Monday, September 30, 2013

That's one small step for Popular Science, and one (hopefully) giant leap for the Internet

I was very happy today to read news that the on-line presence for Popular Science had made the decision to disable public comments.

Why we’re shutting off our comments.
Suzanne LaBarre, Popular Science

It’s been a while since I made the decision to disable comments on my blog(s), but I don’t regret doing it for a minute. The sad fact is that Internet commentary has become a cesspool of attempted snark or outright SPAM, a haven for poorly researched misinformation. It’s become the political stump speech of the Internet, long on fiction, short on fact and totally bereft of value.

I don’t hold out much hope that others will follow Popular Science lead in eliminating the monster, for one the “free speech” nonsense seems to have taken hold, but it would be nice if they would. That’s not to say there aren’t good comments out there (Matt Bramanti’s work comes to mind) but to find those you have to dredge through page after page of stupidity mistaken as cleverness by someone who thinks snark=winning or some other nonsense.

So Kudos to Popular Science for making the right move, the question now is “Who’s next?”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Behold how free.....

Why this NSA surveillance business is being given a pass makes absolutely no sense to me.

Yet it is.  The thing is, there doesn't seem to be any partisan advantage here, since both the Bush and Obama administrations have allowed it to happen.  In other words, this is probably a simple case of bipartisanship, that nebulous thing that media and some political observers tell us we should yearn for.


Friday, September 27, 2013

College Football Predictions (Week 5)

My apologies for the late entry this week, I was out of town at a business conference....

First, some numbers from last week. I took too many upsets last weekend and finished 8-4 SO and 4-7 ATS. This leaves me at 43-16 SO and 26-32 ATS for the season. Clearly you'd be better off taking my spread predictions and betting against whatever it is I'm suggesting.

That said, let's power ahead shall we?

Oklahoma State(-19) @ West Virginia - OSU 42 WVU 7 - West Virginia has been horrible this year.

Southern Methodist @ TCU(-19) - SMU 3 TCU 17 - It's not that I think SMU is any good, it's that I don't think TCU is good at all. The o/u here (52.5) is also attractive. (under)

Louisiana State @ Georgia(-3) - LSU 27 UGA 24 - From what I've seen, LSU might be the best team in the country. That said, I think their schedule is eventually going to get them. I just don't think it will be this week.

Oklahoma (-3.5) @ Notre Dame - OU 24 ND 13 - I still don't think Notre Dame is very good and that Michigan loss is looking worse and worse as the weeks go by.

Connecticut @ Buffalo (EVEN) - UCONN 24 BUFF 13 - I want to believe that the Huskies are better than Buffalo. For Michigan's sake I hope so.

Ole Miss @ Alabama(-14.5) - Ole Miss 17 Ala 42 - At some point Alabama's going to look like Alabama right?

Texas A&M(-15) @ Arkansas - aTm 42 Ark 35 - The consensus is that aTm, with Manziel, can score on anyone. Unfortunately for the Aggies almost anyone can score on them as well.

Wisconsin @ Ohio State(-7) - Wisky 10 OSU 37 - The way they've been rolling, is there any reason to pick against the Buckeyes right now?

Southern California(-4) @ Arizona State - USC 20 ASU 28 - Down from last week I'm only picking on (mild) upset this week. I feel pretty good about Sparky at home.

And finally......(No Michigan game this week so I'm going with the Houston team for the "finally" game)

University of Texas-El Paso(-3) @ Houston - UTEP 27 UH 24 - The line was taken down on Thursday evening before I wrote this post. So I'm unsure what's happening here on the injury front. That said I still like the Miners who have shown themselves well against tougher.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

College Football Predictions (Week 4)

Starting to narrow things down this week.

Clemson(-14) @ NC St - Clem 56 NC St 14 - As much as I want to pick a NC State win over Clemson, I just can't do it considering how bad the Wolfpack have been.

Boise State @ Fresno State (-3) - BSU 27 Fresno 42 - I like the Bulldogs at home here a lot

Florida aTm @ Ohio State (-50) - FL aTm 7 OSU 63 - I think the Buckeyes are going to run away and hide, but FIFTY? I wouldn't be this.

Louisiana Tech @ Kansas (-10.5) - La Tech 27 KU 30 - I can't see giving the Jayhawks 10 over air.

Tennessee @ Florida - UT 27 FLA 13(-17) - Given the sorry state of the Gator's offense, I think they're ripe for a fall. That said I like the points here, not the money line for entertainment purposes

Houston (-2.5) vs. Rice - Houston 34 Rice 37 - I love the Owls on the money line for this one.

Michigan State @ Notre Dame (-6.5) Little Brother 27 Domers 28 - I'll like this more if the line goes up to 7.

Southern Methodist @ Texas A&M(o/u 79) - SMU 35 aTm 63 - What I really like here is the o/u play.

