Sunday, November 20, 2016

Will a Trump Presidency really be that bad?

Trump has Republican majorities in the House and Senate.
There are numerous long-term consequences, none of them good.

Let’s go topic by topic:


I think the wall is bullshit.  Even most Repubs won’t be able to stomach financing it.  It won’t get built.  They’ll come up with some term like “virtual wall” to explain it away.  Or maybe keeping your campaign promises doesn’t even matter anymore.  Trump has certainly proved that facts and the truth are not important.

In any event, Trump will undo Obama’s executive actions.  Goodbye Dreamers.

“Stop and Show Me Your Papers” laws are passed.  Some police and immigration officers resign in protest.  They’re replaced by racists who can’t wait to kick the shit out of some “Mexicans.”

Hate crimes increase dramatically. 


Paul Ryan is salivating at the mouth.

Goodbye Obamacare (and you 20 million who are covered).

Huge tax cuts for the rich (already at historic lows).

Even more gutting of the little social safety net that exists.  Blame will be placed on poor people for a) being lazy and b) not being born rich.

Rolling back of Medicaid, probably replaced by market-based vouchers, turning a successful health care policy for the poor into a profit center for health insurance companies.

Ryan will try, but perhaps fail, to transform Medicare into Personal Health Savings Accounts (a long way of saying, “Privatizing and making for-profit”).  Health insurance industry celebrates in the streets.  Good times are here again.

Goodbye financial regulation.

Hello to the next financial bubble.

For a few years things will actually be okay.  We’ll run up another bubble, unchecked by any regulations, and there will be some paper millionaires.  Trump will be hailed, in some quarters, as a genius, as this decade’s Ronald Reagan.

Then the bubble will burst.  Huge losses.  Tax-payer bailout.  Millions of people fall into poverty with no safety net or access to healthcare.

Wall Street execs give themselves another round of bonuses funded by the tax payers.

Poor people and minorities are blamed for fucking up the bubble.

As Bruce Springsteen wrote, “Banker man gets fat, working man gets thin/It’s all happened before.  It’ll happen again.”

Corporate America is like a rabid dog in a room full of raw meat.  They are going to tear this country to shreds.

Gun Control

What little regulations we have will be gutted.

Trump and the Repubs will promote a gun culture to protect us from terrorists (read: Muslims) and criminals (read: black people).

Guns will be made even easier to get.  More people will buy them.  Shootings of all kinds will increase.

Trump will promote a more heavily armed society to protect ourselves like he did after the Pulse nightclub shooting.  The bullshit idea that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Even more mass shootings to follow…

Law and Order

Going along with guns, Trump will promote a “Law and Order” society.

Police will be encouraged to “get tough” with criminals.  There will be more shootings by police officers, especially of minorities.

Instead of a president who at least acknowledges that there are issues on both sides and that  Black Lives Matter, Trump will promote and advocate the police to crackdown on black people.

Areas with a high concentration of black and brown people will be even more heavily policed, more arrests, more convictions (which have the added benefit of taking away their voting rights), more shootings.

It’s not a coincidence that stocks in the private prison industries rose almost 50% in the days after the election.

If there is an event like Hurricane Katrina (likely because global warming will be even more rapid now), Trump will encourage police/National Guard/army/private contractors and even civilians (read: white people) to shoot the “looters” on sight.


Welcome back torture and Guantanamo.

Trump will appoint loyalist cronies to all positions.

Homeland Security will be asleep at the wheel.

There could well be another terrorist attack.

If that happens, we intern Muslims, and likely attack some country full of brown people.

The chances that we do this anyway depend on how long it takes for the financial bubble that the Repubs create to burst.  If they make it past 2020 before the next Great Recession, then we won’t invade anyone for awhile.  If the bubble bursts before then ,Trump will invade a country to gin up patriotism and get everyone’s mind off of the economy.

Health Care

Obamacare is repealed but not replaced.

Lip service is given to pre-existing conditions.

But, in the dark rooms of power occupied by House and Senate Republicans and Health Insurance Lobbyists, everything is rolled back.

Health Care is a for-profit industry.  There is no profit in covering pre-existing conditions.

The rich will get great health care.  Everyone else needs to stay healthy.


So listen… About last night…

Right to Choose

Kicked back to the States by a far-right Supreme Court.  If you’re poor and pregnant in the south you have no options.

