after kind of weaving through the crowd, he just went right up to the boy and played so close to him. What did he hope for? For the boy to move? To stop smirking? I don’t know why he didn’t walk around him if his goal was to sing his song from the top of the monument, as I think he claimed. Or why didn’t he say, “Can I pass by?” But I know a lot of natives would say that the boy should move, automatically and without even thinking, out of the way of the elder. And that an elder shouldn’t have to ask him to move in that situation. But that’s the cultural differences / misunderstanding / ignorance side of things again. I know that was really long. You don’t need to agree. I think I was so bothered by what someone posted on my profile, but didn’t want to respond because I think it would not have been productive in this person’s case, but I was driven to get out what was on my mind somewhere. Thanks for listening if you made it this far.

Further down in the comments…

2-Also to address why people are concerned about this situation: you are witnessing in real time the repetition of history in which the dominant white culture observes an act of racism and says “you provoked us” while marginalized groups are labeled violent for inciting white violence.
We are watching a repeat of the same rhetoric used during the civil rights movement

4-First, this wouldn’t even have been an issue if the liberal media wasn’t pushing their hate Trump agenda. And people wonder why they’re called fake news. Can you imagine what this country would look like if the media outlets were unbiased and spoke truth? These KIDS were targeted because of their hats, that was it. Freedom of speech only exists if you’re a leftist. Any other form of speech is labeled racist or homophobic or whatever other term you want to use. This country is teetering on a civil war and I can guarantee you one thing, it won’t be the socialists/communists who win. Likely the shortest war to ever be fought.

5-They were at the pro life march… I believe these two events were on the same day…these kids were targeted because of the hats they were wearing…and now that more video footage has been released you can see Mr Phillips engaged them..not the other way around….more proof of our liberal fake news media doing what they do best..lie and deceive….you know they are decent people when they are protesting the murder of the unborn…..

———————

There were several more comments on the thread that are not as germane to the topic, like about the language used in the original post. There were also comments on my own facebook profile, as I mention in the titanic post above. One of those comments was really bad, to the point I deleted it tonight. I felt like engaging the person who left it would not be productive. I’ve had heated debates centered on race with this person in the past and it was quickly apparent that it wouldn’t be productive. They carry wounds and prejudices from a life full of experiences and any healing needs to happen from the ones he feels wounded by. Anyway, in his comment among other things he praised the boys for their restraint. Thinking about it now, he probably specifically meant the boy in the staredown with Mr Phillips, surely not the jeering crowd. He said boys (plural) so it hadn’t occurred to me until now that he was thinking of the one stoic boy. I just couldn’t imagine where he was coming from with that observation. Also, note the bold text in comments above, where one person clearly sees racism and the other agrees it would be bad if those things were happening, but they didn’t see it in the video. Here we have numerous videos of the events, yet the whole country is divided about what it means. How can that be?  I think this whole thing is a remarkable example of how people see what they want to see, and I’m sure I’m not immune from it myself. 

Another comment from my profile:  This boy is the one being attacked by the Native American man. Have you seen the full footage? This story has been taken completely out of context. There were two sets of adult groups harassing these kids, who responded positively and with great restraint. There should be libel suits coming and the news outlets should be held responsible for their bad and biased reporting.

——-

Responding to that last comment, after watching it again, I do think Mr Phillips was strangely aggressive with this kid. As I say in the comment above, I don’t know why. And I don’t know what the kid’s motives were or if he was trying to mock, impede, or just didn’t know what else to do. But I would stop short of saying the boy was “attacked.” And it certainly doesn’t excuse the overall mob-like behavior of the crowd. I think user #2 above, his comment fits here:

you are witnessing in real time the repetition of history in which the dominant white culture observes an act of racism and says “you provoked us” while marginalized groups are labeled violent for inciting white violence.
We are watching a repeat of the same rhetoric used during the civil rights movement

Scary! Or am I just being self-righteous and “morally superior” and getting outraged about something inconsequential? I really don’t think so. But I sincerely welcome your (constructive, thoughtful) input.