Auburn @ LSU (-17.5) - Auburn 17 LSU 24 - Lay-off game, but I don't like LSU laying that many points against almost anyone.

Kansas St. @ Texas (-5) - KSU 30 UT 28 -As bad as KSU has been, the Horns have been consistently worse.

And finally....

Michigan(-17.5) @ Connecticut - Big Blue 45 UCONN 10 - As I've said before, I don't bet Michigan because the heart often gets in the way of the head.

Good luck this weekend.

Monday, September 16, 2013

College Football Picks (Week 3): The Results

Finally, some progress.

For the week I went 13-2 straight up and a respectable 11-4 ATS. That makes me 35-12 straight up for the season and 22-25 ATS. I feel pretty good about this because a couple of the games in the loss column ATS are games that would have been lay-offs.

For one, Michigan. Since I'm a fan of Big Blue I rarely bet them. It's too hard to keep the heart out of the way. For the aTm/Alabama game, I picked Bama by 14 but the line move said aTm (it finished around - 9 1/2 to 10 right before kick-off.) When a line says go a different way from what your gut instinct says, lay off. When aTm back-door covered on the long TD pass I felt pretty good. I'd have felt even better were I in Vegas actually betting on the game.

As my Vegas trip gets closer, I'll start pruning my games list. Typically in Vegas I only bet 6-7 games including one pretty good sized parlay. For week 4 I'm going to reduce the list to 10 games in advance of that. I like trying to pick a broad spectrum of games however so I'll include some predictions that are clearly not games I would bet to try and keep the number at 15.

As usual, here's my top 10 takeaways from Week 3 of College football.....

1. - About those defenses: In short, there's very litte in college football right now. Vegas hasn't adjusted to this fully yet so "Over" is a pretty strong play for several teams right now.

2. - The eyes of Texas are crying. And boy is that defense in need of some work. 6-6 feels like the ceiling for this Longhorn team, not the floor.

3. - You have to think the Rice Owls are a favorite to win C-USA this year. UH is in some trouble methinks in the Bayou Bucket game.

4. - aTm this year is a much more talented version of UH when Sumlin was at the helm. Great offense, sketchy defense. I didn't think they would be that bad against Bama.

5. - Oregon is pretty good. That is all.

6. - It's time to start the "Dan Mullen job watch" as Miss State loses yet another one.

7. - OU is steadily improving. With Bell at QB they could run for 700 yards against UT-Austin.

8. - TCU's struggles against the Big Twen lay bare the flaws in the "BCS Buster" arguments. Average teams having good seasons do not mean that they would be powers in power conferences. There's a reason Boise St. likes playing in the Mountain West.

9. - This is not your last year's Notre Dame team. Further evidence their cupcake schedule every year keeps them falsely in the B(C)S conversation and will keep them falsely in the 4 team playoff conversation going forward.

And finally.....

10. - Michigan is 3-0, but 1-2 against the spread. Furthermore their defense looks closer to the Rich Rod days than it does the days when Jarrett Irons and Charles Woodson roamed. The people that seem happiest about this? Oddly enough, K-State fans, who deluged my twitter feed with insults while the team was struggling against Akron. As I said on Twitter, I would love it if K-State would get a bowl match-up with Michigan this year so we could pants them but alas, the chances of the Wildcats becoming bowl eligible this year seem remote.

On to week 4 with some momentum. Let's see if we can keep it going.

Two pieces of travel journalism (one good, one bad)

First, the good:

Airlines, Customer Service, and the failures of technology, Stephanie Vaughn Hapke, Huffington Post.

Technology could make the flying experience much better. I've often wondered why the airlines don't leverage it (especially with the popularity of seat-back IFE).

Second, the bad:

Don't fall for airlines "unbundling" ploy. Christopher Elliot, USA Today

Christopher Elliot is one of the leading purveyors of the "good old days" lie that the media is backing regarding air travel. The affordability of air travel for the masses is a recent trend and is underreported by Elliot and his crew. Yes, the "loss leader/volume seller" business model was flawed and what the airlines are doing now is making themselves a profitable business but that's only a problem if you believe profit is a dirty word. The real problem, for Elliot and his ilk, is that now almost anyone can afford to fly (at least on occasion). It strips away the elitist sheen that air travel used to have and makes people like Elliot feel just a little bit less superior.

Friday, September 13, 2013

College Football Picks: Week 3 (Continued)

It was an ugly, Big Twen, type of game, but I'll take 1-0 on the moneyline any day of the week.....

Without further ado, the rest of the picks.

Air Force at Boise St(-24) - AF 10 Boise St 24 - I think Boise wins, but I don't see them covering.

Virginia Tech(-7 1/2) at East Carolina - Va Tech 20 ECU 17 - Again, uncomfortable with the cover here.

