Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Lady Gaga, and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Industrial Production Index

Mark has a pessimistic look at the Log of the Industrial Production index and sees a curved, and flattening, trend channel.  It's a good fit, but I see it a bit differently.  The Data set goes back to 1946, and the measurements follow a perfect linear trend channel through late 1981. 

You can always divide a curve into a series of straight line segments.  But when the first segment is half the data set, you have to give it some credence as the trend candidate.

Note also that when the trend fails, it fails at the mid line of the channel.  This happens commonly in all sorts of data sets.  

After a decline into early '83 pierces the former lower boundary, a new upward trend with significantly lower slope developed.   This channel was also much narrower than the previous one.  The inability to sustain vigorous growth is yet another anemic manifestation of the Great Stagnation.   This trend failed by starting a decline from the top channel boundary in late 2000, then dribbling along the bottom boundary for about 3 years.  No surprise, since the first decade of the century was marked by the closing of 10's of thousands of factories.

The top in 2000 might have been the start of a new trend, and I've indicated it as such.  It's still slanting up, though at a very weak slope.  Since the bottom in 2009, production has made a comeback, rising with a slope slightly greater than that of the '83 to early naughts trend.  It's approaching the upper bound of the presumed current trend channel on both my graph and on Mark's.

Whether you prefer Mark's vision or mine, a test of the upper limit is coming soon.  But with the economy at the effective demand limit, I see very little chance that the upper channel boundary will be breached.

Thoughts on the Royals

I did a little Google questing this afternoon. 

MLB started the wild card in 1994.

Three years later, a wild card team won the World Series.

Here is the complete list of wild card world series winners.

Florida Marlins (1997)
Anaheim Angels (2002)
Florida Marlins (2003)
Boston Red Sox (2004)
St. Louis Cardinals (2011)

Five incidents in 20 years, so not at all rare.

This year the list will grow, since the Royals and the Giants were both wild card teams.

This has only happened one other time, in 2002, when the Giants and Angels met.  They were 95 and 99 game winners, respectively.  This year's contenders were both sub-90 game winners, so this outcome has to be considered a bit of a fluke.

I doubt that any team in any sport has ever fluked its way into a championship series like the Royals did this year.  They were down 7-3 to the A's in the 8th inning of the single wild card playoff game, scored three, tied it in the 9th, gave up a run in the top if the 12th, and scored 2 to win in the bottom, 9-8. Exciting - sure, but a bit too story-book for the real world, I'd say.

Then they swept (!) out the Angels - 98 game winners - with two extra inning wins and a 3rd game 8-3 blow out. 

Three extra-inning wins in a row says something about your bull pen, but even more about luck.  In the regular season the Royals scored 4.04 runs per game, 14th of 30 MLB teams.  In the post season, they've outscored everybody with 42 runs in 8 games, for a 5.25 average.

Alcides Escobar has hit 16 regular season home runs in 4 full years with the Royals.  He knocked one out for the first run scored in the Orioles series.  Mike Moustakas, whose offensive stats have declined in each of his 4 years with the Royals, has hit 4 HRs in the playoffs, in 32 plate appearances, 1 in every 8.  In the regular season he had 15 in 500 PAs, 1 in every 33+. 

As a team, the Royals have 8 HRs in 8 games, second only to the Cardinals, 15 in 9 games. But with only 95 HR's this season, the Royals were dead last in the majors.  The Cardinals, BTW, were next to last, with 105 in the regular season.  During the regular season, the Orioles hit 11 more than the entire state of Missouri, but only 6 in 7 post season games.

The Royals have a decent rotation, above average defense, and perhaps the best bull pen in MLB.  What they do not have is offense.  Up until these playoff games. 

There is no rational explanation for the Royals post season success.

One might suspect divine intervention.  But this is baseball, and I consider it far more likely that someone has made a pact with the devil.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thoughts on Ferguson

I've been reluctant to comment on the shooting of Michael Brown because so much is not known, and so much of what has been thought to be known is either speculative or irrelevant. 

But I am now prepared to say a few things.

Whenever an atrocity is committed, two things always happen -
--  Real information is suppressed
--  The victim is demonized

We don't know - and may NEVER know - if the killing of Michael Brown was an actual atrocity.  But we see the atrocity cover-up-and-deflect scenario played out here, exactly according to script.

There's a third thing that happens, which is an amalgam of the first two - the spreading of misinformation that is either intended to be exculpatory of the person(s) committing the atrocity, or damning of the victim.

So it is with the fractured orbital bone fiction perpetrated by the right wing media and spread so far and wide in recent days.