Postal Purgatory

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on March 18, 2018

My sweet wife’s birthday was a few days ago.  The “big” present I was most excited to give her did not arrive on time.  In fact, it still hasn’t arrived.  When I track said PRIORITY MAIL parcel, I find that it is endlessly traveling between Anchorage and Hope, AK.  I have no idea why it is going to Hope.  The only connection I can make between Hope and Kasigluk is the zip codes are one digit off.  Hope is 99605 and Kasigluk is 99609.  Hope is a tiny ex-mining town on the Kenai Peninsula and the road system, not too far from Anchorage, and Kasigluk is larger and 400 miles from the nearest road.  I checked with the seller and he confirmed my address in Kasigluk, AK  99609.  It has gone to Hope on March 10, 12, 13, 14, and 17…and counting.  Check out this tracking data:

March 8, 2018, 4:38 am
Departed USPS Regional Facility

March 9, 2018
In Transit to Next Facility

March 9, 2018, 3:13 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER  

March 10, 2018, 12:00 pm
Departed USPS Regional Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER  

March 10, 2018
In Transit to Next Facility

March 10, 2018, 12:17 pm
Arrived at Post Office
HOPE, AK 99605  

March 10, 2018, 12:22 pm
Arrived at USPS Facility
HOPE, AK 99605  

March 10, 2018, 12:23 pm
Departed USPS Destination Facility
HOPE, AK 99605

March 10, 2018, 9:20 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER

March 11, 2018
In Transit to Next Facility

March 11, 2018, 10:14 pm
Departed USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER

March 12, 2018
In Transit to Next Facility

March 12, 2018, 12:16 pm
Arrived at USPS Facility
HOPE, AK 99605

March 12, 2018, 12:16 pm
Forwarded
HOPE, AK  

March 12, 2018, 12:17 pm
Unable to deliver item, problem with address
KASIGLUK, AK 99609  

March 12, 2018, 12:17 pm
Departed USPS Destination Facility
HOPE, AK 99605

March 12, 2018, 9:43 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER  

March 12, 2018, 10:35 pm
Departed USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER  

March 13, 2018, 12:01 pm
Arrived at USPS Facility
HOPE, AK 99605  

March 13, 2018, 12:02 pm
Unable to deliver item, problem with address
KASIGLUK, AK 99609

March 13, 2018, 12:02 pm
Departed USPS Destination Facility
HOPE, AK 99605  

In Transit to Next Facility
March 13, 2018
In Transit to Next Facility

Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER  
March 14, 2018

Departed USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER  
March 14, 2018, 9:46 pm

Arrived at USPS Facility
HOPE, AK 99605  
March 14, 2018, 11:38 pm

Departed USPS Destination Facility
HOPE, AK 99605  
March 15, 2018, 11:47 am

March 15, 2018
In Transit to Next Facility
March 15, 2018, 11:49 am

March 15, 2018, 10:14 pm
Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER  

March 16, 2018, 1:38 am
Departed USPS Regional Destination Facility
ANCHORAGE AK DISTRIBUTION CENTER

March 17, 2018, 11:36 am
Arrived at Post Office
HOPE, AK 99605

March 17, 2018, 12:11 pm
Arrived at USPS Facility
HOPE, AK 99605

March 17, 2018
In Transit to Next Facility
The item is currently in transit to the next facility as of March 17, 2018.

Which will leave Hope first – Tammy’s birthday gift or the sanity of the local postmaster??  It’s looking…well, you know.

Do I have to say it?

 

Hopeless.

But not to worry.  USPS tracking assures me it will arrive by Monday, March 19, hahaha.

 

Tagged with: , ,

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on January 21, 2017

Have you heard of H.L. Mencken?  I hadn’t.  Until I saw this today on my wife’s phone:

Image result for mencken cartoon trump

Which led me to google, where I found these and many, many more with no effort:

Image result for mencken cartoon trump

Image result for mencken cartoon trump

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Image result for mencken cartoon trump

Image result for mencken cartoon trump

And this one which cracks me up, even though I vote Republican pretty often:

Image result for mencken cartoon trump

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

Image result for 1920 quote president mencken

OK, who in the world was this guy?  Obviously a journalist or writer to have so many quotes out there.  I used one google image search for ALL of those results.  I don’t agree with all of these but they’re fun.  He was probably viewed as a tremendous elitist, understandably so.  Probably highly educated and if I had to guess I’d say a newspaper columnist from the northeast – most likely Boston.  I confess that I share his perspective to some degree, I think because I’ve been so surprised and disillusioned that so many would vote for Donald Trump.  I’m no fan of his opponent in the election, but of the many candidates on the ballot, he seemed clearly the worst choice.  So that “mob of men” quote (fifth from the top) resonates with me these days.