UCLA at Nebraska(-4 1/2) - UCLA 27 NU 13 - UCLA handled a fair Nevada team while Nebraska struggled against Wyoming and pounded a horrible Southern Miss team. Advantage Bruins.

OU(-24) at Tulsa - OU 36 TU 10 - This is not your father's run 'em up and score OU team. They do have a good defense however and should handle TU.

Akron at Michigan(-37) - Zips 3 Big Blue 45 - I think Blue will cover, but not by a lot.

Tenessee at Oregon(-28) - UT 17 Ducks 63 - I have faith in very few teams to stop Oregon's offense. The Vols are not one of those few.

Iowa(-2 1/2) at Iowa St. -IU 13 ISU 14 - One of the worst "in state" rivalry games right now considering both teams are terrible. Could be the last one for Kirk Ferentz.

Kansas at Rice(-7) - KU 20* Rice 42 - I know, I know, KU is supposed to be better and we're talking about Rice here. The thing is, Rice is pretty good, KU is not.

Ole Miss at Texas(-2 1/2) - Ole Miss 34 UT-Austin 35 - There are a lot of times I've seen an average team with a proud past respond well to an ass-whipping. I think the Horns will play hard. It helps that Ole Miss has young talent, but is not very good.

Notre Dame (-20 1/2) at Purdon't - ND 34 Purdon't 0 - Of all the "rivalry" games the Irish are going to lose due to their new ACC alliance, they are probably going to miss this one because Purdue is typically awful.

Oregon St at Utah (-3 1/2) - OrSU 27 Utes 34 - That's right, I'm not a believer in the Beavers

Maryland (-6 1/2) at UConn - Mary 26 UConn 10 - If the UH Cougars are looking forward to playing you this year your team has issues.

Mississippi St at Auburn (-6) - MSU 24 Auburn 30 - Auburn is a much better coached team this year.

And finally.......

Alabama (-8 1/2) at Texas A&M - Bama 42 aTm 27 - I saw lines as high as -14 in early action on this game. I think -8 1/2 is about right. Saban's been obsessing over aTm since last year. Let's lace 'em up.

Good luck. *KU score corrected @ 3:02PM on Friday from 10 to 20 to fix typo.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

College Football Predictions: Week 3 (short version)

This is the point in the season where it all starts to get clear.

One of the reasons I time my annual Las Vegas College Football betting run until later in the year is because of what happened in the first two weeks. Many teams that you "thought" would be OK (I'm looking at you UT-Austin, Florida) and teams that you thought might be pretty bad (Miami, Auburn) turn out to be not as horrible as you first thought. This is why I don't pay (much) attention to pre-season rankings until after the first two weeks of conference play. It's also why I won't bet anything in football until there are some real world examples to follow. I understand that there are wise-guys and sharps out there who can do well in the first of the year, but I have neither the time nor the resources to put in the crunch time needed to be really good.

Now, because games are getting ready to start:  Some picks.

TCU (-3) at Texas Tech  TCU 20 Tech 27 - I realize it's risky, but I like the Raiders here.

More picks to come tomorrow but I wanted to get this one in before kick off.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

College Football Predictions: Week 2 Results

Everyone has bad (terrible, awful, truly horrendous) weeks. I'm hoping that these were mine.

First off, the ugly numbers: 9-6 straight up but a horrible 4-11 against the spread. If you're keeping track that means that I'm 22-10 straight up for the season but an alarming 11-21 against the spread. I've got a Vegas trip coming up so, if I plan on turning a profit, I had better start picking it up.

Unfortunately, like most, I work a job and don't have time to drill into the numbers like I want to. But I couldn't be a full-time gambler either. If you think you can don't forget about the swings. I like my salary. What this means is that as I'm writing this the San Diego Chargers just intercepted a pass and then scored on the next play to go up 7-0 over the Texans. It will publish tomorrow so I'll refrain from commenting on the game because I'll probably get that wrong as well.

As usual, here are my takeaways from last weeks College Football action:

1. - If aTm doesn't improve on defense 'Bama is going to beat them by 30. As it is, the Aggies are getting 14 points against Bama and I am leaning aTm in that game. I'll have to watch the line and see where it goes.

2. - UT-Austin might be one of the worst coached teams I've ever seen. That's not hyperbole.

3. - Never bet on Bobby Patrino. Just don't.

4. - OU fans: It's time to start seriously worrying.

5. - UH fans: I'm still not impressed with the Cougar Jr. Varsity men's football team. You barely beat Temple. Temple.

6. - The #SECmyth hashtag is starting to trend. However, at the top they are the best still, until someone beats them.

7. - Someone has to win the Big Twen this year right?

8. - If NC State had lost to Richmond it would have set them up perfectly for an upset of Clemson. Alas.