Gay Marriage

Want some good news?  I think this is one of the few points of progress and humanism that will stand.  Chief Justice Roberts, that champion of Corporate America, will be mindful of all the positive coverage he received and will want to uphold his legacy.

Gay marriage stands.


Laws will be passed, upheld by the Supreme Court, allowing government officials (namely County Clerks) to exercise a Religious Exemption from issuing marriage certificates.

So, like a tree falling in the woods, if a marriage license isn’t issued did it actually happen? 

Supreme Court

Ginsburg is 83.  If Trump gets one more Justice, the Court is set to the hard right for the next 30 years.

They will protect corporate America at all costs.

They will uphold every law passed by the Republican House and Senate.

Kagan and Sotomayor will write the most grief-stricken and angry dissents ever read.


We may well start a “registry.”  Hate crimes will go through the roof.  If they are already happening in Middlebury, VT and Western Mass (bastions of liberalism) what’s going to happen in St. Cloud, Minnesota or Dearborn, Michigan?

If there is a terrorist attack it is certainly within the realm of possibility that we start internment camps.


Here’s where it gets really scary.  For days after the election, and even now, I’ve been depressed.

I wake with a feeling dread almost immediately washing over me.

This is why.

Everything else that Trump and the Repubs are able to jam through (huge tax cuts, enormous deficit, rolling back of minority rights, repealing Obamacare) can be fixed.

It may take decades (likely will take decades because the Supreme Court will be shifted even more to the Right for the next 30 years) but it is fixable.

There is one issue that, once a tipping point is reached, is no longer fixable.  The environment.

By not addressing global climate change now (and we may already be past the tipping point) we are potentially setting up an extinction level event one hundred years from now.

At the very least, there will be huge water shortages which will lead to increased starvation and resource conflict.

More severe weather systems.  Drought.  Flooding.  Islands sinking.

Increased poising of our water, food and air systems from de-regulated industry.

Hundreds of millions of people will die.

I guess I won’t be here for the worst of it.

But my niece.  My god kids.  All of whom are under the age of ten.  What kind of world will they inherit?

I think that the Gore/Bush election was really our chance to address this issue.  But Trump and the Repubs, by gutting all environmental regulations, will kill this issue once and for all.

We will hit the two degree Celsius threshold even quicker.  And then, it’s just math.  Like the Titanic after that fourth wall was breached.  Even if the ship is still afloat it is just a matter of time.

Everything we do, as a civilization, is just rearranging the deck chairs.


Investigative reporting has already been gutted.  As David Simon is fond of saying, “There are no citizen journalists down at City Hall.”

The New York Times is, perhaps, the only institution that can muster some resources to uncovering corruption, opaque business dealings, criminal activity and everything else that is going to go on in the Trump White House.

And even then it’s probably ten years too late.

The time of a newspaper tasking two reporters to one story for more than a year, as the Washington Post did with Watergate, is long since past.

Absent whistleblowers, on which there will be a legal crackdown, nothing of substance is likely to come out.

On the other hand, in the creepy netherworld of the alt-right, Breitbart will be the lead mouthpiece.

News stories of (insert vulnerable group here) being harassed, assaulted or perhaps even killed will be dismissed as made up.  Like Newtown.  If people don’t accept that it happened they don’t have to feel bad about it.

Fox News won’t got that far.  But they will be cheerleaders.  The White Citizens Council to the lower-rent KKK’ers of Breitbart.

Media conglomerates are profit centers.  Les Moonves, chair of CBS, said of Trump and the Presidential race, “It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS.”

Watch the money come rolling in…

Best Case Scenario

Everything I’ve just outlined, including destroying our planet courtesy of climate change and global warming, is best case scenario.

I think there is a high probability that all of the things I’ve just outlined come to pass.

But what if some state-sponsored terrorist group detonates a dirty bomb somewhere in the US.  Does Trump nuke Iran?  Or North Korea?  Is there a retaliatory strike?

What if Putin invades eastern Europe and a feckless Trump looks the other way?

What if a reporter uncovers some criminal act and Trump orders a drone strike to execute him or her?

The scenarios are numerous and terrifying.

Trump is obsessed with being perceived as strong.

This is the guy who, when being filmed welcoming children to Trump Tower, talked to a ten-year-old girl and the turned to the camera and said, “I’ll be dating her in ten years.”

He’s insane.