Sexual Assault in Western Alaska

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on November 21, 2016

The rate of sexual assault in Alaska is the highest in all 50 states.  This has been known for quite a while.  The national average is about 27 sexual assaults per 100,000 people.  Alaska comes in at 80.  South Dakota is second-worst, at 70, so Alaska is dominating the nation in this horrible category.  And within the state of Alaska, the rate of sexual assault is highest in western Alaska, at around 370 cases per 100,000 people.  Yes, something like 14 times higher than the national average.  And within Western Alaska, I think it is highest in the Bethel area, where we have made our home since 2003.  Sean Parnell tried to fight this with his “Choose Respect” campaign, as covered by CNN here.

Sexual assault is never ok.  Unwanted sexual advances are not ok.  Not with a family member, a stranger, anyone.  We have to break the cycle by talking about it, openly.  We have to report it.  We have to deal harshly with those who do it, even when it is people we are close to, so we can begin to make headway in breaking the continuous cycle of abuse.  Here are some summary stats from the 2015 Alaska Victimization Survey that found that half of all adult women in Alaska have experienced either intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both.  This is wrong and we have to fight it.  And anyone who says you shouldn’t make waves or press charges is unfortunately part of the problem.  I know that is a strong stance, but it’s true and it’s right.  Of course I’ve always believed this, but it’s come up again and I wanted to get all these links in the same place and come out publicly against it.

bad leaders write bad editorials

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on October 1, 2016

I don’t have time to do the point by point analysis I’d like to on this right now, but I’m posting it so I can maybe hit it later.  This is all-timer in terms of ridiculous lies, distortions, and deceit.  Written by the chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Tuckerman Babcock, it is maybe the single-worst piece of writing I’ve ever seen in a newspaper, and I’ve been reading the paper consistently for about 30 years, haha.  So, so bad.  Drivel suitable for framing!  As I wrote in the comments, this is right up there with Al Gore inventing the internet and Frank Murkowski’s snow tire and sales tax proposals not breaking his “no new taxes” promise because they were merely “optional user fees” because after all no one HAS to buy anything, so you don’t have to pay the sales tax if you don’t want to.

http://www.adn.com/opinions/2016/09/30/governor-took-half-of-your-dividend-and-thats-about-it/

 

Foolish MARINER predictions

Posted in baseball, fun, Uncategorized by Pete on April 6, 2016

I recently published some predictions on how the standings will play out.  Now I want to talk about this year’s M’s roster.  Last year’s roster was a true “stars and scrubs” collection of players headlined by stars Robinson Cano (poor first half, strong second half), Nelson Cruz (career-best year), Kyle Seager (another strong season), and Felix Hernandez (his worst career year, about league average).  At the other end of the spectrum, roughly 30% of team plate appearances went to players who put up negative WAR in 2015 (Zunino, Ackley, Weeks, Taylor, Jones, Hicks, Ruggiano, Bloomquist, Sucre, Montero, Morrison, and more!).  The team struggled with OBP and usually out-homered the opponent but lost anyway.  Watching our catchers trying to hit was particularly painful, and they may have produced the worst hitting from the catcher position in major league history.  If you don’t want to click, here is the succinct summary:

“…they’ve potentially been the worst-hitting catchers in recorded history, spanning several decades.”

The other major failing of the 2015 Mariners was the relief pitching, where about 230 innings were pitched by guys who put up negative WAR on the season.  After being hailed as one of the best bullpens in recent baseball history, the same group of guys were one of the very worst in 2015:

“We saw a total collapse in the first half with five pitchers from last year’s bullpen either sent down, demoted or traded by mid-season. A horrific turnaround with no in-house remedies.”

Currently the team is in a tough spot where they struggle to contend, but finish too high in the standings to get the draft picks needed for the quickest rebuild.  Saddled with huge long-term contracts for Cano and Felix, and coming off of a 76-win season, Dipoto and the other GM candidates all told team president Kevin Mather in interviews that a rebuild wasn’t the way to go and that contention in the short term was possible.  It think it’s possible a lot more than it is realistic.