9. - Suddenly we're all going to get a lesson on the Statute of Limitations and how it applies to Oklahoma State.

And finally......

10. - Take that Notre Dame. (Go Blue!)

Thursday, September 05, 2013

College Football Predictions Week 2

As an FYI, I'm not picking all of the games, just the ones that interest me. If I've omitted your school I'm sorry.

Week 1

Cincinatti(-8) @ Illinois - Cincy 28 Ill 10 - I'm a fan of this Cincy team. They could be the stiffest competition for Louisville

Florida(-3) @ Miami - Fla 35 Miami 13 - Too much respect given to the Cane's comming off a win vs. FAU.

Houston(-3) @ Temple - UH 35 Temple 38 - I think the Cougar's offense is back, but gawd that run defense is horrible

Oklahoma St.(-26.5)* @ UTSA - OSU 52 UTSA 10 - OSU sorted our their QB mess. UTSA is a mess.(right now)

Western Kentucky @ Tennessee(-13.5) - WKU 27 Tenn 30 - It's a mistake to write off this WKU team. They're good despite having a punk for a head coach.

Buffalo @ Baylor(-27.5) - BUF 17 Baylor 37 - I don't see Baylor doing better than Ohio St. against the Buffalo, but they won't struggle.

South Carolina @ Georgia(-3) - SC 27 UGA 20 - How UGA is a favorite here is beyond me.

Syracuse @ Northwestern(-16.5) - SU 7 NW 31 - Is Northwestern the 3rd best team in the B1G? Possibly.

Louisiana-Lafayette @ KSU(-10.5) - ULaLa 27 KSU 30 - Snyder has had a week to fix the mess, but it's still a mess. I'm tempted to pick ULaLa for the outright upset, but I won't.

Sam Houston St @ Texas A&M(-38.5) - SHSU 24 aTm 63 - The Aggies will score, a bunch, but they still have all those defensive starters out and the Bearkats can run the ball with Flanders and Sincere.

Samford @ Arkansas(-32.5) - Samford 7 ARK 56 - Last week the darling of the wise guys was Samford, I don't think we'll see a repeat of that on Saturday.

Texas(-7.5) @ BYU - UT 49 BYU 7 - I think the Longhorns are going to work the Cougars over. BYU has no scoring offense, that's a problem.

West Virginia @ Oklahoma(-21) - WVU 24 OU 63 - Different season, same problem for the Mountaineers. A lot of teams are going to get well offensively against them this year. OU will be the first.

Hawaii @ Oregon St.(-27) - HU 35 OSU 42 - Given their performance last week against Eastern Washington I don't see how you can like OSU with this line.

And finally.......

Notre Dame @ Michigan(-3.5) - ND 7 Big Blue 27 - I really think ND is in for a rude awakening this week. Loved what I saw on defense last game from Blue.

As always, good luck with your rooting interests and here's to another great weekend of College Football.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Results: College Football Week One Predictions (Stumbling out of the gate)

Against the spread I was as bad as aTm's run defense. Against the money line I was OK.

Final Results:

Straight up: 13 out of 17 correct.

Against the Spread: 7 out of 17 correct.

What this means is that, if you're going to Vegas for sports betting purposes don't take anything I say seriously.

Thoughts from Week 1

1. None of the major title contenders did anything of major concern. Alabama, aTm, Ohio State and Louisville all looked OK. Of all of them I'd be most worried if I were aTm however. The Aggies run defense was not good. However......

2. Rice looked pretty good. Certainly they're not an elite program, but they should have enough, if healthy, to contend in CUSA and probably give the Houston Cougars a run for their money. I'd say the prediction on their win total is up around 9 or even 10 right now. Which brings us to.....

3. The UH Cougars cruised against lesser competition, but their defense is going to be rough this year. Derick Mathews did not have a good game against Southern. He overran every play, and was frequently running up the back of plays after the runner for Southern had passed him by. After watching game one, I put the Cougars win ceiling at six. Time for a new coach.

4. Michigan has a defense again. Times are good.

5. Ohio State giving up 20 to Buffalo is a little worse than aTm giving up 31 to Rice (Rice is a much better team) but I'm really not worried about either. If Flanders runs for yardage against the aTm defense and Ohio State struggles defensively against San Diego State then we'll talk.

6. K-State, UConn, Oregon State, USF, Iowa State & San Diego State. Welcome to the "we have a loss to an FCS school" club. You can take a seat anywhere you like but Michigan and Virginia Tech own the VIP room. Brutal week for those programs.

7. Targeting is a mess.

8. Georgia is snake-bit

9. It's way too early to be buying into any of the Heisman talk. Just ignore it.

And finally.....

10. If anything this week has proven that pre-season rankings are crap. Don't pay any attention until week 5 or so.