Evidently this story originated with Gateway Pundit, probably the least reliable of all the rabid right wing propagandists on the web.  In this instance the level of deceit is astounding.  It is actual fraud.  

It was then spread by first, the Murdoch owned New York Post, followed quickly by Murdoch's Fox News, and thence like wild-fire to a wider population hungry to have their facile and too often racist biases confirmed.

This story smelled very odd to me the first time I saw it.  If the officer had a serious injury, that would have been known immediately, since he got X-rays shortly after the event.   And since the cops were eager to smear Michael Brown by releasing the completely irrelevant security video from inside the store, it's hard to believe they would have held back something that at least marginally tends to make the shooting seem more justifiable.

Then the whole thing got a whole lot stinkier when I checked out the sources.  As always, critical thinking and a slow walk to judgment are advised.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tigers Mid-Season Wrap Up

June for the Tigers was a mirror image of May.  In May, they started the month going 13-3, then went 4-9 to finish at 17-12, or .586, which is still quite good and would project to 95 wins over a season.  But the doldrums continued well into June, which started off at 5-11.  But things suddenly turned around and they went 9-2 for the rest of the month, finishing at 14-13.  This is a barely respectable .519, and would project to only  84 wins over a season.  That might not even be good enough for a wild card.

This put the Tigers at 45-34 at the end of June, or .570, projecting to 92 wins.  This might be enough to win the division, or a least a wild card spot.  They went on to win the next two, completing a sweep of the A's, and landing at 47-34, or .580, at the midpoint of the season, projecting to 94 wins.  Two games later they now stand at 48-35, with 94 wins still a reasonable projection.

The graph shows win percentage and projection after each game of the season.

 Here are batting averages after the July 4th loss to Tampa Bay.

Cabrera, at .313, doesn't look bad, but a closer look is troubling.  After game 52 his B.A. was .332.  For the 31 games since, it's .282.  For the last 21 games, it's .278, and for the last 13, it's .288.  He seems to be settling in at a pretty ordinary pace - certainly far from MVP performance.  This is dragged down quite a bit by what happens late in games.  In the first 6 innings he's hitting .330 for the season, but later in games only .267.

Here it all is in one busy picture.

Run production is way off as well.  Cabrera had 41 hits with 34 RBI's  in May, but only 29 hits with 16 RBI's in June.

After game 83, the Tigers still sit atop the A.L. Central, 4 games up on the Royals and 8 ahead of Cleveland, with 2 games in hand relative to each of them.  This season can end well, but lots of things will have to go right, and hitting with run production from Cabrera will have to be a big part of it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tigers Update

On the 9th of June the Tigers began a series of 14 straight games against Central Division opponents.  I said then that going 7-7 would not be good enough.   Ten games into it [with one rain-out against the White Sox] they are 4-6.  The best that can do now is 7-6, and that will take a sweep in Cleveland, where their demise began, just over a month ago.

Most recently, the Tigers eked out a win against the first place Royals [How weird does that look?] thereby avoiding getting swept in a 4 game series AT HOME.  And it has been every bit as bad as that makes it sound.

After completing a sweep of the Red Sox in Boston on May 18th, the Tigers' run differential stood at 55 for the 39 games played up to that point.  After game 67, on June 17th, a devastating 11-4 loss to the Royals, the run differential reached -2.  In 28 games the Tigers had been outscored by 57 horrific runs.  After splitting the next two games by identical 2-1 scores, they're again at -2.

There is no single cause.  Starting pitching for anyone not named Anibal went from outstanding into a range between ordinary and dismal.  Relief pitching gave no relief.  Scoring evaporated to the extent that they were shut out 3 times in those 28 games, and averaged a mere 3.933 runs per game.  This is scoring at the Seattle - Houston level, equivalent to 21st out of 30 MLB teams.  This stretch also includes a 12-9 win over the Twins, and a game in Cleveland where they scored 10 runs and lost by 1.

As this suggests, pitching has been awful.  The table shows the ERA's of the Tigers' rotation on the last start before arriving in Cleveland on May 19th, compared to now.  Sanchez has been outstanding, Smyly ordinary, and the rest at times embarrassingly bad.  We won't even look at the relief staff.

Now consider hitting.  For simplicity, we'll just look at batting averages.  Martinez, Marinez, and Cabrera have continued to produce, though Miggy is only hitting .259 for the latest 8 games.  Castellanos has brought his average up.  But Jackson, Hunter, and Kinsler have dropped off quite a bit.