It was in this context that new GM Jerry Dipoto took over and got busy, as the M’s made more changes to the 40 man roster than any other team.  Only 1 holdover remains from last season’s opening day bullpen – Charlie Furbush.  The guys he targeted for the new bullpen all have something in common – a low price tag, both in terms of payroll and the cost of acquisition.  Lots of guys who struggled in 2015 that Dipoto obviously considers good bounceback candidates.  Apparently Dipoto believes in the power of regression to the mean, and that reliever performance over any single season (typically less than 70 IP) is very unpredictable.  M’s fans can attest to this as we already discussed the bullpens of 14 and 15.  Fernando Rodney personified this as he went from amazingly good to terrible.  Others may recall Shigetoshi Hasagawa’s 1.48 ERA in 73 bullpen innings in 2003.  Followed by a 5.16 ERA in 2004.  Outside of the top 5 or 6 guys, sometimes you are best served by amassing a large pile of arms that have a decent track record, or the potential for success at the major league level.  Especially since even the top guys get very expensive after several years of success and end up way overpaid (Papelbon).

So Dipoto went and got Steve Cishek, the new closer, who performed badly in 2015 and lost the closer job in Miami after several strong seasons of side-arming funkiness.  He also acquired Joaquin Benoit for the 8th inning, the 40-year old Joel Peralta, the soft-tossing but still somehow effective Nick Vincent, and Evan Scribner who never walks anyone but gave up home runs last year at a historic pace.  These guys and the aforementioned Charlie Furbush, as well as minor league callups Vidal Nuno and Tony Zych will make up the bulk of the 2016 bullpen innings pitched.  I have no idea how they will perform individually.  But I’m pretty sure they will perform better as a group than the performance the team got from their bullpen last year.  Just as I was darn sure that the 2015 bullpen would be worse than the 2014 one.  Regression.

Dipoto also added 2 starting pitchers, the solid and durable Wade Miley for the #3 spot, and Nate Karns from Tampa for the #5 spot.  They combine with Felix, who continues to lose velocity but who should be reasonably effective, Iwakuma, who is aging and injury prone but capable of stretches of brilliance when dialed in, and Taijuan Walker, who is a huge wild card.  Several observers including Jonah Keri are predicting a breakout season from Taijuan Walker this year, even suggesting he will put up a better line than King Felix will.  I see this group as being slightly better than average.  Not great.  Karns and Miley are not great, and Karns and Walker are so unpredictable at this early point in their careers, so the error bars are pretty wide on this group.  If those two both pitch at their 90% projection, all of a sudden the rotation is a monster, but if the wheels fall off for both of them, then you are pushing James Paxton and Mike Montgomery both into the rotation (and out of the bullpen) and it’s a big step back.

On the position player side, Dipoto added Leonys Martin in CF, Chris Iannetta at C, Adam Lind in a platoon with Dae Ho Lee at 1b, and Nori Aoki in LF.  The main takeaway here is that these guys don’t have to be great to be an improvement.  Nowhere is this more true than for Iannetta who replaces the aforementioned hapless production the M’s got fro the catcher position in 2015.  He is projected to put up a .213/.325/.352 line (not very impressive) in 2015 according to the fangraphs depth chart tool, which would represent a 95 point improvement in OBP and a 52 point improvement in SLG.  The man can take a walk.  If he outperforms the projections, it’s all gravy.  Martin is another bounceback candidate as he put up a disappointing season in 2015 after stronger previous seasons.  He is also a superior defender in CF than anything the M’s had last year.  Adam Lind rakes against RHP, and always has.  The main question here is Dae Ho Lee, how he will perform against LHP (we have no idea), whether he is worth a spot on the 25-man roster, and it appears that the collective defense at 1B will take a small step back from last year.  But there is no question that offensively this will be a large improvement over Logan Morrison.  And signing Aoki allows for a Seth Smith and Franklin Gutierrez platoon in right field, as well as the further benefit of getting Nelson Cruz off the field defensively.

The other thing I wanted to touch on is I think it’s almost a foregone conclusion that we will see a big decrease in production from Nelson Cruz.

Cruz 2016 projection:  .258/.323/.482

Cruz 2015 actual line:  .302/.369/.566, probably his best season ever at the plate.

Career line:  .273/.335/.511

The projections think the 35-year old’s season will be worse than his career line by a pretty wide margin.  I think that is a little too pessimistic and would bet on something pretty close to his career numbers.  But there is no question that his numbers will take a BIG step backward.  Regression.