So to answer my question: Yes, a Trump Presidency is going to be that bad.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bob Knight Coaching Notes

I recently purchased Championship Productions' "Learn From the Legends Series."  It is six videos of Coach Geno Auriemma and Coach Bob Knight talking about and demonstrating their offensive and defensive philosophies.  Here are my notes for Coach Knight's portion of the series.  For the first two videos I didn't take any notes.

Bob Knight Notes

Motion Offense

-Post player should set-up the first line above the block
-Like a bounce pass to the post man

-Develop situations where practice is more difficult than a game

-Play without the dribble at times in practice
-Eliminates kids standing around and watching

-Take a Timeout in Practice.  Mention three things.  Ask kids to write down what you just said.

-3 on 3 at both ends is a must every night
-Early part of practice

-Prepped for a press by having 7 defenders press

Zone Offense

-First thing against any zone is beating the zone down the floor

-Play 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 where the offense is trying to keep the ball and the defense is trying to steal it.  No scoring.
-How many passes can you make?
-How many minutes can you keep it without a turnover?
-One minute?  Two minutes
-Defense can take it the other way

-The dribble is the most effective way to attack a zone

-Against a zone continually force two people to guard one offensive player

-Distort the Zone Defense

-You can not dribble the ball and pass in the same direction

-Never pass the ball to the same player who just passed you the ball away (unless you dribble away)

-Screen the Zone

-The Zone is designed to play the pass

-The most unused move in basketball is the SHOT FAKE

-Pass fake and reverse the ball the other way


-Every night you have to work on shooting
-Have to do it in a game-like condition

-Block out at an angle
-Work in pairs
-Coach says “Go”

-When shooting Free Throws players should keep their eyes on the back of the room
-Coaches should check players’ eyes when they are shooting FTs

-When setting screen lock your wrist in your other hand.  Keeps you from throwing an elbow/illegal screen.  Lets you use your arms as a buffer.

-The screener should/will always have a chance to score.

-Always screen a guy below you.

Defensive Tactics and Defending Screens

-There are more ways to get beat playing Zone than playing Man to Man.

-Rarely picks up full court
-Gives up layups/easy scores

-Defense starts with good block-out

-Elbows out when blocking out

-Work the block-out every day

-Picks up between center line and three point line

-Keep things going to the side

-Help is the most important thing in Defensive Play

-If you can’t help and recover you don’t have a good defense

-Doesn’t like to front the post.  Leaves the lob open.

-Player sets a screen at the same distance from which he can shoot

-Great players usually don’t make great coaches.  A bench player pays more attention.

-“Victory favors the team making the fewest mistakes.”

-Foul when up three at the end of the game.

-With Help and Recover never Help off a great shooter.  Rest of the team has to understand this.

-The best coaches are the most demanding coaches.

Geno Auriemma Coaching Notes

I recently purchased Championship Productions' "Learn From the Legends Series."  It is six videos of Coach Geno Auriemma and Coach Bob Knight talking about and demonstrating their offensive and defensive philosophies.  Here are my notes for Coach Auriemma's portion of the series.  Note that I didn't take many notes on the first three videos (for one I didn't take any notes).

Geno Auriemma Notes

The Essentials of Coaching

-Starts practice the same way every day.  Not a lot of drills but the uses the same ones every day.  Only covers things that players will do in a game.

Building Creativity into Your Motion Offense

-You want the best offensive player on your team catching the ball at the high post.

Zone Offense

-Spend more time on your offense than defense

-“If you can’t make a shot, what difference what plays you’re running?”
-If you don’t have good shooters, work on shooting the ball, a lot, in practice

-Don’t put anyone on the floor who can’t help you offensively.

-Practice different types of layups

-All the great offenses in the world won’t work if you can’t dribble, pass, catch, and shoot.

-Spend time shooting the ball every day

-The guy who hits the other guy first wins

Zone Offense Strategies

-Penetrate the Zone with a dribble or a pass

-Girls don’t play zone or press because girls aren’t big and fast enough
-They don’t take up enough space

-On closeouts it is impossible to take away the three AND stop the drive
-One or the other

-Don’t shoot jump shots against the trap


-There’s only so many things you can be good at

-There’s a lot of different ways you can win.  You have to decide what works for you.

-First Man to Man Defense decision: Where do you pick up?

-You are either a pressing team or you’re not.  If you press you have to be committed to it.

-At some point your Half-court Defense is going to have to win a game for you

-A mistake players make on D is, once they player starts dribbling, they body up and foul.  KEEP YOUR SEPARATION.