After their win last night - a razor-thin 2-1 victory behind another brilliant start by Sanchez, an assist by Jaba, and Nathan finally having a strong 1-2-3 9th - I'd like to be optomistic.  But Verlander is burned out, Scherzer's last start was ghastly, and Smyly can be erratic.  Even worse, in the last 2 games, they've scored a total of three runs on 9 hits.

At their apex, the Tigers were on a pace to win 112 games.  Now the projection is 87.  There's a lot of season left, and plenty of time to turn this ship around.

But everything from pitching to hitting to fielding to base running will have to get a lot better.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Quote of the Day

Conservatism involves a lot of “shut up, you whiners!” followed by whining.

                            ----  Rob in CT, commenting at LGM.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Night Music

I'm chagrined to admit that I never heard of this song, and - even worse - knew nothing of the iconic Leonard Cohen, until our oldest granddaughter did an ensemble dance to it in competition a couple of years ago.  It was somebody else's smooth-voiced cover - there are many and I never did find out whose - not Cohen's gravelly bass.

Knowing her dance studio as I do, I'm sure the more obviously suggestive verses weren't included - as indeed, they weren't included in Cohen's original studio recording.  The strange thing about this song is the coupling of two concepts - religious ecstasy and sexual gratification - that seem totally disconnected in modern culture.

It wasn't always so.  If I have the history right, back before the Old Testament Jews abandoned human sacrifice and tried their experiment with monotheism, they were not much different ethnically or culturally from the rest of their Canaanite neighbors.  At least in some parts of the Mediterranean basin - and I think this includes Canaan - sex, fertility and procreation were integral with nature and the earth, even if not specifically coupled with goddess based religion

Somehow, when the sky daemon replaced earth daemons, sex became dirty and sinful, goddesses became whores, and, thanks in no small part to the rabid misogynist Saul of Tarsus, whole civilizations became puritanical.  Or at least such was their claim.

That legacy haunts us today.  You see it in the insane objections to insurance coverage of birth control [which was never a problem until it became part of Obamacare], gender-dependent double standards of morality, and the Republican war on women.

Still, whatever our views on religion or lust, in the privacy of our own homes, we can experience a  hallelujah moment - and, for now at least - no matter how cold and broken, make our own decisions as to what that means.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tigers May Wrap Up

Around mid-month I posted updates Part 1 and Part 2.

Back in those days, things were going well: starting pitching was dominating, relief pitching was doing the job, hitters were getting on base and scoring. It all seems so long ago, now.  Suddenly, on the 17th game of the month, everything came apart: starting pitching, with certain notable exceptions, has been horrible, relief pitching no better, and scoring has dried up.

For the scoring charts, I've divided the month after game 16.  The blue bar represents the first 16 games, and the red bar represents the last 13 games.  Graph 1 shows Tigers scoring by inning.

 Graph 1 - Tigers Scoring

 Innings 1, 5 and 7 have been OK lately, but for the rest of the game, production has fallen off badly.  But that's not the worst of it.  Graph 2 shows opponents scoring by inning, same color code.

Graph 2 - Opponents Scoring
 This is every bit as bad as it looks.  Note that both graphs are on the same scale. Through two + cycles of the rotation, starters put up four good games, 2 by Sanchez, and one each by Verlander [after three dismal starts] and Smyly - the latter sadly, a 3-2 loss.  Except for the 5th inning, which is a wash, all the others were worse after game 16.  Innings 2 and 4, when the meat of the opposing line ups came through, were terrifying.

This is what happened

Here is the scoring summary.

Scoring declined by 1.4 runs per game.  Late scoring only looks good because it is in the context of overall bad scoring.

All I can say about this is read it and weep.

Graph 3 shows the winning percentage after each game, and the number of wins that would project to at season's end.

Graph 3 - Win Percentage and Projection  

For a while, 100 wins looked attainable.  It might still be, but things would have to get much better quickly.

The last graph [4] looks at Cabrera's batting average, one of the few bright spots. Since a rocky start, he's done extremely well.

 Graph 4 - Miggy

Early on, his batting after the 6th inning lagged, but now has caught up with the first 6 innings.  The black line indicates his average over the most recent 21 games.  It's been at or above .370 since game 39.  His overall average has been in the mid to high .320's since game 40.

He currently has 49 RBI's, 3rd in the AL, and is on a pace to bring in close to 150.

May didn't end well for the Tigers, and June started with a shut out.  Baseball is a streaky game.  A bad streak is steeped in misery.  Here's hoping they can get things turned around soon.