However, it also seems likely that Robinson Cano’s numbers will improve substantially.  Cano 2016 projection:  .288/.346/.441

Cano 2015 actual line:  .287/.334/.446

Career line:  .307/.355/.495

The reasons for optimism go beyond regression toward his career numbers.  Cano had surgery to fix a hernia he was struggling with last year that also limited him in the field.  He also hit well all spring and as I write this in game 3 he already has 3 home runs.  No, make that 4 as he just hit another in this game.  I believe the M’s will pick up as much production with Cano as they will give up with Cruz.

I’m also predicting a lot better defense in CF, RF, and 2B, and perhaps a slight improvement in LF and SS.  1B and maybe C will probably be slightly worse, defensively, but overall the defense has taken a big step forward, especially in the outfield.  This will help our pitching.  We will also see big leaps forward in the offense we get from C and 1B, a modest improvement at 2B, and probably a small improvement at DH, and probably a big decline in RF even though Smith/Gutierrez should be a strong platoon.  Heck this should probably be a table.  Hey you get what you pay for.

Changes from 2015 to 2016

C – Zunino et al to Iannetta/Clevenger, defense slightly worse, offense WAY better

1B – Morrison to Lind/Lee, defense slightly worse, offense a lot better

2B – Cano, both defense and offense much improved as discussed

3B –  Seager, about the same

SS – Miller/Marte to Marte, defense slightly improved with Marte all year, probably some offensive regression (.341 BABIP in 2015 will probably come down)

LF – Smith/Gutierrez to Aoki, I think this will be a wash, defensively and offensively

CF – Jackson/Jones to Martin, moderate defensive improvement, but a little bit worse offensively

RF – Cruz to Smith/Gutierrez, large defensive improvement, large step back offensively

DH – Trumbo/Weeks to Cruz, large improvement even with Cruz regression

OK, if you’re read all of this, you are in select company I assure you!  I’m just happy to have some stuff typed up because the last few years I’ve felt frustrated that I, a casual fan, seemed to have a better idea of what would happen with the team than the team’s brass did.  I have a lot more trust in the current regime, but I finally did the preseason write-up I’ve been wanting to do.  And now it will be easy to look this post up and mock my foolishness.  Hence the title of the post.  I started this before the start of today’s game 3 against Texas and am finishing during the postgame show.

Our Alaska-Sized Budget Deficit

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on April 4, 2016

Alaska is the land of over-the-top superlatives.  Mind numbing record low temperatures.  Not just the biggest state, but the state so big we could cut it in half and Texas would be the 3rd biggest state!  The state with more coastline than the other 49 states combined!  The highest peak in the 50 states!  The Aleutians with their preposterous winds.  The jaw-dropping salmon runs, volcanic activity, earthquakes, northern lights, you get the idea.  In the same vein, we now have the amazing Alaska budget deficit!

The short version is that the pipeline is carrying less and less crude oil as the legacy fields on the north slope are getting depleted, and couple that with oil at $30 per barrel, and you get a massive deficit.  Just a few years ago oil was over $100 per barrel and the state was flush with cash and spending as much as $8 billion per year.  As the price dropped, cuts have been made to the point that the current state budget is around $5.5 billion (with revenue of around $1.8 billion), and next year’s budget may be as low as $4.1 billion if the conservative state legislature has it’s way.  But the state is projected to bring in only $1.2 billion in revenue.  Not good.

Many have pointed out the obvious:  There is no way the legislature can cut their way out of this mess.  Not that they aren’t trying.  Alaska is a notoriously conservative, anti-tax state.  No state sales tax, and no state income tax since it was abolished in 1980.  Residents have become so accustomed to getting something for nothing that most are refusing to accept reality now.

You can read much more about this here and here and here and here and here and many others if somehow that doesn’t slake your thirst.  From that last link (The Atlantic), “But Alaskans are fiercely protective of their checks, and of their state’s savings. This might be the most tight-fisted state in the union.”  And “But for the time being, Alaskans seem to want to hang on to the good old days for as long as they can, scrimping and saving despite having billions in the bank.”  Yup.