-Coach A fronts the post but is undecided if this is the best strategy because it gives up an offensive rebound.

-4 on 4.  Defensive 4 start in the paint.  Offensive four outside the arc.  Coach passes to a random offensive player.  Defenders must closeout and/or position themselves accurately based on how many passes away they are.

Defensive Tactics

-No easy way to defend good ball screens

-UConn does a hard hedge on a ball screen.  Then recover quickly.

-Run ball screens for a really good player.  Don’t run ball screens for a weak player.

-Pick and roll is an opportunity to trap.  But very difficult to trap in the middle of the court.  Sides are much better.  Trap any screen going to the sideline.

-Pick one way to guard Pick and Roll
-Hard Hedge (Auriemma prefers Hard Hedge)

-You’ve got to coach like your best stuff won’t work
-Be ready to adjust

-The easiest teams to play are the teams that run a set play.  Once you take that away they fall apart.

-When playing a better/more talented team, back up your defense.  Play soft, sagging man to man.  On offense try to fast break.  Don’t want to let a good team set-up their defense.  Try to set-up your offense where your two best offensive players are together on one side of the floor.  Everybody else screens.  Hope the other team plays poorly.

-If you don’t give up open three’s and you don’t put people on the FT line do you know how many two’s a team has to make to beat you?  A lot.

-My timeouts have gotten better because I’ve realized my players are dumb.  Only give players two things to do.  No more.

-Put best big athlete on the ball on inbound situations.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Best Films of 2013

2013 was a down year for films, especially compared to the treasure trove of 2012.  That being said, the two films at the top of this list are all outstanding.  After the first two there is a significant drop-off.

1)  12 Years a Slave
An un-blinking look at slavery.

2)  Blue Jasmine
I couldn't finish "Midnight in Paris," barely finished "To Rome With Love," and now Allen drops this masterpiece.

3)  World War Z
4)  Frances Ha
5)  Afternoon Delight
6)  Dallas Buyers Club
7)  Gravity
8)  All is Lost

Yep, that's it.  Told you it was a down year.

Note:  I intend to but haven't yet seen Nebraska, Philomena, Blue is the Warmest Color, Mud, Short Term 12, Upstream Color, or Blackfish.  I will revise the list if necessary.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Addendum to Best Films of 2102

Caught up with two movies this year that should have been on the 2012 List.  Cloud Atlas and The Place Beyond the Pines.  Both were fantastic.  Cloud Atlas would rank third and The Place Beyond the Pines would rank 11th.  The updates 2012 List looks like this:

14) Ted
13) Safety Not Guaranteed
12) John Carter
11)  The Place Beyond the Pines
10) Amour
9) The Waiting Room
8) Argo
7) 21 Jump Street
6) Avengers
5) The Cabin in the Woods
4) Magic Mike
3)  Cloud Atlas
2) Django Unchained
1) Haywire

Advice to a First-Year Teacher

A friend of mine who is a first year Teach For America teacher recently reached out for some advice.  Here is my response (with a few edits).  This will look mighty familiar to hundreds of Mississippi Teacher Corps teachers :-)

A lot of stuff of going on (all of it normal for a first-year alternate route teacher).  The good news is you are through the roughest patch.  The most difficult part of the school year (for any teacher, but especially for first-years) is October through November break.  There are couple reasons for this:

-The kids start acting up as the "newness" of the school year fades.
-You get overwhelmed with planning and grading.
-The weather changes.  You pick up a cold and can't shake it.
-There is no off day, just six or seven or eight straight weeks of school (for these same reasons the second hardest stretch is February through March break).

So the good news is you have officially weathered the toughest stretch of a first-year teacher.  December will fly by as will the weeks after spring break.

A couple of other thoughts:

-Have one day (Saturday or Sunday) where you do nothing school related.  No planning, no grading, etc.  Do something you like to do.  Go out to eat, go to the movies, exercise, whatever.  This is key.  And this is the most important piece of advice I can give you.

-Do you have a lot of outstanding grading that needs to be done?  If so put a check+ on everything and give it back.  Having grading hanging over your head can be a constant source of stress.  Once you do that from now on do all of the grading immediately after school or first thing the next morning.

-Speaking of the next morning it is much more efficient to wake up early and do work than to stay up late.  Better to go to bed at 8:00 PM and get up at 4:00 AM than go to bed at 10:00 PM and get up at 6:00 AM.  You'll get twice as much work done in the morning when you are (relatively) fresh.