I took part in an exercise that challenges Alaskans to balance the budget themselves using an online simulator, at plan4alaska.com.  You can view my balanced budget here.  If you want to take a stab at it, go to plan4alaska.com and click on “take the challenge” at the top.  I don’t want to come off as self-righteous, but I have never been able to get my head around why my fellow Alaskans so resent the idea of paying their share for the cost of government.  The plan I went with is pretty similar to the governor’s plan, calling for a state income tax of 10% of the federal tax (I believe the governor is seeking something like 7%).  For Tammy and I using our 2014 taxes as a real world example, the 10% would come out to about $650, or less than 1% of our total income.  (If you need a primer on the difference between marginal tax rate and effective/average tax rate read this or this)  The $650 in my 2014 example equates to less than $2 per day, for schools for our kids, airport maintenance here in Kasigluk, the court system, etc.  So maybe this makes me a crazy liberal, but I consider that a bargain at under $2 per day.  This is a little disingenuous though as my plan also calls for a 3 or 4% sales tax which would almost certainly take more of our money than the income tax would.

Regarding that link in red above (this article) I just have to comment.  The headline states:  “Alaska Senate leaders: We’re not getting into ‘the tax business'”

Really? Senate leaders, let me tell you what business you ARE in.  You are in the business of running a state government.  As a part of this business, money comes in and out.  You are in charge of making sure the revenue keeps up so the state has the money to pay for the expenses.  And state revenue is collected, for the most part, in the form of TAXES.  You can quibble over semantics if you wish, but the fact is that our existing state income is already in the form of taxation levied on corporations, and taxes on resources such as barrels of oil, as well as on the fishing and mining industries.  So you ARE, actually, in “the tax business.”  You always have been. You know it, we all know it, so drop the games and do what is right for the state.

The reason there is some urgency here is that the “sovereign wealth concept” really only works if you have a large enough principle to earn interest with.  If we choose to kick this down the road and burn $4B in savings every year, we are eating the golden goose.  We should be smart enough, humble enough, and forward thinking enough to pay a little now so everyone profits big-time down the road.

Prediction Foolishness

Posted in baseball, fun, Uncategorized by Pete on April 4, 2016

Today was opening day for a few teams, and my beloved Mariners start out tomorrow in Texas, when King Felix will dethrone Cole Hamels, Adrian Beltre, and the rest of the Texas Ranger lineup.  As spring training winds up, all of the major media outlets put out their predictions for which teams will make the postseason.  Every year these kind of make me crazy, and there are a few common picks that I disagree with and I think I should post my contrary predictions.  And this year I’m doing it.  For example, everyone picked the Nationals last year to win the NL east.  As I recall something like 54 of 54 people at ESPN picked the Nats to win the NL east.  The problem is, let’s say a team is 60% likely to win a division.  Well then of course everyone should pick them to win, but then when you see *all* the experts picking them to win, it makes that team appear to be far more dominant than they really are.  And it pushes me toward being a contrarian and picking the teams noone else is picking but who still have a real shot.  Which is a great way to miss on almost every prediction except 1 or 2 that noone else made.  Soooo, we’ll see how this goes.

To start with, you can see USA Today’s predictions here, or what the heck I can paste in this  handy graphic:  

Quibbles – The Angels finishing over Seattle?  I see Anaheim as a 4th place team at best, and Oakland may finish ahead of them.  They have the best player of this generation, or maybe ever, surrounded by bad players.  Richards can be a good pitcher, but the rest of the starters look to be poor.  And in the lineup Pujols is a shell of his former self and is probably their 2nd best hitter.  I could see them losing 90 with Trout, and 100 if he gets hurt.  I see Houston as the clear favorite in the west, and Texas and Seattle have a high degree of volatility in their possible outcomes.  The Rangers could be undone by the back end of their rotation, especially before Darvish comes back.  Seattle has so many eggs in the Cano & Cruz baskets, and those players are aging and at some point the production will really start to decline.  Cruz was so far above his career line last year, it is almost a given that he will massively decline this year.  However, Cano looks primed for a bounceback year after getting over his health issues from last year, and those 2 things might be a wash, statistically.  If pressed I’ll pick Seattle to finish 2nd in the west, and yes my objectivity here is hopelessly compromised.  I’m putting the Astros at like 89 wins and the M’s at 86 and Texas at 85.  Specific enough?  And 3 or 4 wins apart really means it’s anyone’s division to win, especially if injuries crop up, or one of the team goes 15 games over .500 in 1-run games or some other fluky thing.