-Your friends will understand.  Your immediate family, your best friend, and your significant other are the only folks you need to keep updated.

-Take all of Thanksgiving break to relax and recharge.  If you do decide to work only do it on the Saturday and Sunday before school.  However, for December break spend an hour or two each day of the second week planning.  This will help you immeasurably once school starts.

-Classroom management comes down to three questions: Do you have rules and consequences?  Are you enforcing them?  Are you enforcing them consistently?  Ask yourself each of these questions.  This solves 99% of of management problems.

-The gaps in knowledge between students will have to wait.  You don't have the skill-set and experience to adequately address this yet.  You will have to forgive yourself for this (easy to say, hard to do).

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Best Films of 2012

Before I get to the list here are the acclaimed 2012 films I have not yet seen: The Grey; End of Watch; Life of Pi; Les Mis; Promised Land; Holy Motors; How to Survive a Plague. On to the list:

12) Ted
11) Safety Not Guaranteed
10) John Carter
9) Amour
8) The Waiting Room
7) Argo
6) 21 Jump Street
5) Avengers
4) The Cabin in the Woods
3) Magic Mike
2) Django Unchained
1) Haywire

Two notes...

First, it was not a good year for documentaries. Only one, The Waiting Room, made the list. Second, it was the year of Soderbergh. My favorite director working today and his two films are one and three on my list. Soderbergh has two more films in the pipeline ("Side Effects" and "Behind the Candelabra") and then is retiring.

Amherst Eats-Miss Saigon

Had two meals today at Miss Saigon, a Vietnamese spot that opened in Amherst in 2009. Lunch was Mi Chay, a big bowl of vegetarian egg noodle soup. Before the bowl comes out they deposit a plate of fresh basil and jalapeƱos to garnish. The soup itself was outstanding, filled with vegetables, tofu, and noodles. The best way to describe the soup is that it is like ramen on steroids. As per the waitress' suggestion I added a dose of Sriracha.

Dinner was an order of veggie spring rolls and a hot and sour soup. Spring rolls were delicious, served cold and wrapped in soft noodle paper. Crispy lettuce, avocado, carrot, and fresh mint. Two dipping sauces: peanut and something light and clear.

Amherst has several outstanding spots on Pleasant Street. My two favorites are Antonio's and Moti. Miss Saigon is now my third.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Star Wars

Top five directors I'd like to see direct the next Star Wars. Criteria is someone who has made at least one film, has a good grasp of story, and experience with effects. Trying to be somewhat realistic in who would say "Yes" so no Cameron, Whedon, Spielberg, Zemeckis, or Tarantino (among others). 1) Alfonso Curaon. See "Children of Men." 'Nuff said. 2) Andrew Stanton. I thought "John Carter" was great. Excellent story and use of effects. 3) Drew Goddard. "Cabin in the Woods" had a new take on genre with killer story. 4) Steven Soderbergh. The master. Retiring from moviemaking unless he can find something new to spark his interest. Maybe this is it. He's only done one sci-fi film... 5) John McTiernan. Phenomenal action director. "Die Hard" and "Predator" are classics. And here is one more for the road: Lawrence Kasdan. Once upon a time Kasden directed classics like "Body Heat" and "The Big Chill." Has effects experience from "Dreamcatcher." And made his bones as a script writer. Starting with a little indie called "The Empire Strikes Back." Who do I think it will be? As the internets have been speculating, I think it will likely be: J.J. Abrams (too much lens flare); Brad Bird (I thought MI4 was boring); or Joe Johnston (has never directed a great movie).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The NRA and "Stand Your Ground"

As senseless as the Trayvon Martin killing is the real culprits are the lawmakers of Florida and the lobbyists of the National Rifle Association. Without easy, legal, access to guns and a concealed carry permit Zimmerman wouldn't be patrolling his gated neighborhood with a gat. Without the ridiculous "Stand Your Ground" law he couldn't claim self-defense.

For my first point NRA nuts will say "But if guns were illegal then only criminals would have guns." And they are right of course. If you look at countries that have strict gun laws they still have a high rate of gun-related crime. Oh, wait. It's actually just the opposite.

As for my second point, racists will say, "But if we can't use our own prejudices to claim fear how can we legally justify shooting unarmed minorities?" To which I have no response.