Over in the AL Central, I will admit that this is a difficult division to predict, but I would take Cleveland or the Twins before the White Sox, though I do think the southsiders will be in the mix to the end and have a real shot at winning it.  And I’m picking the Tigers to finish at the bottom with the Royals (yes, last years champs).  When I say the bottom I mean around .500 in what is a very deep division (no really bad teams).  The Tigers strike me as a brittle, top-heavy team that could win 90 games if everything goes right, but it is the very rare season in which everything goes right like the 2001 116-win Seattle Mariners.  I think the whole division will win 80-something games.  If forced to go with 1 team I’ll take the Twins.  Tons of young talent there.  Sano is a monster.

In the AL East I think USA today has the O’s and the Yanks winning too many games.  I guess one theme with my picks is I’m very leery of what I perceive to be the older, more injury prone teams, or the “stars and scrubs” rosters that carry a lot of risk in 1 or 2 great players, especially as those players age.  I see the Yankees falling down to like 74 wins this year, and the O’s to a record of 69-93.  So who do I like in the east?  I like all 3 of the other teams, but I’m going to go with Tampa.  I told you I like to be a contrarian.  They have the pitching depth and just enough offense.  I’m optimistic about Brad Miller.  Those guys really know how to do more with less.  I’ll take Toronto 1 game behind them, and Boston 1 game behind Toronto.  90, 89, and 88 wins.

OK, it’s after 1 am and I’m not as much of an NL guy so let’s speed this up.  I’m *agreeing* with USA today’s NL east predictions!  Not just because I’m sleepy but I do like the Nats over the Mets this year.  It’s kind of silly that almost everyone picked the Nats this year, then they all go bleeting over to the Mets side after the Mets did well.  We so easily overreact to *recent* events and give those events too much weight in our analysis.  The Nats have Harper, and I think Rendon can bounce back, they have good pitching.  The Mets have pitchers who throw hard and get a lot of Ks.  They are good pitchers.  But I don’t particularly love their bullpen or their lineup.  Plus they have the Wilpons as owners (terrible reputation) and it’s always nice to be able to root against those guys.

I can quibble with the NL Central.  In my biggest upset pick I’m going with the Pirates to break through at last.  Of course the Cubs are better on paper.  That is why everyone is picking them.  They have the best front office int the game probably.  Awesome young talent all over the place, yada yada yada.  But everyone is picking them, so I’m going with the pirates.  I’ll admit that it’s probably like a 1:4 shot or something but it’s a legit shot.  Like any team there can be injuries, maybe a sophomore slump or two, anything can happen.  I don’t see it with St Louis.  I know they are a development factory and they just seem to manufacture good players out of thin air (bricks without straw!) – which by the way makes me crazy as a Mariners fan, an org that is the polar opposite of this in terms of player development.  We can ruin top 10 prospects if you give us a chance.  The Cardinals can make all stars out of guys off of the top 100.  Anyway I’m going with Pirates beating the Cubs in a one-game playoff to decide the division with 92-94 wins, and the Cards finishing with 85 wins.  I like their pick of the Reds with 61 wins, but I’ll pick the brewers to win 59 as they jettison all present talent for future lottery tickets.

In the NL West I’m going with Dodgers first, Dbacks and Giants tied for 2nd like 5 or 6 games back, and the Pads and Rockies way, way back in 4th and 5th place.  I guess the Rockies are a better team than the Padres, though USA Today disagrees.  They’re both bad, but the Rocks have Nolan Arenado, whose hitting is eclipsed only by his superlative fielding.  Both teams seem to lack much of a coherent plan, as far as I can tell.

Phew!  OK, 1:24.  Tammy is still at work planning her lessons for the week (man those teachers are all overpaid, amirite??), but even she won’t be there much longer so I must wrap this up.  Here is a link to the fangraphs staff predictions.  Kudos to them for the amount of variability in their picks.  None of the divisions are unanimous as the Nats were in years past on espn as I mentioned above.

Here are ESPN’s picks.  You can google more from SI, cbssportsline, nbc sports (hardball talk), etc etc.  In scanning these, I guess I’m most contrarian when I pick the Rays, Pirates, and Dodgers.  I’m kind of surprised that the Dodgers were picked by so few, at least at espn.  They can kind of buy their way out of any mistakes they make.  I knew the Rays and Pirates would be a little out there, and the Jays offense makes me waiver a little on the Rays pick but I shall not be, I shall not be moved.  Predictions are a fools errand.  And this is quite true when it comes to predicting outcomes in sports, where luck (or chance if you prefer) holds far more sway than most of those connected to the game want to admit.  Foolish or not, I’m crossing this errand off.  On to other items on the to-do list, like blogging about Alaska’s budget problems, filing our taxes, and prepping for class tomorrow.

 

SLP Caseloads

Posted in SLP, teaching, Uncategorized by Pete on March 14, 2016

I’m copying and pasting something from an SLP forum that I lurk on.  This is about caseloads and thought it was a good perspective and I wanted to be able to access it later so I’m pasting it in here.

I have posted this more than once. My rule of thumb is my caseload cannot exceed the number of hours I work over a week. So…if I work 38 hours, I can’t have more than 38 students. In that 38 hours, you are ALL entitled to 30 minutes of duty free lunch daily, and whatever planning time is given to the professional staff in your school. If you are working through lunch and planning time, you are NOT doing anyone any favors…and that includes the district and your students. You are allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.

So back to my rule of thumb. Where I worked, I had 30 minutes of lunch and 30 minutes of planning (planning was averaged out over the week…so really 2 1/2 hours per week) per day. So that left 28 hours in which to do everything else…therapy, testing IEP meetings, consults, classroom observations, report writing, meetings…you get the picture. Even with 28 hours to do all of that per week, I sometimes found myself stretched. When I read about caseloads that are double or triple what I had, I wonder just how FAPE is being met. And I wonder about the real quality of services…and I wonder just how quickly some of you will burn out.

It took me a while to get to the point I was at…that caseload of 30 or so students. Back in 1973 when I started, I had 13 schools and well over 100 students. It was a job that could NOT be done….period. I was at each school once every two weeks. The kids didn’t even know my name.

I immediately became a strong advocate for decent services for my students. NOTE…not for me…for my students. BUT in advocating for my students, I also advocated for myself, and our profession.

Our administration understood that the apraxic, low cognitive student with multiple issues…and multiple weekly consults…took much more of my time than even a multi sound artic case. And I needed to have the time for these things.

I understand that some folks don’t want to make waves because of job security and the like.

But read what you are saying….your admins expect you to make up time with students when you are absent for a day…but they also think it’s good quality services for you to be seeing 60 plus kids per week? I guess I think those are contradictory statements.

If they are REALLY worried about FAPE, they should get more staff…so ongoing services can be better.

Where I am, districts with these larger caseloads also have HUGE turnover in SLP staff…because folks simply move on to districts where the working conditions are better. And yes…that sometimes means a huge cut in pay. But I know a few people who went from having over 75 on their caseloads to under 40 and also lost over $6000 a year in salary. They say…it was well worth the reduction in salary to be able to provide a quality service to their students.

As a profession, we need to stand up and be counted. Do the special ed teachers in your district see 60 or 75 kids per week? How about OT and PT? If you are in a primary school….what classroom has 60-100 kids?

Please…advocate for quality services for your students. And for heaven’s sake…stop short changing yourselves by working through lunch and planning times…and taking hours of work home nightly.

OK…off my soapbox.

-S

And someone replied with:

I think everyone can reply to this question but not much can be concluded.  Numbers do not reflect workload.  I think that is where administrators loose perspective on appropriate staffing.  So much goes into determining workload for any specialists.  Everything from severity of students to universal supports provided in a school system.  I personally could service 30 articulation kids over a couple of days with my eyes closed but give me 30 more involved students and the game changes.

We all need to advocate for reasonable workloads and numbers.  The amount of work, paperwork and meeting time that is required for each student also need to be taken into consideration.  I also find that administrators have little to no understanding of the process of language development nor how decreased language abilities impact academics.

This past year I published a book,  The School Speech Language Pathologist,  An Administrator’s Guide to understanding the role of the SLP in schools along with strategies to aid staffing, workload management and student success.  It’s just a start in educating administration.  Available on Amazon and through my publisher Booklocker.

I think it would also be interesting to know how much turnover occures because of workloads/caseloads that are too high an unmanageable.  My 30 years of experience can also state that staffing levels have not grown over the years but numbers have.  Think about that.

I didn’t write either of these but they are good food for thought, for me at least.  I’ve wrestled since before I became an SLP with the service delivery model used in the Alaska bush (at least in my home district of LKSD) and this applies to that issue.

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drug-related death threats in Bethel

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on May 4, 2015

Lame.